You are on page 1of 23

John R.

Mooney
1400 Church Hill Place
Reston, Virginia 20194
703-477-8460•Jmooney7@verizon.net

October 24, 2016

Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Chairwoman Sharon Bulova and other Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Commissioner Frank de la Fe, Fairfax County Planning Commission
Other Members of the Fairfax County Planning Commission
Members of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee
RE:

Requested Denial of the Current Saint John’s Wood Apartments Redevelopment
Proposal

Dear Community Officials,
I urgently request that you deny the current Saint John’s Wood Apartments redevelopment proposal
because of its serious non-conformities with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.
Though I am also a signatory of the Susanne Andersson-Tosado’s online petition and a member of
Reclaim Reston, I make this request as an individual citizen of Fairfax County and resident member
of the Reston Association, without any claim to represent the opinion of others.
The reasons for requesting denial of the SJW proposal are detailed in my attached “Analysis of
SJW’s Non-Conformity with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan Generally and the Reston
Master Plan Specifically.” dated October 24, 2016. As noted in my analysis, there are other
possible concerns that I do not have the time and/or competence to examine (e.g., stormwater
management) and another analysis (traffic-impact) that I will complete and submit to you later.
My analysis has two main parts. The first and shorter part is a discussion of the policy and legal
framework of the SJW proposal, the second a discussion of four areas (with traffic impact the
possible fifth) in which I find SJW in non-conformity with the comprehensive plan. Here, in
summary form, are my concerns:
Policy and Legal Framework.
1) Because SJW’s underlying comprehensive plan designation remains “low-density multifamily”
and because of the primacy accorded by the comprehensive plan to stable and largely
unchanging existing residential neighborhoods as “the cornerstone of community structure,” the
SJW proponents, not its opponents, bear the burden of proof in the question of conformity with
the comprehensive plan.
2) Contrary to some public statements, SJW is not entitled to the possible increased density
allowed by the comprehensive plan for Reston “village centers,” because SJW is not a part of
the North Point Village Center.
1

Specific Areas of Non-Conformity
1) The SJW proposal includes 46 townhouses, not foreseen by the comprehensive plan for
multifamily-designated areas such as SJW.
2) SJW massing and architecture are seriously incompatible with the surrounding
neighborhoods—with 28 cluster associations, 7 condo associations, 2 apartment complexes
(other than SJW), and about 198 single-family homes (for a total of about 2,813 individual
dwelling units) within one-half mile of SJW periphery. The individual cluster, condo, and
single-family units are typically 2-3 stories. The buildings in the two apartment complexes are
up to 4 stories.
a) The proposed increase of units of SJW is from its current 250 (all apartments) to a total of
513 (467 apartment units, 46 townhouses).
b) The height of the proposed SJW (66 - 69 ft.) would be nearly double that of the existing
SJW (about 36 ft.). Though its developers typically describe SJW as 5 stories stepping
down at points to 3 or 4, it in fact extends to 6 stories in a few sections
c) The visual impact of the four “faces” of SJW two main buildings (Buildings A and B, not
counting the 40-ft. tall, 142-ft. wide, and 480-ft. long bank of townhouses) would be jarring.
i) Its western face, seen from Reston Parkway, would be 66 ft. tall and 337 ft. long.
ii) Its northern face, bordering the Devonshire and Windsor Park clusters, would appear
from some perspectives as 66-69 feet tall and as much as 863 ft. long.
iii) Its eastern face, seen from North Village Road, would be 69 ft. tall and 337 ft. long,
extended by the shorter edge of the bank of townhouses.
iv) Its southern face, seen from Center Harbor Road, would appear from some perspectives
as 66-69 ft. tall and as much as 822 ft. long, further burdened by the long edge of the
bank of townhouses.
d) In terms of over-all mass, SJW’s Buildings A and B would each be more than 10 times
larger than the largest building in either of the other two neighboring apartment complexes.
From some perspectives, the combination of Buildings A and B and their intervening
courtyard would be experienced as a single mass 30 times larger than the largest
neighboring apartment building. Of course, it would utterly dwarf the individual buildings
in the surrounding clusters, condos, and single-family areas.
e) In conclusion, SJW height, horizontal dimensions, and massing would make it the defining
architectural structure in the North Point area of Reston.
3) SJW’s tree-preservation plan falls significantly short of the goals of the comprehensive plan,
and it would technically qualify with the requirements of the Fairfax County Public Facilities
Manual only if it qualifies as a mid-density multifamily development, which is the precise claim
I contest.
a) According to its own drawings, the SJW redevelopment would remove 60.1% of the
existing tree canopy on site.
b) This would include about removal of about 40% of the existing tree canopy along Center
Harbor Road and a significant section on its southern edge along Reston Parkway.
4) Traffic Impact. [Analysis pending]

2

5) SJW is likely to have negative impacts on Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS):
a) Traffic impacts [to be detailed later]
b) Student-Enrollment Increase. The comprehensive plan requires that developments
mitigate their impacts on public schools. SJW most recent proffer statement (September 6,
2016) includes no proffer for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) since the most recent
FCPS student-yield analysis showed that the SJW redevelopment would decrease, rather
than increase, the number of students in the school system. My analysis discusses the limits
of the understandably simplified student-yield ratios used by FCPS, plus additional evidence
for a probable student increase due to SJW, possibly a significant increase.
I would welcome your feedback and the opportunity to discuss these concerns with any of you as
soon as possible.
Sincerely,
/S/
John Mooney
703-477-8460 (c)
C:

