Supervisors Reject Ashburn Project

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has rejected a proposal to build a community of shops, offices and more than 1,000 apartments in Ashburn, with four supervisors perceived as pro-growth voting against the project.

The four Republicans, including three who lost reelection Nov. 6 to slow-growth Democrats, were part of a narrow majority that voted down the project, known as Kincora. If approved, the development at the corner of routes 7 and 28 also would have included millions of dollars in county road improvements and space for a performing arts center.

The vote assuaged some fears that the Republican-led board would rubber-stamp four projects with more than 4,000 new homes scheduled for votes before the end of the year, when a slate of Democrats who favor a slower rate of home construction takes control of the board.

The supervisors who voted late Wednesday against Kincora said it would have added too many shops and homes to an area that already has several such developments, including the Dulles Town Center, and a similar complex, One Loudoun, under construction. They said Kincora could bring too much competition, dealing an economic blow to the existing shopping centers.

"How many mixed-use projects do we need in a row?" said Mick Staton Jr. (R-Sugarland Run). "We have a number of those in the Route 7 corridor already."

Three slow-growth supervisors said they had reservations about the project and had lobbied the board for more time to discuss them, even if that meant spilling into the next board's term. In particular, Supervisor Lori L. Waters (R-Broad Run) had said the road improvements were so critical to alleviating traffic congestion that the project deserved a closer look.

But Staton and Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac), both of whom leave office next month, said it made sense for the current board members to make the final decision on Kincora, which had been going through the county approval process for 18 months. Both have opposed high-density developments in the past.

"I don't know at the end of the day if I was going to vote yes or no, [but] I find it a little disappointing that we were not even willing to have a discussion on the proposal," a visibly upset Waters said.

Ed Gorski, a land-use officer for the anti-sprawl Piedmont Environmental Council, said the vote gave him "guarded optimism" that the board will not unnecessarily approve thousands of homes in the final weeks of the term. The group had opposed Kincora in part because of the number of similar developments in the area. However, supervisors are set to vote on three more contentious projects before January, Gorski said.

"The other three are still out there," he said. "If they approve those three, they could still do a lot of damage."

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