Some Reston residents have lost the war against construction of a restaurant and bar in their neighborhood, but they've won several major concessions from the developers.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Monday approved zoning code changes that will allow a California-based developer to build a 250-seat restaurant in southern Reston.
But the board bent to residents' demands to limit the size and hours of the restaurant. And in addition, the capacity of the restaurant-bar was pared to 250 seats from the developers' original request for 340 seats.
The request by the developer, the Lee Sammis Company, to build the restaurant near planned twin, six-story office buildings on a now-vacant lot off Sunrise Valley Road sparked protests from residents of the quiet, park-like neighborhood across the boulevard.
"We're being asked to buy a mammoth-sized black box and we don't know who will be in it," nearby resident Marjorie Fingeret told county supervisors Monday.
Residents said they were concerned that the "high-class" restaurant proposed by the developer eventually would become a rundown eyesore in the community.
Strongest opposition, however, came from residents protesting the late-night lounge that would accompany the restaurant. Some residents said they feared the noise would disturb the neighborhood and that the potential for drunk drivers on the streets would pose a threat to children walking to and from neighborhood swimming pools and tennis courts.
But the neighborhood in the area of the proposed restaurant was split on the issue.
Harold Miller, a former county supervisor, argued that Reston needs more high-quality restaurants and said residents should welcome the addition of a "high-class restaurant."
Supervisors approved the proposed restaurant unanimously, drawing up compromises between the developers' and residents' positions on several issues:
The restaurant can be open only from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Residents had requested the restricted hours, but the developers had asked that the restaurant be allowed to remain open until 2 a.m. each day.
The developers were ordered to work closely with citizens' associations to design a landscape that will screen the restaurant and its parking lot from the neighborhood.
Neon signs and loud bands or disco music have been banned from the restaurant-lounge.
Residents' complaints against the restaurant stirred more controversy than most zoning cases in the county. Two supervisors--Chairman John F. Herrity and member Martha V. Pennino--were accused by a Reston resident of conflict of interest in the case because they each had received campaign contributions from the architectural firm that designed the restaurant.
As a result, the supervisors postponed action on the zoning case for one week in order to receive a ruling from the Commonwealth Attorney on the alleged conflict of interest.
Commonwealth Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. ruled that the $400 contribution to Herrity and $344 contribution to Pennino in their 1979 campaigns for seats on the Board of Supervisors would not prohibit them from voting on the case.
State law mandates that public officials disclose information on contributions received during the previous year before voting on issues which could be affected by those contributions. Pennino and Herrity received the contribution from the architects in 1979, but they made disclosure statements before voting Monday.