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The Town of Herndon is currently considering plans to welcome a new church to the neighborhood. A planning commission public hearing took place virtually to discuss the arrival of Christ Fellowship Church this week.

In Herndon, religious institutions are typically not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. The church is applying for a special exception to permit a religious institution with a capacity of 300 persons, according to the Planning Commission’s Staff Report.  

The church plans to occupy suites 7 and 8A at the Parkway Crossing Condominiums (459 Herndon Parkway).  

Christ Fellowship Church has been a part of the Herndon community for almost 30 years, according to the staff report. As of now, the small congregation has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff members and one part-time staff member.

The church plans to hold small gatherings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some activities taking place on weekday evenings, but primarily over the weekends. 

Photo via handout/Herndon Planning Commission 

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Stanley Martin is seeking to redevelop four 1980s office buildings on 1145 Herndon Parkway into a residential development.

The plan, which would require rezoning the 8.8-acre property, heads to Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m..  The proposal includes 85 townhouses and 56 stacked townhouses, which are also known as two-over-twos, along with 352 parking spaces.

The developer says the buildout of the project would be separated over “a relatively long period of time.” In the first phase of the project, Stanley Martin would retain one office building, which is home to a tenant on a long-term lease. In the second phase, the second office building will be redeveloped.

Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is planning, including a two-way cycle track and sidewalk along Herndon Parkway.

In an Oct. 5 report, the town’s staff indicated it is “keenly interested” in how the development would cater toward those earning within 60 to 100 percent of the Area Median Income, which is often referred to as the “missing middle” for housing affordability.

The town’s staff has not determined its decision on the project due to ongoing evaluation of engineering issues and the continuing Traffic Impact Analysis.

Image via handout/Fairfax County Government

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The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a request by a DC-based real estate firm to splinter the ownership of an office park located at Springpark Place.

Penzance is seeking the town’s permission to subdivide the property from four parcels with eight buildings to eight lots, each  one building of its own.

No changes to the density and the overall revitalization plan, which is under review by the town, are proposed.

At a meeting last night (Monday), commission members unanimously approved the plan after town staff and the developer ironed out details surrounding maintenance, infrastructure, and proffer conditions.

Commissioner Sean Regan expressed some concerns about options for recourse if issues arise due to the presence of multiple owners.

“Who does the town go too for resource?” Regan said.

Town staff said the presence of a new property owners’ association would help mitigate any concerns. Additionally, the rezoning application requires the formulation of proffer conditions and more legal documents that provide the tow with more tools to address any issues.

“We would go after as many as we can,” said David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator.

Currently, all parcels and buildings are owned by Penzance, which hopes to sell off some of its buildings.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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Penzance, a DC-based real estate firm, is setting itself up to sell off parts of Spring Park, an office park located at Springpark Place.

The developer is seeking the Town of Herndon’s permission to subdivide the property, which currently has eight buildings on four parcels, into eight lots with each lot containing a building and some site improvements.

Currently, all the parcels and buildings are owned by Penzance. The company hopes to sell “some of the buildings” while “some” will remain under control by Penzance, according to a Sept. 14 application by the firm.

“It is unclear at this time how many that is,” according to the application.

The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the issue today (Monday) at 7 p.m.

At a previous meeting this month, staff said the possibility of multiple owners raised concerns about future maintenance of shared infrastructure as well as the lack of existing and shared parking.

The town is also currently reviewing a plan by Penzance for minor site improvements to the office park.

The office park is located within a mile of the firm’s planned major mixed-use neighborhood near the future Herndon Metro Station.

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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The Town of Herndon is exploring new transportation projects for South Elden Street, Central Elden Street, and the creation of the Metrorail Station Promenade as part of budget planning for capital projects.

In a draft proposal for the FY2021-FY2026 Capital Improvement Program — which creates a six-year schedule for public improvements — the town will pursue five new projects, in addition to 43 ongoing initiatives.

The Town of Herndon is exploring funding opportunities for transportation projects for South Elden Street, Central Elden Street, and the creation of a signature plaza area near the Herndon Metro Station as part of budget planning for capital projects.

In a draft proposal for the FY2021-FY2026 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) — which creates a six-year schedule for public improvements — the town will pursue 48 projects, including five new ones.

The signature plaza area with a public space that extends from the entrance of the Herndon Metro Station to Herndon Parkway is planned. The project, “Metrorail Station Promenade,” will include “rich streetscape and areas for outdoor activities” in order to activate the space.

