The Board of Supervisors scheduled three work sessions to discuss the details of the proposed Route 50/Arcola Comprehensive Plan amendment following Tuesday, Sept. 12Õs public hearing.
If approved, the amendment would rezone the Route 50/Arcola corridor, an area often referred to as "the gateway to Loudoun." It would allow for additional residential, business and retail development.
The amount of residential development that would be allowed within a close proximity to Dulles Airport has been an ongoing concern of people opposed to the proposal.
In May, those 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 known as a lifestyle hub, which would be located off of Route 50, just west of Dulles Airport.
The lifestyle hub would allow for a variety of upscale stores, restaurants and entertainment activities in an open-air setting. It has been compared to Fairfax Corner in Fairfax and the Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg, Md.
A MAJORITY OF the speakers at this week's public hearing, spoke in favor of the proposal and urged the board to approve the amendment with the lifestyle hub.
"We were all able to come to the table and build a vision, a plan, that you tasked us to do," said Mark DiLuigi, Arcola resident and member of the task force. "That plan incorporates a village, a lifestyle hub. We want people to live there, we want people to work there and we want people to be able to walk their dogs there."
Residents from other areas of eastern Loudoun spoke in favor of the task force's proposal because they wanted to see the corridor turn into an aesthetic community.
"I know where I live I have shopping, a community college and beautiful parks in our area. I think the people along Route 50 should have the same things," Ashburn resident Heather Cleary said.
The plan for the Village of Arcola includes the revitalization of the historic slave quarters, something supporters of the proposal said should not be overlooked.
"We really believe it is the right choice for Arcola and it is really the right choice for the slave quarters project," Thomas McKay said. "With the mixed-use development, it will give people an opportunity to enjoy that part of the county."
THOSE PEOPLE OPPOSED to the plan continued to cite concerns over the increasing amount of retail and the impact increased development would have on Dulles Airport.
"We did not come to Loudoun County to live in homes next to destination retail," Laura Tekrony said. "We have enough retail to support the population until 2030. I don't want Route 50 to become one big strip mall."
Ed Gorski, land-use officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, said he thought removing the mixed-use development near Arcola was the best decision for the health of the airport.
"[The commission] took into consideration the importance of an international airport," he said, "and that it is the economic engine of the county."
No representative from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs Dulles Intentional Airport, spoke at the hearing.
Gorski added that mixed-use development might not have the intended effect on the area, saying that Ashburn Village and Ashburn Farm did not revitalize old Ashburn.
"I am all for revitalizing the Village of Arcola, but I would caution those [who want this,] he said. "Be careful what you ask for."
SUPERVISORS VOTED 8-0-1 to forward the proposal to work sessions for further discussion, with Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) absent for the vote, but the board appeared split over supporting the proposal.
"It is true that we voted 9-0 to begin this effort, but that doesn't mean we all agree on what came out of the effort," Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said. "There's a whole area of discussion we need there as to what constitutes pressure on the airport."
Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) continued to say that the task force's proposal meets the needs of his district, both in appearance and in services.
"Everyone here recognizes that Route 50 left to its own devices would look like Chantilly or Route 1," he said. We wanted to create an atmosphere, an ambiance."
The board scheduled work sessions for Wednesday, Sept. 20, Thursday, Sept. 21, and Monday, Sept. 25. All sessions will begin at 6:30 p.m. A final vote is expected after the Monday meeting.