At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac) lambasted a fledgling coalition for spreading "misinformation" about proposals to build thousands of new homes in the county.
At polling places on Election Day, volunteers for the Campaign for Loudoun's Future, a loose coalition of citizens and community-based organizations, passed out fliers on the 20 developer-initiated comprehensive plan amendments (CPAMs) received by the county on Sept. 1. They also gathered signatures on a petition that stated, "To Loudoun Public Officials: Don't Double the Size of Loudoun."
"There were people coming up to me saying we had approved 42,000 units," Tulloch said. He claimed that the petition-gatherers were misleading those who signed — not only has the board not yet heard the CPAMs (they're still with the Planning Commission), by Nov. 2 some of the CPAMs had been rejected. And most of all, Tulloch took issue with the figure of 42,000 homes, saying it was inaccurate.
"People were signing based on what [petitioners] were saying," Tulloch said.
Tulloch then called on the coalition to release to the supervisors the contact information for all the signers of the petition so they could "communicate" with them.
ED GORSKI, the Loudoun County land use officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, is the one responsible for the figure of 42,000 homes.
The applications themselves, with few exceptions, offer few specific numbers when it comes to how many homes, and what type, the developer plans to build. So Gorski first pored over the soil maps for each applicant's land and determined how much could be developed on. He subtracted 25 percent to account for roads, parks and other non-buildable places. Gorski then applied each developer's requested density to the remaining 75 percent, and he had an estimate for how many units each applicant would build.
To estimate how many unit types would be built, Gorski applied the county's current percentages of single family detached homes, townhouses and multi-family units to each application. In total, he came up with 18,390 single family homes, 12,529 townhouses and 10,867 multi-family units, equalling 41,796. Round that to 42,000, and that's his estimate for the impact that all 20 CPAMs would have on the county, if approved.
"It's based on 29 years of planning experience," Gorski said.
There's more to Gorski's estimates: he drew up two dozen spreadsheets estimating everything from how many new students would enroll in Loudoun County public schools (22,854) to how many new schools that requires (15 elementary, 4 middle, 4 high) and how much those new schools would cost ($679,000,000).
Gorski received estimates from school planning director Dr. Sam Adamo and consulted the 2003 Annual Growth Survey to come to those figures.
WHAT GORSKI'S figures don't take into account is that a few of the CPAMs have been rejected or are pending acceptance. At least 12 are being taken under consideration by the Planning Commission, including the largest applicant, Greenvest, an attempt to remake the Route 50 corridor to the tune of 14,000 or more new homes.
What Gorski also doesn't take into account is the proffers in each application. Greenvest, for example, has offered an unprecedented $462 million in proffers to construct roads, schools and parks.
What that doesn't include is operating cost for all those roads, schools and parks after construction is complete — something that Gorski has a spreadsheet detailing.
Gorski's estimate of 42,000 new units, however, is pretty close to the county planning staff's estimate of 38,000 to 40,000. And he's offered more than once, in public, to show the supervisors his methodology and to prove to him that his own figures are wrong — if they are. No supervisor has taken him up on the offer.
"This is the sixth or seventh time [Tulloch] keeps telling me my number's wrong," Gorski said. "None of them — Mr. Staton, Mr. Snow, Mr. Tulloch and Mr. Delgaudio — none of them has said what the right number is."
THE CAMPAIGN for Loudoun's Future, meanwhile, has garnered the attention of the supervisors by staking out polling places on Election Day.
Andrea McGimsey, an Ashburn businesswoman and citizen activist turned PEC employee, was surprised when Tulloch started berating the petitioners from the dais.
"I'm really glad that it's part of the public dialogue," she said.
McGimsey believes that Gorski's numbers are conservative. The area with the most CPAMs pending is called the transition zone, and is meant to act as a gradual buffer between the suburban east and the rural west. Open that up to suburban densities for a few landowners, McGimsey said, and the rest will follow.
"There's no legal leg to stand on to say no to the other landowners," she said.
The Campaign for Loudoun's Future is preparing to release the number of signatures gathered on Election Day and via the organization's Web site, www.loudounsfuture.org, soon, McGimsey said.