When it comes to the county’s future growth, Sugarland Run District Supervisor candidates William Bogard (I) and D.M. “Mick” Staton, Jr. (R) have different plans.
Bogard, Board of Supervisors incumbent, wants to see growth where the infrastructure already exists, while Staton wants to make sure the growth does not overcrowd eastern Loudoun.
“I like living in the suburbs,” said Staton, a Sterling resident, at the Oct. 16 League of Women Voters Candidate Forum. “I like where I live, and I want to protect it. … I don’t want to see Sugarland Run urbanized.”
“People want schools. People want libraries, and they want them now, and they want them close to where they live,” Bogard, also of Sterling, said in response.
BOGARD, Board of Supervisors incumbent, is running to continue the work of the current board on the Revised Comprehensive Plan and revised zoning ordinance, two planning documents that outline the county’s growth for the next 20 years. “There is still a lot to be done. These first four years we laid the groundwork for how Loudoun will grow over the next 20,” he said, adding that the next board will be tasked with finishing some of the projects the current board began and with continuing to refine the planning documents. “What we have done is not the end. It’s the start.”
A 17-year resident of Loudoun, Bogard originally ran four years ago when he did not like the direction the county was heading and considered it to be “the wrong way,” he said. “We needed to get a grip on growth and institute different plans and have different objectives.”
During his first term as a supervisor, Bogard and four other board members, Scott York (R-Sterling), Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge), David McWatters (R-Broad Run) and Joan Rokus (R-Leesburg), voted in favor of an initiative that reduced 78,000 units from the Dulles South area management plan.
“I view us as carrying over what they started,” Bogard said.
In the Revised Comprehensive Plan, the current board reduced another 83,000 units, cutting 77 percent of the units from western Loudoun and the rest from the east. “The whole object of this is to come up with a balanced community where people have a variety of housing, a variety of employment and a variety of transportation options,” he said. “It shifts the focus from total development to development with a good quality of life.”
If elected, Bogard plans to help the county create policies that will hold developers more accountable for their projects, to establish mass transit in eastern Loudoun and to direct road funding “to the most beneficial projects,” as he states in his campaign literature.
More specifically, Bogard wants to address air quality and traffic “volume and velocity” issues, including adding traffic calming measures to slow down traffic and to keep it moving, along with filling in missing links in walking trails and sidewalks. “We need to finish what we started. We need to finish off some of these roads and catch up with what’s happening,” he said.
Bogard gave Route 659, or Belmont Ridge Road, as an example. The county permitted development along the roadway, but the developers’ proffers that will expand the roadway are triggered to occur in a piecemeal fashion. As a result, the roadway switches from two to four lanes back-and-forth. "We need to be able to say no to a development when there's not adequate public facilities," he said, adding that the state legislature will not "stand up for it."
In addition, “We’re going to have to pay attention to the maintenance of some of our infrastructure,” Bogard said and gave another example. “Meadowland and Sugarland elementary schools … need renovation work to bring them up to the same standards as new schools. I have an equity issue with that. We need to go back and make sure everyone is treated equitably. … I want to make sure we have the best schools we can afford, but we can’t neglect some of the other human services that are provided.”
STATON has three reasons for running, which he lists as out-of-control government spending, a growth plan that divides the county and a need for improved transportation in the county.
Government spending has increased 90 percent in the last four years, three times the rate of the county’s population increase, Staton said, adding that property taxes have gone up 69 percent. “We have had double digit assessment increases every year,” he said.
Staton wants to see the county government gain better control of its spending by conducting a line-by-line review of the budget and removing any “wasteful spending,” such as the Purchase of Development Rights program, he said. “By doing this, we could lower our tax rate and fund our priorities, such as schools and public safety.”
The current Board of Supervisors adopted the Revised Comprehensive Plan to cut some of the government spending by reducing future infrastructure needs. What Staton sees coming out of that plan is a division of the county that cuts the eastern one-third of the county, which is east of Route 659, from the area to the west. “It’s basically density packing. … They will have to tear down older developments and put in denser [subdivisions],” he said. “I don’t want to see my neighborhood turned into a mirror image of Fairfax County just for the sake of people who live in the western end of the county. … What I support is a fair and balanced growth plan that effectively manages new growth while protecting the existing communities, both in the east and the west.”
Staton wants to review the current plan and has no intention “to junk the plan,” he said. “Nobody is advocating going back to what happened before,” he said. “I don’t want to see an explosion of growth in Loudoun County, but I don’t want eastern Loudoun to become the recipient of all new growth. I want to protect our community from overcrowding.”
Another concern for Staton is the county’s current transportation situation. He has not seen “a good comprehensive solution” to accommodate the increase in traffic brought about by growth, he said.
To give an example, Staton pointed out that the six stoplights on Route 7 between Dranesville Road and Cascades Parkway that turn the section of roadway into “a parking lot every day,” he said. “This is a big concern for people in my district. Algonkian Parkway has turned into a de-facto highway.”
The solution Staton offers is retiming the lights to improve traffic flow, along with supporting transit. However, “We have to understand mass transit is not the only answer. … We have to improve roads. We need regional solutions.”
Staton wants to see Route 7 widened from Loudoun County to Tysons Corner and Loudoun to fill in the missing links of existing roadways.