METRO DEVELOPMENT – Cost of Not Asking Questions = $50 Million
April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Candidate for Herndon Town Council, May 6, 2014 Election
Last November the Herndon Town Council promulgated zoning standards for the Metro Plan area. Among other things, it approved 275 ft (or about 25 stories) towers in the Metro Plan Area. As many of our residents know, developers are supposed to mitigate the effects of development by offering proffers; however, no discussion of a proffers policy for transportation and other infrastructure improvements took place at either the work session or the public session. The Mayor and her group had the votes to pass the proposed zoning amendment.
In comparison, Fairfax County carefully and deliberately developed its proffers policy for Tysons Corner up front. Among other things, the policy requires developers to contribute specific amounts of money to two transportation infrastructure funds. As a result, developers, rather than the County, will pay for street and highway improvements in the Tysons Corner area.
If we apply the County policy to Herndon’s Metro area, the Town would collect as much as $50 million. It would have a certain source of money for making transportation, water and sewer, and other infrastructure improvements. With so much money at stake, the Town Council should have initiated a debate about the proffers for the Metro Area. Instead, it made it voluntary for developers to contribute whatever amount they desire for future public infrastructure improvements. It is reasonable to assume that no developer is going to contribute millions of dollars without being required to do so.
Therefore, as it stands now, our citizens would end up paying for much of the cost through increases in real estate and other taxes, and the amount we get from developers in the future will remain highly uncertain. This is one more example of the high cost of not asking questions, not considering important issues meaningfully, and shortchanging our citizens. Unfortunately, proffers for the Metro area is not an isolated example of the absence of meaningful deliberations.
“Moving Forward” is an overly used phrase by some to claim economic and social progress. However, most people would agree that we cannot “move forward” unless we stop putting unfair financial burden on our citizens and rethink the ways in which we make our decisions. We must begin to do so by asking relevant questions and having meaningful debates.