Reston residents are debating the merits of a proposed land swap that would support a redevelopment project in the Lake Anne community.
The redevelopment project itself, which includes the replacement of the county-owned Crescent Apartments with a more densely developed apartment complex, has broad support within Reston. It is the start of an effort to revitalize the Lake Anne Village Center, the historic first development of the planned community.
However, some Restonians are concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed land swap between the Reston Association and Lake Anne Development Partners, the private company that is working on the redevelopment with the county through a public-private partnership.
Under the proposal, the RA and the developer would swap 1-acre parcels of land so that Lake Anne Development Partners can use the RA lot for parking. The site is currently undeveloped and heavily treed.
Diane Blust, president of Sustainable Reston and one of the opponents of the land swap, said removing the approximately 300 trees on that lot and replacing it with parking would have environmental consequences.
“One 22-inch red oak retains approximately 6,000 gallons of stormwater per year,” Blust said. “If we have to cut down all those trees to put in parking, we’re losing all of those environmental services.”
In exchange for giving up its land, the RA would get a different, also undeveloped piece of land. The developer would have to clean up the property, remove invasive plant species and replant it with native species. The agreement also includes trying to move some of the trees from the RA-owned lot to the new parcel.
RA would maintain the land as open space, according to CEO Cate Fulkerson.
Blust said she wants to see the redevelopment project go forward, but she believes there are ways to meet the parking need without cutting down so many trees.
“Reston Association is known for its devotion to the environment,” she said. “I think it’s a bad precedent for the organization.”
As part of the proposed land swap, Lake Anne Development Partners would also help with other upgrades around the Lake Anne community, including installing landscaping, building new trail connections and funding half the cost of capital projects like parking lot resurfacing and coating tennis courts.
Following extensive public comment at a meeting last month, the RA Board of Directors postponed its vote on the land swap proposal until Nov. 22.
“The board is listening to the comments that are coming in,” Fulkerson said, and is “working with the different groups to see what is best. … If there are any modifications that can be made, they’re interested in those as well.”