Reston: RN Golf Changes Course

Reston: RN Golf Changes Course

Rescue Reston remains cautious after RN Golf lays approach shot short of Supreme Court.

Rescue Reston remains cautious, despite notification from Reston National Golf Course attorneys that it won’t continue its appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

“We will take a breath to enjoy this victory while we watch for RN Golf's next move,” Connie Hartke, president of Rescue Reston, said Monday, March 7.

Last Friday, March 4, RN Golf Club’s attorney Scott D. Helsel wrote to the clerk of the Virginia Supreme Court to say it won’t continue its legal appeal of Fairfax County Circuit Court decisions made in November. RN Golf’s attorney had originally filed notice to appeal November’s Fairfax County Circuit Court decision on Dec. 22, 2015.

“While RN Golf may choose to pursue available redevelopment options in the future, and thus this letter is not intended to waive any and all rights it may have to do so, I am writing to let you know that RN Golf has decided not to continue with its appeal in these cases,” wrote Helsel.

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE Michael F. Devine granted Fairfax County’s motion for summary judgment, meaning the Circuit Court vacated and voided the April 15, 2015 county Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) decision concerning the Reston National Golf Course.

The owners of Reston National Golf Course hope to build housing on the land in the future, but the county circuit court ruling will require them to go through the usual zoning process to do so.

“The circuit court ruling on Friday, Nov. 6, is considered a defeat for the owner of the golf course and is significant because any redevelopment of the course must now be preceded by the filing of specific plans with the county, which will then be compared with the ‘Development Plans’ approved in 1971,” said John McBride, Reston Association's legal counsel. “These plans are in the county zoning files and clearly limit use of the land to a golf course, open space and driving range. Any change to these approved plans will require amendment approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The golf course owner had sought to avoid this requirement for a plan amendment by seeking by-right use status for a number of residential and other uses.”

RN Golf claimed by-right development in the matter of the land use designation of Reston National Golf Course.

The County website describes by-right development as projects that are permitted under their current zoning and do not require any legislative action by the Board of Supervisors or the Board of Zoning Appeals. “They are approved administratively and do not require public hearings. Our Fairfax County Supervisors, Attorneys and Zoning Administrator adamantly disagree [that the golf course could be developed by-right]. Reston, like two other areas in Fairfax County, is a Planned Residential Community District which is unique and misunderstood by outside speculators,” Hartke said in the fall.

Many expected RN Golf to fight last year’s decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.

IT IS NOT ‘OVER,’ but this aspect of RN Golf's legal option is done and this is a very good thing,” Hartke said Monday.

Rescue Reston responded to RN Golf’s decision to forego the appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court on its website: “Rescue Reston views today’s action as a very positive moment in the fight to save the 166 acres of open, recreation space that is integral to Reston’s vision as a Planned Residential Community.”

By Monday, Hartke said, “The collaboration of three sets of land use attorneys (the petitioners, Reston Association and Fairfax County) gave us the winning strategy against the corporate giant, Northwestern Mutual, partial owner of RN Golf.”

“Rescue Reston will continue to defend the recreational open space as clearly outlined in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for Reston at Reston National Golf Course, a 166-acre Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Golf Course,” she said.

“We are incredibly grateful for the actions of Reston residents, Rescue Reston members, Reston Association and Fairfax County and in awe of how the community stood together during this arduous process,” she said.

“Rescue Reston will provide updates soon regarding ongoing actions needed to remain vigilant in monitoring and continuing to protect this valuable Reston amenity,” according to its website.