Developer Makes Changes to Ridgewater Project

Developer Makes Changes to Ridgewater Project

Ridgewater Comprehensive Plan amendment set for a second work session

Representatives of the Lansdowne Development Group told Supervisors Wednesday, March 7, that the company was prepared to make changes to its Ridgewater Park land-use application.

In a work session that was supposed to focus on the Comprehensive Plan amendment that would transfer more than 1,000 acres west of Goose Creek from the Transition Policy Area to the Suburban Policy Area, the Lansdowne Development Group broke down parts of its rezoning and its development plan.

"We started with more than 2,000 residential units," Hobie Mitchel, president of the company, said. "We reduced [the density] again to 1,862 units with 219 affordable units. That is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.2 units per acre for market rate housing."

THE PROPOSAL was created by the Board of Supervisors Nov. 21, 2006, when it directed the Planning Commission to review an amendment in the same area as the pending rezoning application from the Lansdowne Development Group, known as Ridgewater Park, formally known as Creekside. The amendment covers the 736-acre Ridgewater Park site west of Goose Creek and a portion of Lower Sycolin Subarea, located just north of the Dulles Greenway and east of Leesburg. Also included in the amendment are 19 other land parcels, which make up the remaining acreage of the amendment.

If approved, the amendment would allow for residential development up to four units per acre and an increase in office, retail and business development. The Lansdowne Development Group said it was willing to cap its density for the area in question at 2.5 units per acre.

The proposed policy would allow the minimum open space requirement in the area to drop from 70 percent of the total acreage to 30 percent in residential and 10 percent in business development. The designation of the Luck Stone Quarry, which is located in the northern section of the Transition Policy Area, would remain unchanged.

Under the existing plan for the Transition Policy Area, development is allowed at one unit per 10 acres, or one unit per three acres in a village-style design.

"The idea being that you could have businesses such as a boarding school, those kind of things," Julie Pastor, director of the Department of Planning, said.

SUPERVISORS HAVE BEEN concerned about the proximity of the development to the Luck Stone Quarry and Mark Peterson, real estate manager for the quarry, told Supervisors Wednesday the company had the same concerns.

"At the end of the day for us we really view the CPAM issue and the [rezoning] issue as separate issues and in this particular area, any increase in density is just something we don't feel like we can support," he said.

Peterson acknowledged that the Lansdowne Development Group had concessions in their proposal in the last few weeks, including providing a 1,000-foot buffer between its property and the quarry wall, but he believed strongly in the existing land-use plan for the area.

"For over 20 years we have worked very hard with the county and with the citizens to develop the plan as it stands today," Peterson said.

In the original Ridgewater Park plan, the Lansdowne Development Group had only provided a 350-foot buffer between its property and the quarry. Only after receiving no concession from Luck Stone did the developer agree to the requested 1,000-foot buffer.

Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) questioned Luck Stone's position on the land-use application, stating that it used the opposite argument when it wanted to put a quarry in the Dulles District.

"It appears to me that you can make any argument you want to make your case," Snow said. "You want to expand, 'Hey, we don't blast that badly; we've got buffers.'"

Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), the supervisor for the district where Luck Stone is currently located, defended the quarry and its commitment to the county.

"I have been out on their site and I have seen what they've done and they do a good job," she said.

CONCERNS OVER THE impact the development would have on the Goose Creek reservoir continued to be debated at Wednesday's work session. Dale Hammes, general manager of the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority's board of directors, explained the problems associated with development near the reservoir.

"Closer to the intake there are certain pollutants that you cannot keep from getting into the reservoir," he said.

Some Supervisors challenged the assertion that development would harm the drinking water of the people served by the reservoir.

"A lot of these things that you are concerned about, that tends to go away because the further the water travels, the cleaner it gets," Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said. "I think that when you have a project like this and with all the rules and regulations that Loudoun County has, if they're implemented, you're going really narrow down that element that's been going through the stream."

However, Hammes said that close attention would need to paid to the buffers and barriers in order to ensure the water's cleanliness.

"You need to look at all the barriers you have in place to make sure you are doing the job properly," he said.

ALSO INCLUDED IN the Ridgewater Park development is the new 500,000-square-foot Inova L.I.F.E. center, which Rod Huebbers, executive vice president of Inova Health Systems, called a "dream that is rapidly becoming a reality" at the work session.

The center was planned to create a setting for scientists and doctors to work together on developing new practices in the health-care sciences, medical education and patient-care technology.

Mitchel told Supervisors that the center makes up a large portion of the nonresidential development included in the proposal. Mitchel also said that his company has property across from the proposed location that it planned to use to expand the Inova L.I.F.E. center to just under 1 million square feet through a separate rezoning application.

"It is one of the reasons we desired to have a business designation," he said, "so we can expand the L.I.F.E. center in a future application."

Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) questioned Mitchel about rumors he had heard that Ridgewater Park would include George Mason University's Loudoun campus. The campus had been part of a Greenvest application and the Transition Policy Plan amendment, which the board rejected last November.

"I think we are open to a lot of different proposals that are being spoken about," Mitchel said about the campus. "I know that's not part of the CPAM."

Attorney Mike Banzhaf told the board that there is a 95-acre school site included in the proposal, but that it would up to the board how they wished to use it.

The Board of Supervisors has a second work session scheduled for the Ridgewater Park amendment, Monday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m., in the board room of the county government center in Leesburg.