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A sign at Lake Anne Plaza explains Reston’s origins as a planned community (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County staff have released their final word on a draft version of the Reston Comprehensive Plan, a guiding document for holistic community planning that was last updated in 2015.

Released yesterday (Wednesday), the staff report shortens and tweaks the first version of the plan, which was developed by a Reston Comprehensive Plan task force, a 31-member group convened by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in 2020.

In response to concerns raised by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, staff’s recommendations for the plan tighten prescriptive policy language in the first proposal and condense several separate sections into one chapter on planning for the new town of Reston.

“This chapter of the proposed plan does not break new policy ground, nor is it prescriptive,” the report states.

In the report, staff noted that their version of the plan aims to maintain the existing residential densities in Reston’s village centers, removing the option of housing in non-residential portions. Any changes would require another amendment to the plan.

The proposal also aims to preserve existing market and affordable housing in Reston — although that language is an encouragement, rather than a mandate.

The idea of biophilia — a designation given to communities that protect and cultivate nature while creating deep connections with the natural world — is also emphasized in future planning and development in Reston.

As alluded to during previous discussions in April, the latest plan includes a chapter called “Planning a New Town” that combines the principles of equity, community health and economic development under an umbrella chapter instead of separate ones.

“I am looking forward to reviewing the staff report to ensure that it includes the essence of goals from that Board Matter three years ago. Last updated in 2015, the Reston Comprehensive Plan is the guiding document for land use and development decisions in Reston,” Alcorn wrote in his weekly newsletter to constituents.

The task force’s initial version drew consternation from the board, which saw it as overtly prescriptive and an overstep of what the county can require by law. The board also worried it would set a precedent of establishing separate principles of community health and equity for one community within the county.

The staff’s version of the report also departs from the task force’s version on several key points.

The task force sought to remove an exemption in the plan that removed ground-level retail located in office, hotel and residential buildings from calculations when determining how much a developer should pay into the county’s housing trust fund. Read More

Reston Town Center Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The most recent update of Reston’s draft comprehensive plan got a kudos from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors earlier this week.

At a land use policy committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), board members said the latest version of the plan — which has been under the pen for nearly two years — averts the prescriptive policy language put in place by a community task force that created the first draft of the new plan roughly two years ago.

An official staff report is expected next month, followed by a June 14 Fairfax County Planning Commission public hearing and a board public hearing on July 11.

As discussed last month by the planning commission, the latest version by county staff focuses on supporting guidance in existing county policies, avoiding language that could be seen as establishing new policies.

New planning principles of equity, community health and economic development were consolidated into a chapter on the “new town” of Reston instead of getting separate chapters.

Franconia Supervisor Supervisor Rodney Lusk said he was particularly pleased with the guidance on economic development for Reston, which says support for housing, businesses, education and access to Metro’s Silver Line stations is key to maintaining the area’s “unique community and business climate.”

But Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said he was unsure if there was anything particularly unique about Reston that warranted guidance.

“I’m not sure why Reston feels like it has to take a position on that. It doesn’t seem to be anything particularly unique,” Foust said.

He added that economic development guidance for a particular area could open up other area plans to similar updates when the guidance should simply be applied countywide.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who initiated the review and held dozens of meetings with the community task force, said he wouldn’t support the new plan if he didn’t feel it was an improvement over Reston’s current plan.

Alcorn also asked staff to create a chart that depicts significant issues and concerns.

“Overall, I want to make sure we balance this in the right way, because I don’t want to dumb down Reston’s comprehensive plan,” Alcorn said.

County staff noted that they tightened up language in the task force’s version of the plan.

Providence District Supervisor Dahlia Palchik said she was pleased the new plan is now “going in the right direction.”

“This is in a much better place,” she said.


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