Wednesday, June 27, 2018

South Lakes Village Plaza Update

On June 19, Reston Association’s Design Review Board (DRB) reviewed and approved the final proposal from Chevy Chase Land Company (CCLC) for South Lakes Plaza (pictured above). As noted by DRB members during the meeting, the final plan reflects the requested reduction in programmed activities, which transformed the original proposal for a “recreation area” into more of a “landscape plan.” CCLC intends to start as soon as possible, depending on how quickly they can get permits.

Here is a summary of changes made between the original plan and the one approved by the DRB (it should be noted that many of these respond to concerns raised by the Lakeport Board and residents and incorporate our suggestions):

  • The ping pong table and corn hole panels included in the original plan have been removed, reducing the activity level in the Plaza. A chalk wall does remain (next to Red’s Table).
  • Fire tables are now enclosed, and there are two instead of the original three, improving safety. 
  • Safety will also be improved as a result of the installation of shallower walkable steps in place of some of the steeper tiered wood seats. The installation of lights on the rise of the stairs will further enhance safety (as well as add an interesting light feature when seen from the lake).
  • Although it doesn’t show in these plans, CCLC has said that they will install security cameras, helping to increase security and decrease vandalism. 
  • Five existing trees (three in the planter near the dock, another already dead, and the last one dying) will be removed, and nine trees will be planted as replacements (three redbuds near the parking lot, two maples next to Cafesano, an arborvitae behind Cafesano, a river birch next to Red’s Table, and two more river birches in planters near the lake). This increase in trees and the use of river birch instead of redbuds near the lake will provide more shade in that area. The new trees will be a minimum of 8’-10’ high or 3”-4” caliper, and the birch trees will be multi-trunked. Note that the DRB requires that all vegetation be maintained; so if a tree dies CCLC will have to replace it.
  • Seating was reduced by the conversion of a portion of the two sets of tiered wood steps to walkable steps as well as the removal of a few additional seats next to the dock and in the lounge seating area. 
  • New wood decking, stairs, and siding as well as the artificial turf (now curved instead of rectangular) are intended to soften the look and reduce heat in the summer. The area next to Cafesano with upholstered outdoor furniture and overhead string lights is intended to encourage quiet conversation.
  • The string lights were a potential concern because they could be a source of light pollution, but that depends on how bright they are. The DRB is aware of our concern, and the approval memo contains a stipulation to adjust the lights if needed to reduce the brightness of the lights. The pole lights that will replace the existing globe lights are shielded. Reston Association recommended Lakeport take photos of lighting before and after construction, and resident and accomplished photographer Jo Leir has graciously agreed to do that for us.
  • The signage (a heron with a shopping bag in its beak) was approved.

The full DRB meeting can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4qalNyE96s&feature=youtu.be (about an hour in on the recording, which started with a working meeting before the Board meeting).

In its response to this final set of plans, the Lakeport Board highlighted two major concerns: the anticipated increase in noise and the potential for light pollution. Because our concerns about light had to do with the amount of light rather than the type of lights, the DRB stipulation that light levels be adjusted if needed addresses this concern.

Unfortunately issues related to noise still remain. The anticipated increase in the number of people will raise the noise level, particularly if the tiered wood steps end up being used for performances and other community programming. In response, the board has been engaging in ongoing conversations with Kimley Horn to try to find ways to mitigate noise. We have requested that scheduled activities be limited to low energy/intensity programs; microphones, amplified music, and drums not be allowed; programming be restricted to daytime hours and not be frequent; a schedule be posted on South Lakes Village web site; and a maximum decibel level be established for performances. In addition, we requested that rules of use be posted and enforced (with an emphasis on restricting hours and activities that would produce noise), that more trash receptacles be installed (including some designated for recycling), and that contingency plans be developed for potential parking/traffic issues. We are hopeful that CCLC will be amenable to working with us on these and other requests/suggestions.

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