Reston, VA

After decades of discussion, proposals and delays, the town of Herndon has approved a final amendment to its comprehensive agreement with Comstock Holding Companies, Inc. to redevelop downtown.

On Tuesday night, the town council unanimously approved a resolution to amend the existing comprehensive agreement it entered into with Comstock in 2017.

“We are taking a leap of faith that this will inject into the downtown a needed sort of vibrancy that we all hope it is,” council member Cesar del Aguila said.

“But let’s be clear, there are no guarantees here. But I think we’ve done all the right things. The ballroom is rented, the orchestra is playing, now it’s time to see if we can dance.”

Elements of the initial agreement still include redeveloping town-owned land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and approximately 17,00 square feet of retail space. It also includes a 16,265-square-foot arts center and a parking garage with 726 spaces.

The amendment – which was presented to the council during a work session on Nov. 10 –  establishes a variety of matters. Those items include a sunset date of Dec. 15 by which time the town and Comstock must close on Comstock’s purchase of the 4.675-acre property.

The amended agreement adjusts the date by which Comstock must have the project under construction to Dec. 31, 2021. However, Comstock does retain the right to pause the start of construction up to two years due to market conditions and other complications, including issues arising from COVID-19.

Also included in the amendment is an increase in the parent corporate guarantee by $5 million to $10 million to cover the arts center and the parking.

“The parent guarantee refers to Comstock’s parent corporation putting forth the guarantee of $10 million to cover this project were Comstock Herndon LLC to default,” town attorney Lesa Yeattes told the council.

“So, this is a key component of the amendment and gives the town much more safety than it had previously in the additional $5 million guarantee.”

The amendment also provides licenses to the town to continue utilizing the property following Comstock’s purchase for the existing art space and public shared parking.

It also provides priority recordation of a parking easement on the site that will act as insurance for 162 parking spaces for the town regardless of the loan on the property.

A final part of the amendment permits Herndon to refund a portion of property taxes for the area used for arts purposes. The amendment includes a 10-year tax refund to the arts district that is estimated at $1.9 million over that time, wherein the estimated tax return above refund would be $1,165,000.

“The town receives no tax benefit on this site currently,” town manager Bill Ashton said.

“And the town will not receive any benefit as long as the town owns the property. Only when it is redeveloped will the town ever see any of this tax benefit.”

As a part of the amendment, the town council will vote to appropriate funds required prior to closing during its December public session.

“Bringing this project to fruition has been a priority for me and for the town council,” Mayor Lisa Merkel said in a press release.

“This adopted amendment establishes specific parameters by which we are moving forward. We greatly appreciate Comstock’s collaborative spirit as well as the many town citizens and business owners who continue to advocate for this transformative, energizing redevelopment project. Herndon’s bright future is now!”

Image via Comstock

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(Updated at 1:20 am) Newcomer Roland Taylor appeared to be edging out Vice Mayor Sheila Olem in the Town of Herndon’s mayoral race according to preliminary state elections results through 10 p.m. today.

But as the final precinct result from today’s votes poured in, Olem boasted a double-digit lead over Taylor with 61.5 percent of the vote. Taylor secured just 37.8 percent of the total vote. Most of the night, he maintained a two-percent lead over Olem in what appeared to be a close race.

County spokesperson Brian Worthy told Reston Now that a data entry error significantly skewed the results of the town’s race. In both races, the results flipped dramatically.

“Our previous numbers were off as a result of data entry error so you’ll see a big decrease in numbers,” Worthy said.

So far, there are extremely tight margins between eight candidates running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council. The leading candidate — Cesar del Aguila — is leading the pack with 13.6 percent of the total votes while Stevan Porter is coming in last, with 10.7 percent of the total votes.

Here’s the breakdown of how all candidates are faring so far:

  • Cesar del Aguila: 13.66 percent
  • Pradip Dhakal: 13.51 percent
  • Sean Regan: 13.16 percent
  • Naila Alam: 12.29 percent
  • Signe Friedrichs: 12.27 percent
  • Jasbinder Singh: 12.25 percent
  • Clark Hedrick: 10.92 percent
  • Stevan Porter: 10.66 percent

Most election results for Fairfax County are not expected to come in until later today, according to county spokesman Brian Worthy.

Tuesday’s results do not account for the more than 404,000 early votes and absentee ballots cast. That number may be enough to sway the outcome of close races like the Herndon Town Council contest. 

Even in years when record numbers of mail-in ballots were unaccounted for, the race was extremely tight. For example,  in the 2018 Herndon Town Council race, candidate Joe Plummer lost to Bill McKenna by just 22 votes.

The county, which has the most number of early ballots cast of all jurisdictions in the state, will process mail-in ballots that were received by 7 p.m. today but not counted tonight and ballots postmarked on or before Election Day until around noon on Friday.

That means the final results of the Herndon Town Council race may not be clear until Friday afternoon.

Fairfax County voters came out in droves over the last few weeks to cast their ballots. In early voting alone, 51 percent of registered voters cast a vote. As of 4 p.m. today, the county reported a turnout of 70.7 percent of the county’s 787,000 registered voters. 

So far, voters appear to favor Joe Biden for the presidential race. The Association Press has declared Virginia a win for Biden. 

In Fairfax County, the electorate appears to have loosened its Democratic sway. In 2016, Fairfax County voters went for Hillary Clinton by giving her 63 percent of the vote. President Donald Trump secured just under 30 percent of the total vote in the county. 

But this year, 52 percent of Fairfax County voters favored Biden with a more even split for Trump, according to results from 243 of the county’s 244 precincts. This number reflects votes cast today only.

Sen. Mark Warner (D) is projected to win reelection to a third term, beating out Republican Daniel Gade who had been polling well behind Warner into Election Day. The Association Press called the race at 7 p.m. Reps. Don Beyer (8th District) and Gerry Connolly (11th District) are ahead in their respective districts while incumbent Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District) is currently trailing Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews.

This story will be updated.

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The redevelopment of downtown Herndon into a mixed-use project by real estate developer Comstock and the Town of Herndon is set to transform a portion of the downtown area.

But as some buildings long vacated by property owners sit in suburban malaise, the Town of Herndon is considering more ways to further revitalize the area.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the Herndon Town Council discussed a plan to create tax incentives for specific areas in downtown Herndon by creating a new zoning term — art-focused redevelopment — that would entitle some developers and property owners to economic incentives like tax rebates for up to a decade and reduced water availability fees.

In order to qualify as an arts-focused redevelopment project, the project must be located in the town’s Planned Development Traditional Downtown zoning district, which is depicted in the map below.

In response to questions about the financial implications of the policy, town manager Bill Ashton clarified that the incentive program creates an additional tool for the town’s toolbox to encourage economic development.

“We will end up no worse than where we are,” Ashton told the council last night.

He says that new property owners in the area have expressed interest in redevelopment but need additional incentives to proceed with new projects.

“It is difficult to activate them because the incentives aren’t there for redevelopment,” Ashton said.

In some cases, properties in the area have long sat vacant. The Ice House Cafe and Bar in downtown Herndon has been closed since late 2018, for example.

Councilmember Cesar del Aguila pressed staff for more clarity on how the policy would secure the town’s financial position.

Town Attorney Lisa Yeatts noted that the policy would result in “long-term gain” for the town.

Ashton added that it is difficult to determine the extent of the payoff because the answer depends on interest in the program as well as the type of projects suggested.

The Herndon Town Council is expected to vote on the proposal at a meeting next week.

Image via handout/Town of Herndon

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The Herndon Town Council is considering a move to create new incentives for art-focused redevelopment projects.

The language of the proposal applies to projects in downtown Herndon, but a town spokesperson did not indicate how the plan applies to the stalled redevelopment of downtown Herndon, which is a joint effort between the town and Reston-based company Comstock.

Economic incentives include:

  • A 50-percent reduction in fees for water, sewer and building permits in the initial establishment of the project
  • An annual rebate of up to 100 percent of real property taxes linked to the total. Redevelopment project for taxes due to the town for up to a decade.
  • Exceptions that allow a reduced number of parking spaces required for multi-family residential use
  • Deferral of developer contribution for recreational amenities

“These amendments create additional opportunities to expand the type, quantity and quality of. Art offerings to town residents and increase the town’s presence as a destination for art activities,” according to an Oct. 20 staff report.

