A week from today, March 5, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will have a hearing to decide whether to raise the population cap in the zoning used for most of Reston, the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district, above 13 persons per acre to 15. This comes on the heels of the Planning Commission unanimously recommending to the BOS not to move forward with the proposed change.
I agree with the Planning Commission for two reasons. First it is not necessary at this time – there are still 1,601 dwelling units available before the 13 persons per acre cap is reached according to county staff. There are no proposed projects in the pipeline that would exceed that limit anytime soon.
Second, issues about population and infrastructure belong in the comprehensive plan and not the PRC zoning ordinance. The comprehensive plan is the primary tool provided to local governments in Virginia specifically for this purpose.
Instead of raising the cap in the zoning ordinance the BOS should direct county staff to recommend a process for addressing population in the comprehensive plan, and detail what changes would be necessary for both the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance.
Like I said in a Washington Post column last June, it’s time to set the zoning ordinance aside and fix the plan.