Reston Association

Reston VA on Foot

Even in this heat, Restonians love walking. Seriously. Of course, lately I’ve noticed they’re doing it very early in the morning before the heat index gets too high. One of the best features of Reston is the 55 miles of pathways that Reston Association maintains. You can get anywhere in Reston by foot — the path may not always be straight, but if you want to, you can go wherever you want. And you won’t have to cross very many streets to do it.

Reston Association has a comprehensive map of all the trails online, or you can go to the RA offices and get a print version of it. The Fairfax County trail buddy is an interactive map of all the streets and paths, and provides a great way to plan a route before you head out in the heat.

If you want to really get to know Reston, wandering the paths is the best way. Here are some of my favorite walks to get you started.

  • Walker Nature Education Center and Glade, South Reston. From the Center, follow the trailhead and see where it takes you—you have several options. You also have the option of just hanging out at the Center and learning about the wildlife in Reston. But if you do decide to walk, there is a short loop around the property (probably ½ mile), or you can venture off on the RA path that follows Glade. Whatever you choose, you will feel like you are miles from civilization.
  • Lake Anne to Town Center, North Reston. This walk is just shy of 1.5 miles, winding through two of North Reston’s original neighborhoods — Hickory Woods and Coleson Cluster. It’s fun on Saturday mornings in the summer to shop at the Farmer’s Market, then walk up to Town Center for brunch (or park at Town Center, walk to the Farmer’s Market and then walk back — talk about great exercise!).
  • Tall Oaks to Lake Fairfax Park, North Reston. Did you know you can access Lake Fairfax Park from Tall Oaks? A lot of people don’t, but it’s a great way to get to all the biking and hiking trails without dealing with all the summer traffic in the park. The park loop takes about half an hour — longer if you’re with a dog who needs to investigate all the great smells. Park at Tall Oaks Village Center, cross under the underpass and head toward the wooden bridge. When you hit a dirt trailhead, take a left and follow the trail into Lake Fairfax Park. You’ll cross a little creek and then the path opens to what is a large loop. Go left or right and just follow it around.
  • Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston. This loop is just over two miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau (where I guarantee you’ll decide you want to live) and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch at Red’s Table or Cafésano.
  • North Point Loop, North Reston. This is a four-mile loop for those who want a little more exercise. I like this trail because it gives you a sense of the North Point community. These trails take you through several charming neighborhoods, and you’ll notice an abundance of RA pools and tennis courts (in fact, if you do this in the summer, pop into one of the pools for a refreshing dip). After your brisk walk, cross the street over to North Point Village for coffee, ice cream, or a hearty lunch!

Ready to hit the trails? I’m most often on the trails around Lake Anne; maybe we’ll see each other.

How to Get Your Exterior Project Done (or at least approved)

Spring is in the air and people are thinking about all the ways they want to spruce up the outside of their homes. It’s exciting. But in Reston, it may not be fast. If you are part of Reston Association, that plan is going to have to be approved, and it takes time. Here is a primer on the RA Design Review Board application process.

First, this is not something you need to dread. The DRB application procedures are very easy to follow. It just takes a little bit of time. But you will have help along the way: the Covenant’s Advisors are one of Reston homeowners’ greatest resources that nobody knows about. They are here to help make the design review process the easiest part of your renovation project.

DRB application procedures

The Reston Associate website has all the phone numbers and forms you need. Here is a recap of the DRB application procedures.

1. Contact RA to find out who your Covenant’s Advisor is. They’ll meet with you and advise you on your project and everything you’ll need for your application.

2. Submit your application. The application can be found on the RA website. The application includes the following:

  • A detailed written description of the proposed exterior modification or addition
  • Scale drawings
  • A site plan showing the size and location of project
  • Photographs of the existing condition
  • A brochure, detail sheet or catalog photo of materials
  • Estimated project completion date
  • Signatures of at least three different property owners adjacent to or within view of your alteration or improvement. If your property is located within a Cluster Association, at least one of the signatures must be that of a Cluster Officer. 

Bring in or mail your application to the Reston Association.

4. Property Visit
RA staff and/or members of the DRB may visit and possibly photograph your property for reference.

5. Attend the DRB review panel meeting
While not all projects go in front of the DRB review panel, if your project does require it, you should plan on attending the meeting. Your Covenant’s Advisor can you let you know when it’s on the agenda.

Those are the basic steps. If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision. Or you can revise the plans to meet RA Design Covenants and Guidelines and resubmit your application. However, if you work with your Covenant’s Advisor and follow the RA guidelines, your project should be approved and you are on your way!

