Never let it be said summer is dull in Herndon, at least not where the Town Council is concerned.
After two deferrals, the Town Council will hear, for a third time, the application to develop the Fortnightly Boulevard area as well as the application for the rezoning of the land behind Bennett Street adjacent to Old Hunt Way.
“I hope at the public hearing we can come to a conclusion on these proposals,” said Town Council veteran Dennis Husch. “I hope staff made adjustments on Fortnightly. It’s as close as it’s going to get. We’re getting what we asked for, less density, larger units and more green space,” said Husch of the application made by Carr Homes to develop roughly seven acres between Center and Grace Streets.
The initial application called for 120 units with some of the townhouses sized at 20 feet wide, deemed too narrow for the council’s liking. “That was a big change," said Husch. "We got rid of the 20-foot wide townhouses [and] added two condo buildings with 32 condos each." He added that the taller buildings are “a trade-up for more green space.”
“It’s just over 150 units of different scale, size and building materials. This will now be visually interesting,” said Husch, referring to the previous plans he initially opposed as “cookie cutter buildings.”
“There are still major problems with Fortnightly,” said returning Town Councilman Connie Hutchinson, who took office on Monday, July 1. “There has been a lack of head-on attack by council,” she said, not having been a part of the process.
Hutchinson encouraged the public to attend the Tuesday, July 9 Town Council public hearing at 7:30 p.m.
ONE MEMBER of the community who plans to attend the July 9 session will be Old Hunt Way resident Jack Hill. He has spoken out in the past, not about the Fortnightly project, but the Bennett Street rezoning application.
“The concern for me is the density,” said Hill, a 22-year Herndon resident, four of those at Old Hunt Way.
Initially, DR Horton, the applicant and developer, proposed building 11 homes, then reduced to 10 for what would be a cul-de-sac, ultimately creating pie-shaped properties looking like wedges, with the narrow end abutting the neighbors on Old Hunt Way.
“The residents’ claim of too much density is an intellectually dishonest argument,” said Husch, noting that the narrowest portion of the wedge-shaped Bennett Street properties would be virtually unbuildable. Lots on Old Hunt Way are about 14,000 square feet, while the proposed Bennett Street lots are in the neighborhood of 18,000 square feet.
“We’ve never objected to the right to build,” said Hill. “The town has to benefit from the rezoning.”
Currently zoned RE-.05, DR Horton’s application calls for a rezoning to R-10. The benefits to the Town of Herndon include additional neighbors and taxes, said Husch. He said he fears the council may not be consistent by potentially “bending toward public pressure. It’s important to be consistent. The density is consistent with what it touches,” said Husch.
Hill said he and his neighbors are also concerned with what he called the setbacks of the adjoining lots. “They might be reasonably sized lots, but setbacks are the concern. We’re trying to increase the buffer between our neighborhood and their neighborhood,” he said. A deck can override the setback, said Hill.
Zoning calls for a 25-foot rear yard requirement, said Town of Herndon director of community development, Henry Bibber. A backyard deck can be no higher than the first floor of the home and can reach up to 10 feet into a rear yard, said Bibber.
Hill is concerned about the potential encroachment by future residents of the Bennett Street development.
“The Old Dranesville Hunt Club has had excellent representation and have been vocal in their attendance and expressing their concerns,” said Hutchinson. “I hope to see more of that on all issues,” she said.