You are on page 1of 6

Comments from Richard Chew Regarding the

Reston Master Plan Special Study
Presented To
Reston Association Board of Directors at its
Special Board Meeting on June 19, 2010

What follows is an extract of what I plan to present to the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force.
This document is not intended for circulation to others by any of its recipients.

Although I currently serve as a Director of the Reston Association, am a founding member of the Alliance of
Reston Cl ustersandHomeowner s(ARCH) ,andbychar t
eram amemberoft heRest onCitizen’sAssoci ation,t
views, comments, and suggestions offered herein are mine and not those of any of these or other community
organizations. I do acknowledge, however, that these views, comments, and suggestions may have been
influenced –sometimes strongly –by others.

Thepl anni ngprinci
plesadopt edi nt
he1960’ sbyRober tE.Si mon,Jr .andot herplanni
ngvi si
esf orRest on
have served the community well. The objective now is to update those principles based on lessons learned over
the past five decades as well as how the area has actually evolved over time.

The intent of this document is not to redefine current and generally-accepted planning principles and practices as
they might apply to the Reston area. The application of those principles and practices must, however, be done in
a manner that not only preserves the unique character of Reston but enhances that uniqueness. It must also be
done in a manner that continues the pioneering and its innovative approaches to community planning for which
Reston is known worldwide.

To the extent recommendations made herein may already be addressed in County planning documents, their
inclusion here serves to emphasize their importance.

These comments address the following topics:

 Community of the Whole
 Excellence and Innovation in All Things
 I
sAl lAboutt heEnv i
 Location, Location, Location
 Residential Neighborhoods and Housing Diversity
 Playing in Reston
 How Do We Get From Here to There?
 Serving Reston Residents
 Ongoing Community Oversight of Reston Development

Community of the Whole

It is essential that any future development projects in Reston be considered within the context of how those
projects fit into the Reston community as a whole. It is foolish to believe that the suitability of any given project
should be evaluated only on its impacts on the immediately-surrounding neighborhood. All projects must be
considered integral parts of the greater community.

Excellence and Innovation in All Things

Part of what makes Reston unique is the community has embraced excellence and innovation from its earliest
days. BobSi monf eltstrongl yt hat“ beauty–structural & natural –is a necessity of the good life & should be
fostered.”Excellence and innovation must be embodied in the revised RMP and a requirement for all future
development plans. We expect excellence in building form and function. Projects must be beautiful; compatible
with, and considerate of, their surroundings; and environmentally friendly.

Although not always achieved in past Reston development, the County must insist upon –and developers must
strive to deliver –excellence and innovation in all future development. Projects that achieve this goal should be
rewarded and all parties should accept that projects falling short of this goal may not be appropriate for Reston.
Doi trightordon’ tdoitatall.

Although considerable attention is often given to building heights, floor-area-ratios (FAR), and residents per acre,
how a structure or project fits into its surroundings should be a primary factor in project evaluation. The aesthetics
of a project and how that project respects the context of its surrounding neighborhood must weigh heavily in
approving building heights and placement on a site.

Truly excellent design must include the continued integration of public art into the Reston community. Public art is
a key component of vibrant community gathering spaces and new public art should be included in all future
development proposals within Reston. Any new public art should be consistent with guidance in the Initiative for
Public Art –Reston Public Art Master Plan.


Maintaining the natural beauty and resources in Reston must be given the highest priority when considering future
development in Reston.

The natural areas within the Reston Association are considered its number one asset and considerable effort is
sEnvironmental Advisory
made by the Association to preserve those areas. As noted recently by the Association’
Committee (EAC):

“Reston's natural areas are one of its defining features. As a community, we benefit from a
greater number of natural areas than do many communities in Fairfax County. Surveys of
residents have consistently shown that these areas are frequently enjoyed and highly valued by
thosewhol iv eher e.Ev ent houghthesenat ural areaswer epar tofRest on’sor iginal mast erplan,
their conservation and protection was not stated explicitly in the founding principles laid out by
Robert Simon. EAC believes that such a statement should be added now, as part of the general
principles of the plan review.”

Further, the EAC has recommended that, in line with the Fairfax County Boar dofSuper visor s’2004st atementof
commi tment ,“ Environment alExcel lencef orFai rfaxCount y,”thepr inci
pl eofenvi ronment al health should be
applied to all of Reston, not just to the natural areas. “To protect the environmental health and ecological integrity
of our community, future dev elopmenti nRest onshal lconser ve,pr otectandr est
orethecommuni ty’
snat ural
resources, including its soils, water, native flora and fauna, in both qualitative and quantitative measures.”

At a minimum, there should be no net loss of natural areas in Reston as a result of planned or future
development. Optimally, such development should be planned in such a manner as to increase our natural areas.

Existing mature trees should be preserved to the extent practical and the quantity of trees and wooded areas
should be increased, consistent with the Fairfax County Tree Action Plan.