What do you have planned? Let me know.

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The Trails of Reston

trails of restonWhat are you doing this Sunday (April 9)? May I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee and heading down to cheer on the people running in the Runner’s Marathon of Reston? It’s a hard and hilly course (so I’m told), and the runners love the boost from the crowd. Here is a link to the map.

Maybe spending some time along the Reston trails will inspire you to run or walk on them. To me, the 55 miles of footpaths that Reston Association maintains are one of the defining features of Reston.

The trails cover every neighborhood in Reston, and walking, running or biking them is a great way to get to know the community. RA has maps on their website, or you can use the wonderful interactive map Fairfax County has of all the paths. I like this tool because it lets you plan your route before you head out. Here are a few of my favorite walks about town — but don’t stop with these.

  • Town Center to Lake Anne, North Reston. This walk is just shy of 1.5 miles and winds through a few of North Reston’s original neighborhoods — Coleson Cluster and Hickory Woods. It’s fun to start at Lake Anne, grabbing breakfast at the Lake Anne Coffee House and shopping at the Farmer’s Market (starting in early May and going through November), then walking up to Town Center for lunch.
  • Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston. This loop is just over 2 miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch at Red’s Table or Café Sano.
  • North Point Loop, North Reston. This is a 4-mile loop for those who want a little more exercise. This trail is great because it really gives you a sense of the North Point community. I recommend starting at Lake Newport pool. These trails take you through several charming neighborhoods, and you’ll notice an abundance of RA pools and tennis courts (in fact, if you do this in the summer, pop into one of the pools for a refreshing dip). After your brisk walk, cross the street over to North Point Village for coffee, ice cream, or lunch!
  • Walker Nature Education Center and Glade, South Reston. There are many options for a walk from here. From the Center, follow the trailhead and see where it takes you! There is a short loop (probably ½ mile), or you can venture off on the RA path that follows Glade. Whatever you choose, you will feel like you are miles from civilization. It’s a wonderful place to recharge.
  • Tall Oaks to Lake Fairfax Park, North Reston. I’m not entirely sure how long this walk is, but the park loop takes about ½ hour — longer if you’re with a dog who needs to investigate all the great smells. Park at Tall Oaks Village Center, cross under the underpass and head toward the wooden bridge. When you hit a dirt trailhead, take a left and follow the trail into Lake Fairfax Park. You’ll cross a little creek and then the path opens to what is a large loop. Go left or right and just follow it around. It’s a gorgeous walk in the woods! Just be careful — mountain bikers train here. They’re very courteous, but they’re also usually going pretty fast!

What you’ll soon find is you can have any type of walk or run you want in Reston — relaxing and easy, or very challenging. And you can get anywhere you need or want to go on foot. It’s always fun to discover a new trail and see where it takes you.

Getting Your Exterior Project Approved: the DRB

If you’re living in Reston, chances are you are a member of Reston Association. That means if you want to make a change to the exterior of your home, you’ll need the approval of the Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB). A few weeks ago I posted on blog on how to get your exterior project approved.  

The process really isn’t hard, but it still seems to fill people with dread. I’m not sure why. I find working the DRB very easy. I’m not just saying that because I’m on the RA board. For years I have helped my clients (and friends and neighbors) get the changes to their homes approved. I have discovered three simple tips for making the whole process smooth sailing.

1. Don’t assume that what your neighbor did is ok

It is not fun to get a letter from RA saying you’re in violation of design standards, even though your neighbor has the same deck or new windows. In most cases, had the homeowner shown the plans to the DRB, the plans would have been approved with just a minor adjustment — saving the homeowner a lot of money and time in the long run.

The moral is: don't assume because your neighbor has done something that it is okay. If you want to build an addition or make an alteration, contact RA and go through the design review process. The time you spend upfront will save you time and money later.

2. Follow the Process

My second piece of advice for homeowners is to simply follow the process. It can feel slow, but it’s the surest way to get your project approved. The Reston Association website provides very detailed information about what the DRB covers, how to fill out the application, and who to talk to if you have questions. (Hint, it’s your covenants advisor. Call 703-435-6530 to find yours.)

