How to Ruin a County

Friday, January 20, 2006

UNLESS THE FORCES of reason somehow prevail, a stampede of developers is on the verge of pillaging Loudoun County beyond repair. Banking on a Board of Supervisors that swoons at every application, developers swooped in during the final hours of 2005 with proposals to build more than 21,000 houses, townhouses and apartments in a strip of Loudoun west of Dulles International Airport. Will the supervisors roll over again and let the wrecking go unchecked?

As reported by The Post's Amy Gardner, Loudoun planning studies show that the proposed growth would add thousands of new residents, including enough schoolchildren to fill more than a dozen new schools. Is this what county residents want? Does anybody care enough to press for at least enough time to develop a thoughtful blueprint for growth in this central part of Loudoun?

The developers' determination to move full tilt with rezoning applications plops the big decisions squarely in the laps of county leaders who ought to have at least some qualms about ruining a buffer area between suburban and rural Loudoun. As it stands, says the county's planning director, Julie Pastor, they are seeking suburban development in an area not designated for it. Just how easily might the residents of the county take to this influx, which would jam their roads and run up a huge tab for schools and other necessities such as parks?

Not to worry, say the developers, the change won't be all that sudden. Packie Crown, a vice president of Greenvest, which submitted four of the seven applications, accounting for more than 15,000 homes, has said that even if the supervisors approve it all, it would be years before all the units would be built -- but how many years? -- and that her company would provide much of the roads, parks and schools needed. How comforting is that?

Growth in this region is a fact of life,

and over time, Loudoun is destined to change in ways that will sadden residents and prompt some to move outward to greener pastures. But the current board's crazed fascination with development and penchant for quick

and thoughtless decisions has bordered on reckless.

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