Residents Beg for Help with Neighbors

Residents Beg for Help with Neighbors

Supervisors to study effects of strengthened code against overcrowding.

Andre C. Vandevijuere of Sterling Park pleaded with the Board of Supervisors Tuesday night to help rid him of his neighbors.

He said so many people are living in the house next to his that the men urinate on the trees instead of in their bathrooms. There are not enough facilities for all of the occupants. "I can't say anything [to them]," he said. "I am afraid for my life."

He described shootings and stabbings in his neighborhood that have compounded his fears. Vandevijuere urged the board to adopt sections of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code to limit the number of occupants in a house. He said he would be forced to move out of Loudoun County if the board does not provide a solution.

THE BOARD HELD a public hearing on a proposal to adopt sections of the code to strengthen enforcement of overcrowding. The supervisors voted to have their Public Safety and Finance committees consider the proposal before having the board vote on it.

The committees would study the additional costs associated with increased enforcement and whether the code would provide enough restrictions on the number of people allowed in a house.

The measure models one passed several years ago in Herndon. That community has been looking to strengthen its current regulation, which provides a numerical formula to calculate how many adults can legally occupy a residential home.

Terrance Wharton, director of the Loudoun County Department of Building and Development, said the combination of the county's zoning ordinance and the building code would improve his department's ability to deal with overcrowding. But it comes with a cost. "If we are to respond to in a timely manner, I'm going to need more people," he said. "I'm going to be blunt about it."

RESIDENTS WOULD STILL be allowed to live in the same house if they were related, he said. If they claim they are related, it takes personnel to investigate whether that assertion is true.

Supervisors Scott York, the board chairman, and Eugene Delgaudio, both of Sterling, said the county must act to stop people who are buying houses as investments and illegally turning them into apartments.

Planning Commissioner Helena Syska (Sterling) asked the board to pass "emergency legislation," because people are using makeshift toilets and hoses for showers in sheds and garages.

Grace Sinclair, president of a homeowners association in Ashburn, said the same problems exist in her community. "It's not just one section of the county," she said.

Sinclair recommended the board and county officials work with HOAs in enforcing the code.

Nancy Maher of Potomac Station said her neighborhood has similar problems of multiple families with multiple cars all at one dwelling. One house had a sewage problem in the back yard, she said. She asked the board to look into the possibility that the county Department of Social Services might have placed some of the residents in houses that have been illegally transformed into apartments.

LOUDOUN'S PROPOSED code would regulate the square footage required for sleeping quarters and other rooms. The county currently has a zoning ordinance that prohibits four or more unrelated adults living in a single-family home. It defines family as a group of people living together consisting of one or more persons related by blood or marriage together with any number of natural, foster, step or adult children, domestic servants, nurses and therapists and no more than two roomers or borders. But the county had not adopted the state building code that regulates room size. For example, the proposed code requires a living room of at least 120 square feet for a home with three to five adults and 150 square feet for six or more adults. Similar restrictions are set for dining rooms. The code requires every bedroom occupied by one person to be at least 70 square feet. It also prohibits the use of kitchens and uninhabitable spaces for sleeping purposes.