Goldie Harrison, Legislative Aide to Supervisor Hudgins
Catherine Chianese, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors
Members of the Reston Association Board
Faheem Darab, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning
Mary Ann Tsai, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning
Vanessa Hold, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning
Hugh Whitehead, Fairfax County Urban Forester
Cate Fulkerson, CEO, RA
Larry Butler, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Community Resources, RA
RA Design Review Board c/o Barbara Ramsey, Secretary
Taycha Wilfries, Covenant Administrator North Point, RA
John McBride, Land-Use Counsel, RA
Susanne Andersson-Tosado, Reclaim Reston
Steve Canner, Reclaim Reston
Mark Clyman, Reclaim Reston
Denise Fleissner, Reclaim Reston
Arlene Krieger, Reclaim Reston
Aileen Savell-Reinhard, Reclaim Reston
Jeanne Vasterling, Reclaim Reston
Brian Winterhalter, Counsel, SJW

3

Analysis of SJW’s Non-Conformity with
the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan Generally
And the Reston Master Plan Specifically (John Mooney, revised 10/24/16)
All references are to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, 2013 Edition.
Part III of that plan (known as the Reston Master Plan) is the 2013 Edition, as amended through 10-20-2015.

1. Fundamental Policy and Legal Framework: the SJW proponents, not its opponents, bear the
burden of proof about the proposal’s conformity with the comprehensive plan.
a. As made clear in the Reston Master Plan, “RESTON NEIGHBORHOODS, Subsection 5, pp.
54-55, the underlying comprehensive plan designation for the SJW property remains
“Low-Density Multi-Family” (13-20 dwelling units/acre), and—barring a change in the
comprehensive plan—will remain so in the future. It has not been changed to
“Medium-Density Multi-family” (21-50 dwelling unit/acres, as mistakenly thought by
some in the community. The right to develop SJW as “Medium-Density Multi-family” is
not an absolute right but a conditional right, dependent upon the fulfillment of the five
conditions mentioned specifically for SJW in Subsection 5 and the general GUIDELINES
FOR MULTI-FAMILY REDEVELOPMENTS, p. 57. As clearly stated in the Reston
Association Board’s letter of September 28, 2016, to Supervisor Hudgins, Commissioner
de la Fe, and SJW’s attorney, those conditions have not been met. This has also been
the consistent position of the 645 signers of the petition begun by Susanne AnderssonTosado (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/st-johns-wood).
b. The Reston Master Plan clearly articulates the primacy of protecting existing residential
communities:
As a land use planning policy, Fairfax County views these neighborhoods in
Reston, as well as suburban residential neighborhoods throughout the county, as
the foundation of community structure. The Reston neighborhoods are stable
areas planned for little or no change. (Reston Master Plan, p. 53; see also pp. 10
and 20.)
c. This reflects the frequent language of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s “Policy
Plan” for the county as a whole, though two sections of the Policy Plan merit explicit
mention:
As land values increase due to decreasing supply, the pressure to redevelop
existing lower density neighborhoods, as well as nonresidential acreage, will
increase. While in selected instances this may be desirable, the practice of
redevelopment must be carefully controlled so as to not undermine stable
neighborhoods and the provision of public services and facilities. The loss of
neighborhoods can quickly lead to a loss of a sense of community: a basic facet
of a high quality of life. (Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, Policy Plan, Land
Use, Introduction, p. 1).

1

It is a policy of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County that the county’s
stable residential neighborhoods are the cornerstone of community structure.
As such, every effort should be made to ensure that these neighborhoods are
protected from the negative aspects of growth and development. (Fairfax
County Comprehensive Plan, Policy Plan, Land Use, “Guidelines for
Neighborhood Redevelopment [GNR],” p. 22.
It may be significant that the only condition justifying neighborhood
redevelopment that is explicitly mentioned by the GNR is “portions of the
neighborhoods becoming no longer viable as a residential community” (p. 22), a
condition not evident in SJW.
Finally, it is important to correct some public statements about SJW’s
relationship to the North Point Village Center. It has been said that, while
significant additional density should not be located in Reston’s residential
neighborhoods, such increases are acceptable in Reston Town Center and in
Reston’s “village centers”; and, since (the argument goes) SJW is in the North
Point Village Center, significant additional density is acceptable there. In fact,
the Reston Master Plan clearly excludes SJW from the North Point Village
Center. It is part of the surrounding neighborhoods, not of the village center.
(Reston Master Plan, p. 63; Figures 22 and 23, pp. 66-67)
2. Specific Areas of SJW’s Non-Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan. The five nonconformities discussed below do not constitute an exhaustive list of possible non-conformities.
They represent only the major ones that I had the time and ability to analyze. There may well
be others. For example, another key concern is the conformity of the proposed SJW
redevelopment with the spirit and letter of the county’s storm water-management policies,
since 34.5% of the site is covered by buildings, not counting driveways and other impermeable
surfaces (see “Ground area of buildings,” Section 2.b.i.3 on p. 4 below).
a. The Inclusion of Townhouses in the Proposal. Comp. Plan, Area III, pp. 18-20, plans
townhouses only for Medium-Density Single-Family areas, not for Low-Density or
Medium-Density Multifamily areas like SJW. Yet SJW proposes the development of 46
townhouses.
b. Compatibility of Massing and Architecture with the Surrounding Neighborhoods. Two
sections of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, one county-wide and the other SJWspecific, specifically emphasize the requirement that any residential redevelopment
must be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood in its massing and architecture.
The proposal must demonstrate [note the “burden of proof” language] that the scale
and intensity of development anticipated with the replanning, is compatible with
adjacent land uses and/or neighborhoods and that it will not create an adverse, longterm land use precedent for changes on nearby properties. (Policy Plan, Land Use,
Appendix 8, p. 22, criterion 7.)