The protection and restoration of streams and other ecological resources throughout Reston must be given high
priority during the land development process. All future development in Reston must be required to implement
best-in-class storm water management practices consi stentwithorexceedi ngt heCount y’
management plan recommendations for streams in Reston. In particular, developers should be prohibited from
using Reston Association streams and lakes in their storm water management schemes. Over and above the
measures to be taken by developers to manage storm water runoff from future projects, the County should seek
appr opr iat
epr off
er sfrom dev el
oper stof
undt hecl eanupandr est
orat i
onofRest on’
sexi sti
ngst reams.

The County should adopt the Reston Association policy prohibiting use of invasive exotic plants (as identified by
the Virginia Department of Conser
onandRecr eat i
on’sDi visi onofNat uralHer it
age)for any current or planned
development within Reston.

The Sunrise Valley Wetlands Nature Park near the Herndon-Monroe Metro Station must be preserved in
perpetuity. The establishment of a comparable wetlands park elsewhere in the greater Reston so as to permit
development of the existing parcel is not viable. Revisions to the RMP must prohibit development of this park and
discourage nearby development that might adversely impact the park. The County should aggressively support
the donation of this park to the Reston Association for its continued use and management for benefit of the

TheCount y’
sSust ai
nabl eDevel opmentPol i
cyclear lydemonst r
atesitscommi tmentt oenvi r
onmental, economic,
and social stewardship through sustainable development practices for County facilities and buildings. That policy
must be considered the minimum baseline for all future development in Reston.

To the maximum extent appropriate all future commercial and residential projects should incorporate the
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards of design, construction, renovation, and
building operations. Site development proposals should incorporate Low Impact Development (LID) methods into
site development designs.

In addition to preservingRest on’
snaturalareas,future development should provide visually attractive and
publicly-accessible open space. These open spaces should be innovative in design and function so as to attract
maximum use by residents, office workers, and visitors. Such spaces should include urban parks, plazas, play
areas, pedestrian pathways, and outdoor recreational facilities. These spaces should exclude areas used for
parking or vehicular traffic.

Consideration should be given to requiring that a minimum of 25% of the gross land area on a given site or
consolidated sites to be developed be set aside as publicly accessible parks, open space and recreation areas.

Pedestrian pathways should be interconnected with the existing pathway system in Reston.

Location, Location, Location

Future high-density mixed-use development in Reston should be focused along the Reston Corridor, the Lake
Anne Village Center, and the Reston Town Center, including Spectrum.

Opportunities for “air rights”development along the Reston Corridor should be pursued. This would allow transit-
oriented development above or adjacent to transit stations and provide additional crossings of the Dulles Toll
(thus helping to close the gap between north and south Reston.

Residential Neighborhoods and Housing Diversity

The preservation of existing, stable, residential neighborhoods and their housing diversity must be a high priority
for all future development in Reston. It is essential that future development in Reston preserve or enhance the
character of any adjacent residential neighborhoods, including those proximate to the Reston Town Center,
village centers, or along the Reston Corridor.

Where possible, the County should seek to set the residential density levels to their existing, as-built levels. Any
future infill development in these neighborhoods should be of a compatible use, type and intensity in accordance
with the guidance provided by the County’ s Policy Plan.

Future commercial development in Reston must not be allowed to encroach into existing residential
neighborhoods. Development projects adjacent to residential neighborhoods must incorporate adequate
screening, buffering and other design measures to incorporate a clearly defined edge between the development
and residential areas.

The socio-economic diversity within Reston is an impor t
antel ementoft hecommuni ty’
schar act erandsuccess.
Thedi versificati
onofhousi ngi nRest onwasoneofBobSi mon’ sorigi
nal goalsf orRest onandmust remain a
guiding principal for all future development in Reston. Going forward we must strive to provide for housing for
people of all ages, physical abilities, economic circumstances, and families of all sizes and at all stages of family

All future development in Reston that includes a residential component must include provisions for affordable
senior and workforce housing in order to achieve a project’s maximum development potential. Such housing
should be provided in accordance with the Affordable Dwelling Unit Ordinance and/or other Board-adopted
policies regarding affordable housing.

Playing in Reston

BobSi mon’ sfir
stgoal fort henewRest oncommuni tywast hatthe new town shoul d“ provideawi der angeof
ural &r ecreationalfacilit
ies…”andt oagr eatext entthi sgoal hasbeenachi eved.I tiswidely recognized,
however, that current deficiencies in active recreation facilities will be exacerbated by the large population growth
projected for Reston.

Cooperative public/private sector strategies should be pursued to locate outdoor recreation facilities to serve the
adult workforce in proximity to employment centers.

The Reston Association has played a unique and significant role in the development of natural and open areas
and recreation amenities within the boundaries of the Reston Master Plan. Although the Reston Association can
be expected to cooperate with the County in its efforts to meet the future recreational needs of Reston residents,
the Association and its members cannot be expected to fund the costs of doing so.

Many of the future development projects in Reston will include residential units. Whether or not these units are
ultimately subjected to the Reston Association covenants, residents will be able to use and benefit from the free
recreational facilities managed by the Association. Therefore, developers should be expected to make a proffer to
the Reston Association to aid in the support of these recreational facilities.

