New Board, in Its First Such Vote, Blocks 499 Homes

By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors overwhelmingly rejected a nearly 500-home community southwest of Arcola yesterday in its first vote on a residential rezoning since a new Democratic majority elected with a mandate to curb growth took office in January.

The Braddock Village development, a project left over from the agenda of the previous board, would have increased density in part of Loudoun's "transition policy area," a semirural buffer zone that county officials set aside between Loudoun's dense east and rural west. The project's developers were seeking permission to build 499 houses in an area zoned for 66, county officials said.

Last year, four pro-growth members of the board's previous Republican majority were defeated by a slate of Democrats who campaigned on a promise to slow growth in the county, where the population has more than tripled since 1990.

Several board members echoed that stance yesterday, voting 8 to 1 to reject the project.

"Residential density-increase rezonings are something that I have fought against and would vote against," said Supervisor Stevens R. Miller (D-Dulles), whose district would have included Braddock Village. "It is satisfying to know that you're able to come up and deliver on a promise that you know thousands of your neighbors were counting on you to deliver on."

Supervisor Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run) said, "These are the types of applications I fought against . . . as a citizen, and I am quite pleased to now be in a position where I can make a decision . . . and vote against it."

In addition to the density, board members cited procedural problems with the project's application, including a missing land appraisal, in opposing it.

The project was rejected despite offers by its developers for millions of dollars in improvements, or "proffers," including land for a middle school, a modern sports field for local leagues and road enhancements.

The offers warranted further consideration for the development, said Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who cast the dissenting vote, and John Nicholas, one of the developers.

"I'm more disappointed as a citizen," Nicholas said in a statement after the vote. "Is the county budget so flush with cash that a $20 million proffer of [a] middle school site, roads and a Dulles South youth league superturf field can be so cavalierly dismissed? . . . What message does this send to Richmond as to the continuance of the proffer system?"

But Miller said such proffers do not fully offset the costs associated with growth.

Braddock Village originally was part of a group of housing developments proposed near Dulles International Airport known as Dulles South, which would have added as many as 33,800 houses to 9,200 acres of farmland.

The previous board rejected that proposal in 2006, but the developers of Braddock Village brought back their portion of more than 800 houses for board approval last year. With evident opposition to the project in an area earmarked for limited density, the developers submitted a revised plan late last year that slashed the number of homes to about 500 and included an updated proffers list.

However, the project missed its last chance for an up-or-down vote by the outgoing board because of a technicality, county officials said.

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