With exponential growth expected in Reston with the extension of Metrorail, a community ad-hoc committee is coming up with a plan that aims to snare appropriate development at Reston Town Center.
"[For the] overall vision - think urban," said ad-hoc committee member Robert Goudie, a Town Center resident, during a Reston Master Plan Committee meeting Tuesday night. "We've got to get urban. We've got to get into that mindset."
Goudie, who serves on a Town Center subcommittee to the Reston Master Plan Committee, said county officials should look at equal residential and commercial density at the Town Center. The county is planning to revisit zoning in the Reston area because of Metrorail's arrival by 2016, and created the community-led committee to gather public recommendations.
Residential growth alone in the Reston-Dulles corridor is expected to double during the next 50 years, according to a study by George Mason University. As many as 26,000 new jobs could come to Town Center by 2050 as a result of Metrorail expansion.
Additionally, as many as 7,800 new residential units could be added to the area, according to Mason's report. If density levels exceed this expected growth level, the number of new jobs could rise to as many as 57,000 during the same time, or as many as 14,000 residential units, Goudie said.
Protecting green or open spaces could mean building up rather than out, he said, proposing that building heights north of the planned Metrorail at Town Center be set at as tall as 350 feet. Closer to the station, building heights were proposed to be set at 275 feet.
Goudie and fellow ad-hoc committee members also recommended that green space within the community be maintained at around 20 percent. However, flexibility in requirements could serve as a key to attracting nicer developments to the area, they said.
Reston founder Robert E. Simon, an advocate of greater density in the community, said he worried about the direction things were going.
"So much of this is about the rail and I'd like to, for a moment, try to put this back on track," he said, adding that protecting current residents' interests were important. Residents on Lawyers Road and in clusters enjoy the suburban feel of their neighborhoods, he added.
"We're liable to see Reston invaded by developers who will build wherever they want to," Simon said.
"Open space [requirements] isn't green [space]. Open space is the distance between buildings." His concern was echoed by fellow committee member Paul Thomas, who said. "We need to think of ... where we want to see active recreation centers" such as ball fields.
Goudie said the key to planning for Reston Town Center's future was making sure to attracts a healthy balance of commercial and residential development and adds to the community.
The next meeting on the Reston Master Plan is scheduled for Oct. 26. Committee members and county staff will discuss the existing transportation analysis through 2030, and how the area could be impacted by growth.