2

The architecture and massing of development should feature context sensitive design
that fits into the natural and architectural character of the surrounding area. (Reston
Master Plan, Reston Neighborhoods, The St. Johns Wood apartment property, p. 54).
I believe the following analysis demonstrates that the SJW redevelopment proposal falls
far short of those criteria.
i. The most recent (July 19, 2016) version of the SJW proposal would more than
double the total number of dwelling units, from its current 250 (all apartment
units) to 513 (467 apartment units, 46 townhouses). The resulting massing and
architecture proposed for the site will make a strong and jarring visual impact
on the surrounding neighborhoods, especially in the 5 leafless months of the
year. Though not directly related to massing and architecture, it is important to
note (as detailed in Table 5, p. 13 below) that the SJW developers forecast a 581
(110%) increase in residents, from its current 525 to 1,106.
This negative impact can be seen from examining the vertical, horizontal, and
areal dimensions of the SJW proposal and their visual impact on the surrounding
neighborhoods. Since this analysis makes frequent references to the
redevelopment plans submitted by SJW to Fairfax County, it should be noted
that these plans are available online at
http://www.reston.org/Portals/3/2016%20Development/SJW.PlanSet8.31.16.pdf

1. Height. The current SJW complex consists of 9 apartment
configurations with heights varying between 2 and 3 stories, with an
approximate maximum height (scaled from a photo) of 36’.
The predominant height of the proposed SJW redevelopment is 5
stories, though a few sections step down to just 3 stories and other
sections are as high as 6 stories.
a. Sheet C-12, August 31, 2016, lists the following heights:
i. Building A: 5 levels, 69 ft+/-; Building A garage: 4.5
levels, 56 ft. +/ii. Building B: 3/4/5 levels, 66 ft. +/-; Building B garage:
4.75 levels, 60 ft. +/b. The Building Elevations sheets submitted on August 31, 2016
(available at the plans link listed above), indicate that, contrary
to Sheet C-12, there are sections of Buildings A and B that are
actually higher than 5 stories. About ¼ of the west elevation of
Building A, and about 1/12 of its north elevation, are wholly or
partially above the stated 5 stories (see p. A2); and about 1/3 of
the east elevation of Building B is wholly or partially above 5
stories (see. p. A2). In some sections, the height of the two
buildings is a full 6 stories.
3

c. In conclusion, the proposed SJW complex would be about twice
the height of the current SJW.
2. Width and Length. The following horizontal dimensions, summarized in
Table 1 below, are found in Sheet C-20, August 31, 2016.
Table 1: Horizontal Dimensions of SJW’s Bldgs. A & B and the Inner
Courtyard, Based on SJW Plans, Sheet C-20, August 31, 2016.
Units: feet

Length on W
Face (N-S)
306
337

Length on E
Face (N-S)
282
337

Length on N
Face (E-W)
385*
398

Length on S
Face (E-W)
385*
357

Building A
Building B
Courtyard
between A & B
337
337
80
80
*Only 281’ of the 385’ width was labeled on Sheet C-20. I scaled the remaining
104’ from the drawing.

3. Ground area of buildings:
a. According to Sheet C-14, August 31, 2016, 34.5% of the total
site area (14.33 acres) would be covered by major structures
proposed (apartments, apartment garages, and townhouses).
If you add to that actual coverage the additional areas visually
defined by those major structures, 48.7% of the total site area
will appear, to observer on the perimeter of the site, to be
covered by the buildings’ mass. See Attachment A.
4. Resulting Visual Impact of SJW Massing. Summarizing the information
on the proposed SJW vertical and horizontal dimensions discussed
immediately above, I conclude the following:
a. Seen from Reston Parkway, SJW would present itself primarily
as the western face of Building B, a 66’-tall and 337’-long
building, visually extended to the south by the bank of
townhouses that is (on its western end) 40’ high and 142’ long.
At closer distances, Building B’s mass is mitigated by 3 deeper
set-backs in the western building face and by step-downs to as
few as 3 stories near Reston Parkway. However, at greater
distances, and especially in our 5 leafless months, the set-backs
and step-downs will become less distinguishable and Building
B’s western face will present as a large monolith, with its
townhouse extension.
b. Seen from North Village Road, SJW would present itself
primarily as the eastern face of Building A, a 69’-tall and 337’long building, again visually extended to the south by the 40’tall and 142’-wide bank of townhouses. From this direction,
there are no mitigating set-backs or step-downs.

