by Connie Hartke, Rescue Reston
I received a phone call from a longtime Restonian who is a shareholder of Northwestern Mutual (NWM). He talked about what an ethical company NWM is and his surprise that they would try to take away what has been permanent open space since Reston’s earliest planning—open space that we have relied on in our decisions to buy property and live here. He thought it would be powerful if he and other Reston NWM shareholders wrote letters explaining how they feel about this particular investment.It’s a wonderful idea, and here is the person to write to:
Mr. John E. Schlifske
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
720 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
RE: [your NWM account #s] and Redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course, Reston VA
A quick synopsis of the issue: Fairfax County tax records show a sale of the Reston National Golf Course property in 2005 to RN Golf Management LLC (RN Golf) for $5,009,819, an entity in which NWM is a major investor.
In June 2012 the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator’s Office received and rejected RN Golf’s contention that the Reston National Golf Course could be developed with residential housing without the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County first making an appropriate change to the adopted Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for Reston. In July 2012, RN Golf appealed that decision to the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) and has since asked for, and received, three delays of the hearing date. The BZA hearing is now scheduled for September 25, 2013. You can read more details at RescueReston.org.
Whatever led RN Golf to buy the property back in 2005 and then conjure a belief in 2012 that the golf course is already zoned for easy residential development was mistaken.
RN Golf bought the Reston National Golf Course property subject to zoning restrictions requiring that it remain open space, as has been shown on the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for over 40 years. People have long relied on Reston’s plan, its zoning and permanent open space in making decisions to buy property and live in Reston. RN Golf has no right—legally or ethically—to expect that those restrictions would be changed.
RN Golf and Northwestern Mutual have underestimated our community response. We will not go away. Restonians are passionate about Reston and tenacious enough to fight for as long as it takes to prevail.
Rescue Reston is a grass-roots organization of volunteers dedicated to protecting the permanent open space of Reston National Golf Course. Executive Director David Stroh and I were interviewed by John Lovaas, longtime Restonian and host/producer of the public affairs program RESTON IMPACT. It’s a worthwhile 28 minutes to share with anyone who isn’t clear on the possibility of residential development on our permanent open space and Northwestern Mutual’s involvement. It will first air at 8:30 p.m. on May 1st on Comcast Channel 28. You can see it anytime at http://vimeo.com/64568662#.
If you are a shareholder of NWM and care about the open space that makes Reston unique and a highly desirable community to live in, please write a letter. NWM has a $30+ billion portfolio of real estate investments, but what about your personal investment in Reston?
Perhaps you can mention that you read on the nm-reston.com website that “Northwestern Mutual of Reston has found that success is primarily driven by a well-thought-out, comprehensive strategic plan” and that you would like them to respect our long-standing Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for Reston. Reston’s historic land use plan created a design for a place to live, work and play and is what makes Reston number 7 of the 10 best places to live in America, according to CNN/Money Magazine in 2012. If you can, join us on Sunday May 5th at our Spring into Action BBQ & Rally.