It’s unclear how the incentives will be applied to the redevelopment project in downtown Herndon. A town spokesperson did not provide comment by the publication deadline.

The $85 million redevelopment project, which includes a new arts center, would transform nearly 4.7 acres of land in downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use district.

A meeting on the matter is set to take place today (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.

 Image via handout/Comstock

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Monday Morning Notes

Cornerstones Chats with Town of Herndon Candidates — The Reston-based nonprofit organization interviewed candidates for the Herndon Town Council and Mayor. Interviews were conducted by Stephen Smith Cobbs, a member on the Board of Directors and a pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon. [Cornerstones]

Volunteers Build Reston Girl with Leukemia a Playset — Volunteers from Dominion Team Energy team u with the ROC Solid Foundation to build a four-year-old Reston girl with leukemia a playset in her backyard. [WJLA]

Around Town: Judge to Hold Trial on Plans to Remove Lee Statue — “A lawsuit seeking to prevent Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond is scheduled to go to trial Monday.” [WTOP]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Campaign contributions to the Town of Herndon’s mayoral and town council races have been relatively sparse with Election Day just over a month away.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Virginia Department of Elections on Sept. 15 show that Sheila Olem and Roland Taylor, the two candidates seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Lisa Merkel, have received $925 and $957, respectively, in total contributions since January.

According to her latest campaign finance report, which covers the period from July 1 to Aug. 31, Olem received a $250 donation from Fairfax City Councilmember Janice Miller on Aug. 1. She also loaned $500 to her campaign in July and has gotten $175 in small cash donations since January.

Taylor, a public servant in local law enforcement, is responsible for all of the financial donations to his campaign.

By contrast, Merkel, who announced in January that she will step down at the conclusion of her fourth term as Herndon’s mayor, received more than $17,500 in contributions for all three of her reelection campaigns, topping $20,000 in both 2014 and 2016, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Olem, who currently serves as Herndon’s vice mayor, attributes the sluggish rate of donations to the town’s mayoral contest to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which is driven by close contact between people and, as a result, has limited candidates’ ability to interact with voters in-person.

Olem says she tries to keep supporters updated through email and Facebook, but she is aware that not everyone uses social media, and emails will not reach people unless they are on her campaign’s mailing list.

“That’s the most difficult part of it, and I don’t think that’s good for the voters,” Olem said. “I usually have several events, and then people will come and chat with me, and they’ll give donations. It’s just really hard this time.”

Sean Regan leads candidates for the Herndon Town Council in terms of campaign contributions.

A member of Herndon’s Planning Commission since 2012, Regan is one of 10 people vying for a seat on Herndon’s six-member town council.

The $6,710 in campaign contributions that Regan has reported to the state since January is more than twice as much as what any other candidate has accumulated, though much of that money comes out of his own pocket.

In addition to receiving $700 in cash donations, Regan has given $6,000 to his campaign in the form of a $2,000 direct donation and two separate $2,000 loans.

While Regan has the highest cumulative total of contributions, rival town council candidate Stevan Porter has attracted the most donors, receiving $2,583 from 18 different contributors as of Aug. 31.

Financial support for Porter’s campaign has mostly come from individual donors, but the IT professional and paramedic has also reported two separate $100 in-kind contributions from the Libertarian National Committee for the use of an eCanvasser campaign management system.

Total contributions to the other Herndon Town Council candidates’ campaign include:

Naila Alam, Bessie Denton, Pradip Dhakal, and Syed Iftikhar have not reported any campaign contributions as of Virginia’s Sept. 15 filing deadline for candidates who will be on the ballot for this November’s election. Denton and Iftikhar withdrew their candidacy after the results of the local Democratic caucus.

Virginia law requires that candidates seeking public office disclose all campaign contributions and expenditures to the state.

Full campaign finance reports for Herndon’s mayoral and town council candidates are available on the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Image via Town of Herndon

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The Residence Inn on 315 Elden Street in Herndon could be transformed into an affordable housing development. 

