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Votes

Large Development, Large Problems

At its May 9 public hearing the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted 5-4 to forward the proposed Braddock South Village to the May 22 transportation/land use committee meeting for further discussion. Supervisors Scott K. York (I-At Large), Sally R. Kurtz (D-Catoctin), Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) and Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) voted against the motion.

The action comes at the same time that Comprehensive Plan Amendments for the Dulles South area are being worked on by the Loudoun County Planning Commission and the proposed increases in residential density are being opposed by many local citizens. The close vote could indicate an opposition on the board to high-density residential development along the Route 50 corridor. Last week the board voted to deny the Townes of Avonlea development along the Route 50 corridor, an application that had originally been approved.

At the Tuesday public hearing, Chairman York told Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles), who would be the supervisor for the proposed development, that he could not support the motion because he did not think that the Braddock South Village application could be approved.

"We are already very in debt in this county and I am not in any hurry to increase the density in this area," York added.

If approved, the application would permit 731 acres south of Braddock Road and west of the Fairfax County border to be rezoned to create Braddock South Village. The rezoning would allow for the development of 1,687 dwelling units, including 176 affordable dwelling units, as well as 90,000 square feet of commercial and retail development and 70,000 square feet of office space. The development would also include a community center and 48 acres for up to two schools.

EVEN SUPERVISORS who supported moving the application to committee for further discussion expressed concerns about the application, particularly with regards to the density level.

"I think the density is too high," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. "This area is meant to be countryside villages and I don't see a countryside village here."

In addition, Waters asked that the applicant, Pulte Homes Inc., present a breakdown of the $35 million proffer money.

"Only $14 million of it is cash, so I would like to see where the rest of that money went," she said.

Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) expressed concern over the location of the project, pointing out there is a park to the east and agricultural zoning to the south. Staton was also concerned about the road construction proffers in the application, which include improvements to Loudoun County Parkway, Braddock Road and Claiborne Parkway.

"We have encouraged additional transportation proffers in lieu of other [Capital Improvement Plan projects] in order to get the road improvements done," he said. "And while I appreciate the zeal of some [people], Claiborne Parkway is no where near this project."

MANY COUNTY CITIZENS who have continued to state their concerns about development along Route 50, addressed the board and asked them to deny the application. As always, traffic was at the forefront of many residents‚ minds.

"People are getting really, really worried about the traffic," Andrea McGimsey, director of Campaign for Loudoun's Future, said. "I don't know where people are going to drive with 1,700 additional houses. There are no roads where these houses are going and to my knowledge there are no jobs so they are going to be getting on the roads and going east to get to their jobs."

"I think that it is pretty clear that Loudoun County growth has far exceeded our capacity to keep up," Gem Bingol told the board. "Currently the housing market isn't doing real great; it is slowing down and we've got a huge backlog of houses that have yet to be built."

Many of the speakers cited the number of residential developments and houses that have been approved, but are not yet built as a reason to deny the Braddock South Village application.

"There are 36,000 units in the pipeline that have not been built yet," Ed Gorski, land-use officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), said. "It is premature to proceed with rezoning due to lack of appropriate infrastructure [in the area]."

Gorski told Supervisors that the PEC had conducted its own fiscal impact study and found that current residents in the Braddock South Village area would see an approximately $1,200 deficit per year.

Before the board voted on the motion, Snow spoke about the findings of the PEC's fiscal impact study and asked the applicant to look into the fiscal impact and to "refute" PEC's findings.

"I think there are lies, there are damn lies and then there are PEC statistics," Snow said. "I think we really need to have real numbers and I think the citizens deserve to have real numbers."