4

c. Seen from the neighborhoods to the north, SJW would present
itself as the combined northern faces of Building A (69’ tall and
385’ long) and Building B (66’ tall and 398’ long), visually
interrupted from some perspectives (as discussed below) by the
80’-wide courtyard between Buildings A & B. At closer
distances, the visual mass of both Building A and Building B is
mitigated by a deeper set-back in the northern face of each
building; and Building B steps down to 3 stories towards Reston
Parkway. That mitigation is reduced at greater distances from
the building, as the set-backs become less distinguishable.
As mentioned above, the courtyard mitigates the visual massing
of the combined length (783’) of Buildings A and B from some
perspectives. The closer and more centered you are to the
courtyard, the stronger the mitigation. The farther and less
centered, the weaker the mitigation. Because of this important
perspectival factor, I believe, for example, that an observer
looking at the north face of SJW from a point as little as 30’
north of the building and 60’ east of the eastern wall of the
courtyard would visually experience SJW as a 783’-long
building—or an 863’-long building if you include the (now
invisible) 80’-wide courtyard.
d. Seen from Center Harbor Road, SJW would present itself as the
combined (742’) southern faces of Buildings A (385’) and B
(357’), compounded by the additional massing of the bank of
townhouses (40’ high and 480’ long on its southern edge.) The
visual impact of the massing, and the situational mitigation of
the massing by the 80’-wide courtyard, would be similar to the
impact and mitigation noted for SJW’s northern neighbors
(Section 2.b.4.c, immediately above), but worsened because of
the additional massing of the townhouses. If the 80’-wide
courtyard becomes invisible because of change in perspective,
the combined southern faces of Buildings A and B would have
the visual impact of 822’ instead of 742’.
ii. Massing and architecture in the surrounding neighborhood. By my calculations
detailed in Attachments B and C and based on the 2009 Fairfax County map on
this subject, there are 28 cluster associations (areas with a mix of townhouses
and single-family homes in cluster formation), 7 condo associations, 2
apartment building associations, and 198 single-family homes within ½ mile of
the perimeter of the SJW property. Together, these account for a total of about
2,813 individual dwelling units. Table 2 below summarizes information from
Attachments B and C for those four types of dwellings, indicating their
5

breakdown by distance (in roughly concentric 1/8-mile-wide incremental bands,
as described on Attachment D) from SJW, by types, and by total units.1
Table 2: Number of Dwelling Units Within ½ Mile of SJW’s Perimeter, Broken
Down by Distance from SJW and Dwelling Type
Distance
0 – 1/8
>1/8 – ¼
>1/4 –
>3/8 – ½
from SJW→
Mi.
Mi.
3/8 Mi.
Mi.
TOTALS
Type↓
Cluster
357
322
319
644
1,642
Condo
140
467
126
0
733
Apartment
0
240
0
0
240
SingleFamily
0
47
117
34
198
TOTALS
497
1,076
562
678
2,813
From a sample windshield survey, I conclude that the cluster units and condo
buildings in the area are typically 2-3 stories tall. Neither of the two other
apartment complexes within ½ mile of SJW is more than 4 stories tall. The
largest building in The Apartments at North Pont (as scaled off GoogleEarth) is
about 206’ long and 62’ wide. Similarly scaled, the largest building in Harbor
Park Apartments is about 154 long x 96’ wide. Table 3 below shows a
comparison between the masses of each of the three apartments—SJW, North
Point, Harbor Park, and SJW. SJW is listed first by each of the two main
buildings separately (A and B), then by the “perspectival consolidation” of A, B,
and the courtyard (CY), as discussed above. For both North Point and Harbor
Point, I assumed a height of 50’ (4 stories @10’ plus a 10’ gabled roof).

1

Note that, for associations of clusters, condos, and apartments: 1) when the association spanned more than one
band, the entire association was assigned to the band nearest SJW; 2) all the units of such a cluster or condo were
counted, on the principle that, if some units of such association were affected by SJW, the entire association would
be affected.

6

Table 3: Masses of the Largest Residential Buildings in North Point District of
Reston if SJW Redevelopment Were Approved
Length (ft.)
Width (ft.).
Height (ft.)
Total Mass (ft.3)
North
Point
Harbor
Park
SJW Bldg.
A
SJW Bldg.
B
SJW:
A+B+CY

203 (scaled
from Google
Earth)
154 (scaled
from Google
Earth)
306

62 (scaled
from Google
Earth)
96 (scaled
from Google
Earth)
385

50
(assumed)

626,300

50
(assumed)

739,200

69

8,128,890

337

398

66

8,852,316

863

398

69

23,699,706

The analysis in Table 3 reveals that both SJW Building A and Building B have a
bulk more than 10 times greater than the largest buildings in either the North
Point or the Harbor Park apartments. If computed from the perspective where
SJW Building A, Building B, and its courtyard appear as one mass, SJW have a
visual mass more than 30 times larger than the largest building in either North
Point or Harbor Park.
From all these considerations, I conclude, finally, that the proposed SJW
redevelopment would be seriously out of scale with its surrounding
neighborhoods and, by sheer visible mass alone, would become the defining
architectural structure in the North Point area of Reston. Table 3 quantifies
how, both singly and jointly, SJW’s buildings A and B would dwarf the two next
largest residential buildings in the North Point District. However, that difference
pales in comparison with how SJW’s mass would overwhelm the cluster, condo,
and single-family dwellings in the area.
c. Tree Preservation. Trees are a central, almost defining, feature of Reston. The tree is
the official emblem of the Reston Association. But not just any trees: from its inception,
Reston has prized and tried to preserve, as much as possible, the original wooded
inheritance of Reston. This tree-centeredness is found in many sections of the Fairfax
County Comprehensive Plan. A few citations, from the most general to the most SJWspecific, illustrate this priority and how far short the proposed SJW falls.
Encourage fulfillment of the tree cover requirements through tree preservation
instead of replanting where existing tree cover permits. Commit to tree
preservation thresholds that exceed the minimum Zoning Ordinance requirements.
(Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, Policy Plan, Environment, Objective 2, Policy
k, p. 8).
7

