The Board of Supervisors voted to send both the Arcola/Route 50 and the Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley Transition Policy Area Comprehensive Plan amendments (CPAM) back to the Planning Commission for public hearing and recertification. The decisions, which came after a full afternoon of debate at the board's Tuesday, July 18, business meeting, were designed to restart the 90-day time frame in which it must act following a Planning Commission recommendation.
Supervisors expressed concern that they would not have enough time to fully discuss the proposals within the 90 days since they are on recess in August.
"If the board is going to really look at these, you can't get it done by the [July] 27th, you can't get it done by Sept. 2," Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) said. He added that he only wanted to "reset the clock so we can have the time to deliberate on them."
THE PLANNING Commission 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."
The board's decision requires the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on the Transition Policy Area amendment no later than first half of September and to recertify the proposal. The board then must hold a separate public hearing no later than the first week of October.
For the Arcola/Route 50 CPAM, the Planning Commission will be required to hold another public hearing no later than the first week of September and to send the proposal back to the board no later than the second week of September. The board would then hold work sessions to further study the amendment and a public hearing no later than the third week September.
SUPERVISORS EXPRESSED support for the Arcola/Route 50 CPAM, but were unwilling to push it through before their August recess.
"I, like everyone up here, do not like the pressure of time, although we have been thinking about these CPAMs ever since they have been submitted," Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said. "The Planning Commission recommendations were a step in the right direction, but I am still concerned about residential components crowding the airport overlay. I think it would be irresponsible for us to vote on [July] 27th on that."
Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said he supported the decision to send the proposals back to the Planning Commission if only to ensure that everyone, developers and residents, could have their say.
"At least then no one can say their voice wasn't heard and the opportunity to adjust their plan wasn't there," he said.
BOARD MEMBERS SPOKE for the first time publicly on the Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley CPAMs, many expressing their opposition to the Planning Commission's proposed residential densities. The commission recommended a density four units per acre throughout the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley subareas, with a large buffer that allows a density of one unit per acre down to the Prince William County border and west towards the Rural Policy Area.
"I think the area we are talking about is terribly important to the entire corridor," Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) said. "I think we can get some good policies into that area. However, extending what is essentially suburban density into the transition area I have no interest in."
Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) said the original proposal for the transition area two years ago showed a mix of residential, retail and office development that could be self supporting.
"What I have got sitting before me right now is essential a requirement for 30 percent open space, 10 percent civic space and 60 percent residential," he said. "That is not the mix I am looking for."
SOME SUPERVISORS said they were not certain they could support any version of the transition area amendment, with Burton stating he would be willing to "let it die" if the issue went to a vote at Tuesday's meeting.
Other supervisors said they frustrated with the county's process and wanted to have more input into the CPAM process.
"This is the first time we have been able to discuss this CPAM because of the process," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. "Had we kept the policy of only seeing board initiated CPAMs, we may have seen some of the same applications, but we would have been part of the discussion."
Only Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) continued to support the CPAMs as they were proposed.
"This is a plan for 20, 30, 40 years," he said. "Planning means you should at least be able to have place holders. You are not solving anything by stopping growth."