Protect Natural Resources

Last spring, the Rural Economic Land Use Task Force released its report, "The 200,000 Acre Solution; Supporting and Enhancing a Rural Economy for Loudoun's 21st Century."

The report emphasizes the importance of protecting our natural resources, especially rural land and water quality.

By protecting these, the county will protect the quality of life for both us and for our wildlife neighbors. The report recommends the creation of performance standards to protect natural resources. Many of these standards already exist in the county's Comprehensive Plan.

The report also calls for a county department to have oversight responsibility for our natural resources, a function largely abandoned when the Department of Environmental Resources was abolished several years ago. Since then, enforcement of what standards we do have has been minimal. Open-space requirements are routinely modified in the building-approval process.

Unfortunately, when the Department of Environmental Resources was disbanded, many of its functions were incorporated into Building and Development, and natural resource protection decreased. Many of the existing standards are ignored, sometimes because they aren't enforced, sometimes because the few people still responsible are preoccupied with overseeing the development of our rapidly growing county.

Because of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy's work in protecting water quality, people often call us to complain that erosion and sediment are being inadequately controlled. When they call the county, as we suggest, to report the problem, the response is usually quick and effective, but the available staff is clearly insufficient.

Looking at some of the building taking place on our mountainsides, it is hard to believe that existing standards are being followed. This is an especially sensitive and critical area because runoff from our mountainsides affects not only our water quality but also the replenishing of our ground water. Protecting our natural resources will protect wildlife habitat.

All of us must encourage the county to uphold its existing standards and insist that our leaders reactivate the many standards from the Comprehensive General Plan now dormant.

Call the county (703-777-0373) when you have a question; call to report the abuse of land. Remember, this is an election year. Support the candidates who support protecting our natural resources.

The creation of a Department of Natural Resources could do what all of us think is the minimum required of government--protection from those who would do harm, in this case to the land.

Maybe, just maybe, because of the Rural Land Use Task Force's "200,000 Acre Solution" and the upcoming elections, we will be able to preserve some of this county's rural character and benefit the people, the land and the wildlife, well into the future.

JOE COLEMAN

President, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Round Hill

Debating the Dulles Debate

In a recent letter to the editor ["PAC Spells Out Its Position," Sept. 30], Joe Maio, of Round Hill, gave an incorrect accounting of the recent debate for Dulles District supervisor. He must not have been at the debate. I was. Here are the facts.

Ellen Oliver never criticized her opponent [J. Drew Hiatt] for accepting a donation from Voters to Stop Sprawl. In fact, that organization was never mentioned.

What she did criticize was the fact that Mr. Hiatt, despite his many assertions to never having taken a penny of developer money, had accepted campaign funds from Marriott International. This is a commercial developer with a pending application for a special exception to build a six-story hotel at Route 28 and Sterling Boulevard in the Dulles District. Mrs. Oliver stated that fact in the debate. Mr. Hiatt said he was unaware of the pending application and did not address taking the money, which is listed in his campaign report, according to Mrs. Oliver.

Ellen Oliver has been dealing with the issues in this community for more than 10 years. She has a reputation for honesty and openness with her constituents. I know. I've worked with her when she was on the School Board and have seen her accomplish many positive things for the people of Loudoun County.

This county has many issues. Let's get off the dime and move forward in a positive manner, and not wallow in negativism.

SANDY LOFTIS

Sterling

The Dulles Debate, Round II

We understand that Ms. [Ellen] Oliver is claiming that our letter printed in your newspaper [Sept. 30] is incorrect.

The essential element of the letter--that Ellen Oliver was being inconsistent--is accurate. As were the assertions that Ms. Oliver has accepted developer money and Mr. [J. Drew] Hiatt has accepted help from Voters to Stop Sprawl [VSS].

Ms. Oliver asked Mr. Hiatt to refuse PAC support, and Mr. Hiatt asked Ms. Oliver to refuse developer support. Ms. Oliver's statement is inconsistent with her seeking VSS endorsement, which is the main point of the letter. Further, the implication to the public of both Ms. Oliver's and Mr. Hiatt's statements was that they accepted support, and they both did: she from developers, he from a citizens PAC, Voters to Stop Sprawl.

Ellen Oliver has developer money that was left over in [incumbent Dulles Supervisor Lawrence S.] Beerman's campaign account. An analysis by the Sierra Club of Beerman's 1995 campaign funding indicates that 70 percent of his contributions were from developers. On Jan. 1, 1999, Beerman transferred $395.95 from his previous campaign money to his 1999 campaign. He subsequently transferred that money to Ellen Oliver's campaign.

We understand that Ms. Oliver claims that Marriott International, which contributed to Mr. Hiatt, is a development company. I searched the Marriott Web site and found no indication of anything other than hotel activity. Money from Marriott is not developer money.

Drew Hiatt took a pledge not to take developer money. And if he did, we fully expect him to return it.

JOE MAIO

VSS Spokesman

Round Hill