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Council Notebook

Town Council Public Hearing

Council members deferred two agenda items during their Nov. 8 public hearing. The first item was a subdivision plan for the Eldwardstone subdivision and the second was a resolution requesting detailed stage proposals for the redevelopment of the downtown. Both items were deferred until Dec. 13.

Council did not hear comment or have a staff report for the Eldwardstone subdivision, but did hear comment on the downtown redevelopment proposals. No council members commented on the redevelopment plan, and no presentation was given by representatives of the two development companies, Clark Ventures LLC and Herndon Station LLC, vying for the contract to build downtown.

Until recently, Herndon Station LLC, had not released its financial package, causing the council to hold closed sessions to compare the two developments. Because the town is still in negotiations regarding the acquisition of land around the proposed development areas — near the W&OD Trail and Center, Elden and Vine streets — council members opted to defer the agenda item for 30 days.

Seven Herndon residents, Judy Downer, Barbara Glakas, Betty and Thomas Hatfield, Lynn Schumaker, Charlie Waddell and Les Zidel commented on the two proposals. Acting in a team effort, the group read prepared statements on their vision for the downtown's redevelopment.

"Despite our diverse backgrounds and perspectives, again we share the common goal of seeking a downtown development plan that works," said Waddell. "That blends the old with the new and, most importantly, the full potential for our downtown, as the place to live, work and visit."

During their presentation each member of the group centered around one area they felt was important to the new downtown. Zidel focused on the proposed art center and the importance of bringing community interest to the downtown area through the Farmers' Market, Thursday night concerts, Friday Night Live! and other downtown events.

"Herndon is a wonderful town, rich in history and identity," said Glakas. "We are well known for our events and restaurants and we believe that our new downtown should capitalize on those good things that we already have and do well."

The group would like to see the downtown be the hub of public activity where local businesses, residents and visitors feel like they are a part of the social atmosphere, said Glakas.

"The key point that our group wants to make is that this project must take care in providing for a true mixed-use development plan," she said. This includes a mix of housing with retail as well as a large open space for community activities, she said.

AFTER HEARING PUBLIC COMMENT, council members heard a staff report from Kay Robertson, senior planner with the town, on the status of the town's zoning ordinance rewrite process. Planning Commissioners have been working on the rewrites for months, and Robertson has begun discussing their suggestions with council. Council members met with Robertson Nov. 10 in a special work session to begin their discussions on the rewrite project. The presentation was also offered for residents in attendance to hear an update of the process.

Following Robertson's presentation, council members approved 6 to 0, with Ann Null present — indicating she did not support or formally disagree — a comprehensive plan amendment to update the Runnymede Park master plan, making it compliant with the park's resource management plan and the comprehensive plan.

Almost five years ago the Town Council voted, after a lengthy public hearing process, to remove many of the park's active recreation uses. This included removing volleyball, horseshoe pits, open play area, half-court basketball and a tot lot. During the council's Nov. 1 work session there was some debate over the recommended amendment, but Council member Dennis Husch reminded council this was an issue that was already decided. The current council's job was to implement the plan that was approved four years ago.

During the hearing former council member John De Noyer and wife Ann Csonka, both naturalists, discussed alternative wording and strategies for use of the park. Town staff prepared two resolutions, one labeled Alternate A and the other Alternate B. The only difference between the resolutions was the placement of parking in front of the proposed nature center. Council members approved Alternate B, which did not include parking in front of the nature center and that was consistent with the master plan, created many years ago.

COUNCIL ALSO APPROVED, 6 to 0, with Null present an application for a conditional use permit to allow improvements at Runnymede Park. The improvements would be along the Herndon Parkway side of the park and include adding a new entrance into the park, the construction of a nature center and the use of a service road to get to the nature center, among other things. Further information will come forward during the site plan phase of the improvements.

Council members approved, 7 to 0, an ordinance to extend the use of Station Street as a staging area for the construction equipment being used to build the Herndon Commerce Center; and an ordinance authorizing the placing of fence posts in a bike trail easement on Trapper Crest Road.

Following the public hearing the council went into closed session to discuss the Loudoun County boundary line appeal with hired outside counsel.

Town Council members were scheduled to discuss an ordinance granting a 10-year telecommunications franchise to MCIMetro Access Transmission Services of Virginia, Inc. and a resolution about a proposed issuance of a maximum amount of $4.8 million in general obligation bonds to help finance various public improvements at the Herndon Community Center at their Nov. 15 work session.