New commercial and residential development in Reston will result in an increased tax base for Small Tax District
5. The potential revenue from the increased tax base should be used by the County to meet the need for
additional indoor public performing arts space and indoor recreational facilities for all who live or work within the
greater Reston community. With respect to the space needed for these facilities, developers should be
incentivized to include such facilities within their projects.

A viable outdoor public performing arts space would not only benefit Reston residents and workers but could
serve as a regional draw. The County should work with the development community to identify a suitable location
for such a venue as well as a methodology for funding its construction. Once constructed, the facility should be
operated by the Reston Community Center.

Existing County recreation areas within Reston, such as parks, ball fields, and golf courses should be preserved
and, where appropriate, enhanced to meet the diverse and expanding needs of the Reston community.

How Do We Get From Here to There?

No single community issue generates more discussion within Reston than transportation. Although the extent of
traffic congestion in Reston today is often the subject of spirited debate –most interestingly amongst
transportation professionals –few in the community disagree that the coming of Metro and future development in
Reston will present transportation challenges that must be met in order to maintain the quality of living, working,
and playing in Reston.

Notwithstanding the legal, jurisdictional and funding issues, the Reston community expects its local, state, and
Federal officials to meet the challenges of Metro and future development in Reston. And they are expected to do
so in a timely fashion. Not doing so is not an option. Smart growth, the financial success of future development in
Reston, and t hecommuni ty’
squal it
yofl if
edependont heimpl ement at
ionofwel l-planned effective, multi-modal
transportation strategies.

It is not the intent of this document to prescribe specific solutions. That is better achieved by those far better
equipped to do so. There are, however, some basic –and fairly obvious –needs as noted below.

 Transportation strategies should be focused on maintaining or reducing existing vehicular traffic and not
on building new roads, widening existing roadways, or setting high parking requirements. Transportation
management strategies that promote alternatives to single occupant vehicle use, particularly during peak
commutation hours, should be strongly encouraged. These strategies should, however be realistic as
well. Not everyone will be able to bike or walk. Public transportation –no matter how well planned –will
not meet all needs all of the time.

 The County must find a practical way to balance land use within Reston. Although some in the community
have suggested that the balance of use be focused in the development along the Reston corridor or
within the Reston Town Center area, balance across all of Reston should be the goal.

 Transportation improvements should be appropriately sequenced with planned development, and
development phases should only be approved following additional transportation analysis and the
provision of appropriate transportation mitigation measures. The planned roadway improvements in and
around the Transit Station Areas should be completed in a timely fashion. These improvements are
necessary to ensure the continued functioning of the road network in the vicinity of the transit station

 The anal ysisofapr oposeddev elopmentpr oj
ect’st ransportat
mpact smustnotbedonei ni solati
Not only should development plans identify specific improvements needed to support the proposed
project and its immediate neighborhood, developers should be expected to identify the potential impact
throughout Reston and make monetary contributions towards mitigating those impacts.

 Strong transportation demand management (TDM) strategies that encourage or incentivize alternatives to
vehicular travel must be a requirement of all future development.

 Future development projects must facilitate pedestrian and bicycle access to the transit stations and
amongst parcels through effective integration into the Reston pedestrian and bike network.

 Pedestrian safety should be an important factor in designing pedestrian links. Auto and pedestrian traffic
should be separated to the greatest extent possible. Pedestrians should be provided with safe and
convenient access to public transportation options. Developers of commercial office space should include
facilities for bicycle storage and for showering and changing.

 There is a strong desire within the Reston community to find creative and effective ways to bridge the
great north-south divide created by the Dulles Access/Toll Road.

Serving Reston Residents

Today, residents in Reston are served by a number of homeowners or community associations, the largest of
which is the Reston Association.

Recognizing its value to the community and future residents of Reston, the Reston Association has launched an
aggressive and appropriate outreach to potential developers of residential projects not currently located on land
subjecttot heRAcovenant s.TheAssoci at
ion’sst atedgoal i
nt hi
st oeducat ethesedevel opersr egar di
the benefits of belonging to the Reston Association to the land owners and their future residents.

The Reston Association should continue, and the County should aggressively support, these efforts.

Ongoing Community Oversight of Reston Development

Over the years a number of community-based entities –some formal, some less so –have served the greater
Reston community well with respect to facilitating community input into Reston’ s development. Confusion,
however, has often existed with respect to the prescribed roles and authority of the Hunter Mill Land Use
Committee, the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, the Reston Association Design Review Board, The Reston
Association Architectural Review Board, and the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

The revised Comprehensive Plan must clearly articulate that the Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB)
is the final arbiter of development on land subject to the Reston Association covenants, including changes to as-
built densities, site planning, and architectural design.

The current Reston Planning & Zoning Committee (under the Reston Association) should be reconstituted as a
formal County advisory committee under the Hunter Mill District Supervisor. The committee should be comprised
of land-use and architectural professionals appointed by the Supervisor to include representatives from the
Reston Association at large, the Reston Association DRB, and the Reston Town Center Association. The
committee should be tasked with providing extensive community review of preliminary concept and final site plans
and architectural designs.