Commission Hears Public Opinion Again

Commission Hears Public Opinion Again

The Planning Commission voted to forward both the Arcola/Route 50 and Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley Transition Policy Area Comprehensive Plan amendments to the Board of Supervisors with recommendation of approval Monday, Aug. 28. The commission made no changes to either proposal, forwarding them as they stood prior to the county government's August recess.

Both proposal were forwarded with a 6-2 vote, with Commissioners J. Kevin Ruedisueli (At large) and Nancy Doane (Catoctin) voting against the Arcola/Route 50 amendment and Commissioner Nancy Hsu (Blue Ridge) and Doane voting against the Transition Policy Area amendment.

The decisions came after the public hearing where the Planning Commission heard public opinion on both Comprehensive Plan amendments. The public hearing was scheduled after the Board of Supervisors voted July 18 to send both proposals back to the Planning Commission. The board sent the proposals back in order to restart the 90-day clock in which the board must act following a Planning Commission recommendation.

THE COMMISSION originally recommended approval of the Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley CPAMs July 6. If approved as the commission recommended, the CPAMs would allow greater residential density and business development in the area between the Suburban Policy Area and the Rural Policy Area. The areas in question are southwest of Route 621 and cover the north side of Route 50 to Route 621 and south of Route 50 to the Prince William County border.

The proposed CPAMs were created following the submission of several potential amendments in the area by Greenvest LLC and other development companies. The county decided to bring the proposed CPAMs under one document for further study.

The Arcola/Route 50 CPAM was sent forward to the board by the Planning Commission June 5 without the originally proposed residential development close to the airport. The Arcola/Route 50 proposal would allow additional retail and business development along an area often referred to as the "gateway to Loudoun."

As a part of restarting the 90-day clock, Supervisors required the Planning Commission hold a public hearing and make a recommendation on the Arcola/Route 50 proposal by the second week in September. The deadline for a recommendation on the Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley proposal was the first half of September.

FOR MEMBERS of the public who supported the Comprehensive Plan amendments, the main concern at Monday's public hearing was creating a development plan for the area that would provide residents with the amenities they need. Residents expressed concern that without the proposed amendments, developers would build by-right communities, which require them to provide no money for schools, roads or public safety.

"If these CPAMs aren't allowed to move forward people will continue to move to the area but there will be no cash contributions from developers," Leesburg resident Daniel Lucey said.

"The county is providing no funding, but can help us get funding for these things by holding developers responsible," South Riding resident Stephanie Smith said. "These CPAMs prevent them from leapfrogging to points further west."

Other supporters of the proposals said they were concerned over the lack of affordable housing in the county. They said they hoped the amendments would allow the developers to build communities where more people could purchase homes.

"I have to live at home with my parents, not by choice," Sterling resident Meredith Kiser said. "It is very difficult for the average person in Loudoun County to obtain the American dream."

"We support anything that says affordable housing," said Albert Bland, a resident of the village of St. Louis. "We have to do something in western Loudoun for our young people."

THOSE OPPOSED to the amendments said they did not believe that developers would be able to mitigate their impact on the county completely through proffers.

"It is a complete myth that any developer could provide enough road development to counteract the number of houses proposed," Marcia DeGarmo said. "It is a complete myth that these houses could pay for themselves."

Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) was at the meeting to let commissioners know about a house bill that went into effect July 1. The bill, he said, would require localities to have maps, with cost estimates included, of all roads prior to development approval.

"I called the Planning Department and they said they had no cost estimates for these roads," he said. "I hope you don't adopt [these amendments] until you have properly complied with the state code."

While opponents to the proposals said they were not opposed to development or growth completely, they also said they did not think the proposed densities for the Transition Policy Area were appropriate for the county. Residents expressed concern for how their tax burden would increase with high-density development.

"The scope of development in this area has gotten out of hand," Jey Jeyanathan said. "We are looking for smart growth and this is not smart growth. It is not a transition area anymore."

"I have never seen my taxes go down with increased development," Aldie resident Virginia Warren said.

Many of those against the Comprehensive Plan amendments said they believed that the development plan already in place for the county was an appropriate plan for the area.

"The Comprehensive Plan we already have is a plan for growth," DeGarmo said. "It is a plan for ordered growth. These CPAMs would completely destroy any vision for the county."