Commission Supports Mixed Use Change

Commission Supports Mixed Use Change

Amendment for Density?

The Herndon Planning Commission removed an obstacle for the Stanley Martin Companies in its quest to redevelop the site known as the old lumber yard. Last Monday, Jan. 5, the commission gave its support of a text amendment that would permit single-family detached homes in the town’s Planned Development Mixed Use (PD-MU) district. The amendment request, which would apply to the PD-MU districts in what is classified as sectors 3 and 4 in town, was made by Stanley Martin, which owns the lumber yard site located along Nash and Pearl streets within one of the designated sectors. Prior to the amendment, which still needs the approval of the Town Council, permitted uses within the district were mostly business and professional oriented.

If council approves the amendment, Stanley Martin will most likely seek to construct a densely packed housing community on the property, which has already got neighbors objecting.

"If this goes through, my garden will be the only green space on that side of Herndon," said Carrie Lynn Pearce, who lives on the corner of Wood and Pearl streets across from the old lumber yard. "I ask that you don’t amend the zoning text. The language is beginning to get more protective of the current residents, but it’s not there yet."

UNDER THE AMENDMENT, an applicant could construct single-family homes 20 feet apart. In addition, while the regulation requires green space of a minimum of 30 percent of the property, it would allow that green space to be "off-site open space enhancement."

Many of the residents that spoke out against the amendment criticized the density the change would permit and instead spoke in favor of larger single-family home lots.

"My car is 20 feet long, which means I couldn’t fit my car front to back between these houses," said Mary Burger, who also lives across from the site.

Ann Knoll, a resident of Oak Street, said profits are possible from single-family homes.

EVEN MEMBERS of the commission had reservations about opening the door to densely populated housing developments, but conceded the amendment before them was not for a specific housing development.

"I have a degree of discomfort with this. We have all seen good examples of dense [single-family home developments] and examples of bad [ones]," said Commissioner Robert Burk.

Dana Heilberg, a staff planner, said the text amendment does not guarantee a developer will be permitted to construct a high-density development.

"What is before you simply puts in place language for a rezoning request. It doesn’t entitle the applicant to a rezoning," he said.

Even in supporting the amendment, commissioners hinted that Stanley Martin might have a tough time realizing its plans.

"I hope the developer here tonight has heard the concerns from the citizens and that the developer comes back with something similar to what is on the other side of Pearl Street," said Commissioner Ted Hochstein.