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Votes

Compromise for Western Loudoun?

Majority of supervisors go on record to say they don't want A-3 zoning in west.

Five of nine Loudoun County supervisors said on the record that they would like to seek a compromise on western Loudoun zoning at a May 5 meeting.

In March, the Supreme Court of Virginia threw out the strict building limits on western Loudoun land that had been enacted in 2003. Since then, residents and developers both have wondered if supervisors will support the land's old zoning, A-3, which allowed one house per three acres, or seek re-enactment of the strict zoning, AR-1 and AR-2, which allowed one house per 10 to 50 acres plus agricultural uses.

Many citizens have expressed concern that A-3 zoning would cause Loudoun's rural expanses to be chopped up into subdivisions that would create more traffic and more students in schools.

Several members of the Republican majority have talked compromise in the intervening weeks since the court's decision, but the May 5 meeting was the first time they went on the record saying so.

Vice Chairman Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac) led a role-call vote on whether supervisors would support a compromise for western Loudoun zoning.

"I don't think anybody on this board has a desire to have the entire county remain at A-3," said Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) "I have an issue with one house per 50 acres, frankly. That question is a no brainer."

Supervisors Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), Jim Clem (R-Leesburg), Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) and Tulloch agreed with Staton.

THE THREE supervisors who were in office when the strict zoning was enacted in 2003 still support re-enacting AR-1 and AR-2, which allowed sparse housing but increased agricultural uses.

"I think we all understand that there isn't enough infrastructure in the rural area to handle significant densities," said Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge). "Road capacity, school capacity, rural economic viability, all these things are linked together. You can't examine one in isolation of the others. Just focusing on density is too narrow a focus."

Burton added that he's received more than 300 e-mails from constituents after asking for their opinion on western Loudoun zoning. He said that 90 percent of the responses supported AR-1 and AR-2 zoning.

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) also did not support a compromise on zoning, but unlike the other contrary supervisors, he supports A-3 zoning in the west.

Chairman Scott York (I-At Large) called the question "premature" and abstained.

AT THE first of three meetings on western Loudoun zoning, supervisors expressed concern about the complexity of the situation.

Last month, the board decided to allow western landowners to "opt in" to AR-1 and AR-2 zoning. That could potentially put a landowner with agricultural uses next to a subdivision full of residents who don't want to drive behind tractors.

"We've got to understand all the nuances under this," York said. "I want to make sure whatever we do, we're not setting neighbor against neighbor."

The board's next meeting on rural policy will be May 12 in the Government Center in Leesburg.