The plan also includes updates to South Elden Street to replace the undivided five-lane street with a median and left-turn lanes, as well as new pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Pedestrian safety improvements to improve Central Elden are also planned. The town has submitted an application to receive state funding for this project.

Other new projects include security improvements for town facilities and updates to a police server room.

Staff noted that the $54 million total is a big jump from the FY20-25 CIP. But the total net increase is similar to previous years if town matching funds for more than $65 million for Elden Street and Spring Street are taken into account. The current $54 million.

In a memo to the town’s Planning Commission, staff noted that changes to the draft CIP are expected as the town manager finalizes the budget and makes recommendations to the Herndon Town Council.

The commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal today (Monday) at 7 p.m. in the Herndon Council Chambers Building (765 Lynn Street).

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr 

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The Herndon Town Council formally adopted changes to its comprehensive plan.

At a Tuesday (Jan. 28) meeting, the council approved changes recommended by the town’s planning commission and staff.

The updated plan incorporates a new chapter on economic development and clarifies that the plan should be reconsidered up to 2024, by which time downtown Herndon is expected to be built out.

Other changes include:

  • Pursuing a cooperative relationship with the county and regional entities for public infrastructure
  • Continued assessment of indoor and outdoor recreational facilities
  • Advancing pedestrian and multimodal facilities, including Van Buren Street improvements, trail lighting along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail
  • Ensuring residents with a half-mile from a park have access by all forms of transportation
  • Replace “heritage” with “historic” when referring to heritage preservation efforts.

Virginia’s code requires the review of comprehensive plans at least once every five years.

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The Herndon Planning Commission unanimously approved an application to seek state funds for major improvements along Elden Street between Center Street and School Street on Monday (August 26).

At the meeting, the commission approved the $1.8 million project, would brings critical pedestrian improvements to the area. Improvements include wider sidewalks, new curb ramps, landscaping, new crosswalks and new pedestrian signals at the intersection with Grace Street.

The town is seeking federal funding for the project through a set-aside application that can only be used for projects that address unsafe conditions, are near local schools, and cary significant volume of traffic.

“It is a very treacherous walk and so this is a very much needed improvement for our downtown and for that important corridor,” said commission chairwoman Melissa Jonas.

The project adopted a new name — Central Elden Street Walkability Improvements — to capture the scope of the project with more precision.

“We wanted this name to kind of stand out,” said Michael Wallick, the town’s transportation planner.

Commissioners clarified that improvements at the intersection of Center and Elden street — which has a large number of accidents in comparison to other local intersections — will be addressed by another project.

One resident said the median along that road is not wide enough to accommodate delivery vehicles that pull up at the median to unload deliveries. The planned width of that median is 11 feet — one foot more than the minimum state requirement, said John Jay, a civil engineer with the town.

Jay also noted that putting utilities underground is too costly and would exceed the budgeted amount of up to $2 million.

Image via handout/Town of Herndon

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Town of Herndon officials have launched a process to review the town’s comprehensive plan, a planning document that guides current and future development.

The comprehensive plan, which state law states must be reviewed by the local planning commission at least once every five years, will head to the town’s planning commission for review.

Although dates have not been announced, the commission plans to review public input and make suggestions on changes to the plan. The commission will then draft a resolution for the town council that states the plan’s priorities and direction. By law, the Herndon Town Council is not required to take action on the resolution.

In previous years, the town has incorporated major changes to the plan, including planning for downtown Herndon and areas near the Herndon Metro Station.

The following amendments have been approved in recent years since the original plan was adopted in 2008:

  • Downtown Master Plan
  • Downtown Streetscape Map
  • Metrorail Station Area Plan
  • Cycle Track on Herndon Parkway
  • South Elden Area Plan

Changes to the future plan could include updating the parks and recreation chapter, sustainability policy, multigenerational planning, and economic development.

Residents interested in submitting their comments and suggestions on the plan can email [email protected].

Image via Herndon Planning Commission

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Monday Morning Notes

Safety Reminders as School Begins — As the first day of the school year begins today, state officials are reminding residents to be careful as more pedestrian and vehicular traffic returns to neighborhoods and around schools. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Elden Street Sidewalk Funding Goes Before Commission — The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on an application to seek state funding for improvements to the sidewalks of Elden Street. [Town of Herndon]

Reston Association Board to Review Budget — The board is expected to discuss and review the first draft of the 2020-2021 budget at its September 26 meeting, which takes place at RA headquarters at 6:30 p.m. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to bring a vocational school for entry-level healthcare fields to the Crossroads (1037 Sterling Road) on Monday night.

