The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors got its first look Tuesday at the two winning entries in the county's competition for proposals to build model affordable housing.
Without endorsing them or guaranteeing their approval, the board welcomed proposals for Ashbrook Greens, apartments and town houses off Route 7 in eastern Loudoun, and Autumn Hills, a town house development in northern Purcellville. Both proposals were sent to the planning staff to map out a review process estimated by county officials at six months, half the normal time because of their selection by the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.
The board has agreed to expedite both winners' trips through the bureaucracy by putting rezoning requests and other procedures on a fast track.
Architect Ralph LaRock, chairman of the advisory committee, said the competition guidelines called for 25 percent of the housing units in a proposal project to be "affordable": two-bedroom apartments renting for no more than $450 a month or town houses selling for under $71,000.
Committee member Charlie Grant said the affordable-housing crisis, and its sufferers, are becoming "more and more desperate."
He pointed out that nearly three-quarters of the county's fire and rescue personnel fall into the income bracket, $13,000 to $30,000, of those eligible to apply for housing designated as affordable.
Ashbrook Greens, proposed by JBG Co., would consist of 127 affordable units (105 rental apartments and 22 town houses for sale starting at $77,000) in a 243-unit project on 39 acres east of Ashburn Village and across from Janelia Farm.
The site is adjacent to Intertech, a 275-acre site on Route 7 where JBG is building a mixed commercial and residential development.
Autumn Hills, proposed by John Anderson Co., would consist of 498 town houses, 123 of them for sale at $61,000 to $71,000, on 49 acres at the northwestern corner of Routes 611 and 7 in Purcellville.
LaRock said the selection committee was also impressed with a proposal by Leesburg lawyer Peter Burnett to build single-family houses and convert a dairy barn into six town houses, although it would consist of only 5 percent affordable housing, and one by Amurcon Corp. of Virginia to build Villas of Sugarland, a development of 60 condominiums and town houses.
The board invited those developers, and any others among the seven in the competition's final cut, to submit their proposals to the normal review process. Supervisor Betsey Brown (D-Catoctin), saying she was "very excited" by the winning proposals, nevertheless warned that "in our zeal to provide affordable housing, we don't want to rezone the whole county."
LaRock said getting four proposals through the system would be "a good precedent. If we said we'd take them all, that would be a little overwhelming at this time." He compared the demonstration projects to Disneyland. "If you like Disneyland, you can go back to it," he told the board. "If you don't like it, you don't have to go back."
In other business, the board voted 7 to 1 to continue acquiring land to expand the county landfill on Route 621 near Leesburg, despite opposition to the site by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA has said the site is too close -- within five miles -- to the Leesburg Municipal Airport, which has recently expanded its runway and facilities to accommodate corporate-jet traffic and more general aviation flights.
County officials said they met recently with officials of the state Department of Waste Management, who said that state regulations require only 10,000 feet between the airport and the landfill. At its closest, the expanded landfill site is 14,800 feet from the airport.
Supervisor Ann B. Kavanagh (D-Dulles) said she continued to oppose expanding the landfill there but supported the motion to buy land "so property owners can move on with the purchase of new homes and get on with their lives." Supervisor Steven W. Stockman (R-Broad Run) said he opposed the motion "because I think we're putting it in the wrong place."
To pay for land acquisition, the board this week authorized the sale of $13.5 million in general obligation bonds. Voters approved the sale, to be held Oct. 16, in a referendum last November.