CPAM Not Ready For Prime Time

CPAM Not Ready For Prime Time

At its May 8 work session, the Loudoun County Planning Commission reopened discussion on the Route 50/Arcola Comprehensive Plan amendment (CPAM), which it voted last Monday to forward to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval.

Following a motion by Commissioner Suzanne M. Volpe (Sugarland Run), the commission voted to reconsider last week's recommendation for approval of the Route 50/Arcola CPAM.

If approved, the proposed CPAM would allow for additional residential, retail and business development along the area often referred to as the "gateway of Loudoun."

Volpe said that she had concerns over the late-night decisions the commission made and some of the language in the Route 50/Arcola CPAM.

"There is some conflicting information within the document that concerns me," she said.

Other commissioners joined Volpe and expressed concern over the proposed CPAM.

Commissioner Nancy Hsu (Blue Ridge) was concerned about the impact residential development would have on the operations of Dulles Airport and the density recommendation that would allow 24 units per acre within the proposed lifestyle hub. "People always bring up the fact that [Dulles] is the world's best example of local government and the airport working together," Hsu said. "I think we have some conflicting requirements and I think we need to think through more of the language."

Commissioner John D. Herbert (Catoctin) was concerned about the unknown factors of traffic distribution and environmental impact.

"We don't have the sufficient basis to judge whether this is a good CPAM or a bad CPAM just based on the traffic distribution," he said.

DULLES AIRPORT, both its affect on the residents and the development's affect on the airport, was the most debated topic of the Monday night meeting, with the commission split over what the true impact would be. The issue of high-residential density within the lifestyle hub was tied in with airport concerns for many commissioners.

"I have a basic issue with increasing the density in this area," Hsu said. "I am a supporter of mixed use, but I just don't think that this level of high-density residential belongs in this area."

"I understand the desirability of lifestyle hub," Herbert said. "Where it is placed is really interesting. It would be wonderful in another location, but not lain right in the path of the runways."

Other commissioners, however, did not think that noise and low-flying airplanes were true concerns for the area.

"Those planes don't only come in there," Commissioner John H. Elgin (Leesburg) said, referring to the areas west of the airport. "Anyone who drives on the Greenway has them pass right over their heads. Planes pass at 300 feet over Ashburn. I don't understand what makes this area so different than the rest of the county.”

In addition to the concerns surrounding Dulles Airport, the commission discussed concerns raised by Volpe regarding the second-story "bonus" development that would allow builders to build second-story residential units on top of retail and business uses without affecting the overall density. The commission agreed to only allow the second-story bonus development within the village of Arcola and not within the village perimeter area.

Commissioners directed staff to put together the information they have about the traffic distribution and the environmental impact of the development for the next meeting. In order to give Department of Planning staff members enough time to compile the information, the commission voted to table a decision on the Route 50/Arcola CPAM until its May 22 work session.

THE PLANNING COMMISSION was originally scheduled to work on the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley CPAM, which was originally part of a larger CPAM with the Route 50/Arcola CPAM.

The Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley portion of the CPAM, known in the document as segment four, was separated out by the Board of Supervisors, who voted on Oct. 18, 2005, to delay segment four's consideration until the Route 50/Arcola portion was completed.

Monday night's meeting began with a briefing on the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley CPAM, including the concerns raised by county residents at the Oct. 3 public hearing. At the hearing residents expressed concern about traffic issues and available services in the area.

"There were some thoughts that the county needed to watch the housing jobs balance," John Merrithew, director of the land use review, said. "People in Dulles South also feel they are lacking in a lot of the services that other areas of the county get."

If approved, the Upper Broad Run area would allow for a density of one unit per acre and the Upper Foley area would allow for three units per acre. The build out would allow for a total of 28,000 housing units in the areas.

Commissioners were directed to submit any additional questions they had about the CPAM to staff members by Wednesday so they could be addressed before the May 22 work session, where the commission plans on continuing its work on the transition areas.