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Votes

Cell Tax Conflicts with County

Council Defers Discussion over Day Laborer Site

The newly approved tax on cellular phone service has been put on hold while officials for the Town of Herndon ask the General Assembly to grant proprietary rights over the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Pending the outcome of the assembly’s actions, if any, the tax will be suspended beginning February until Nov. 1, 2004.

Richard Kaufman, Herndon’s town attorney, said a problem arose when the supervisors adopted a similar taxation ordinance after the town adopted its ordinance in April. “Town businesses and residents are faced with double taxation,” Kaufman said.

He said the county has taken the position its tax supersedes the town’s even within the incorporated borders of Herndon. Kaufman’s solution is to suspend the town’s tax and request the General Assembly give priority to the town.

“I’m aware of four other towns that have received such legislation,” Kaufman said.

The Town Council unanimously approved the suspension at its meeting Sept. 9, with Mayor Rick Thoeson absent. However, because of advertising regulations, the actual suspension cannot take effect until Feb. 1. Kaufman said any funds collected before then will be refunded. The suspension has no impact on a similar tax on land-line telephone service.

“The fiscal impact, as I understand it, is the county will collect $280,000 from our citizens and our budget shortfall would be that amount,” said Councilman Michael O’Reilly.

OTHER ACTIONS taken by the council included denying three of the four special handling fee appeals made by residents who were requesting waiver of the $50 fee charged for being in violation of the town’s trash ordinance. In three cases, the appellant did not attend the meeting. In the fourth case, the appellant explained she has since bought an additional trash can and will not be in violation again.

The council unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for an accessory dwelling for a home on Mosby Court. The accessory dwelling will actually be a private living space complete with a small kitchenette for elderly relatives within the existing home.

The conditional-use permit for the Community Montessori School was withdrawn at the request of the applicant.

In addition, the zoning ordinance text amendment to permit a conditional-use permit for temporary assembly sites was deferred until Sept. 23 at the suggestion of staff. Even so, three people chose to speak at was advertised as a public hearing. All three lobbied for the town to deny the proposal and not spend any town funds on the project.

Dave Kirby of Benicia Lane requested the town specifically spell out the appropriate places for such a site if placed within a residential zone, such as the police station or churches, to prevent a site at a residential property. He also questioned why the town was proposing to fund a portion of the development of the site. He suggested the operation be run as a private nonprofit instead.

“I legally do not think the town should be entering into an agreement where we know a large portion [of the workers] are illegal,” said Mary Burger, a resident of Wood Street. “It is not your business to set up a business for a very [small] minority group to get work. ... It’s not our taxpayer dollars that should be funding this.”

The Town Council also authorized the town attorney to file a suit of injunction against the property owners of a house on Archer Court for allegedly violating the town’s occupancy laws.