Council Notes

Council Notes

Council Grants 10-year Franchise

The council approved 7 to 0 an ordinance that will grant WilTel Communications of Virginia, Inc., a 10-year telecommunications franchise to use the town streets, as described in the document, for the installation and maintenance of necessary facilities that are already in place underground. In the ordinance it states the company will be responsible for a franchise fee that will be determined by the public right-of-way use fee legislation in section 56-469.1, Code of Virginia. The ordinance also requires the company to provide for tree preservation, the restoration of streets and for insurance and indemnity provisions on favor of the town, all of which must be approved by the town attorney.

Utility Markings Clarified

The council approved an ordinance that will establish utility marking standards in the town. Because previous markings, especially in the Historic District, have dirtied up the streets, the council opted to set standards for what is deemed acceptable for contractors and utility companies to use.

Council member Dennis Husch was recently made a member of Miss Utilities, a utility clearing house that relays to utility marking personnel where certain markings need to be made based on the information they receive from the utility companies. As a member of Miss Utilities, Husch said he knows the organization takes the rules they create seriously and this year alone have written up at least $1 million in fines to companies that do not obey the proper marking regulations.

"Education is the first approach," Husch said in favor of the proposed ordinance. "Establish a policy, make the changes ... so that everyone knows what the requirements are."

The proposed standards for the heritage preservation districts include any utility markings must be done with flags or stakes or by "spot markings", or one-inch in diameter dots, with water soluble paint. Outside of the preservation districts persons marking utilities with paint must use water soluble paint, although the town requests and urges utility markers to mark with flags or stakes or "spot markings."

Inoperable Vehicles Regulated

In an ordinance dealing with inoperable motor vehicles, their screening and number that may be kept on a property, the council deferred the proposed amendments at the request of the town attorney Richard Kaufman.

Kaufman asked the proposed amendments be deferred to the Oct. 12 public hearing so that he can rework some of the wording, as well as hear more public comments from residents.

Kaufman has proposed an amendment to the definitions of the Herndon Town Code (2000) dealing with inoperable vehicles to redefine "shielded or screened from view." The new definition would mean "not visible by someone standing at ground level from outside the property on which the subject vehicle is located."

The definition for "inoperable motor vehicles" would be amended to clarify if an owner of an inoperable vehicle can "demonstrate that the owner is actively restoring or repairing the vehicle," and if it is shielded from view based on the above definition, then it may remain on the property with one additional inoperable motor vehicle that is being used in the restoration or repair project.

Charlie Waddell, 10-year Herndon resident, commended the amendment in the public hearing, but suggested the amendment allow a commercial car cover to work as a screening for an inoperable vehicle, and the ban of tarps to be used as car covers.