Having just finished collaborating in an analysis of the preliminary Town Center report on the Reston Parkway/Town Center station area, the voyage to the tiny outskirts of town Herndon-Monroe station area planning meeting seemed interplanetary. We have to remind ourselves that, for the most part, this station on our western frontier is just a thin stretch of land between the toll road and the Sunrise Valley Drive to the south. On its eastern half are 10 office/industrial buildings, the Sunrise Valley Wetlands Park and one large parking garage next to the station location. North of the station, across the great gorge, is the TOWN of Herndon with no facilities existing or planned in support of the coming rail station. South of Sunrise Valley Drive is the Polo Fields residential development which effectively has staked a claim to established residential neighborhood not to be messed with for new development.
Given this smaller playing field, the H-M Committee has begun work on a 3-page draft “Overview of Draft Herndon-Monroe Station Recommendations”. This draft was the subject of the Aug. 16 meeting and can be viewed here.
Much of the discussion was about whether or not to add F.A.R. recommendations to the draft report. Greg, the developer co-chair argued against inclusion, that it would be better to let each project be judged on its merits with no upper limit, lots of flexibility. Gerry Volloy seemed to argue for inclusion in order to help judge if we are achieving “our objectives” such as maximizing ridership and profitability necessary to enable developers “to be in a position to satisfy all the county requirements.” In the end, I think the group agreed to suggest ranges of possible F.A.R.s for the various land bays.
Other points suggested for possible inclusion in the report:
• Arthur Hill saw a need to acknowledge that we are only the tail trying to wag the dog—Herndon, which is doing nothing and is not engaged with the Fairfax County to discuss what might be done on its 100+ acres. They have to be recognized and brought in somehow.
• John Carter offered a substantive changes: 1- include reference to needed another access point into the station area along edge of 267 from Monroe Street west of the station; 2- add a couple of alternatives on parking, a) no new parking development at the site, or, b) tear down parking garage and move it to the west, allowing mixed use development in its place at the station. Interestingly, there was sort of a quiet acceptance, little discussion of this bold suggestion. No apparent decision?
Fred Costello asked why not say something about taking measures to REDUCE TRAFFIC on Sunrise Valley Drive. One developer asked—would you want to do that even if were creating lots of new jobs here? Wouldn’t that be an OK tradeoff for a bit more traffic? Co-Chair Nick Bauer moved to resolve this question by noting, “Golly, should we really do anything that prescriptive (reducing traffic?)? The matter was dropped. Notetaker’s note: Another thing to be determined by the market?
One developer appealed to the group “not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg”…at Herndon-Monroe area [apparently referring to the commercial development now dominating the site] by stressing residential development so much for the future. The language in the draft report he found objectionable is: “Given the well-established…commercial and office development, the majority of ‘additive’ floor area should be in the form of residential and retail/amenity options.”
It was agreed that the co-chairs would need some time to fix up the (3 page) draft. Next meeting was set for SEPT. 13 at 8 AM, place to be determined.