Trees provide numerous environmental and human health benefits and should be
considered an essential element in the vision for development and redevelopment
within Reston. (Reston Master Plan, p. 47)
Maintain the existing mature tree canopy. Exceptions may be considered if they
advance other planning objectives. (The 4th of the three criteria in Guidelines for
Multifamily Redevelopment, Reston Master Plan, p. 57.)
In the section specifically about the possible redevelopment of SJW:
Redevelopment should embody an organic, natural design to achieve a build
environment that is compatible with the property’s wooded setting. This objective
should by accomplished by preserving the existing mature tree canopy and natural
areas around the perimeter of the property that provide a buffer with the adjacent
communities. In addition, redevelopment should maintain, through a combination
of tree preservation and tree planting, the same overall amount of natural areas
as the existing conditions of the property. (Reston Master Plan, p. 54, my
underlining)
The following observations detail how the proposed SJW redevelopment would
significantly fail to comply with those policies.
i. As noted on Attachment E to this analysis, and confirmed in my October 4
meeting with FC Urban Forester Hugh Whitehead, SJW’s most recent drawings
(Sheet C-13, August 31, 2016) propose the removal of 60.1% of the existing
tree canopy.
ii. Along Center Harbor Road, by my visual estimate from Sheet C-13, about 40% of
the existing trees would be removed. Moreover, a significant section of existing
trees would be removed along the southern edge of SJW adjacent to Reston
Parkway.
iii. This proposed amount of tree removal is technically consistent with the
requirement of the Fairfax County Public Facilities Manuel only if the SJW
redevelopment qualifies for a mid-density multifamily comp plan designation
instead of the underlying low-density multifamily designation. See Attachment
E again. As I have stated in Section 1.a above, I join the RA Board and the 636
signatories to Susanne Andersson-Tosado’s petition, all of whom insist that SJW
does not so qualify.
d. Traffic. The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan requires proof that a neighborhood
redevelopment will not create a traffic impact that cannot be adequately mitigated.
The proposal must provide a traffic impact analysis, consistent with standard county
traffic analysis procedures, which demonstrate [again, “burden of proof” language] that
the proposal with appropriate mitigative measures will not result in an adverse traffic

8

impact. (Policy Plan, Land Use, Appendix 8: Guidelines for Neighborhood
Redevelopment, Criterion 5).
It is important to note that Criterion 5 does not limit the analysis to the “standard
county analysis procedures” but rather requires that the analysis be “consistent with” it.
Thus, consistency with the standard county traffic analysis procedures is a required but
not necessarily sufficient condition for demonstrating that there is no unmitigatable
adverse traffic impact.
[My traffic analysis is still being revised, based on SJW’s revised traffic study in
September, 2016. The analysis will be submitted separately.]
e. Schools. At least two sections of the Fairfax County Comprehensive require that
development and redevelopment projects not negatively impact schools, or that such
impacts at least be mitigated.
The proposal must demonstrate that it will not adversely impact other county public
facilities, including sewer, water, schools, parks, and fire service or that these impacts
can be mitigated. (Policy Plan, Land Use, Appendix 8: Guidelines for Neighborhood
Redevelopment, Criterion 6, my underlining).
During the development review process, developers should provide for additional school
capacity to mitigate the impacts of new development. These contributions could be
more traditional in nature, such as dedication of a school site, or may include more
innovative urban solutions such as co-locating school facilities with parks or within
mixed-use buildings. Reston Master Plan, p. 50.
The following analysis of school impacts focuses on two issues: 1) the traffic impact of
SJW Buzz Aldrin E.S (BAES), which is within 3/8 mile from SJW, and 2) the impact of SJW
on the student population on the three schools that serve SJW-- BAES, Herndon H.S, and
Herndon M.S. This section is based on my October 3, 2016, meeting with Buzz Aldrin
E.S. Principal Shane Wolfe, emails we have since exchanged, my analysis of the Fairfax
County Public Schools’ memo on the projected school impact of the most recent SJW
proposal, and my analysis of FCPS’s methodology (posted on-line) for projecting student
yields of new development, and an email exchange with ACPS’s Director of Facilities
Planning, Dr. Aimee Holleb on the student-yield methodology.2

2

The FCPS memo, dated August 5, 2016, was from Aimee Holleb, Office of Facilities Services, to Barbara Berlin,
Director of the Zoning Evaluation Division, Fairfax Department of Planning and Zoning. The latest countywide FCPS
update of that student-yield methodology can be found at The latest general FCPS update of that student-yield
methodology can be found at https://www.fcps.edu/sites/default/files/media/pdf/attachmenta_0.pdf