The new owner of the hotel is seeking to repurpose the property into a 166-unit residential development. According to preliminary plans, 55 percent of the units would be dedicated as workforce housing.

Before the traditional approval process can begin, the Town of Herndon’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan requires an amendment to the land use map, which would change the property from the business corridor classification to adaptive area-residential.

The Herndon Town Council will consider a proposal to refer the matter to the town’s Planning Commission. Public hearings will follow at a date that has not yet been announced.

In meeting materials, town officials indicate that the proposal could address a shortage of affordable housing in the area.

The meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) in the Herndon Council Chambers Building (765 Lynn Street).

Image via Google Maps

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Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Featured here is Stevan Porter. 

I am Stevan Porter and I am running for one of the six seats on the Herndon Town Council. An IT professional and paramedic, I have lived in the Town with my wife Johnise since 2008.  We both love Herndon – its history, its small town feel, its local businesses, and most importantly its wonderful and diverse people.  These are things to treasure and preserve while recognizing the Town will continue to grow and change.

I entered this race to bring different perspectives, skills, and experiences to the Herndon Town Council.  We must avoid echo chambers and I believe lively and well informed discussions are critical to making the right decisions for our community. In both professional and volunteer roles, I have excelled by carefully listening to people, getting a comprehensive overall view of the situation, and then seeking the best approach possible.  Sometimes this means going with tried and true solutions and other times it requires taking new and innovative approaches.

What would your top three priorities be as a council member?

My first priority is to promote engagement of the entire community – its residents, its businesses, and its organizations. A healthy Herndon requires that we not only consider all these perspectives without partisan bias but also find ways to actively involve all stakeholders in the solutions.

The second priority is transparency and easy access to data. In order for the community to be fully engaged it also has to be well informed. The workings of government should be as transparent as possible and as much data freely available to our community members.  I would seek to streamline FOIA processes and make them as easy and inexpensive as possible.  This includes financials, police performance data, project information, and deliberations of the Council and its various boards.
The third top priority is support for the small businesses that are so important to Herndon’s small town feel.  During the COVID crisis we found a variety of creative ways to streamline and relax various processes.  We should seriously consider these and other measures even after the emergency ends.

What is the top challenge the town faces currently and how do you aim to address it?

Prior to COVID-19 I would have said infrastructure improvements needed to support all the ongoing growth and development efforts. In particular we are expected to max out sewage processing capability by the middle of this decade.  Water, traffic, and parking are also major concerns.

With COVID-19, however, the top challenge has shifted to revenue concerns.  Due to good management, Herndon is in a much better place than many localities but we are taking a big hit in excise taxes and anticipate hits in real estate taxes – particularly on the commercial side.  This will make budgeting very difficult.

To address this, we are going to have to look at spending priorities.  Raising taxes in this economy would be a bad idea and would only further hurt our residents and businesses.  This in turn could lead to actually reducing tax revenues.

As a community we need to determine what services the Town should continue to provide and how to do it.  We must look into innovative approaches that better leverage the resources and capabilities of our residents, businesses, and organizations.  I think we can still continue to provide many of the things our community has come to expect but how those services are provided may look very different.

Listening to different perspectives and ideas is critical to how I approach problem solving and to making Herndon the best it can be for all of its people, businesses, and organizations.  I hope people will learn more about me at www.porter4herndon.com or on Facebook (@Porter4Herndon).  I look forward to earning your vote for Stevan Porter for Herndon Town Council this November.

A previous Reston Now post mistakenly stated Porter did not submit a statement.

Photo via Stevan Porter

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Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Featured here is Signe Friedrichs. 

What would your top three priorities be as a council member? 

  • Economic Recovery from Coronavirus
  • Redevelopment of Downtown and Arts Center
  • Transportation (public, multi-modal)

What is the top challenge the town faces currently and how do you aim to address it?

Top Challenge: Financial security–providing basic services while tax revenues plummet because of residents and businesses distress.

Solutions: Prioritizing spending, maintaining reserves and deploying county resources when possible to maintain status quo without layoffs or decreasing services.  

How does your background uniquely position you for this position?

