The Herndon Town Council has voted 4 to 3 to renegotiate the terms of a proposed land swap with Fairfax County and deferred its final decision on any possible exchange until July 1.
At a public hearing last week, council members considered annexing 100 acres of undeveloped commercial property in Fairfax County in exchange for giving the county almost 72 acres of residential and commercially zoned land in Herndon.
The conditions of the proposed agreement would have prevented Herndon from applying for city status for at least 25 years and thus would have restricted its right to annex any more land from the county.
Herndon Mayor Richard C. Thoesen said he favored the proposed land swap but was reluctant to relinquish the town's right to apply for city status for the 25-year period.
"I really can't accept a moratorium like that at any cost," Thoesen said. "I don't want to give up the town's birthright . . . This is a serious patriotic situation."
Council member Robert P. Jensen said he strongly supported the proposed land exchange. "It's the greatest thing since apple pie, the flag and motherhood. But the question centers on Herndon's identity."
Town officials asked Fairfax County to consider the property exchange two years ago. Thoesen said the town could reap at least $375,000 a year by 1991 in added tax revenues from potential commercial development on the land.
Vice Mayor Pamela S. Tennyson said the forecasted financial benefits for Herndon from the land deal looked attractive only on the surface. She said Herndon's current and future commercial developments would generate much more revenue than the 100 acre parcel promises.
"The town's future from a financial standpoint is quite strong," Tennyson said. "The $375,000 in fixed revenues will pale substantially in the future. I don't think the gain is sufficient enough to justify the rights we forfeit in the process."
Supervisor Nancy K. Falck (R-Dranesville) said the land swap proposal was a good idea, but she thought the county should get more in return than just the two parcels of land currently located inside Herndon's boundaries.
"This boundary change has no benefit to the county -- zero. But, it has substantial benefit to Herndon," Falck said. "If Herndon decides to become a city in 10 years, the county loses a substantial amount of revenue."
Falck said the 25-year condition was added to the land exchange agreement for the county's own protection against possible land revenue losses in the Herndon area.
She said there is definitely room for negotiation in the potential swap but that Herndon had to "find a way they can assure Fairfax County that it won't be punished."
Herndon resident Donald LeVine protested giving up the town's city status right for 25 years. "We don't need the money -- it isn't the driving force," he said. "The problem is that 25 years is too far to see."
Thoesen added that attaining city status would also be very expensive for the town with its population of 14,000. If Herndon attained city status it would have to provide its residents with those services currently received by the county, such as fire and rescue, schools, water and sewer, among others.
The proposal involves the 58 acres of undeveloped residential land located along Stuart Road, which is owned by Reston Land Corp., and 14 acres of commercial property south of the Dulles Toll Road that is owned by GTE. Batman Corp. owns seven acres of the 100-acre tract in the county, and Worldgate Office Park Inc. owns the other 93 acres there.
Falck said there was no time limit on the negotiations on the land swap proposal. "We'll give them all the time in the world to decide," she said.