Even though it was only the form of a non-binding recommendation, the vote of the Falls Church Planning Commission on the projected Hilton Garden Inn was seen as highly influential, and tonight that body came through with a unanimous vote in favor. At the same time, the Falls Church City Council, which will consider a final, formal approval of the project next Monday night, held its own deliberation on the plan in a work session one level below where the Planners held forth in a formal business meeting.
There were only two citizens who addressed the Planning Commission on the hotel tonight, one a neighboring business and one a citizen opposing it.
Officially, the approval is mostly for modifications to the proffers offered by the developer for the project that was originally approved in 2008, and remains approved but for the requests for proffer modifications, as well as a change in the plan to eliminate a small office building in the original. The biggest concern involved the developer commitment to environmentally-sensitive so-called LEED certification, with the developer saying he believes the project can achieve “Silver LEED” status, but would be unwilling to commit to it in writing, as the cost could potentially be prohibitive. In a staff study provided to the City Council tonight, it was shown that the dollar amount of proffer modifications (minus the LEED question) is only a net $60,000 less than before.
The developers of the hotel project are scheduled to present the plan to the monthly luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce tomorrow.