I have served the town in many capacities. I have lived in Herndon since 1996. I have been an academic, a military spouse, a small business employee, a membership relations manager for the local chamber of commerce, and the executive director of a nonprofit. I know business owners, and Herndon residents and can represent them well. I love Herndon’s small town feel and community cohesion.

Metro Development Progress

We understand that the new metro station will be opening in Herndon this winter. Projects already funded, mainly by the State and County, will mean that building bus bays, bike lanes, sidewalks, and traffic abatement systems are underway. In addition, several attractive redevelopment projects for the 1970s and 80s style office buildings on Herndon Parkway are proposed by the developers who own them. Herndon is seen as the next part of the County to “take off”, and we want to make sure we have the infrastructure to support redevelopment on that side of the town. Rest assured, though, the neighborhoods and downtown should remain small, intimate and communal in keeping with Herndon’s personality.

Photo via Signe Friedrichs

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Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Featured here is Sean Regan.

My wife Anne and I have lived in Herndon for 22 years and we can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have raised a family and opened a business here. Herndon embraced us – our kids received a great education in the neighborhood schools, our business has grown, and we’ve made friends who have laughed with us in good times and cried with us in hard times.  Anne and I love Herndon, it is our home. 

Over the years we’ve tried to give back.  I coached youth lacrosse, Anne was on the board of our local pool and the founding board of the Herndon Environmental Network.  I volunteered for committees to design the “It’s On!” logo and the stone markers you see when you enter Town.

 Since 2012 I’ve been proud to serve on Herndon’s Planning Commission, creating development frameworks for Downtown and the Metro area, and reviewing dozens of land-use applications in all parts of Herndon.  Through that role I’ve learned the workings of Town government and have come to appreciate the challenges of running a small town amidst the Northern Virginia sprawl. 

Running for Town Council is the next chapter for me.  I was raised in Columbia, Maryland, one of the earliest and largest planned communities in America. I grew up appreciating the beauty of an economically, racially, religiously diverse community where many voices could speak and many people could lead. That’s what I want for Herndon, and that’s why I’m running for Town Council. You can learn more about my campaign at www.ReganForHerndon.com.

Qualifications

I understand Town government from my eight years on the Planning Commission. I’ve owned a business in Herndon for 18 years, managing large scale construction projects for non-profits like Mount Vernon Estate and the Northern Virginia Children’s Science Center. I feel invested in this community and am comfortable working with people with different points of view. I think that last idea is an important one – in today’s society politics, social media and other factors have pushed people to the edges and encouraged an “us versus them” mentality which Is not good for the country.  We need to come together, find common ground in the middle, and build from there.  This strategy might not work on the national level but it can work in a small town like Herndon.

Issues

Herndon should be a welcoming town where everyone can thrive so we need to identify policies rooted in historical bias and work to change them. The next Council will be tasked with balancing the budget in light of the effects of COVID-19, which will not be easy in the short- or long-term. In addition, depending on how the “qualified immunity” issue is resolved in Richmond, the Town may have trouble attracting good police officers and could need to fund something akin to doctors’ and dentists’ expensive malpractice insurance to retain them. Finally, I’d like to work with surrounding jurisdictions on regional issues like traffic and climate change. Our 24,000 voices can be powerful if we speak as one on these broader issues.

Economic Development

We need to understand how workplaces are changing, and position Herndon’s Metro area, downtown and other office properties to take advantage of the trends. We need to understand how housing is changing and adapt our zoning code to create an adequate supply of affordable, workforce and age-in-place housing. We need to attract a major university or cultural institution to anchor the metro area and differentiate it from every other stop along the Silver Line.

Whether by mail, by early in-person voting, or at the polls November 3rd – please vote!

Photo via Sean Regan

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Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Featured here is Jasbinder Singh. 

I served on the council from 2010 to 2012 and from 2014 to 2016.  I am back for the third time, because I want to help Herndon set a new direction.  During my first two terms I served with: integrity, ability, and an inquiring mind.

If elected, I intend to approach my job in the same manner.

Between 2013 and 2017 I wrote more than 30 articles describing how the town works or does not work.  These articles, published on my blog HerndonOpinion.com, provide a meaningful context for transforming Herndon into a vibrant town.