3. Take advantage of the Covenants Advisors

The biggest asset you have in the DRB process is your covenants advisor. They know your neighborhood and what the DRB is looking for. They are a tremendous resource when it comes to planning your alteration/addition. Work with them from the beginning. Some of the things they’ll do for you include:

  • Sending you the guidelines or cluster standards that relate to your project
  • Advising you about the information you will need to provide with your application
  • Explaining how the review process works and what level of review and application will be necessary
  • Giving you an estimate of how long the review process might take for your project

The DRB plays an important role in upholding the design standards that make Reston so unique. I think you’ll find that within the design standards, there is still room for creativity. So enjoy the process — and enjoy the changes to your home!

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You Can Appeal a DRB Decision

A friend of mine had her Reston Association Design Review Board application denied this week, and she was not very happy about that. I told her not to fret; she can appeal the decision. Here is how:

How to Appeal a DRB Decision

Your rejection letter will indicate why the DRB rejected your project, and indicate what changes you need to show. Once you pull that information together, you can submit it and get in the queue for a meeting.

Good things to know: To appeal a DRB decision, you must be either the applicant or a registered Affected Party. And the DRB will hear only one appeal of a decision.

You have 15 days after the notice of a decision has been mailed to get your appeal letter to the DRB Secretary. All requests for appeals must be submitted in writing to your covenants advisor.

After that, the Secretary will schedule the appeal to the next available full Design Review Board. DRB decisions may be overturned on appeal for either or both of two reasons:

  • If the original reviewer(s) misapplied specific guidelines or DRB-approved cluster standards.
  • If there is new and/or additional design information that was not available to the original reviewer(s).

Typically, the appeal decision becomes the final decision.

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Tennis Anyone?

52.

Weeks in the year? Nope. That is the number of Reston Association tennis courts in Reston. If that’s not enough for you, Hidden Creek Country Club has 6. Between them, there is a tennis court, lesson, or league for everyone. Throughout the summer, you will hear the sound of balls being hit pretty much no matter where you are in Reston (that is, if unless the court is next to a pool, where the sound of children playing will drown it out).

What I think is great about tennis is you don’t have to be great to enjoy playing. Anyone of any skill level can play tennis. There aren’t really all that many sports where you can say that.

Here is what you need to know about getting on the Reston tennis courts:

Reston Association Tennis Courts

For the Reston Association tennis courts, obtaining a pass is a simple matter of visiting the RA website or the customer service center at RA headquarters. Reston Association Tennis is a USTA certified Community Tennis Association and the courts include 26 lighted courts, 8 clay courts, 6 quickstart courts, and 3 practice walls.

RA offers lessons for children and adults, league play, flights, and challenge ladders to all RA members as well as non-members owning a valid Tennis membership pass. Virginia Living magazine readers vote the Reston Tennis Association one of the Best Tennis Clubs in Northern Virginia! The USTA Mid-Atlantic awarded Reston Tennis Association as Section Organization of the Year.

Hidden Creek Country Club Tennis

Hidden Creek has six lighted tennis courts, two of which are permanent indoor heated courts that allow for year round play in cold or wet weather. A staff of tennis professionals is available for group and private lessons, team practices, cardio tennis, and junior tennis camps. You do need to be a Hidden Creek member to reserve the courts.

Wait, there is more…

In case there aren’t enough courts in Reston for you, this website offers a complete list of tennis facilities in the Reston area. That’s right — there is no excuse for staying off the courts this summer.

Hook Road and Its Recreation Area

hook road recreation areaThe Hook Road neighborhood off Fairway Drive is a sweet little pocket of homes built in the 1960s. In case the road names don’t give it away, this small community backs up to the Hidden Creek Country Club golf course. Those are some very nice views from back decks.

The Hook Road homes are classic contemporary style, most with three or four bedrooms, are typically two story, and many have brick exteriors.

The homes line only one side of the street. The inner space of the horseshoe houses a baseball diamond for little league, RA tennis courts, and a basketball court provide entertainment all summer. And there is plenty of room among that green space to lay out a blanket for a family picnic.

But that may change.

Reston Association is currently assessing how the Hook Road Recreation Area could be improved, and the time for community input is now (specifically tomorrow night, October 10, and October 24). RA’s goal is to present a proposal to the RA Board of Directors early next year.

The Hook Road Recreation Area was originally developed in 1965 with tennis and basketball amenities added in 1973. Since that time, the recreation area has remained relatively unchanged.

In 2016, the RA board approved a new capital project methodology called “Full Facility Enhancements,” focuses on revitalizing facilities as a singular unit instead of replacing individual amenities. If you use the recreation area, or just want to know what the plan is, attend the meetings. You can find out the locations on the RA website. You can also sign up to for email updates about the project: Email HookRoadInfo@reston.org.

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