When will the golf course controversy be over?
As long as there exists even the slightest possibility that either golf course property could be redeveloped into residential or commercial square footage, speculative developers will try to pillage the land. We can relax only if and when the land is put into a perpetual conservation easement.
What is the status of both properties?
Reston National Golf Course (RNGC) and Hidden Creek Country Club (HCCC) have the same zoning and land use designation. The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for Reston states that the golf courses are planned for private recreation use, more specifically to remain as golf courses. This is very clear.
Who owns the properties now?
Real estate developer Wheelock Communities, based in Connecticut, purchased Hidden Creek Country Club in October 2017, and real estate developers Weller Development and War Horse Cities, based in Baltimore, purchased Reston National Golf Course in May 2019.
HCCC still accepts golf, tennis and social memberships. Wheelock is vocal about its desire to put housing on the higher ground of the course.
At RNGC, Kemper Sports operates the golf course as of July 2020. The developer/owners are Weller Development and War Horse Cities out of Baltimore, MD. They paid $7 million over market value, and clearly intend to request a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to change the land use designation. It is critical that you stay alert for communications from us on action plans.
These developers purchased the properties at an order of magnitude lower than prices for land zoned for development, so the developers would reap a huge windfall if the zoning were to be changed to allow for housing. The fact that they overpaid for recreational space with zero density is not our concern. Investors lose on investments all the time. They bought golf courses and knew the land use designation.
Can we stop development of the courses?
Yes, by insisting on NO Comprehensive Plan Amendment even starting. Changing the land use designation to something other than recreational open space use requires a Comprehensive Plan Amendment, which costs the County resources and requires multiple public hearings. Ultimately the Board of Supervisors vote to allow or deny, but the Hunter Mill District Supervisor has to give the initial nod. Your votes in local elections matter greatly. Always make the golf course status an issue.
What does the County say?
“…there is not support from surrounding communities for changing the comprehensive plan. In fact it is not even close – there are more than five residents against for every supporter of possibly changing the plan. Therefore, I do not support changing the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s current designation of this property as a golf course and consider the matter closed.” – Supervisor Walter Alcorn, 3/23/2020.
“The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan clearly designates the property as a golf course, and unless and until communities surrounding the golf course indicate their desire to initiate a change to the Comprehensive Plan, I would oppose any such change.” — Supervisor Walter Alcorn, written response to constituents, February 2020.
I don’t play golf and I don’t live near the golf course, so why should I care?
Rescue Reston’s action is not so much about the golf as it is about the promised amenity of open space in Reston. Going back to the founding concepts of Reston—with the first Reston Master Plan in 1962—the Reston National and Hidden Creek properties were listed as “Permanent Open Space.” The courses are home to a large cadre of wildlife, and Reston residents and visitors make use of trails abutting these beautiful community resources. The permeable ground helps maintain the health of the downstream watershed. RNGC is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Golf Course, and Rescue Reston has the support of the Great Falls Group of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club in defending against this unplanned residential development. Be sure to read the articles on our Environmental Impact page, including the benefits of taxpayer-free private Open Space and the Myth of the Grand Park.
What does Rescue Reston want the public to think about?
- Reston gains nothing if it sacrifices one amenity for another. The net sum gain would be zero. “Reston was built on diversity: race, ethnic, cultural, economic, religious, age, gender and gender identity AND recreational.” — Lynne Mulston, Chair of Rescue Reston’s North Course Committee
- With all of the planned development coming to Reston, this is not the time to decide to give up recreational open space that costs Fairfax County taxpayers and Reston Association members nothing.
- Conceding even one small patch will open the floodgates for loss of open space. Any residential development would set a precedent for destruction of other open space within Reston and Fairfax County.
What can we do?
- Stay committed, informed and firm – NO housing on the golf courses – NO compromise. #NoCompPlanChange
- Update your information at RescueReston.org/action-center. This is critical for staying informed and receiving our occasional emails.
- Stay alert for emails from us via votervoice.net.
- Follow us on social media.
- If you learn something important, be sure your neighbors know.
- Rescue Reston is an all-volunteer grassroots organization. We rely on your donations to pay for communication outreach and consultations with our land-use attorney. These services—that we have to pay for—allow us to get reliable information out to those who want to see Reston’s open green space preserved for the long-term.
- It’s worth repeating: update your information at RescueReston.org/action-center.