The Herndon Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance rezoning the , located at 680 Spring St., on Tuesday night.
Fairfax County has plans to rebuild the station, which is more than 60 years old. The .26-acre site will be rezoned from central commercial to planned development – downtown.
Teresa Lepe, chief of the county’s building design branch, said the current station is one of the oldest in the county’s system, constructed in 1950. She said call volumes at the station have increased in the last 20 years and will continue to do so.
The current 8,000-square-foot building will be demolished and replaced with a 15,000-square-foot building, which will include underground parking, three bays which will hold four vehicles, larger women’s facilities, fitness facilities, a decontamination area and more.
The new building will be ADA accessible and will include an elevator. The county also has plans to increase staffing at the location, Lepe said.
Fairfax County has been debating for years whether to move the fire station to another location or keep it in its original location, Lepe said. At one point the county was considering moving the station near the Herndon Police Station.
Lepe said the county decided that the current location is ideal based on response time. She said the county aims for a seven-minute total response time, and since the station was one of the first in the area, other stations were placed based on Herndon’s location.
There will be 19 parking spaces under the station. The public entrance will still be on Spring Street, Lepe said. She said the trash facilities and generator will be in an enclosed area at the back of the building.
The maximum building height for the lot is 50 feet, and the new fire station’s tallest point will be 39 feet tall, where the elevator tower will be. The building itself will be 34 feet tall.
Construction on the building is expected to take two years, and in the meantime there will be a temporary station at the corner of Locust and Center streets, on land owned by Horn Motors. Response time is expected to stay the same during construction.
County staff said the Herndon station is very busy, running an average of seven calls each day, which is one of the reasons why a larger station is needed.
Vice Mayor Connie Hutchinson asked what made the county decide to stay at the same site, rather than look for another site.
County staff said newer advanced modeling tools allowed them to see that moving the station would have a negative impact response times on the western side of Herndon, so they decided the current location was best. Additionally, the county was able to adapt the smaller site to accommodate the design for the new station.
“This is another one of those things that has been studied for several years now,” said Herndon resident Barbara Glakas during the comments from the audience. She said the last three councils, if not more, have been considering a new fire station, and Herndon deserves one. She said she would like to see the rezoning move forward.
Howard Nachman, president of the Herndon Volunteer Fire Department said he is most concerned about the agreement and contract between the town and Fairfax County, but would like to see a new station built.
Nachman said he is very happy to see that the county will try to retain some of the historical artifacts from the fire department’s history.
Town Attorney Richard Kaufman said the contract and deeds would not be impacted by the construction of a new station.
Hutchinson elaborated on the contracts that Nachman spoke of. She said the land the fire department is on was obtained by Herndon’s original volunteer fire department as a result of the 1917 fire that destroyed much of the downtown.
She said the land, the building and the original equipment were all made available to the town through fundraising, bake sales, the ladies auxiliary, and hard work. “The fire house is the epitome of community in Herndon,” she said, and many community members contributed to it.
Hutchinson said she was glad to hear that if the county is no longer using the land or building, ownership reverts back to the town of Herndon.
Council member Sheila Olem said she thinks the new fire station will be a great improvement to the town. She said they have talked about it long enough, and it’s time to build it.
Councilwoman Grace Wolf said the project is long overdue and she appreciates how hard the county has worked with the town to make the building fit into the aesthetic of the downtown.
Councilman Dave Kirby said he still would’ve liked to see the station relocate so there could be a rear entrance of the building for the trucks, but he thinks this building will allow the department to continue to have a great response times.
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