The Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Route 50/Arcola Comprehensive Plan amendment after months of delay. The board split over the approval at its Oct. 17 business meeting, voting 5-4, with Supervisors Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge), Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) and Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) voting against the plan.
The amendment will rezone the Route 50/Arcola corridor, an area often referred to as "the gateway to Loudoun," allowing for additional residential, business and retail development. In the final amendment, the board voted to leave a majority of the Route 50 corridor zoned for business community, which allows residential development to be up to 25 percent of an application.
Supervisors stated their main focus was creating a mixed-use community that would bring businesses, jobs and retail to the southern part of the county.
"I think we have finally made those steps and they are quantum leaps," Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said.
SUPERVISORS WHO voted against the amendment continued to be concerned over the amount of residential development that would be allowed within a close proximity to Dulles Airport.
"We must do everything in our power to protect the [airport] from the encroachment of residential uses," Burton said.
In May, those same concerns caused the Planning Commission to alter the plan originally proposed by the Route 50 task force, a group of landowners, developers and residents created at the request of the board. The commission removed a mixed-use development, which would be located off of Route 50, just west of Dulles.
At the board's Oct. 3 business meeting, Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) proposed amending the residential density transfer language to cap the allowed density at 16 units per acre outside the high noise areas, which would have yielded 5,980 residential units throughout the Route 50 corridor.
Tuesday, the board voted to decrease the allowed density in areas fronting Route 50, west of the airport, to 14 units per acre. The decreased density, put forth by Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) would allow for a total of 5,794 residential units along the Route 50 corridor.
The board also approved Tulloch's motion to zone the area immediately west of the Village of Arcola as a business community without a residential component. That section of the plan had been removed during the board's work session in September.
"My focus is going to be on George Mason," Tulloch said. "I believe [it] should be put back into this equation because it is an important part of supporting [the campus]."
IN AN ATTEMPT to guarantee mixed-use communities, the board voted to include language in the amendment that stated applications must show a plan to construct residential and nonresidential development at the same time.
"There are too many cases where the residential comes first and the commercial lags and the office never gets built," Waters said. "We need to send the message to the applicant that we expect linkage. It should be automatic, expected, no questions asked."
The board was split 5-4 over whether to include language that would require all roads to function at a minimum of service level D, the lowest grade considered by VDOT to be good traffic flow.
"You either guarantee the planning process we put in here or you don't," Kurtz said.
Those Supervisors opposed to the proposal stated the language needed to be addressed to the county as a whole.
"You can't isolate one problem," Supervisors Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said. "You have to come at it [as a whole]."
Supervisors were also split over including language that would encourage applicants to provide a variety of homes types to fulfill the county's unmet housing needs.
"I don't know what an unmet housing need is," Staton said. "Someone could say we have an unmet housing need for $2 million McMansions in some parts of the county."
While the board voted 5-4 to include the policy, the language was altered to include the whole county, not only the Arcola area.
While the board was split in the final vote on the amendment, even Supervisors who voted against said the plan had some positive aspects and would help revitalize the Route 50 corridor.
"When we started this many, many months ago, it was an effort to do something totally different with that area down there," Snow, the supervisor for the area, said. "This will give us a new beginning."
RESIDENTS WILL have the chance to weigh in on whether they believe Supervisors should receive raises in coming terms.
The board voted to send the proposed salary increases to public hearing following a motion by York.
"This is obviously an issue that is long overdue for discussion," he said. "I want to give the public the chance to speak on this."
If approved, the proposal would increase the chairman's salary from $40,000 to $58,800, the vice chairman's salary from $22,400 to $50,000 and district supervisors' salaries from $22,400 to $41,200 as of Jan. 1, 2008. The proposal would also give board members a 3 percent raise each year, beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
"We are not raising our salaries, we are raising the salaries of the next board, which some of us may be on and some of us may not," Staton said.
Some Supervisors were opposed to the salary increase for the vice chairman of the board because, they said, the vice chairman does not usually have different duties than other members.
"In the past the duties have not been as intense as they have this term," Burton said.
Supervisors did say they believed the work load on Supervisors has increased in recent years, making it harder for them to hold full-time jobs.
"None of us up here are in this for the money, but on the other hand it has gotten so busy, so hectic," Burton said.
"I think who ever serves on this board in 2009 cannot live on $22,500," Delgaudio said.
The salary increase is expected to be added to the board's Dec. 12 public hearing schedule.