Wheelock views the two adjacent properties it now owns—Hidden Creek Country Club (HCCC) and Charter Oak Apartments (COA)—as one parcel of land available for housing development, according to initial proposals that the Reston Association Board of Directors discussed at their public monthly meeting on 26 July. Wheelock’s plan would overturn a precedent going back to Reston’s founding that the 12-acre COA and the 164-acre HCCC are zoned for completely different purposes.
The HCCC property has a zoning land-use designation of open space for private recreational use, specifically as a golf course. Yet Wheelock floated proposals that would convert much of the HCCC land to housing. The Wheelock executive who is overseeing the firm’s proposals for HCCC is responsible for “Residential Land and Housebuilding,” per the Wheelock Communities website. In sharing its initial four ideas for the two parcels, Wheelock gave short shrift to the option of keeping the land use as it is.
Wheelock’s tactic appears to be to get out of the current private recreational use zoning specification by petitioning Fairfax County for a change. Wheelock proposes adding “amenities” such as a few more pathways and outdoor sculptures to a small portion of the course while building housing—and roads to deal with the additional traffic it would generate—on the rest.
Of course, Reston homeowners already enjoy amenities such as pathways—including ones that give us beautiful views of the HCCC’s open space—through our required membership in the Reston Association, a membership stipulated in our home deeds.
Wheelock’s proposals are unfair to Restonians. Reston homeowners must abide by the agreement that they made when buying here: to be Reston Association members, pay RA dues, and agree to the land-use rules that apply.
Purchasers of the golf courses in Reston should be equally bound. Wheelock knew—just as we homeowners did—that they were buying into a planned community with stipulated land-use rules that restrict what owners can do with their property. And the golf course land is NOT for housing. (Wheelock even discussed high-density housing in its initial proposals!) The price they paid was for a golf course, not the much higher price that developable land would have commanded.
Wheelock needs to be held accountable. It needs to abide by the deal their company made when they bought into the Reston community, just as we hold to the deal we made as homeowners when we bought into the Reston community.
But that’s not how developers see it. We know—from the experience a few years ago with the owners of the Reston National Golf Course on the south side—that an owner can try to get their zoning designation changed through Fairfax County.
In fact, even after Northwestern Mutual and Billy Caspar Golf, the owners of the south golf course, were halted by a Circuit Court ruling in 2015, they hired a commercial broker to advertise the golf course property for sale as suitable for housing! That audacious move led Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Cathy Hudgins to issue a public statement on the established process that “must be followed in order for development other than a golf course or open space to be considered for the property.” The advertisement was immediately withdrawn. [View old and new ad here.]
Everyone who has lived in Fairfax County in this era of fast population growth knows that when green open space is lost around here, it is lost forever.
If you care about preserving Reston’s green, open space—at a time when its protected status is clearly under threat—then contact your elected representatives on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and on the Reston Association Board of Directors. Here’s some suggested language:
My household rejects any redevelopment of the 164 acres of the Hidden Creek Country Club property for anything other than recreational Open Space. I am requesting that you make it clear to the owner, Wheelock Communities, that they would be well advised to focus their redevelopment efforts on the already built areas of the clubhouse, tennis area, and parking lot.
KEY MEMBERS OF THE FAIRFAX COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
(perhaps write to them together)
Catherine M Hudgins, Hunter Mill District Supervisor
1801 Cameron Glen Dr. Reston VA 20190
Sharon Bulova, Chairman
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 530. Fairfax VA 22035-0079
Penelope A Gross, Vice Chair
6507 Columbia Pike. Annandale VA 22003-2029
RESTON ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
(expected to schedule discussions of the Wheelock proposals at upcoming meetings)
Andy Sigle, President
Sridhar Ganesan, VP
Sherri Hebert – Lake Anne/ Tall Oaks Director
Caren Anton – Hunters Woods/Dogwood Director
Catherine Baum – Apartment Owners Representative
Julie Bitzer – South Lakes Director
Eric Carr – At-Large Director
Ven Iyer – At-Large Director
John Mooney North Point Director