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Despite Appeals, Residents Voice Strong Support for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

by Fatimah Waseem August 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm 21 Comments

At a public hearing Tuesday night, local residents voiced strong support for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon as town officials work to address appeals against the project by local property owners.

Three property owners filed appeals against the project, citing concerns related to the development’s impact on traffic and inconsistencies with heritage preservation guidelines, including density increases above standards laid out by the town.

On Tuesday, a majority of Herndon residents testifying about the appeals reaffirmed their support for the project. Speaking on behalf of Neighbors for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment, a group supporting the project that has rapidly grown in the last several weeks, Donielle Scherff said that while the appeals raise “reasonable” concerns, they have put residents’ “dream for this downtown in jeopardy.”

“We stand to lose the vibrant, thriving small town of the future, one that exudes this Herndon exceptionalism that we all love so much,” Scherff said.

In November 2017, Town of Herndon officials entered into an agreement with Comstock to breathe new life into 4.7 acres of in the Historic Downtown District. Plans proposed in June include a parking garage, 274 residential units, an 18,000-square-foot arts center and 17,00 square feet of retail space.

Earlier this year, the town’s Heritage Preservation Board approved the project, despite staff’s recommendations to defer action on the overall project. Filed appeals following the board’s decision rendered the project’s Certificate of Appropriateness void. The town’s council will consider the appeals in the coming weeks. The agreement for the project is unaffected by the voided certificate, which delays the implementation of the project.

File photo

  • Amy Sue

    Herndon traffic is already a mess and absolutely impossible during rush hour. Can’t imagine what’s going to happen to Elden street once they start to develop the vacant areas. I feel for the poor homeowners on Elden Street who are going to have to deal with an even worse traffic nightmare than they have to deal with now. And for what? So a couple of voracious builders can construct new poor quality residences and coffeeshops?

    • Thanks

      Strong points in your favor.

    • Peanut

      Traffic? If that’s the most of your concerns, then we’re in good shape. That area sorely needs this redevelopment.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        And that’s your rebuttal? There are a whole slew of other issues, including schools and other public amenities. And what about the businesses that are supposed to inhabit all of these new Hobbit Hole storefronts? Are we talking sandwich shops and cell phone repair places? How are “mom and pop” operations supposed to afford the premium rents for the tiny storefronts in these new endeavours?

        Sorry, P, but there are a ton of arguments to be made against expanding development in an already crowded section of town.

        • 30yearsinreston

          Hes a developer troll

          • Peanut

            This isn’t true. Have you been to Herndon’s downtown lately? Obviously not… why would you want to? It’s rundown. I’m not saying there needs to be high-rises there (in fact, there obviously should not be), but you all are acting like the best course is to tear everything down and put in some trees or parking lots (that are free, of course).

            I think planned development is good, and it’s certainly better than being stagnant (and eventually decrepit). I think there are infrastructure needs in and around this area – in fact, in the whole DC metro area (actually in the whole US but that’s a different topic altogether), but it’s not a valid reason to prevent growth. If growth stopped immediately, guess what, it would still suck, but there would be even less of a reason for implementing improvements at that point.

            I’m not sure what you are hoping will happen here – but I think your outlet (and the same with many people on this forum) is to be anti-development, but it’s misguided.

          • LocalNative65

            Right, because clearly no one wants more people to come to this area! We’ll let them go everywhere else and let this county crumble!

        • LocalNative65

          So, you’ll just want to keep an old car dealership seeping toxins into the ground and our water and a bunch of empty lots? That sounds super appealing! I’m sure that will attract people to the town to shop and eat at our restaurants! They need to see the crumbling former Subaru dealership, it’s historic!

          • Chuck Morningwood

            There are other things that can be put in there which would not encompass the proposed level of density, and would be more in line with the existing buildings.

          • LocalNative65

            Such as?

    • Greg

      Let’s just keep the abandoned car dealership buildings there forever. They so compliment the long-abandoned Tortilla Factory building.

      • LocalNative65

        But they’re historic! And clearly, despite the area’s growth being the only consistent thing that happens in the DMV area, if we keep those buildings then people won’t come and we can pretend we are an idyllic small town forever! That’ll show newcomers what we’re about!

  • SupBrah

    I was at the meeting yesterday, and Scherff was one of the 5
    or so clueless millennials who robotically repeated the same story of how much
    they love mixed-use development. (Go to the town website and watch the video
    for yourselves.) Of course, other than waxing poetically about development,
    none of them has read the town code, HPRB documents, proffers, pattern book,
    comprehensive agreement, etc. And when it comes to traffic, etc., these dopey
    liberals’ heads are clearly up their a$$es as they dream about bike lanes
    and people taking a city bus to the Metro. The most concerning thing, though,
    is that the Facebook group Scherff started (“Neighbors for
    Downtown Herndon Redevelopment”) has as members — and as meeting
    attendees — the same Town Council members she was addressing! In effect, these
    Town Council members helped Scherff et al. develop their talking points, which
    were then regurgitated right back to the Town Council. How staged and
    pathetic!! These amateur public officials should recuse themselves from being
    in such a group at a time when the town is under contract and decisions are
    still being made. Herndon residents should vote out all these incompetent Town
    Council members, most of whom have been on the council for way too many years
    (some since 2010!).

    • Donielle Scherff

      Scherff is neither clueless, nor a millennial, but I would welcome the chance to talk with you about this. We aren’t robots, we are just organized, love our town and we are welcoming the future–traffic, and development, and all.

      No council member helped us draft any comments, and anyone who lives or works in the Town is welcome in our group–Council Members included.

    • LocalNative65

      So, if you feel so passionately about it, why didn’t you speak up at the Town Council meeting?

    • Darryl Branting

      So am I lumped in as one of the millennials? I’m 60, so, um, thanks? First, let me reassure you Neighbors for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment is truly a grassroots organization. And yes, we communicated with some folks from the Town of Herndon government. Isn’t that appropriate? They are our elected leaders and paid staff. Shouldn’t they be answering the questions we ask, the people who voted for them and pay their salaries? As for knowing every detail of the project and town governance, the answer for me is, No, I don’t know all that stuff. That’s what I expect our Council and staff to know. Do you know every detail? Anyway, these millennials are rightfully focused on the important question: do we want to shape our future or simply react to whatever changes are imposed on us? I’m for shaping the our futures ourselves, and the proposed development is an excellent choice. As for traffic, that’s indeed a serious issue. But doing nothing is not a solution. Obviously, the problem is too many cars on the existing roads. There are a number of ways to address this problem. We could hope people leave the area. That doesn’t seem likely. We could invest a whole lot of money building more roads. That doesn’t seem to work anywhere. And where would we build these new roads, or what roads could we expand? More to the point, whose homes and businesses should be destroyed to make way for these roads? Probably the only realistic way to make the traffic here better is to create an environment where folks don’t need to drive their cars everywhere. And how could we do that? Appropriate development with easy access to public transportation. Just like the downtown Herndon redevelopment.

  • Drip

    Downtown Herndon is getting a cat cafe this fall. Herndon has arrived.

    • NoVa Newbie

      It looks like a front to me. A cover charge to enter and pet a cat? #forprofitSPCA

  • Spudsy1

    If you want big city move into DC

  • kiki

    Bs most people are against it.

    • LocalNative65

      So, who are these people? Where are they at the town council and other meetings?

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