A well-regarded development plan by Herndon-Monroe Metro Station in the Hunter Mill Planning District did not achieve approval without controversy.
Instead of the previously approved plan for 1.223-million-square-foot office park with five office buildings and asphalt parking lots, the proposed five-development block plan will create 74 single family homes, 90 two-over-two stacked townhouses, two buildings with 515 multi-family dwelling units, and two office buildings totalling 580,000 square feet including ground floor retail.
Outside, applicants Woodland Park Parcel 1, L.P. and NVR, Inc. will preserve six acres of the 31-acre site for parkland, a trail to connect development to the Metro and a grid of streets that creates pedestrian friendly development blocks.
Attorney Elizabeth Baker called The Hunter Mill application “a joy to be a part of.”
“It really does meet the planning principles that we have in the in transit area in the Reston area,” she said.
Hunter Mill Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe called it a significant improvement over the originally planned office development that was approved by the Board of Supervisors in June 2002 which could have included a hotel.
The development plan drew controversy Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 at the planning commission meeting, not because of the planned and supported details for the Herndon site, but because owner Tishman Speyer leases an office in one of its buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue inside the District of Columbia to the Clarion Project.
“We like most others see this development as a good thing,” said Colin Christopher.
“But we were deeply troubled when learning about the ongoing business relationship that Tishman Speyer have with one of the most well financed hate groups in the United States, the Clarion Project.”
Alison Park of the Jewish Voice for Peace asked the Commission to “please postpone your vote tonight and call Tishman Speyer tomorrow.”
“Let Tishman Speyer know that hate groups are not welcome in Fairfax County,” she said.
“Postpone approval of this project until Tishman Speyer becomes a global citizen and provides assurance that no hate group will ever occupy one of their buildings in Fairfax County,” said Jeanne Trabolsi.
“Some may see this as a minor issue, ‘It’s just one relationship, they are a large national corporation with buildings everywhere all over the nation, it’s just one small relationship,’” said Christopher. “But I would ask this commission if you think it as a small issue.”
“I come to stand for what is right and what is just,” he said.
The Clarion Project says on its website: “dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamist extremism;” others see it as anti-Muslim. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Clarion Project “is an organization that makes and distributes millions of anti-Muslim films.”
THE THREE ADVOCATES caught the attention of the 11 Board members present Wednesday night.
At-large Planning Commissioner Janyce Hedetniemi abstained from voting “because I’m concerned about the emotion that has been expressed to us today.”
Sully District Planning Commissioner Karen Keys-Gamarra added, “Your words weigh very heavily on my heart. If I had the power to do something I would.”
Hunter Mill District Commissioner de la Fe said, “I was moved and frankly I agree with what I heard about Islamophobia in this nation.”
“I sympathize with what I heard. Our nation is going through what I call a difficult time, But we are here to make land use decisions based on what is good for Fairfax County as part of the land use process.”
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold its public hearing on Feb. 12, 2017.
ELIZABETH BAKER, of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, highlighted amenities for the public, including architectural design, diversity of housing, affordable housing and trails creating connectivity to the Metro for pedestrians, as well as cyclists, and a “well designed, residential mixed use community with significant public benefits such as the establishment of a grid of streets and a robust open space and park network.”
“I really can’t comment on the testimony you have heard this evening. I have no knowledge of any of it,” said Baker. “But I can comment that what’s before you tonight is a land use application that has gone through the appropriate process.”