9

I believe FCPS schools typically leaves traffic-impact analysis to the Fairfax County
Department of Planning and Zoning. The above-mentioned FCPS student-yield analysis
concluded that the redeveloped SJW would actually yield fewer students than the
current SJW and thus that no offsetting proffer could be required from SJW.
My following analysis details why I believe that 1) the redeveloped SJW would likely
have a negative traffic impact on BAES and 2) it would probably yield more students that
the current SJW, contrary to the FCPS assessment by its standard methology.
i. Pre-construction Impact
1. According to ACPS’s August 2016 memo, about 49 (about 7%) of BAES
students lived in SJW in 2013-2014, a number Principal Wolfe estimates
now to be about 25 due to the continuing pre-construction non-renewal
of leases at SJW. The total loss of the original 49 would probably cause
the loss of three classroom teachers, and possibly other support
positions, due to the decreased enrollment.
2. Demolition/construction traffic would add to the traffic-safety concerns
detailed below.
ii. Impact after construction and occupancy of the proposed SJW redevelopment
1. Traffic safety. The traffic safety of three main groups would be
negatively affected by the additional traffic from SJW. Currently, BAES
has only one crossing guard assigned to help with traffic control.
a. Walkers. Given the loss already of about half the original SJW
students, the number of students walking to and/or from BAES
is reduced. Clearly, the re-population of SJW would increase
the numbers again. Principal Wolfe estimates the following
number of walkers for October 2016:
i. Eastbound: 10 students walk home (and some to
school) across Wiehle Avenue.
ii. Westbound and northbound: 80 walk home (and some
to school) across Center Harbor Road and/or North
Village Road.
b. Parental Pick-up. Though parental drop-off in the mornings is
challenging, the most difficult situation is the big back-up
created by parents backing up on Center Harbor (4:05 is the
most difficult time), awaiting their turn to come to the main
entrance to pick up their students. This is already exacerbated
by the number and speed of cars on Center Harbor Road.
Principal Wolfe wrote an email to all BAES families on
September 21, 2016, about these and related concerns.
c. School Buses. Though less problematic than the walkers and
parental pick-ups, school buses add to the school traffic
situation.

10

2. Development-Impact Student Projections.
a. FCPC analysis. By way of background, FCPS adopted an
“Implementation Motion,” effective January 7, 2003, on how to
project the “student yield” impact of new developments in the
county. This methodology distinguished just four type of
residential development: single-family detached, single-family
detached (townhouses), garden apartments, and highrises. The
student yields of each of those 4 categories is to be recalculated each year. The comparative yield-ratios for 20133014 (the ratios used to evaluate SJW’s most recent proposal)
are shown in Table 4 below:
Table 4: FCPS’s Current Student-Yield/Unit Ratios for 3
Dwelling Types
School Level SingleLow-Rise
Mid/High- Ratio
Family
Multifamily Rise
of lowAttached (Garden
Multifamily rise
Apts.)
yield
to
highrise
yield
Elementary
Middle
School
High School

.252
.062

.194
.046

.056
.016

3.46:1
2.85:1

.127

.085

.028

3.04: 1

Source: August 5, 2016, FCPS Memorandum of Dr. Aimee Holleb, Director,
Office of Facilities Planning Services, to Barbara Berlin, Director of Zoning
Evaluation Division, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning

For the purposes of our present analysis, it is important to note
the difference between the yield for “low-rise” units compared
to that for “high-rise” units. As shown in the rightmost column,
a “low-rise” unit is projected to yield roughly 3 times more
students than a “high-rise” unit for all three levels of school.
Applying that methodology, FCPS concluded that, compared to
the present SJW (which is calculated to yield 82 students for all
3 levels of school), the most recent proposed redevelopment of
SJW, would yield just 67 students for all 3 levels—a decrease of
15 students over-all, which amounts to an 18% decrease. The
main reason for the decrease is clear: it is the difference in the
ratio between the low-rise yield (as with the present SJW) and
the high-rise yield (as with the proposed SJW).

11

Thus, FCPS’s August 5, 2016, memo concluded that there was
no required proffer for the proposed SJW, though a voluntary
proffer was suggested and xx was made by SJW. However, it
invited the developer to make a formula-based voluntary
proffer of $11,748. No such school proffer was evident in SJW
most recent proffer statement (September 6, 2016).

b. Two reasons for believing that this FCPS analysis might
underestimate the student-yield of the proposed SJW
redevelopment:
i. FCPS methodology. FCPS’s methodology for estimating
the student-yield impact of development was cited as a
model in one of the earliest and best studies of this
question.3
However, perhaps due to the need to simplify data
collection in order to ensure reliable parental reporting
and in order to be able to re-evaluate the student-yields
frequently, FCPS adopted a simplified categorization of
multi-family dwelling types into either low-rise or highrise. By contrast, for example, FreddieMac
distinguishes four multi-family categories: garden style
(up to 3 stories), walk-up (4-6 stories, without
elevators), mid-rise (under 9 stories, with elevator/s),
and high-rise (9 or more stories, with elevator/s).4 (See
http://www.freddiemac.com/blog/rental_housing/2015
0727_apartment_property_types.html)
I believe the FCPS’s combining mid- and high-rise
apartment structures into the same student-yield
category, understandable as it is to achieve a
practicable methodology, almost certainly understates
the student-yield of the proposed SJW redevelopment.
That redevelopment’s 5 stories would certainly be
functionally closer to its current garden-apartment
incarnation than, for example, to the 21-story
Metropolitan apartments in Reston Town Center. Yet,
by the FCPS student-yield methodology, it would seem
to be lumped with the latter rather than the former.
3

4

American Planning Association’s Information Report No. 210: “School Enrollment by Housing Type” (May 1960).
See http://www.freddiemac.com/blog/rental_housing/20150727_apartment_property_types.html.

