The Herndon Town Council voted unanimously last week to approve final design plans for a new $1.35 million sanctuary to be built by St. Joseph's Catholic Church, the town's only Catholic church and the second largest congregation in town.
The council's decision overturns a recommendation by the Architectural Review Board to deny the church's request to change original design plans, approved earlier by the review board, and use a cheaper roofing material on the new facility.
It is only the third time in 10 years that the Town Council has overruled the ARB.
Church architect William A. Klene said the clay tile shingles that were designated in the original design plans were $90,000, more than the church can afford to spend on roofing for the new sanctuary.
Klene, a member of St. Joseph's, now located at 750 Peachtree St., said if the church were forced to install the clay tile on its new roof, construction costs would jump to $125 per square foot -- or almost $2 million for the 15,000 square foot building.
He estimated building costs for the new church would be only $90 per square foot using cheaper asphalt shingles.
"I like clay tile, it's near and dear to my heart," said Klene.
"And I did a lot of soul searching before deciding I just couldn't ignore that amount of money."
Architectural Review Board chairman Daniel B. Krisky said the asphalt shingles the church wants to install are not as esthetically suitable to the growing suburban community as the heavy brown clay tiles preferred by the ARB.
Krisky said the review board tries to avoid basing its design decisions on building prices or the financial resources of a person, group or company.
"Cost considerations are not enough for us to change major plans of a building," Krisky said.
"The board, in general, tries to get as much as it can for the betterment of Herndon. My personal feeling is the asphalt tiles will not look anywhere near as nice as the clay tiles."
Krisky said the committee denied the church's request because the roof was the main focal point of the new building and therefore highly significant to its design.
He said the asphalt shingles "were an inexpensive finish to a finely designed structure."
Mayor Richard Thoesen and Council member Robert Jensen, both members of St. Joseph's, disagreed with Krisky's contention that an asphalt shingle roof would be an eyesore in Herndon.
Jensen, who abstained from the vote in order to address the council on behalf of the church, said he did not find the asphalt shingle "bizarre, garish or inappropriate to the exterior design of the building," as noted in chapter 30 of the town code on architecture and design, "namely because it's exactly what's on the roof of my house."
Architect Klene said he has already modified interior design plans for the new church because they exceeded St. Joseph's building budget.
He said he had to eliminate wood paneling inside the church, modify window design, leave exposed brick in some places and scrap plans for a partial basement.
The church's new sanctuary will be loacted on Ferndale Avenue, across the street from the Herndon Centennial Municipal Golf Course. The present sanctuary will be used for classroom purposes and office space.
The new sanctuary will seat 900 of the parish's 3,000 members, who attend one of six or seven masses over a weekend.
Klene said construction of the new sanctuary should be completed by December of next year.