The experience described above, combined with my educational background in Civil Engineering & Public Policy, professional experience in policy analysis and environmental litigation, and a passion for public service uniquely qualify me to serve as a councilmember.

Have you ever wondered, “Why does it take Herndon 10 years to complete projects that would normally be completed in 1 or 2 years?  It is clear that Herndon needs to modernize, focus on excellence, and yet, retain its small-town feel.

Accomplishing this objective would be challenging during normal times.  However, these are not normal times. Municipalities across the country have laid off staff, cut capital budgets and even terminated major projects.  Economic conditions will not return to normal until at least the second half of next year.

Consequently, I have asked, “What should we do over the next two or three years to best cope with Covid-19 and its effects?

In the short-run, I believe, our first priority should be to conserve as much cash as possible, postpone or eliminate projects that are wasteful or require raising capital in the financial markets or require that we give land free to developers and/or special interests.  I propose that we take two immediate actions;

Make Town’s Current Financial Health Transparent under significant economic and development scenarios, and

Reverse anti-Transparency Policies of the last 8 years – policies that have kept the public in the dark, particularly about the economics of the proposed downtown development.

These actions should help the public to provide informed input into the Town’s decisions.

Covid-19 is highly problematic, but it has given us an opportunity to make our government nimble and efficient. In the Medium-run, we should reform regulations that delay our projects or impose unnecessary burden on our citizens.  HPRB rules and many other regulations fall in this category.  We should also implement the state-of-the-art budgetary and management practices that help governments make prudent decisions.  The budgets of all departments should be scrutinized for efficiencies.

Finally, we should keep an eye on the long-run.  For too long, we have focused on the downtown.  We should take actions that help revitalize the entire town, reduce traffic, develop a master plan for undeveloped areas, help our children learn about our environment and the wildlife around us, and create a vibrant and multicultural society. Last but not the least, we should examine whether the at-large town elections of councilmembers truly lead to policies that reflect the wishes of all the people of Herndon.

Our road to excellence will not be easy, but with the participation of our citizens in this endeavor, there will come a time when the Town of Herndon can say,

“Yes, we can!”

Photo via Jasbinder Singh

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Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Statements are published in the order in which they are received. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Featured here is Cesar del Aguila.

What would your top three priorities be as a council member? 

My top priorities are: full council decision transparency, new housing options, budget, and new town branding.

What is the top challenge the town faces currently and how do you aim to address it? 

Prioritizing the budget for the next ten years will be paramount. What we save and cut will impact services delivered and future initiatives. This will be the most important issue the new council will face. We must find areas to save taxpayer dollars and find new sources of long-term revenue.

What legislative matters or proposals do you hope to bring forward on the council? 

Major changes to the HPRB are desperately needed. Too many residents are being impacted and the ordinances need to be updated. We are creating a district where only wealthy individuals can afford to maintain their homes to a standard that is outdated. I would like to see the HPRB modified with input from the actual residents that live in the district.

I want to create an environment where new development provides a wider range of housing product options to include; workforce, studios, senior living and affordable units. We have several projects in the future and can address these needs if we value and commit to providing homes for everyone who wants to call Herndon home.

How does your background uniquely position you for this position?

I spent years in various positions with large businesses in executive roles. I understand leadership, at times, requires telling people what they need to hear, versus what they want to hear. I come from communities that invested in public schools and affordable housing. I have heard from many residents and what they desire for Herdon’s future. Change is happening and our growth depends on how well we leverage our resources to capture new businesses, residents, and investors. I welcome all views, listen to new ideas, and value the contrarian view.

The Town of Herndon is poised for transformation as Metro and the redevelopment of downtown Herndon is underway. What is your current assessment of progress made so far? How do you hope to continue ensuring the development occurs in a timely and productive manner? 

I think we are behind in terms of what we could have had. It appears previous councils decided not to look into long-term investments and leverage our town resources. It seems previous councils were waiting for projects to come to Herndon. I would have invested in large projects over the past twenty years. I would have created line items in the budget and partially funded large projects through special revenue allocations versus bonding all costs. Pay a little as we go. I understand bonding projects benefit residents in the future that can utilize new infrastructure, however, I believe we have an obligation to pay a little now, so we don’t fully burden future residents with all the project costs. I believe sharing benefits and costs.

