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Master plan phase II will look at future of Reston's village centers

By Karen Goff

Thursday - 5/15/2014, 3:30pm  ET

Empty Tall OaksWhat should the Reston of the future look like?

That’s the question as Fairfax County planners are beginning Phase II of the Reston Master Plan Special Study — about two years behind schedule.

Phase I, which looked at the how development should proceed in the areas surrounding Reston’s upcoming Metro stations, was completed late last year and approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in January.

County officials say the the current comprehensive plans, last updated in 1989, requires revision for three primary reasons: Reston no longer has a master developer to update the plan for Reston; the plan for Reston has outdated elements; and with population expected to grow with the arrival of Metro later this year, Reston is evolving as a community.

Phase II will look at what kind of changes — if any — should happen to Reston’s neighborhoods, village centers and convenience centers, as well as some areas adjacent to Reston. Lake Anne Plaza, which underwent is own rezoning and revitalization process from 2006-09, will not be part of the study.

Planners will pay particular attention to the commercial area just north of Reston Town Center and Baron Cameron Avenue.

This area contains retailers such as Home Depot, Silver Diner, Trader Joes and others. The county says this area is part of the original 1987 460-acre Reston Town Center rezoning, but developed with a different character than the surrounding residential areas and the retail area south of Baron Cameron Avenue. The comprehensive plan will provide framework on how this commercial area should develop over the mid-to-distant future.

Also up for discussion – Tall Oaks Village Center, which has been losing tenants for years and remains mostly empty.

Phase II will also:

Create a New Reston Land Use Map

The current Master Plan for Reston is comprised of three black and white maps (last approved in 1989) that depict a land use plan, community facilities plan, and a transportation plan. While the transportation plans now contain the latest transportation information, the land use and community facilities plans need to be updated.

Cince Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) will remain under the population cap of 83,000 — even with expected growth — that residential neighborhoods will not likely see much change, Fairfax County Planner Heidi Merkel said at a 2011 presentation on Phase II .

“The PRC district area will remain basically constant at currently 13 people per acre,” she said at the 2011 meeting. “Phase II will evaluate options how to address a time when it may go above where the cap is. It could be exceeded on a case-by-case basis.”

Merkel said the plan intends to “preserve the stability of residential neighborhoods in Reston. Part of the process will entail how best to do that.”

However, zoning changes could occur based on what is already built, said Merkel.

“If a neighborhood was zoned medium density and townhouses (rather than high-density apartments) were built there, the zoning might be reclassified as low to accommodate what is already there,” Merkel said.

Provide Guidance for Village Centers

The county says the “end result of this study will not be the replanning of each village center.”

What Phase II will do is provide an overall framework for redeveloping the village centers by establishing general guidance and expectations on how a village center should function. Developers will still need to apply for rezoning and concurrent plan amendment to redevelop a village center, the county says.

Phase II was originally expected to get underway in Spring 2012, but delays with Phase I pushed everything back. Phase II is expected to take less time that Phase I, which took nearly four years.

Have an opinion on what should change and what should stay the same as Reston moves forward? Then attend a community open house with Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins at 8:30 a.m. on June 7 at United Christain Parish, 11508, North Shore Dr.

Photo: Empty Tall Oaks Village Center storefronts/file photo