12

If, by way of illustrating the differential impacts of the
two types of apartments, FCPS’s student-yield ratio lowrise multifamily is used instead of its ratio for
mid/highrise multifamily (See Table 4 for those two
ratios), the redevelopment of SJW would produce a
total (ES, MS, HS) yield of 172, as shown in Attachment
F, instead of the FCPS August 2016 projection of 67. I
suspect the actual student-yield will be somewhere
between 67 and 172.
ii. SJW’s own projection of increased residents. SJW’s
revised plan, Sheet C-3 (dated August 31, 2013),
estimates in Section 5 of the Site Tabulation that the
proposed re-development would increase the number
of residents on the site from its current 525 persons to
1,106, a net increase of 581 persons (110%). Table 5
below summarizes Sheet C-3 information:
Table 5: Projected SJW Residents by Dwelling Type
Type of
Number
Assumed
Number of
Dwelling
of Units
Residents/Unit Residents
Townhouse 46
2.7
125
Apartment
467
2.1
981
TOTAL
513
1,106
Two points in the SJW data lead me to conclude that
FCPS’s projection of the student-yield of the proposed
SJW redevelopment is probably understated in a
significant way. The first is the mere fact that there would
be a net increase of 581 persons on the site.
The second and more important is the fact that SJW’s
estimated ratio of residents/unit is above 2.0 for both
townhouses and apartments. Obviously, we have no way
of knowing the relational composition of the households
involved: though some will be the “standard”
father/mother/children relationship, we know there will
be single parents/children, adults/their parents, friends,
individuals living alone, etc. But, if we assume for
illustration sake that all are the “standard” household,
Table 6 below shows the resulting number of children in a
redeveloped SJW:

13

Table 6: Illustrative Projection of Children, Assuming a
“Standard” Household, Based on SJW Ratios of
Residents/Unit
Type of
Number
Assumed
Number
Dwelling
of Units
Children/Unit of
Children
Townhouse
46
0.7
32.2
Apartment
467
0.1
46.7
TOTAL
513
78.9
We can see that the total number of children derived
from this calculation (78.9) is closer to the current FCPS’s
assessment of the 2013-2014 SJW student-yield (82) than
its current projection of the yield of SJW’s redevelopment
(67). Though not all the children would be of school age
at the point of first-occupancy of a new SJW, within 5-6
years they would be.

14

Attachment A:
% of Entire SJW Site Covered or Visually Defined by Major Structures
Based on SJW Sheet C-14, August 31, 2016

Major Structures Alone (Acres)

(sf)

Acreage listed on C-14
Building A-residential and parking combined

2.04

Building B- Residential and parking combined

2

SUB-TOTAL

4.04

Townhouse areas (west to east)

0.08
0.1
0.1
0.12
0.12
0.15
0.08
0.08
0.08

SUB-TOTAL

0.91

TOTAL AREA COVERED BY MAJOR STRUCTURES

4.95

TOTAL SITE AREA

14.33

% TOTAL SITE AREA TO HAVE MAJOR STRUCTURES

34.5%

Scaled from plan
Spaces Visually defined by Major Structures:

(Acres: 43,560 sf =1 A)

(S.F.)

A: set-back on W-central side Bldg. B (120'x120')

0.33

14,400

B: set-back at SW corner Bldg. B (90'x90')/2

0.09

4,050

C: set-back on N side Bldg. B (135'x45')

0.14

6,075

D: set-back on W side Bldg. B (90'x135')

0.28

12,150

E: courtyard (80'x330')

0.61

26,400

F: set-back on N side Bldg. A (105'x90')

0.22

9,450

G: set-back on S. side Bldg. A, with pool (150'x105')

0.36

15,750

Total spaces visually defined by major structures

2.03

88,275

Total area covered or visually defined by major stuctures
(Line 20+Line34)

6.98

% Total site area covered or defined by major structures (line 36/Line 22)

15

48.7%

Attachment B

Single-Family Homes within 1/2 Mile of Perimeter of SJW
Analysis prepared by John Mooney, October 16, 2016
Source: "Reston Associations: Cluster, Condo, and Apartment Associations in Reston, VA,
Map Prepared by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, June 2009

Streets
North of SJW
Woodbrook
Bright Pond Lane
North Subtotal

Distance from the Perimeter of St. John's Wood Property Line
0 - 1/8 Mile
>1/8 - 1/4 Mile >1/4 - 3/8 Mile >3/8 - 1/2 Mile TOTALS
0
0
0

0
0
0

2
0
2

6
2
8

8
2
10

South of SJW*
Greenwich Point Rd.
North Village Rd.
Lake Newport Rd.
Old Eaton Rd.
Harpers Cove Lane
Newport Cove Lane
South Subtotal

0
0
0
0
0
0
0

4
0
0
0
0
0
4

22
7
23
4
10
0
66

2
11
0
0
0
5
18

28
18
23
4
10
5
88

East of SJW
Longwood Grove Drive
East Subtotal

0
0

0
0

0
0

1
1

1
1

West of SJW
Quail Ridge Ct.
Quail Ridge Drive
Forest Rd.
Auburn Grove Lane
Auburn Grove Court
Golden Eagle Drive
Wiehle Ave.
West Subtotal

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

4
23
3
0
3
10
0
43

24
0
0
0
8
17
0
49

2
0
0
0
0
0
5
7

30
23
3
0
11
27
5
99

TOTALS

0

47

117

34

198

* Note that the exact assignment of
a particular house to a particular
street (especially close to North
Village
Road and Lake Newport Road) was
difficult to determine from the map.

