After a public hearing at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg last week, the Loudoun County Planning Commission approved a county mountainside ordinance.

The ordinance, which was proposed by the Board of Supervisors in the spring, limits development in mountainous areas. These areas would include the Blue Ridge and Short Hill mountains above 700 feet and the Catoctin, Hogback and Bull Run mountains above 550 feet.

The ordinance approved by the Planning Commission will go before the Board of Supervisors Dec. 21 for a final vote. If passed, it will not allow dwellings to be built on slopes of more than 25 percent in the overlay district. It will also limit grading and clearing on certain slopes, particularly in areas near ground water springs.

Several of the 13 people who spoke at the hearing questioned some of the limits and standards in the ordinance, particularly concerning water supply, the impact of additional septic tank drain fields on ground water, and road and home building standards.

Most of the speakers and the 60 people in the audience appeared to favor a mountainside ordinance of some sort, however.

"I know it doesn't answer all the questions," said commission Chairman John Stowers. "But it's a whole lot better than nothing."