A week after more than a hundred citizens crowded the board room to present supervisors with the names of those who signed a petition opposing rapid growth, Republican supervisors decried the validity of the document.
On Election Day and via its website, a coalition of individuals and organizations called the Campaign for Loudoun's Future collected 15,033 signatures on a petition opposing the comprehensive plan amendments presented by developers last September. The plan amendments (CPAMs) request higher density development, much of it on land dubbed the "transition area" that was set aside to ease the change from suburban eastern Loudoun to the rural west.
The 14 amendments still in play are currently with the Planning Commission.
Supervisors had demanded the petitions since Election Day, but weren't satisfied with what the campaign turned over last Tuesday: simply names and zip codes, not enough to prove the validity of the document. Some supervisors also said the Campaign for Loudoun's Future was spreading misinformation about the growth plan and was also merely an extension of the Piedmont Environmental Council rather than a true citizens organization.
A SAMPLING OF SUPERVISORS' comments:
Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run): "The much ballyhooed petition again has not materialized. What we got was basically an unrecognizable cut and paste job that can not be considered valid. My seven year old could have done a better cut and paste."
Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg): "Make no mistake. We need a copy of that data. Either voluntarily give it to us or we'll go through a legal process."
Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles): "When the new petitioners came out, you ever notice that there's not one solution? Nothing. Doing nothing is not a solution. Doing absolutely nothing, stopping something is not a positive action. It doesn't solve anything. If we stop all legislative action, alls the people would get is more inundation of the roads, lack of schools, lack of parks, lack of everything ... They don't want solutions. We are not going to get
anything unless we tax ourselves or go to the developer."
Vice Chairman Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac): "We didn't get a petition. We got something they wanted you think was a petition. I worked polls that day. I get it. I understand ... It is completely and utterly politically driven. This is about Republicans, Democrats and independents. There's no bones about this. This is all about politics. If it’s not about politics, then I expect the signatures, email addresses, and phone numbers. If it’s not within my office within seven
days, this is absolutely about politics."
Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run): "I can't communicate with anyone who signed it because there's no addresses, there's no phone numbers, there's no email addresses. Please deliver the full document so I am able to communicate with constituent on the matter of the CPAMs."
Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling): "Here we have a group that goes to the public at a polling place in a national election and committed what I consider to be a public fraud."
THE MINORITY ON THE BOARD, which has also opposed the CPAMs, spoke out in a more amenable way to the petition gatherers. Neither supervisors Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) or Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) said they needed more information from the Coalition for Loudoun’s Future.
Burton, an outspoken opponent of the CPAMs, challenged the board to address the perceived flaws in the comprehensive plan directly and do a public overhaul of the plan if needed, rather than address it piecemeal via plan amendments suggested by developers.
"Until we sit down as a board and go through this subject thoroughly, exhaustively, and air out all these issues, we're going to continue to attack each other and harangue each other and members of the public," Burton said.
Chairman Scott York (I-At Large) encouraged the petitioners to disclose all information about signers, but he also defended them.
"I just don't understand this frustration" about being able to reach constituents who signed, York said. "Quite frankly we have all the ability to write constituents to express our thoughts."
Andrea McGimsey, a Campaign for Loudoun’s Future organizer, appeared a bit stunned at the volume of negative feedback from Republican supervisors, but said she was "not surprised" by their reactions.
"Could we focus on the real issues, which is public participation in making huge changes to the comprehensive growth plan?" McGimsey said.
McGimsey personally collected 1,000 signatures, and was frustrated that supervisors doubted the validity of the names without contact information. "I definitely said to people I’d keep their information private," she said.
She added that the Campaign would not hand over contact information.
"They saw us gathering signatures in eastern Loudoun and Leesburg, and we gave them the signatures," she said. "It’s their choice, I guess, to blow it off."