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Fairfax County board approves overhaul of Reston Comprehensive Plan

Reston Town Center Station (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

A three-year-long planning effort has culminated in the adoption of a new comprehensive plan for Reston.

At a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an overhaul of the Reston Comprehensive Plan, setting into place new guidance on affordable housing, community health, equity and other issues.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn kicked off the overhaul of the plan in January 2020. After more than 50 task force meetings with community stakeholders, county staff and county officials pared down a task force’s draft into a revamped plan. Some called it ambitious, while others worried it was too prescriptive.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the plan safeguards existing neighborhoods, while bolstering transit and positioning Reston as a major economic development center in the county.

“The adoption of the Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment is a momentous achievement for Reston, ushering in a new era that ensures Reston’s continued success,” McKay said.

Unlike the previous plan, the new plan includes dedicated principles that define Reston as a new town. Those principles include community health, equity, preservation of neighborhoods and affordable housing.

Alcorn thanked Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter for his work in producing the final proposal.

“After much deliberation by the Planning Commission and my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, I am proud to say that Reston has an updated comprehensive plan that is much more than a land use document,” Alcorn wrote in a statement. “It is also a blueprint for the next phase of what Reston has always been – an inclusive community that values our green open spaces and a vibrant economy.”

Alcorn said the plan aims to maintain Reston’s fidelity to founder Robert E. Simon’s original vision while meeting today’s challenges.

“This plan and process proves that even in times of the highest levels of community concern and anxiety about growth and development, this is a consensus community plan. Focusing growth around Metrorail is not only possible, it is the reality in Reston,” Alcorn said.

At yesterday’s meeting, supervisors continued to massage language in the plan.

For example, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross argued that it was unrealistic for the plan to say the future relocation of Reston Regional Library should not impact service.

“The community will anticipate that its going to be smooth sailing,” Gross said, adding that “disruption” is an in inherent part of the process.

Several pending issues may be ironed out in future updates — including the approval of several applications for zoning changes in Reston.

Alcorn introduced several follow-on motions. Two topics — community health and equity — may be explored in a future update to the county’s overall plans.

Alcorn directed the Fairfax County Park Authority, Reston Community Center, Reston Town Center Association and Reston Association to develop a strategy for the long-term maintenance and upkeep of community facilities in Reston.

He also asked staff to improve safety at Sunrise Valley Drive and Fairfax County Parkway, as well as along Reston Parkway from the Dulles Toll Road to Sunrise Valley Drive.

The planning commission also wants the county to develop and implement design standards for better pedestrian and bicycle access to Metro stations.

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