16

Attachment C:
Dwelling units within 1/2 mile of perimeter of SJW, sorted by distance, type, and number of units
Note: Prefix numbers (e.g., 128: Windsor Park) are keyed to the association numbers in the map listed in Source 1) below.
0 - 1/8 Mile

# Units >1/8 - 1/4 Mile

128: Windsor Park (Cluster)
35: Devonshire (Cluster)

# Units >1/4 - 3/8 Mile

66 223: Sutton Ridge (Condos)
83 Single Family

208: Hampton Pointe (Condos)
109: Turnbridge (Cluster)
55: Hemingway (Cluster)

140 70: Lantern Way (Cluster)
18 3: Ashley Court (Cluster)
78 Single Family
305: Harbor Park (Apartments)

107: Timberview (Cluster)

72 48: Halstead Glen (Cluster)
4: Baldwin Grove (Cluster)

84: Old Brookville (Cluster)
37: Fairbrook (Cluster)

29 200: The Apts. At North Point
29 93: Ridgewood (Cluster)
Single family
216: North Point Villa (Condos)
222: Summer Ridge (Condos)

NA
7
1
0
8

0 NA
357
140
0
497

# Units >3/8 - 1/2 Mile

193 Single Family
0 57: Highland Park (Cluster)
117: Weatherstone (Cluster)

2 Single Family
23 111: Vintage Place (Cluster)
58

8
122

37 Single Family
32 79: Newport Shores (Cluster)
4 8: Belcastle Court (Cluster)
191

66 Single Family
32 15: Bromley Village (Cluster)
18 9: Bennington Square (Cluster)
6: Bayfield Station (Cluster)
31: Concord Green (Cluster)

18
21
34
50
101

67 201: Baldwin Groves (Condos)
87 54: Heather Knoll (Cluster)

3
5
2
8

# Units

49
99
43
106
168

Single Family
1: Arbor Glen (Cluster)
130: Woodcrest (Cluster)
80: Newport Springs (Cluster)

47 NA
322
467
240
1076

8
1
0
9

126 89: The Pavilions (Cluster)
52 118: Wedgewood Manor (Cluster)
85: Old Chatham (Cluster)
Single Family
49
44
64
28

Single Family
2: Arbor Wood (Cluster)
23: Chestnut Ridge (Cluster)
103: Summit Chase (Cluster)

117 NA
319
126
0
562

7
36
57
90

10
0
0
10

1) The list of associations cited above is from "Reston Associations: Cluster, Condo, and Apartment Associations in Reston, Virginia," Map Prepared by the
Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, June 2009, retrieved on 10/14/16 from
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/projects/reston/maps/reston_association_cluster_map_6-22-2009.pdf. Distances from SJW scaled by John Mooney.
2) All cluster information is from https://www.reston.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=6ENW5PqTmkc%3D&tabid=308&mid=896
3) All condo information is from https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/2015%20PROPERTY/Condos%20PUBLIC%209.1.16.pdf
4) All apartment information is from https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/Property%20Owner%20Resources/UPDATED%20Apartment%20Contact%20List.pdf
5) All single-family dwelling information is from John Mooney's visual count from Source 1 above.

17

34
63
36
1

34
644
0
0
678

TOTAL
ALL
TOTAL ALL
TYPES UNITS
198
198
28
1,642
7
733
2
240
NA
2,813

18

Attachment E
Key parameters of SJW Tree-Preservation Proposals
JRM, 4 October 2016
"Development Plan
Proposal"
Powerpoint, 8 April
2015, p. 3
Gross (and adjusted gross) site area (s.f.)
Area Existing Canopy (s.f.)
Area of Preserved Canopy (s.f.) by actual preservation
Additional Area of "Preserved" Canopy (s.f.) through 1.25 Credit
Total area of "preserved" canopy
10-Year Canopy provided by Tree planting
Total combined "tree canopy" claimed (including 1.25 credit)
Total actual tree canopy (actual preservation + planting)

195,000
140,000

19

Sheet C-13,
7/8/2016

Sheet C-13,
% of Adjusted Gross
8/31/16
% of Existing Canopy
Site Area
624,183
100.0%
216,963
216,104
100.0%
34.6%
85,202
86,296
39.9%
13.8%
21,574
10.0%
3.5%
107,870
49.9%
17.3%
96,804
44.8%
15.5%
204,674
94.7%
32.8%
183,100
84.7%
29.3%

ATTACHMENT F: Illustrative re- calculation of student-impact of SJW redevelopment,
substituting FCPS's Low-Rise MF Ratio for its Mid/High-Rise Ratio for the Proposed 467 Apartments
John Mooney, October 13, 2016

StudentYield Ratio
for that Type

Number
of Proposed
SJW Units
of that Type

Resulting
StudentYield

School Level

Dwelling Type

Buzz Aldrin
Herndon MS
Herndon HS

SF Attached (TH)
SF Attached (TH)
SF Attached (TH)

0.252
0.062
0.127

46
46
46

11.6
2.9
5.8

Buzz Aldrin
Herndon MS
Herndon HS

Low-Rise MF
Low-Rise MF
Low-Rise MF

0.194
0.046
0.085

467
467
467

90.6
21.5
39.7

Buzz Aldrin
Herndon MS
Herndon HS

SUBTOTAL
SUBTOTAL
SUBTOTAL
TOTAL

102.2
24.3
45.5
172.1

20