After the 30-day review of 20 comprehensive plan amendment applications (CPAMs), planning staff has recommended that the Planning Commission reject 17.
The developer-initiated amendments would increase the number of housing units in the county. Each application must meet at least one of four submission criteria: presenting a creative idea not foreseen by the comprehensive plan; proving that the nature of the surrounding area has changed substantially; proving a unique hardship exists because of the current zoning; or more effectively meeting the goals of the comprehensive plan.
"Our evaluation is very factual," said Julie Pastor, director of planning. "We've got a plan in front of us ... do they meet the criteria?"
Regardless of the staff's recommendation, representatives of all 20 CPAMs will come before the Planning Commission on Oct. 25, Nov. 1 and possibly Nov. 8 (if needed) to make their cases in a 15-minute presentation. Pastor doesn't expect the presentations to address the staff's recommended rejection, but rather focus on selling the CPAM to the commissioners. Packie Crown, vice president of planning and zoning for Greenvest, concurred.
"We're going to keep our presentation focused on the criteria for submission," Crown said. "Hopefully, we'll present maybe a more compelling argument than certainly the staff was able to glean out of our submission."
Greenvest, as the most ambitious of the applications, would add 14,000 homes, six schools, a hospital and millions of dollars' worth of road improvements. Staff found that the two criteria of submission claimed by Greenvest — the "creative idea" and "goals" criteria — were not met by the application.
THE THREE APPLICATIONS receiving the green light from planning staff are Stonegate, a 101-acre swath in Ashburn that proposes 406 detached homes, Victoria Station, a 15-acre tract in Cascades that would include 150 multi-family units and Diamond Lakes, the erstwhile home of the new baseball stadium before a location closer to Washington was chosen. The project would create an entire new town along Route 28.
"THE STAFF recommended that the county move in the right direction," said Laura Olsen, assistant director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. "Now the question is, will the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors listen to them?"
After hearing the applicants' presentations, the Planning Commission will decide whether to follow staff recommendations or accept the CPAMs for further review.