A Loudoun County zoning board has denied a request by a group associated with controversial political figure Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. to operate a summer camp in the county.
Members of the Board of Zoning Appeals split 2 to 2 Thursday night in a vote on a request by Campaigner Publications, which publishes pro-LaRouche political materials, to run a camp for children of its employes in a remote section of the county near the West Virginia border.
With the tie vote, the proposal, which has been the source of a bitter dispute in Loudoun for six months, was rejected.
Whenever you have more than 95 percent of the people opposed to something, then I'm going to be opposed to it, too," said board member E. Frank Meyerts III, who voted against the camp. "These are the people that have to live with" the camp, he said in an interview after the vote.
Joining Meyers in opposing the camp was board member William S. Leach.
Campaigner officials said they will appeal the decision to the Loudoun County Circuit Court and accused the board of ignoring legal principles because of political bias against LaRouche.
"This is a kind of ridiculous attempt to get at Lyndon LaRouche," said Campaigner President Linda Delloyos. "We have a legal case. In zoning matters it's the law that matters."
One of the board members who voted for the camp was Julia T. Cannon, who said, "The issue is a land usee decision . . . this issue is not Mr. LaRouche's character."
Nonetheless, Cannon said, "I find repugnant many of the things for which he stands. I'm sorry that he is ensconced as he is in Loudoun County."
James M. Parks also voted for the camp, while the board's fifth member, E. Page Moffett, did not vote because he was appointed recently and was not present for last month's public hearing.
Since last summer, Campaigner's request for a special exception emerged in Loudoun as a broader forum on the activities of LaRouche, who began moving his political operations to the county two years ago. Scores of residents attended hearings, many of them expressing fear that the camp would be a paramilitary facility or a youth indoctrination center.
Speakers also accused camp supporters of using intimidation tactics during the debate. Campaigner representatives took photographs of people speaking against the camp hearings. Some speakers were accused in Campaigner political pamphlets of being members of "an international drug lobby" and highly organized nest of Soviet fellow travelers."
Campaigner officials maintained that the camp, which has operated for the last two summers without county approval, would be used solely as a recreational and educational facility. Activities, they said, included classical music lessons and biology experiments, where campers dissected sharks.
LaRouche lives in an estate in Leesburg guarded by a private security force. A Campaigner spokeswoman denied and denounced a report in The Washington Post last week that said the property is protected with automatic weapons.
LaRouche, a perennial presidential candidate, has since the 1960s espoused a mix of far left- and right-wing political philosophies.