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Zoning Ordinance Changes

Planning Commission public hearing covers recent changes to town's zoning ordinance.

The light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter for Planning Commissioners who have worked relentlessly over the last year to update the town's zoning ordinance document.

Adopted in 1971, the document that governs what zoning is allowed in town has acquired thousands of amendments over the past 35 years, but has never been fully updated, Kay Robertson, senior project planner for the town said.

A Feb. 13 public hearing brought commissioners one step closer to approving the draft ordinance that will then be sent to the Town Council for final approval. Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on the new ordinance at a March 28 public hearing.

"This is something that's desperately been needed since the review of our Comprehensive Plan in 1999," said Planning Commissioner Bill Tirrell.

During the public hearing, major changes in the ordinance were outlined for an audience of 10 residents. While the meeting took place for commissioners to hear public comment, no audience members spoke.

When highlighting changes made to the town's zoning map, which governs where certain developments are allowed, Robertson noted many things have been changed.

"We are not changing the location of commercial development and residential development per se," she said. "But we are changing the provisions that apply to those developments. Just about all the uses will have changes in the new zoning ordinance."

Highlights of these changes include:

* Article II. Administration: a new section will be made to articulate administrative procedures related to proffered applications; developers will be required to have neighborhood meetings with residents near a proposed development; procedures for zoning inspection permits will be altered and simplified; a new permit, zoning appropriateness permit, would be required for changes in the use of structures, buildings and land.

* Article III. Zoning Districts: currently, the town has 23 zoning districts that cover everything from commercial and industrial to single family homes and townhouse clusters. The new ordinance would combine many of these districts, reducing the overall number to 12. Residential districts would be reduced from 10 to five and business zoning districts would be reduced from 13 to seven.

* Other general changes have been made including a guide to what uses are allowed in each zoning district, standards for those specific uses, procedures for obtaining approval of uses, dimensional standards for setbacks, yards, building heights, etc., regulations for accessory and temporary uses and for home-based businesses.

If the Town Council, after hearing public comments, chooses to approve the draft ordinance, it would take effect July 1 of this year, Robertson said. For more information on the rewrite, or to review a copy of the draft ordinance visit www.herndon-va.gov, under the "What's New" link will be another link labeled "rewrite of the zoning ordinance." Residents with specific questions can call the department of community development at 703-787-7380.