Residents Express Fears

Residents Express Fears

Residents do not approve of proposed changes in a Comprehensive Plan Amendment submitted last year by several developers in the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley subareas.

Monica Patty, a Middle Goose area resident, is afraid she may have to move away from her home of 30 years.

Patty lives in the Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley subarea, a region of the county that is currently facing a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPAM) to the Loudoun County Revised General Plan that may add about 28,000 homes to the area.

"I moved here from Fairfax to get away from the density. If they keep pushing this proposal, my only option, now that I'm retired, is to move because the taxes are getting ridiculous," she said.

Aside from taxes and traffic congestion, Patty is also concerned about the growth affecting the rural quality of life she and her neighbors enjoy. And she is not the only one.

SEVERAL RESIDENTS, who attended an open house on the proposed changes, held Tuesday night at Mercer Middle School, expressed the same apprehension.

"What happened to this wonderful idea of a transition area," asked A. "Jay" Jeyanathan, a rural policy area resident who has lived In Loudoun County for 10 years. "This looks like an expansion of the suburban policy area."

Jeyanathan does not live in the transition policy area, which includes Upper Broad Run, Middle Goose, Upper Foley, Lower Foley and Lower Bull Run, but is concerned about how the proposed density changes will affect his taxes and especially his commute from the rural policy area.

"This plans to add five times the number of houses to the area than is currently proposed," Jeyanathan said. "All the people living out here aren't going to be able to get through there."

Jeyanathan commutes to Springfield for work and he said the addition of all those homes will probably double his hour-and-15-minute commute.

THE CURRENT PLAN in the transition area for residential growth calls for development in residential clusters or rural villages in a pattern of only one dwelling unit per every three acres, which would increase the number of homes to 4,571 and the population to an estimated 14,307 over 15 years. The population is now a little more than 1,200.

Under the proposed changes, developers can build to the maximum capacity of four dwelling units per acre in the Upper Broad Run subarea and three dwelling units per acre in the Upper Foley subarea. This would increase the number of houses in the entire subarea to about 28,000 and the population to 77,451 over 15 years.

Currently, the policy only allows for slow growth. The CPAM would allow for mixed-use communities that follow a growth pattern similar to that of the suburban policy area. According to the transition area policy, the mixed-use community requires 30 percent open space, 10 percent civic space, 5 percent office and light-industrial use for projects greater than 100 acres, and convenient road and pedestrian networks that will minimize traffic on regional roads.

BRUCE ISAACHSEN, an Upper Broad Run area resident, said he prefers the original plan that allows for open space and less density.

"Right now, I can't get anywhere from where I live and it's going to be worse. It'll lose any rural character out here that it has at all," he said.

Taxes are another huge concern. If the proposed changes are approved, it's likely taxes will rise.

"Who is going to pay for all this," asked Susan Buckley, a Sterling resident and advocate for the Campaign for Loudoun's Future, a community-based activist organization that supports balanced, managed growth in Loudoun County. "What they are looking to do is too much, too fast."

Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPAM) Project Manager Cindy Keegan said the county requests proffers from developers to mitigate anything above what the county has already budgeted for increased density, so that the cost burden does not fall on the taxpayer.

In the current plan, the total anticipated capital cost for county services is $172,143,860. It goes up to $790,622,493 under the proposed plan. The developers' share of that cost in the form of proffers is $522,786,361, Keegan said.

The proffers, which will cover services for the additional three units per acre, are voluntary, but developers typically do provide them, she added.

RESIDENTS ARE right to be concerned about area traffic too because, county statistics show that it will increase.

Under current zoning, the average daily trips in and out of the area by 2020 would be 46,944. That number could increase to 299,166 if the Board of Supervisors adopts the changes.

To that end, Keegan said, developers will have to create or add on to the existing road network to support the traffic associated with the new development.

But for the time being, what the CPAM proposes is hypothetical and simply a third option for development to the Revised General Plan for the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley subareas.

Any actual changes to the area will have to happen through a year-long rezoning process, Keegan said. And unless the proposed changes are accepted by the Board of Supervisors, it's unlikely developers will take the financial risk involved in rezoning.

It's more difficult, she said, for them to build against the plan the county has adopted.

"They'll have to prove that what they want to do is better than the county's plan," Keegan said. "Most don't want to take that risk if they don't meet what the county has said is the vision for the area."

PLANING COMMISSIONER Suzanne Volpe (Sugarland Run) added that a plan like this is not something that will get sent forward "until it's ready."

She said that after the hearing the commission would meet in work sessions to discuss and talk about issues and concerns residents and developers have and hash those out before making a recommendation to the board.

The commission will hold a public hearing Oct. 3 on the draft policies and the proposed changes at the Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison St., S.E., Leesburg. Sign up begins at 5 p.m. The hearing will commence at 5:30 p.m.

Isaachsen said he plans to speak at the hearing but that he feels the changes will happen despite what he has to say.

"A number of us are against it but I think it's inevitable," he said. "The Board of Supervisors could care less what we think. I just feel taken for a ride."