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Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force

:
Inhibition of Reston Citizen Participation
In the Task Force Process
February 22, 2010

Statement by Marion Stillson, President of Reston Citizens Association

By their actions and inactions since its launch on December 1, 2009, the Reston
Master Plan Special Study Task Force and the County’s Department of Planning and
Zoning (DPZ) have effectively prevented many Reston citizens from contributing to the
Task Force. The following points document some key examples.

1. The County DPZ has failed to deliver an Existing Conditions and Current
Plans report promised for delivery by the end of September 2009. Without
understanding the status of development in the areas under consideration by the Task
Force, neither Restonians nor the Task Force can measure the impact of possible changes
in the Comprehensive Plan. For example, the Plan now generally calls for rail-oriented
development in the RCIG of up to FAR 2.5 in high-density, high-rise, mixed-use TOD
arrangements. The RCIG is now generally developed at FAR 0.5, all office space, with
some significant exceptions around Reston Parkway. Restonians have no way of
understanding the potential impact of achieving that new development ceiling, much less
the implications of Task Force additions, without an Existing Conditions and Current
Plans report.

2. The Task Force has failed to utilize more than 120 citizens who participated
in Supervisor Hudgins’ Land Use College. The Reston 2020 Committee offered to
organize these groups to supplement the work of an obviously overwhelmed DPZ at no
taxpayer cost. No public vote was taken by the Task Force, but in an internal, undated
memorandum in early February, Chair Nicoson rejected this offer. This official rejection
denies Restonians the opportunity to participate in the process and provide constructive
inputs to the task force. The Reston 2020 Committee is proceeding independently with
Advisory Group recommendations without Task Force endorsement anyway. More
recently, one hundred citizens participated in a prioritization exercise. It is not clear to
what use the results will be put.

3. The DPZ has consistently failed to publish task force meeting agendas and
related materials in a timely manner, denying citizens the opportunity to understand
what will be discussed and what will be said. Agendas continue to be published on
Friday evenings at close of business just two business days ahead of the Tuesday evening
Task Force meetings in violation of Virginia’s FOIA law on public meetings. Only this
week has the DPZ and Task Force published notes—that are largely inadequate—of the
Task Force’s two January meetings. Posting of briefing materials has become timelier
after the meetings, but could and should be presented ahead of the meetings, so citizens
may be well informed about the coming presentations.
4. The Task Force and DPZ have failed to inform residents in and around
areas that will be discussed about either their informational or community meetings.
For example, they have not notified the residents of Polo Field Neighborhood
Association, a neighborhood that lies partly within ¼ mile of the proposed Herndon-
Monroe Metro station, that they will be discussing the Herndon-Monroe TOD area on
February 23, and will have a community meeting on the topic on Saturday, February 26.
The RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee has had to inform them of these upcoming events.
Without knowing of these proceedings, the neighborhoods are unable to even attend,
much less make a substantive contribution.

These Task Force and DPZ failures have reduced Restonians’ information about
and contributions to the Task Force’s work. In the last instance, citizens may not even be
aware of Task Force work that may directly affect their homes, schools, travel, and, in
general, their quality of life. This is not an acceptable way to operate a public task force.