Town Council Work Session

Town Council Work Session

Council discusses downtown redelveopment plan, subdivision applications and upcoming FY 2006-07 budget.

During its Dec. 6 work session, Town Council members held an early meeting to discuss the fiscal year 2006-07 budget.

During this meeting Steve Owen, town manager, asked council members to list budget and Capital Improvement Program priorities to be itemized for next year.

Following budget discussions council briefly discussed the two downtown redevelopment proposals, submitted by Clark Ventures LLC and Herndon Station LLC. At prior work sessions and public hearings council members have discussed deferring the agenda item at the upcoming Dec. 13 public hearing until a full financial analysis has been completed by the town's contracted consultants. At the Dec. 6 work session, council members mentioned the same items — parking and finances — as reasons why they could not make a decision during the upcoming public hearing. The town is also in the process of negotiating the purchase of land, or the exchange of land, at the corner of Elden and Center Streets. Council has held numerous closed sessions to discuss the land where the Paul Brothers Car dealership currently stands. Because that corner lot is imperative to the downtown redevelopment projects, the town would need to own that parcel before moving forward with the plan.

Council members decided they would defer a possible decision to move forward with either plan until January 2006.

DURING THE WORK session council also discussed the following:

* A preliminary subdivision/construction plan for the Elwardstone subdivision with a waiver. The proposed subdivision is to take one lot at 902 Vine Street and divide it into two. The requested waiver is to dismiss the requirement of curb and gutter to be constructed along the public street. Other streets in the neighborhood do not have curbs and gutters, so the requirement should be waived, according to the applicant.

Council member Steven Mitchell voiced his disappointment with St. Joseph's Catholic Church during the meeting. The church has made the development process difficult for Steve Schantz, the applicant of the subdivision, said Mitchell. Officials from the church have voiced numerous complaints about Schantz's development, including storm water run-off from the site. To work in compliance with the church, Schantz has said he would apply for a permit to allow drainage from his lot to tie into the church's drainage system.

"In the end result, he's done everything he can do to have a good-looking corner," said Mitchell. "I'm just disappointed with the actions and that we didn't get better results from the neighbors."

* A preliminary subdivision plan for the Young Avenue Estates. This plan requests that two existing lots be divided into eight, with seven lots for single-family detached homes and the remaining land to be given to the town for open space. The land is located north of the Herndon Parkway, west of Monroe Street and south of Young Avenue. One parcel is located at 1191 Monroe St., the other parcel is not addressed.

Planning Commissioners unanimously approved this plan during a Dec. 5 public hearing, said Craig Mavis, planner with the town. The proposed homes would range in size from 14,000-square feet to 25,000-square feet. Two of the homes would share a driveway and four of the driveways would connect to Young Avenue, said Mavis. The remaining three homes would connect to Monroe Street. During the Planning Commission hearing commissioners emphasized that they did not want to see dry storm water management ponds on site to deal with storm water run-off. Council members echoed those concerns, saying developers needed to provide an aesthetically pleasing storm water management solution.

"I don't want storm water detention ponds," said council member Carol Bruce. "But, other than that I am not willing to dictate what should be done for an actual storm water management option."

* A site plan for the Shops at Herndon Parkway. The applicant is requesting the council approve a one-story, 14,000-square foot retail/restaurant building at 1201 Elden St. The land is to the right of the existing Chevy Chase Bank and the proposed structure faces the Herndon Parkway, said Mavis. The two entrance and exit points would be from the Herndon Parkway and Elden Street.

* A conditional use permit to allow the construction of a single family residence on a non-conforming lot. The proposed residence would be at the corner of Quincy and Madison Street in the Heritage Preservation District.

To fit with other homes in the district, the house would be placed on the lot 50-feet from the center line of Madison Street and 56-feet from the center line of Quincy Street.

Council member Dennis Husch was concerned about the height of the building, indicating he would like to see restrictions placed in the plan so the house would not be built up on a mound of dirt and tower above other homes on the street.

"We need to add something that gets the first floor level the same level as the neighboring houses," he said.

* An ordinance amending the town code to confirm the town's program for real estate tax exemption for the elderly or disabled citizens that live within Fairfax County.

The town has offered this exemption, mirroring Fairfax County, for the last two years, said Richard Kaufman, town attorney. This year the county has altered the program to change the gradual level of exemption and to increase the net worth cut off, he said. According to the county's plan, seniors and disabled residents who make $52,0000 a year would be 100 percent exempt from taxes. Residents making $62,000 a year would be exempt from half of taxes and residents making $72,000 a year would be exempt from 25 percent of the taxes. This year's net worth cut off has been raised from $240,000 to $340,000. Currently there are 67 residents in the Town of Herndon taking advantage of this program, said Mary Tuohy, director of finance.

* An ordinance authorizing the mayor to sign a lease agreement between the town and Del. Tom Rust (R-86) for the space at Town Hall for a constituent service office.

* An ordinance amending the FY 2006 adopted budget to establish new rates for shift differential pay, holiday pay and language premium pay; to authorize three additional positions for the department of community development including two new zoning inspectors and one part-time employee. The ordinance would also establish an appropriation to furnish and equip the newly expanded space at the Neighborhood Resource Center, said Tuohy.

Because the current zoning inspections office is too small for its number of employees, council also discussed where the office could be moved. After reviewing a number of options, the number one relocation pick is the former Herndon Police Station, said the town manager.

BEFORE ENTERING a closed session, Bob Boxer, director department of Public Works, outlined the town's plan to keep large trucks from driving through town for council members.

Currently there is sporadic signage when approaching the town limits to indicate large trucks should not drive through town, he said. Trucks should be routed along the Herndon Parkway to get through town. To ensure this happens, more signs will placed along the Herndon Parkway to direct trucks to the proper routes. The only reason trucks would be allowed to drive through town would be if they were delivering or picking up items to area businesses.

Council also deferred four agenda items regarding the rewrite of the town's zoning ordinance until Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. for a special work session. All items discussed during the Dec. 6 work session are scheduled to be heard at the Dec. 13 public hearing at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers.