Loudoun Planning Commission approves ballpark proposal

A proposal to build a baseball and soccer stadium at the One Loudoun development in Ashburn received the support of the Loudoun County Planning Commission last week and will go before the county Board of Supervisors for final action later this month.

The stadium — which will be home to the Loudoun Hounds, an Atlantic League baseball team, and the Virginia Cavalry, a professional soccer team, both owned by VIP Sports and Entertainment — was initially planned as part of the Kincora mixed-use development at routes 7 and 28 in Ashburn. But those plans were abandoned in October, when VIP Sports and Entertainment announced that the stadium would relocate to One Loudoun, a development about a mile west of Kincora on Route 7.

The move brought division in the surrounding community, as some Loudoun residents applauded plans to move forward with the long-awaited baseball stadium, and others — including many homeowners in neighborhoods adjacent to One Loudoun — voiced strong concerns about the impact of noise, light and traffic from the stadium.

As the Planning Commission deliberated over the proposed rezoning applications that would allow for the construction of the 5,500-seat stadium at One Loudoun, community members rallied to make their voices heard. Residents packed the board room of the Loudoun County government center at a Feb. 19 public hearing, with the crowd about evenly divided between supporters and opponents of the stadium’s new location.

Based on concerns outlined in a county staff report, the Planning Commission voted after the hearing to send the developers applications to future work sessions, to address questions about the stadium’s design, crowd size limits, public transit issues and the impact of traffic on surrounding roads.

But at a March 5 meeting, the commission voted to approve a Comprehensive Plan amendment designating a portion of the One Loudoun development as a “special activities area,” laying the groundwork for the approval of the stadium. The commission’s vote followed several changes made to the proposal at the meeting, including a maximum stadium capacity of 10,000 spectators for all events, limits on the number of concerts at the stadium and limits on fireworks displays, among other revisions, according to county staff.

Six commissioners voted to approve the amendment. Vice Chairman Helena Syska (Sterling) was opposed, and commissioners Kathy Blackburn (Algonkian) and Jeff Salmon (Dulles) were absent, according to county staff.

The proposal will next be addressed by the Board of Supervisors at a March 25 public hearing, where officials will again hear from those on both sides of the debate. On the Loudoun Hounds Web site, the team urged fans to show up and voice support for the ballpark. Members of an opposition group called No Stadium on 7 also vowed to continue their efforts, according to Jean Beres, one of the group’s organizers.

“We are not folding up our tents and going away quietly,” Beres said.

The March 25 hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Farmwell Middle School in Ashburn.

Caitlin Gibson covers Loudoun County for The Washington Post.
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