Photo via Cesar del Aguila

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Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

My name is Clark Hedrick and I’m running for the Herndon Town Council. I’m asking for your vote on November 3rd because I want to bring Herndon together; to build on our strengths and to fix what needs fixing. We’re living through one of the most challenging moments in our community’s history–local government has never been more important.

I am well-qualified for the task which will be entrusted to the next Council. As a member of Herndon’s Board of Zoning Appeals, I’ve worked with residents and Town officials to resolve zoning matters. I also have extensive experience working with local governments including issues of tax, business licensing, communications infrastructure, and civil disputes. I’ve devoted my career to improving government transparency, oversight, effectiveness, and responsiveness. If elected, I will bring those values to the Council. As an active member of the community, I’m committed to seeing our Town emerge stronger from this crisis.

Like many local governments, the next Herndon Town Council term will be dominated by responding to the economic and financial impact of COVID. Until the full scope is understood, the Council must exercise extreme fiscal restraint to preserve essential services and protect Town employees. The Council must also review its land use and business licensing code to reduce regulatory burdens and costs. If the budget permits, I would like to lead the Council in declaring a Meals Tax holiday to help our small business owners and patrons, and to jump start the local economy.

More broadly, Herndon is at a crossroads. As Fairfax County (and Loudoun) develops around us, the Town must work to preserve its historic and small-town feel. Likewise, Herndon will be more connected than ever before with the opening of the Herndon Metro Station–our challenge is to make sure that the Town remains an affordable and accessible place for families, retirees, and individuals at every stage of life. We benefit from being one of the most diverse communities in the region–we need to ensure that we will continue to enjoy that benefit for decades to come.

We are an epicenter of opportunity, with countless small businesses and Fortune 500 employers right here in town. We are home to Virginia’s most engaged and hard-working citizens. But more importantly, if the last few months have proven anything, it’s that we look out for each other in times of need–I am proud to be your neighbor.

You can learn a little bit more about me, my family, and my commitment to bringing Herndon together by visiting www.ClarkHedrick.com. And I want to hear from you so please connect with me on social media either at Facebook (@herndontogether) or Twitter (@clarkhedrick). I’d be honored if you voted for me, Clark Hedrick for Town Council on November 3rd.

Photo via Clark Hedrick

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As COVID-19 continues to change the local and global landscape, several Town of Herndon restaurants are seeking to continue offering outdoor dining on town property for the remainder of 2020.

The Town of Herndon is considering a proposal to extend outdoor dining permits for six local restaurants and a bike shop through the end of November. The following restaurants are expected to continue offering outdoor dining on town property:

The businesses have been using town sidewalks, private property and town parking lots to allow for outdoor dining.

The council first approved the outdoor permits for 100 days in July.

The council will meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. to discuss the measure. An ordinance to continue revised governmental operations due to the pandemic is also on the meeting’s agenda.

Photo via Sully’s Pour House/Facebook

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The Town of Herndon is working to secure an agreement to ensure the proper use of a substantial COVID-19 grant from the federal government.

In order to keep a $4.3 million grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act, the Herndon’s Town Council must approve an agreement that outlines proper uses and reporting procedures.

The funds needed to be used for “necessary expenditures due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus disease,” according to town documentation.

Herndon received the money from the CARES act in late April, but would theoretically have to pay it back unless the council signs a “sub-award agreement” with Fairfax County, the town attorney said at a council work session on August 4.

“This agreement specifies the amount awarded to the town and lays out the terms under which specific funding uses and reporting requirements and other procedures are to take place,” the attorney said.

Funds were allocated to localities based on population from the 2019 Census, town documentation said.

According to a council member at the meeting, Herndon received the relief money quickly compared to other Virginia jurisdictions.

“There are still jurisdictions in the Commonwealth that are struggling to get funding of any sort,” the council members said, adding that it only took a “quick” email from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay to receive assistance.

Next week, the town council is expected to approve the agreement with Fairfax County, according to a recommendation from the town’s attorney.

Image via Town of Herndon

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