"Payback" could be what stripped all but the state-mandated powers from Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York (R-At large).
York claims that former board chairman Dale Pollen Myers was "instrumental in advising the board to do what the new board did. I guess you could call it payback," he said.
At the Jan. 5 board meeting, five Republican supervisors who were new to the board and colleague Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) voted 6-3 in favor of a new set of rules of order. Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac), who was elected as vice-chairman at the meeting, presented rules that reduced York’s authority to that of calling the meeting to order and to reading the agenda. Tulloch’s own responsibilities included preparing the agenda, deciding questions of order and enforcing the rules of order.
"The board voted 6-3 ... to take the majority of powers from the office of chairman and transferred them to the vice-chairman, who was not elected countywide," York said in an email he sent to his constituents. "This action ignores the public will and the votes of the 38,000 residents who voted for a candidate in the chairman's election this past November."
Ashburn resident Phil Lo Presti, Jr., who regularly attends board meetings, is certain the Republican majority will "suffer by ignoring the voters’ wishes for the chairman," he said. "He was fairly elected by the county’s citizens and any effort by Mr. Tulloch and the new majority to change what the chair has responsibility for will likely be met with strong resistance. Eventually, this tactic will haunt them."
THE REPUBLICAN supervisors disregarded York's recommendations for the board’s standing committees and county and regional appointments, which were placed on the Jan. 5 agenda, in favor of their own. Before taking office in January, these supervisors had found out about York's recommendations through a press release, Tulloch and Myers said. "Everything was dictated to us, and therefore we had ... to take an assertive step to make sure the action of the chairman is balanced and open," Tulloch said during a break of the Jan. 5 board meeting.
Some of the complaints of the Republican supervisors are those of Myers, said William Bogard, former supervisor for the Sugarland Run District. What the new board did to York is what she says a previous board did to her when she was chairman, Bogard said, adding that the board at the time "set it up so the chairman didn't have absolute authority in the selection of committee assignments. York did the same thing by us."
In 1995, York was elected as Sterling supervisor to the Myers' board after serving with Myers on the Planning Commission from 1992-95. In 1999, York ran against Myers, winning the Republican primary for the 2000-03 board. After losing in the primary, Myers decided to run as an independent and lost to Democratic contender Jim Kelly, who came in second, and to York, who ran on a slow or smart growth platform to manage the county's rate of growth.
The 1996-99 board voted to amend one line of the rules of order, requiring that the chairman’s recommended committee assignments would need a vote from the full board for final approval, and approved two changes to the committee structure.
Myers had met with the rest of the board before they officially took office in January 1996 to decide which committees board members wanted to serve on and to determine any changes they wanted to make in the board's rules of order, she said. "We did it very much in a way where we could be honest and sit down and talk about the issues," she said.
At the meeting, Myers put forward the decided committee assignments, her motion failing to a 4-5 vote, she said. York put forward a new rules of order that "took away the role of chairman to make appointments," she said. "They did all of the appointments. They didn't put me on a single committee."
York said that the board did not remove Myers from any committees and regional appointments as she claims. "We absolutely took no powers away from her. We never removed her from anything either," he said.
MYERS advising the new board was evidenced by "so much revenge in the air against Scott. … It was such a partisan rancor to the whole day," said former Planning Commissioner David Whitmer for the Broad Run District. Tulloch received "bad political advice to take this very aggressive move to be more of a chairman than a vice-chairman," he said. ". ... There's no 'us' in terms of what's in the best interest of the county."
The "us" is divided into east versus west and Republicans versus Democrats, Whitmer continued. The "pendulum" shifts from board to board, resulting in a lack of continuity in the county's policies, vision and direction, he said. "That kind of uncertainty is bad for the business environment."
Myers, an Ashburn resident, represented the east during her term and York the west, though he lives in Sterling, said John Nicholas, landowner and farmer in Purcellville. He believes that the previous board hid behind "an extremist agenda" of Smart Growth and historic preservation. "It’s all NIMBYism [Not in my back yard]. It was driven by the Middleburg crowd," he said.
"The previous board had approved 14,000 units. That’s four times more than the so-called pro-development board of Myers," Nicholas said. "There’s not much to develop in Loudoun County. Loudoun County has a housing crisis. Loudoun County doesn’t have 20 years worth of growth. If nothing is done about it, Loudoun County will go away in four years. … Most of the west is subdivided. The east is built out. Everything’s going on in Brambleton and Dulles South."
During its term, the 2000-03 board revised the county’s growth planning documents to outline the county’s development patterns for the next 20 years. The board reduced the allowed densities in areas of eastern and western Loudoun with most of the focus in the rural west to maintain its tourism and agriculture economies.
"A lot of people’s and landowners’ lives were destroyed by the last Board of Supervisors. I’m talking about those farmers and landowners who were seriously hurt with this down zoning, and I believe that has to get straightened out," said Jack Shockey, president of Citizens for Property Rights (CPR). "I would encourage the majority of six Supervisors to stick to their guns, in the same fashion the old Board of Supervisors wouldn’t listen to the CPR, and straighten up the mess the last Board of Supervisors has done to the taxpayers of this county. … It’s time we get a handle on this government that has gotten out of control."
THE REPUBLICAN SUPERVISORS campaigned on reducing Loudoun's taxes and insisting on a zero budget analysis of the county's annual operating budget. At their first meeting, they opposed supporting any state legislation imposing impact fees, an additional fee charged to developers for each new housing unit to cover future infrastructure costs, and an adequate public facilities ordinance that would limit building until the infrastructure is in place to serve the development.
"You can't say you’re pro-taxpayer and pro-development. It's an oxymoron," York said, adding that the Republican supervisors said with their actions that they are "more concerned for developers than for education. … I think they're following an agenda that is very much in tune to Dale's and developers' agendas."
"They, in fact, are more pro-growth, cozy with developers than they let on in the campaign," said Wesley Corber, York's campaign manager, adding that he believes that the Republican supervisors "kept a low profile" on their view on the previous board's revisions to the Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinance, two county planning documents. "It seems to me their actions were very revealing. ... Of course, it's one meeting, one set of actions."
The Republican supervisors reversed several land use decisions of the previous board. They approved extending public utilities to the transition area, amending county planning documents to allow for active and passive recreation in minor flood plains and ending tourism tax funding of the Purchase of Development Right (PDR) program that preserves open space in the county.
"We hope this board will charge a different course than they have in their first meeting," said Peggy Maio, Loudoun field officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, adding that the board concentrated growth in areas where the infrastructure and population already exist. "The previous board took the first steps in trying to manage the high level of growth we’ve been experiencing in the last four to six years. … My fervent hope is that citizens will come forward and impress on this Board of Supervisors, we all live in the same community."
For Delgaudio, "The future is bright. The savings will be many, and we’re asking everyone to pull along in that direction. We are going to keep our campaign promise of efficient responsible government in six of eight magisterial districts in Loudoun County, and we hope the other two will join us, and frankly after tomorrow, they won’t have a choice," he said the day before the Jan. 20 board meeting. "The excessive spending, excessive budgeting and boondoggles are gone forever."