Divine Healthtech Institute can operate on the property under specific conditions. No classes will be offered before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. and class sizes will be restricted to five students.

Commissioners said they worked through conditions on the project in order to alleviate parking concerns and limit traffic to the building, which already has a number of tenants.

“The parking situation at that location was the focus of considerable discussion at our work session and I’m personally satisfied in keeping with the staff conditions,” said Vice Chair George Burke.

The project heads to the town’s council for final approval.

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A vocational school for entry-level healthcare fields could be coming soon to the Crossroads (1037 Sterling Road, Suite 101).

The town’s planning and zoning staff recommended placing several restrictions on the proposal to open a Divine Healthtech Institute prior to approval. Vocational schools require a specific exemption from the town to operate in this area.

Conditions include holding no classes before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. and allowing town officials to inspect the property during “reasonable hours.”

Staff maintains a level of concern with allowing multiple uses within one condominium suite from a general standpoint. In this specific case, staff believes the proposed use is similar enough to the existing use that any potential negative impacts could be mitigated by placing conditions on the approval,” according a the March 13 staff report.

If approved, the school would only be allowed to offer one class at a time in the 300-square-foot location. The condominium suite where the school would be located has a hodgepodge of uses, including two offices that are used for Nathan Travel and Cargo, a travel agency.

Rev. Leonard Chukwujiioke, a school administrator, said each class will have only five students. Weekend programs will be by appointment only. A morning and evening class will be offered on weekdays.

Most recently, the Herndon Town Council denied a plan to bring a mini-mart to the Crossroads last year. Plans for a barber shop were withdrawn after the town conditioned approval of the application with several requirements. The operation of a personal service business was approved last year.

The town’s Planning Commission will consider the plan at a 7 p.m. public hearing today (May 13).

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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Renewed discussions are underway on how to regulate Airbnb-style rentals in the Town of Herndon following an unsuccessful legal challenge by residents to Fairfax County’s recently established regulations.

The Herndon Planning Commission took up the issue at a work session on Monday (April 8). If approved, the new zoning ordinance would require residential property owners seeking to rent out their homes to limit guests to six adults for terms of no longer than 90 days. A $200 zoning permit, valid for two years, and an associated inspection will be required before property owners can operate a short-term rental.

Town officials first considered ways to regulate short-term rentals late last year. The commission directed zoning staff to research best practices regarding regulations and monitor the legal challenge to Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance, which is similar to the town’s proposal.

In the latest draft, zoning staff removed a condition requiring residential property owners to maintain a guest log. The new proposal also defines who constitutes a permanent resident, according to David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator. The draft also stipulates the following:

  • Operators must provide proof of permanent residency.
  • Events like weddings, concerts, parties and banquets associated with a short-term rental are prohibited.
  • Operators must provide two off-street parking spaces. The county’s ordinance requires one off-street parking space.
  • Recreational vehicles are not allowed.
  • One rental contract is allowed per night.
  • There is no limit on the number of nights where a portion of the unit can be rented if the primary resident is present.
  • Operators must provide safety equipment like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors.

Late last year, 36 Fairfax County residents sued the county for overreaching its authority on regulating short-term lodging rentals. The county’s motion to dismiss was granted, although the plaintiffs can come back to the court with an amended petition, according to town officials.

Efforts to regulate the burgeoning industry were set into motion two years ago when the state’s General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to regulate short-term rentals. Permit fees and the maximum number of nights allowed per unit vary across jurisdictions. Arlington County sets a limit of 180 nights and has a $63 permit for one year whereas Loudoun County allows unlimited nights and requires no permits.

Photo via Airbnb

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Six submissions later, a Penzance Properties development that was first submitted in 2015 moved forward at the Herndon Planning Commission meeting on Monday (Feb. 25).

The development would create an urban block with residential, office and retail space in three buildings at 555 Herndon Parkway, which is currently home to a suburban-style office building that was constructed in the early 1980s.

A high-rise office building and a high-rise residential tower with retail space and a garage would face a mid-rise residential building with retail space and above and below ground parking.

The plans include a publicly accessible plaza in the center and multi-modal streetscapes.

The development plans to have three entrances off of Herndon Parkway that will lead into a loop road surrounding the property.

The proposed development has been scrutinized at four Planning Commission and two Architectural Review Board meetings just since the start of this year, along with one community meeting. The presentation to the commission on Monday highlighted the changes that addressed concerns and suggestions from those meetings.

