Herndon Improving Together — Clark’s plan for zoning and historical preservation
Zoning and land use regulations are perhaps a local government’s most consequential work. Whether a property owner or a tenant, every resident and business in the Town of Herndon is directly affected by our zoning and land use code. Property rights are among the most essential traditions of modern democracy, and to the American conception of liberty. We are also aware that, historically, land use restrictions have been some local governments’ means of enacting discriminatory policy.
Herndon is a welcoming and diverse community and I am confident that we do not currently have intentionally or overtly discriminatory policies on our books. However, it is appropriate that Herndon and other local governments periodically review zoning and land use restrictions in order to rebalance them in favor of essential property rights and to expose discriminatory impacts, even if unintentional.
Delegate Commission to Review Zoning Code. If elected, I will propose that the Council delegate a commission to do a line-by-line review of the Town’s zoning code and present the Council with a report containing legislative recommendations by the end of 2022. The commission should include town officials, commercial property owners, residential property owners, commercial tenants, and residential tenants. The commission should be specifically tasked to identify and make recommendations regarding land use regulations which: 1) undermine essential principles of property rights, 2) produce a discriminatory impact, 3) result in an unnecessarily burdensome administrative process (factoring both time and money costs), 4) can be reasonably achieved through harmonizing language with neighboring jurisdictions, or 5) are otherwise outside the scope of the Town’s interest to regulate.
Improve Heritage Preservation Property-Owner Engagement Likewise, the Town is currently undergoing a review of its Heritage Preservation Program — I agree that our community has a broad interest in protecting the Town’s various historic landmarks, homes and other buildings. However, the Town needs to recalibrate its preservation efforts to protect property owners from cost prohibitive restrictions and administrative processes. The Town needs to improve its engagement with owners of historic properties to understand the impact of certain minute requirements, which, in many cases, add little value (or thwart) good-faith efforts to maintain these properties. The Town also needs to improve its efforts at educating prospective buyers of these heritage properties about what their rights and obligations are before the sale has closed.