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Loudoun County Accepts Appeal

Public hearing set for December to review Herndon appeal to allow day-laborer center at former police station.

A date has been set to hear an appeal by the Town of Herndon against a September Loudoun County ruling that the approved day-laborer center was not a permitted use at the former police station.

The appeal will be heard before Loudoun County's Board of Zoning Appeals in mid-December, days before the projected opening date of the regulated site.

In a Sept. 6 memorandum Loudoun County zoning administrator Melinda Artman made a determination that a temporary regulated day-laborer site at the former police station would not be permitted at the approved location, or be able to be accessed through Rock Hill Road, which lies in Loudoun County.

Addressed to Kirby Bowers, Loudoun County administrator, the September memorandum was also sent to Herndon officials.

In her determination Artman said the town would not be allowed to use the Rock Hill Road entrance onto the existing site, because the town's proposed use for the site — the day-laborer center — was a violation of Loudoun County's zoning ordinance and that the existing uses on site currently violate the county's ordinance.

During her review Artman found no permits had been filed by the town to use the recycling center, which resides on the Loudoun County portion of the site. She also found there were no permits for the Department of Public Works employees to use the driveway to access their building behind the police station.

Artman performed her review at the request of Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, after the Herndon Town Council's Aug. 17 approval of a regulated day-laborer site to be built at the former police station.

THE EXISTING POLICE station is located in Herndon and Loudoun County, with the jurisdictional line running through the middle of the building. Next to the police station property is also the town's Department of Public Works building, town shop and a recycling center.

Before the day-laborer site application sparked a contentious debate this summer, there was no opposition by Loudoun County officials for the police, public works employees and residents to use the Rock Hill Road entrance to the site. But, once the application was approved, a formal determination was made that those uses were not permitted under the county's ordinance.

And, even though the approved site would reside entirely within the Town of Herndon, Loudoun County zoning officials have determined the use is not permitted under their zoning ordinance.

Shortly after Artman's determination, Town Council member Steven Mitchell sent a memorandum to Steve Owen, Herndon town manager, stating the town's border lies within Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Using information gathered initially by Town Attorney Richard Kaufman, Mitchell further researched the town's boundaries, discovering a court-approved boundary line adjustment in 1955. That adjustment moved the county line to its current position, bisecting the former police station.

But the town's boundary lines, established in 1879, did not change with that adjustment, according to Mitchell.

"There appears to be approximately 300 yards to the west of the corporate limits of the town that were originally a part of Fairfax County," he said in the memorandum.

That area is now the land in question.

At the end of October Kaufman received a letter from Loudoun County's zoning administration informing the town of the December Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. The letter did not mention the town's findings on the boundary line adjustment.

If the board rules against the town's appeal, siding with Artman's determination, the decision would not stop the site from operating. During the town's public hearing process and alternative entrance was discussed to allow vehicles on site through an existing entrance and exit along Sterling Road in Herndon.

Under Loudoun County's zoning ordinance, the board must hold a public hearing on the appeal, decide the appeal and file their findings within 90 days after the notice of appeal has been filed. In this case, a formal decision will be filed by Jan. 3, 2006.