Schools: 1, Planning: 0

Schools: 1, Planning: 0

Board overrules Planning Commission and approves administration building project.

Figuring that the site and architectural design for the proposed public schools administration building is inadequate, the Planning Commission recommended the Board of Supervisors deny the commission permit for the project.

"We’re not an architectural review board," said board chairman Scott York (R-At large), adding that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings were not the place to hold such a debate.

At the May 19 board meeting, the school system sought board approval for a commission permit as required under the 1972 ordinance that shows the building’s conformance with the Comprehensive Plan in terms of location, character and extent. The 14.7-acre site for the building, which is south of the Dulles Greenway in Broadlands, is compatible with the land-use designation for business uses under the Revised Comprehensive Plan, as stated in the agenda item. As for character, the site is designed to reduce environmental impacts by preserving a hedgerow in the west central portion of the site, using pervious paving surface on 25 percent of the 698 parking spaces and excluding the river and stream corridor (RSCOD) from development.

The school system appealed the commission’s decision, stating that the building design is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan. "Our goal is to have this building lead certified," said Edgar Hatrick, superintendent of schools, in reference to a form of energy certification that involves "extra expense." "We do it in our schools. We’re certainly doing it in this building as well," Hatrick said.

THE PLANNING COMMISSION recommended the board deny the permit for the proposed five-story, 166,000-square-foot building at its April 30 meeting. The commission said the proposal does not exhibit the highest design standards as outlined in the Revised Comprehensive Plan and excludes the use of structured parking, which would minimize the environmental impacts from surface parking, and of low impact design techniques and materials.

Supervisor James Burton (I-Mercer) asked for a definition of high-quality design. "It’s in the eye of the beholder," he said.

Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) disagreed, saying, "The entire field of architecture grades low to high design."

The building is designed with a traditional design, giving the image of classical roots in historic Virginia with a contemporary interpretation, said Hal Hart, associate of Pennsylvania-based company Hays Large Architect, architect for the project. "It really boils down to image and what image we want to portray," he said.

Hart explained some of the energy-saving features of the building, including its east-west orientation to take advantage of the light the sun provides on the building’s north side and moveable office partitions on the same side that can be moved to let in more light.

Supervisors questioned the number of parking spaces included in the design plan.

"I wish you would reduce the number of spaces," Burton said. "I think they’re excessive."

Under the 1972 ordinance, the site requires 372 spaces, but the school system followed the 1993 ordinance to address programming and the expected number of visitors to the building, county staff said.

York called for a motion to overturn the commission’s recommendation, a motion that received a 6-2-1 favorable vote with Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Kurtz voting against.

Delgaudio said the design is too opulent, luxurious and costly. "It has shades of the county administration building all over it," he said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the Board of Supervisors:

* Approved a special exception application that permits Lerner Enterprises of Dulles to build 100-percent office development in a Planned Development – Industrial Park (PD-IP) zoning district. Lerner plans to build two six-story office buildings totaling 296,000 square feet on a 17.11-acre site west of the future Pacific Boulevard. Lerner Enterprises is required to proffer part or all of the road’s construction depending on what work is already done by the time the site plan is submitted for the first office building.

* Approved a $50,000 general fund donation to the George C. Marshall International Center for the building’s restoration project, which began in 2001. The building is scheduled to reopen in November 2005.

"I felt $50,000 in local tax funds is excessive," Delgaudio said and asked for a substitute motion to return the funds to taxpayers. His motion died for a lack of a second.

* Heard a report on the Christmas in April Loudoun program. This year, 700 volunteers worked for 6,000 hours to repair 26 Loudoun homes.