Land Use

Land Use

Herndon Hotel Approved

The Planning Commission approved, 4-2, with Commissioners Jay Donahue and Ralph Beard opposing and Ted Hochstein absent, an application for a site plan to construct a four-story hotel at 435 Herndon Parkway.

At the commission's Nov. 22 work session, town zoning administrator Elizabeth Gilleran reported on the proposal, recommending approval with certain modifications.

By the public hearing, Gileran said the applicants, Arnulfo and Margaret Labasbas, had made the necessary changes to the proposal — addressing everything she said town staff would like to see modified, including the creation of a bus stop bench along the entrance at the Herndon Parkway.

The applicant, Labasbas — who is also the owner of the site — was present at the hearing and said the 40-foot-tall hotel will be branded as a Hampton Inn and Suites and he expects it to be a mid-market hotel that will primarily see business travelers Monday through Thursday.

During the work session Gileran told the commission the proposed site is unusual for an Industrial General zoned area.

Because the town had to procure land from Fairfax County to build the Herndon Parkway in that area, under the county's Circuit Court order the land does not have the required setback distance of 30 feet.

This means the hotel can be built on the property line and the proposal has the hotel 2 feet from the eastern property line and 16 feet from the northern property line, due to the long and narrow shape of the 1.978 acre lot.

A representative from the Spring Hill Suites — the hotel neighboring the proposed site — was present to voice concern on behalf of the hotel that the close proximity of the two structures would disrupt guests due to headlights shining into rooms during the evenings.

She suggested the commission ask that an additional plant buffer or shrubs be placed along the parking lot to help block some of the lights.

Labasbas said they have structured their hotel so guest rooms will be away from the Spring Hill Suites parking areas and public meeting rooms and offices will be closer to the lots, to increase privacy.

Although some members of the commission expressed concerns that the hotel proposal was not the best use for the land because of the lack of setbacks, Commissioner Robert Burk said he believed "this is as good as we're going to get."

The proposal is scheduled to appear on the Jan. 4 Town Council work session agenda and then scheduled for the council's Jan. 11 public hearing.

Proposal for Commercial Offices Approved

A proposal by Fusion Enterprises Inc. to develop six commercial office/retail townhouses at 795 Center St., at the vacant lot next to the Moose Lodge, was unanimously approved by the commission, with Ted Hochstein absent.

The proposed site is 26,183 square feet, zoned Central Commercial District (CCD), and neighbors the Moose Lodge, houses and office spaces.

At the Nov. 22 work session, Gilleran said the proposed commercial town houses will be two stories with basements and are arranged in one row that will run parallel to Center Street.

Because the land is in the Herndon Heritage District, any structure or lighting changes or proposals must be approved by the Heritage Preservation Review Board before the commission and council can vote on them.

Rain Garden Installation Fees Approved

The Planning Commission unanimously approved, with Commissioner Ted Hochstein absent, a new zoning ordinance text amendment that would require developers to pay a $250 installation fee for each rain garden they plan to create on a site.

At the Nov. 22 work session, Michelle O'Hare, comprehensive planner for the town, said this fee will "offset staff costs associated with review and inspection of bioretention facilities known as rain gardens. The bonding requirement will ensure that the town has funding to complete the bioretention installation, if the developer fails to do so."

Because there have been so many questions regarding rain gardens as well as the fact that the town will be held responsible if owners fail to maintain them — or if they are constructed poorly — the town wants to address the issues ahead of time.

By implementing the $250 installation fee, the town is ensuring they will receive money back from the developers if the rain gardens do not work due to poor installation.

O'Hare said the fee will cover the engineering review and two on-site inspections to make sure the soil is the proper mixture and the correct plants are in place. She added it will be up to the public works department to work out the details with the engineer involved in the construction.

* The Dec. 20 Planning Commission work session and Jan. 3 public hearing have been canceled due to a lack of proposals for that scheduled cycle.