Some of the notable alterations include adding midblock pedestrian passages and revising the open space design. The architecture was also changed in response to comments by the ARB — new storefront designs have greater variation in the material use, texture and color and more vertical breaks and architectural elements were added to the previously monotone garage design.

While the mixed-use development hit several design snags and a zoning issue earlier this year, the project’s size and scale posed review challenges for the boards grappling with an unusually large development.

The team behind the project echoed why the project is such “a big deal for the town” — as the commission’s Chair C. Melissa Jonas described it.

“Herndon is a lot of things, but it’s not yet 275-foot-tall buildings,” Kenneth Wire, the land use attorney for the project, told the commission.

Wire said that the project will follow in the footsteps of Herndon’s unique identity by building upon the town’s streetscapes and signage. The central plaza will have a focal point, such as art or a water element, and the buildings will have decorative elements, he added.

“This has been a large process for the Town of Herndon to think about this area and what it means for our town,” Jonas said.

The project would take place in three phases of construction. As the proposal moves forward, it is possible that the Architectural Review Board may tackle the site plan for each phase separately.

The Herndon Planning Commission recommended approval of the development plan. Before the vote, Jonas thanked the Planning Commission staff, ARB and the community for their work on “this big application.”

“There is a love of this town and there is a lot of concern for change always for anyone,” Jonas said. “[Penzance] put in a lot of hard work into thinking about what we wanted to see.”

Renderings via Herndon Planning Commission

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The queue of proposed projects for the Town of Herndon has two new items — plans for more police storage and a traffic signal along Elden Street.

Senior Planner Dana Heiberg presented the draft Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission last night (Feb. 25).

The draft CIP spans a six-year period from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2025.

One new addition would give police officers more space to store police bicycles, bulky equipment and other police property. The CIP budgets the creation of the exterior garage at $700,000 from FY 2020 funding.

That isn’t the only police project. Another one would update police radio equipment as Fairfax County moves toward encryption technology.

Meanwhile, the second new project — a traffic signal at Elden Street by the Herndon Centre — originated from a developer proffer.

Heiberg also gave an overview of the 50 projects for this year — many of which he said are on-going ones from the FY 2019-FY 2024 CIP.

For this year, planning and permitting software will is set for implementation. The information technology project is supported by the town’s reserves.

Renovating the Bready Park tennis courts, which will include converting the lighting to LEDs, is a part of the 10 planned park projects.

Nine projects sponsored by community development are set to tackle street improvements; pedestrian and bike trail upgrades, including trails leading to Herndon’s metro station; and wayfinding signs and historic markers.

Public works-sponsored projects include:

  • nine street or intersection improvements
  • a storm drainage project
  • major maintenance for buildings
  • a road repaving program
  • utility relocation downtown

The Herndon Centennial Clubhouse is also set for an expansion to take place over three phases. Once construction funding is decided upon in FY 2024, the renovation and expansion of the existing structure, which was built in the 1980s, will begin.

The General Fund projects for the six years in the draft CIP total $58.1 million, with about $6 million for FY 2020 General Fund projects. Grant funding will support most of the projects — acounting for 46 percent — while the General Fund will support a little over 20 percent, Heiberg said.

The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend that the draft CIP move forward to the Town’s manager.

Photo via Google Maps

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The team behind the Koko FitClub that recently closed in the Fox Mill Shopping Center has plans in the works to return to Herndon.

Right before Koko FitClub closed at 2537 John Milton Drive at the end of January, Owner Kavitha Maddi told Reston Now that the gym is slated to open at the new location in the spring.

Now, Maddi and Yogender Rakasi want to bring Koko FitClub back to Herndon at 281 Sunset Park Drive, the former spot of Saigon Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant.

Herndon’s Planning Commission took up the proposal at its meeting last night (Feb. 11). The fitness club is seeking approval of a special exception to meet zoning requirements for the area.

The staff report notes that parking has been a concern for businesses at Sunset Park Drive, adding that a cap on the number of clients that can use the gym between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays to ensure “it does not create a burden on parking that is any greater than the by-right use of a restaurant.”

The “digital gym” offers a three-step Koko Smartraining System, individualized coaching, personalized nutrition, 30-minute strength conditioning and 15-minute HIIT cardio training.

More than 60 locations span 20 states and Canada. The recent closures in Herndon and Reston have left Koko FitClub without any locations in Virginia.

Image via Google Maps

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