I was not surprised to see a letter in this past week’s FairfaxTimes [““Vote ‘no’ to rubber stamp council in Herndon”] attacking Lisa Merkel and her “team” of Herndon Town Council candidates written by Doug Shuster.
Shuster is a vocal opponent of the Metro Area plan for 38 acres of land within a quarter-mile of the future Herndon metro station. He rails against town staff for manipulating the present council and planning staff, and then pivots to the “partisanship” of a group of candidates who he opposes. His argument is that anyone who opposes his view, which is an overwhelming majority of Herndon citizens, is part of some rubber stamp led by the town staff.
What Shuster fails to tell readers is the town staff and Planning Commission led a yearlong, unprecedented series of public hearings. Hundreds of residents participated in discussing the land-use opportunities afforded by mass transit. The overwhelming majority of these folks endorsed the plan, which calls for transit-oriented development in a limited area around the future station.
This is the way good planning should be conducted in a democratic manner. This democratic process was repeated again at hearings conducted by the Planning Commission, lead by the very capable Chairman Kevin East.
Shuster spoke time and time again, as is his right, to oppose the plan to allow a denser, more pedestrian-friendly alternative to suburban sprawl.
Now, after being on the short end of the debate, Shuster attempts to convince us no one would listen to his side of the story. The truth is some folks have learned if you wait until the last moment and organize a small group of naysayers, you can influence some elected leaders who always can find some reason to vote ‘no’ to any change.
Schuster’s idea of the town council would consist of two elected officials — Jasbinder Singh as mayor/king and Connie Hutchison as his rubber stamp.
Meanwhile the team of six candidates who pledge to work together in a nonpartisan way, and who do not agree with Schuster, would be a threat to his desire to control town planning.
Les Zidel, HerndonThe letter writer is former Planning Commissioner for the Town of Herndon and member of the Fairfax County Task Force for the Dulles Corridor.