Supervisors to Hold Work Sessions

Supervisors to Hold Work Sessions

Speakers Split Over Development Plan

The Board of Supervisors voted to hold work sessions on the Upper Broad Run/Upper Foley Subareas Comprehensive Plan amendment, in order to look further at a plan that could add as many as 34,000 houses to an area that stretches north and south of Route 50.

The decision came after two days of public hearings that brought out citizens on both sides of the issue. The first work session was to be held Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m., in the county Government Center. Although no other work sessions have been scheduled, the board has left its schedule open for further meetings.

If approved, the amendment could increase the number of residential homes by more than 39,000 units. Under the existing plan, around 4,600 houses could be built.

THE WORK SESSIONS are the next step in the process toward deciding the best land use for the area.

This summer, the Planning Commission recommended increasing the residential density throughout the transition area to four dwelling units per acre, with the denser development being toward the east and feathering out toward the west.

The Planning Commission also recommended a large buffer at one unit per acre along the western side of the transition area up to the Rural Policy Area. Under the commission proposal, there would be a buffer south of the area to the Prince William County border, with a 500-foot natural buffer and 1,300 feet of the one unit per acre density.

At the board's Oct. 3 business meeting, Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) proposed excluding any development south of Braddock Road from the proposal, which the board supported. At the meeting Tulloch said there appeared to be little support on the board of development in that area. If the area south of Braddock Road is excluded, the projected build-out would decrease to less than 27,000 homes.

However, even with the Oct. 3 decision, the board could include development south of Braddock Road in its final decision since the proposed changes had been advertised.

SPEAKERS AT TUESDAY'S public hearing were divided over the amendment with supporters stating development was the only way to solve the county's transportation needs.

"We just need some good roads and I think the only way we are going to get these roads is to allow the developers to help pay for them," John Buhl, owner of Buhl Electric, which does work in the county, said. [The amendment] is going to help that part of the county."

Supporters of the plan were also concerned about what would happen to that part of Dulles South if developers were only allowed to build by right, without having to give any money for roads or schools.

"While the changes may not be ideal for anybody in this county, it is coming," Matt Noll, an Aldie resident, said. "We have the opportunity to embrace it or let it go by right and I think we do ourselves a lot of harm if we let that happen."

"If we choose to develop by right we will have no affordable housing in the area," resident Dan Ritchey, said. "We will have no road improvements and we will have no schools proffered by developers."

Business owners and residents also expressed concern over the lack of affordable housing in the county. Dave Bueil said he did not believe approval of the amendment was a blanket approval for growth, but instead approval of a kind of growth the county needs.

"Developers are offering first houses for the new residents," he said. "Loudoun business is going to continue to boom. The only question tonight is whether you are going to accept that as a reality and provide [workers] a place to live near where they work."

TO OPEN THE hearing, Sen. Mark Herring (D-33), Del. Chuck Caputo (D-67) and Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) spoke in opposition to the proposed plan, each stating that the amount of residential development would overwhelm state-funded roads.

"I hear a great many concerns from citizens and business owners," Herring said. "I hear the concern about the impact and the effect it will have on their commute to work. I am concerned this proposal might subject this region to a generation of gridlock."

All three state representatives asked the board to consider denying the Comprehensive Plan amendment.

"Why the rush?" Marshall said. "Slow down."

The delegates received some harsh words from some speakers, who said the General Assembly was the reason the county has to rely on developer-funded roads.

"I am really sorry that we are in a predicament in the state of Virginia that our legislature has not fulfilled its responsibility to fund roads and now comes to the county and asks them to stop development," Bill Dennis, who has lived on Lenah Road for 25 years, said.

OTHER OPPONENTS OF the proposed plan said Loudoun County was no longer the place that they remember.

"At what point is your home no longer your home, no longer a place you identify with?" Abigail Delashmutt, whose family has lived at Oak Hill for more than 60 years, said. "This Board of Supervisors has a problem governing for the existing citizens of Loudoun County."

Other residents echoed the sentiment, saying they believed the board was thinking only of people who did not live in the county yet.

"You need to take care of the people today," resident Norma Wilson said. "Let's not get into this system of extra housing and extra houses and yet deprive the people who have been developing and building your county who have to move out because they can't afford to live here anymore."

Kathleen and Neil Hughes said they were outraged that the board was even considering the plan, saying it was "over taxation without representation."

"We shouldn't need to tell you what that will mean for our overtaxed roads, overtaxed schools and overtaxed citizens," Kathleen Hughes said.

To avoid recertification issues the board has to take action on the Transition Policy Area Comprehensive Plan amendment by Nov. 26.