The Fairfax Board of Supervisors is set to vote Tuesday on a plan for Reston that would add 22,000 homes, hotels and several office buildings to the community, changes inspired by the pending arrival of the Silver Line Metrorail extension.
With its shimmering lakes and its trees overhanging winding pathways, Reston has embodied the ideal of a place where people can live, work and play ever since the Northern Virginia community was founded by Robert E. Simon nearly 50 years ago.
County planners and a task force of residents and developers, hoping to preserve Reston’s character, have a 116-page plan that calls for mixed-use development around the three Metro stations planned to serve the community of 60,000 people.
The first of those stations — at Wiehle Avenue — could open this summer. The others — the Reston Town Center station and the Herndon station — are slated to begin operation in 2018, when Metro hopes to complete the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport.
In a scaled-down version of what is happening about nine miles away in Tysons, the Reston plan would add multifamily housing, hotels, office buildings and stores over several decades at the new “village centers,” which are currently the sites of office parks.
A performing arts center, new schools and urban parks and new streets near the Dulles Toll Road would also be among the changes.
“It’s a great opportunity to kind of reinvent Reston on the same principles upon which it was founded,” said Patricia Nicoson, who chaired the task force that has worked on the plan since 2009.
Opponents contend that adding density to Reston will increase traffic in an area where the Dulles Toll Road is already heavily congested. They also say improvements to streets, sewer lines and other infrastructure could lead to higher taxes, a possibility that the plan’s supporters don’t rule out.
“At the end of the day, who is going to pay for all of this and when and how?” said Robert Whitfield, a 20-year resident and a member of the Dulles Corridor Users Group.
Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said a major focus would be to ease transportation in the area, through the new street grid and additional toll road intersections.
“We will have to work with the challenges of infrastructure improvements on a timely basis to make sure it works well,” Hudgins said.
Although the plan appears to have enough support for approval, Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) criticized the effort, saying it did not place enough emphasis on relieving traffic congestion.
“It’s a case of misplaced priorities,” Herrity said.