Preparations for a new Vienna Police Headquarters moved ahead Feb. 3 after the Vienna Town Council voted 7-0 to reclassify a pair of related properties for governmental use.
The amendments to the town’s comprehensive plan were required under town and state code, said Vienna Planning and Zoning Director Cindy Petkac.
The first reclassified site, located at 114 Locust St., S.W., is adjacent to the police station at 215 Center St., S. The town purchased the half-acre property from Faith Baptist Church in April 2013 for $489,200. Vienna officials allowed a family living in the site’s house, built in 1960, to stay until June 2015, when their oldest daughter graduated from high school.
The town government has maintained the property minimally since and plans to raze that house and the current police station to make way for the new police headquarters.
While the station is under construction, which will take an estimated 18 to 24 months, Vienna police will move the department’s patrol officers and detectives to a town-owned house on the second reclassified property, located at 440 Beulah Road, N.E.
The town purchased that 0.43-acre property, located adjacent to Vienna’s mulching yard, for $712,000 in May 2018. The site has a one-story, single-family detached home constructed in 1955, plus a driveway and a rear-yard wooden deck.
No prisoners would be taken to the temporary site and officers would not test vehicles’ sirens in the parking area there, said Vienna Police Chief James Morris. Only three to five officers would be on duty during any given shift and would stay at the Beulah Road location only for short periods, such as attending roll-call briefings, eating meals or filing reports, he said.
“Officers don’t live in that station,” Morris said. “I don’t want them in that station. I want them out in the community.”
The department’s administrative, records and dispatch elements would work out of the basement at Vienna Town Hall during this period.
Vienna officials still must submit both properties for “2232” reviews by the Vienna Planning Commission, in order to determine if the proposed uses are in accordance with the comprehensive plan. In addition, both sites will need a conditional-use permit, which will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and Vienna Board of Zoning Appeals.
“We are at the beginning of the process,” Petkac said.
Residents who spoke at the Feb. 3 public hearing expressed concern about the police department’s neighborhood impact at both those sites.
Vienna Police Chief James Morris said town officials are examining drainage issues related to the 114 Locust St., S.W., property and will take appropriate remedial action.
Regarding the property at 440 Beulah Road, N.E., Morris said town police may improve the property’s driveway to ensure better ingress and egress for police vehicles, but would not add impervious surface for parking. Instead, police will park about 25 vehicles on the mulch yard’s driveway, he said.
Town officials saw the need for a new police station in 2013, as the current facility has neither sufficient parking nor community-accessible spaces, said Mayor Laurie DiRocco.
The current station was too small when it was built in 1994, Morris said. Vienna officials looked at several options, including rebuilding the station, but decided to construct an entirely new station after learning lessons from the recently completed renovation and expansion of the Vienna Community Center.
That project, which added a gymnasium and completely redid the existing building, was plagued by cost overruns and construction delays stemming from a water-logged, half-century-old foundation.
Town officials agreed the new station should remain centrally located, provide secure parking and have about 30,000 square feet of space, Morris said. The new facility will ameliorate drainage and parking issues and not result in additional traffic on nearby streets, he said.
Construction plans for the main facility are about 90 percent ready to go, but department leaders expect to make some additional changes to address community concerns, Morris said.