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Silvia Pavlof January 8, 2024 3 min read
Residents Rally Against Proposed Casino Development in Reston, Virginia
Proponents contend that the proposed casino runs counter to the recently endorsed Reston Master Plan, which sought to foster expansion in pivotal industries like technology and higher education
Amidst growing concerns over Comstock Companies‘ push to establish a casino on Metro’s Silver Line outside the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, residents of Reston are urging state lawmakers to reject any legislation supporting the controversial project.
Activists Challenge Casino Plans, Cite Deviation from Reston’s Planning Principles
On January 6, activists from NoRestonCasino.org, a group opposing the casino plans, placed signs outside the Fairfax County Government Center, calling attention to what they believe is a deviation from Reston’s planning principles, reported local media outlet Patch.
The opposition argues that the Reston Comprehensive Plan, as well as the stance of Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn, does not align with the proposed casino development.
Lynne Mulston, president of the Reston Citizens Association, emphasized that, under current Virginia law, no legislation permits such development in Reston.
Mulston stated that the recent endeavors of a major developer to garner favor with Virginia State Senators Surovell and Marsden, along with other elected representatives, to influence legislative action, suggest a disregard for the social, economic, infrastructure, and other impacts on the Reston community.
During the Public Hearing for Fairfax Delegation to the General Assembly, Jennifer Jushchuk, representing Save Our Sunrise, voiced concerns about the proximity of the proposed casino to residential areas, emphasizing the family-oriented nature of the Sunrise Valley Neighborhood in Reston.
She mentioned that there is a single developer, Comstock, aiming to establish a casino and that they have significant investments in the properties surrounding the Wiehle Reston-East metro station, rather than in Tysons Corner.
Activists Highlight Environmental and Socio-Economic Concerns
Activists argue that the proposed casino contradicts the recently approved Reston Master Plan, which aimed to promote growth in key market sectors such as technology and higher education.
Mac Cummins, the CEO of RA, expressed that a casino would go against and be incompatible with the goals outlined in the recently adopted plan, putting at risk the extensive community planning efforts made in Reston over the years.
Health concerns were also raised during the public hearing, with Michelle Widmann Kimmel of Healthy Reston highlighting potential environmental toxicity and socio-economic problems associated with casino developments. Kimmel urged legislators to consider the lack of empirical research supporting claims of economic benefits from casinos.
State Senator Dave Marsden and Delegate Wren Williams introduced bills in 2023, which were later withdrawn, and now plan to reintroduce an expanded referendum bill in the upcoming legislative session.
Residents hope that their collective voice echoed through various community groups and elected officials, will deter the state legislature from endorsing a casino that they deem unwanted and unnecessary for the vibrant community of Reston.