Loudoun County residents expressed concerns about traffic, roads and the density of their communities to the Planning Commission during the Monday, March 20, public hearing. Numbers of citizens waited until the early hours of Tuesday morning in order to speak to the commission regarding the rezoning, which would allow for new development projects near the Ashburn and South Riding areas.
Ashburn resident Barry Frise told the commission he considers the state of Belmont Ridge Road to be unsafe. The road is a major thoroughfare for a proposed development Towns at Belmont Ridge, which would allow for 45 single-family homes on approximately 10 acres.
“There is significant traffic along the area leading into the 10-acre portion. Further north the road is narrow with low shoulders and there is a lot of construction traffic,” he said. “Continual development along Belmont Ridge without addressing that road I think will just lead to more incidents.”
RESIDENT TONY WEST was also concerned about the safety of the roads around the proposed Braddock South Village, which would develop approximately 731 acres south of Braddock Road and west of the Fairfax County boundary. The rezoning would allow for 1,687 single-family homes to be built.
“I don’t know if any of you have driven down Braddock Road south of the area in question, but it has become treacherous,” he said. “There is an incredible amount of traffic there during the morning and evenings. We should find some common ground [with Fairfax County] to improve this road because there are many small children in this area.”
The 731 acres being requested by Pulte Homes Inc. for Braddock South Village is currently zoned as transitional land. In addition to the 1,700 homes, the rezoning would allow for a new elementary school and middle school to be built on 48 acres as well as the creation of at least 15 neighborhood parks, including a community center, pool, athletic courts and several playgrounds, applicant representative George McGregor said.
The development would require an addition to Braddock Road to connect with the proposed “Tri-county Parkway,” the extension of Loudoun County Parkway and the addition of several traffic signals.
Gem Bingol, representative of the Piedmont Environmental Council, said that she believes there are many problems with the proposed general transportation plan that, if granted under current adopted land usage, will cause the “road network to fail.”
“The roads indicated are needed for this project to be successful,” she said. “But, until the situation can be fixed, rezonings such as the Braddock South Village should not be approved. We are not growing our way out of our problems; we are simply making them worse.”
THE RESIDENTS of Forest Ridge were on hand to address not only traffic and road issues, but also density issues. The proposed Towns at Belmont Ridge development requires a drastic rezoning changing the allowed density from an R-1 zoning for low-density single family homes to an R-8 or high-density zoning for single family homes.
“We chose to live in Forest Ridge,” resident Vernon Wong said. “We did not choose to live in Brambleton. We thought that the R-1 zoning around us would serve as a buffer. The lower density surrounding our community should serve as a reason not to develop the area.”
President of the Estates of Forest Ridge Homeowners Association, Jerry Mamrol, was also worried about the affect the new development would have on his community and encouraged the commission to support the Department of Planning staff’s recommendation of denying the rezoning request.
“R-8 zoning is wholly inappropriate for this area, in comparison to the densities nearby,” he said. “It is really some distance away before you hit true residential zoning.”
Mamrol also asked that the commission consider putting a barrier around access roads to prevent residents from taking their vehicles off-roading. The area once had a problem with people having direct access to the open area, but it was solved with the rerouting of Route 659. There is concern that the problem will return if the direct access is not blocked in the new development, he said.
NOT ALL CITIZENS were unhappy with proposed rezoning however. Citizens stepped forward to support the Ashburn Place development, which would rezone more than 12 acres to develop 27 single-family homes on northeast side of Ashburn Road.
Jack Lawlor lives in a 100-year-old house on a dirt road of Jenkins Road. He supported the development of Ashburn Place provided the developer extends the community’s water and sewer system to include the two houses on his road.
“There’s a lot of Ashburn going on around here and somehow people forgot about Ashburn itself,” Lawlor said. “You have the opportunity to be supermen and superwomen and ask that they help these two houses out of an imminent septic problem.”
The commission voted to forward both the Braddock South Village and Towns at Belmont Ridge applications to its committee for further review and voted to forward the Ashburn Place application to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval.