Lovettsville will begin building a new wastewater treatment plant that will be financed through a $3.5 million interest-free state loan, state and town officials announced this week.

But the town's plans to pay off the 20-year loan by charging an $11,900 fee for each new residential connection has already drawn criticism from a developer who filed a lawsuit arguing that it is unfair for new neighborhoods to shoulder the entire cost.

Lovettsville Mayor Elaine Walker declined to comment on the pending litigation but defended the town's decision to pay for the facility through connection fees. "My goal has been for developers to pay their way here and not have the current townspeople have to pay," Walker said. "We chose to have a plant developed that will accommodate some growth."

Walker said the current plant, which was built in the 1970s and serves about 300 users, needs to be replaced to comply with environmental regulations. She said the new plant will be built at the same site, about a half-mile west of town on Irish Corner Road. The beginning of construction will be "almost immediate," Walker said.

The lawsuit filed Jan. 4 by James K. McDonough and Lovettsville West, a general partnership, in Loudoun County Circuit Court claims the $11,900 fee is unfair and asks that a judge prohibit Lovettsville from charging that amount for new connections. The plaintiffs own land that was annexed into the town in 1972, the lawsuit states.

The town's decision "to place the economic burden of a replacement sewer facility for the existing Town . . . only upon new users to the sewer facility . . . is arbitrary, capricious, and unenforceable," the lawsuit states. McDonough could not be reached for comment.

A court date has not been set in the Lovettsville case, which is the latest of several battles in western Loudoun over water and sewer service.

New Planning Commission in Place

Loudoun County supervisors have chosen a new Planning Commission to help guide the board through its plans to slow residential growth.

Alfred P. Van Huyck (Blue Ridge), a member of the previous commission, will serve as chairman. John P. Murphy, Jr., the new at-large member appointed by Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York, is vice chairman. Murphy, a business owner, has been chairman of the county's Parks and Recreational Advisory Board for 10 years.

George Kirschenbauer (Mercer) was reappointed. Other new members include David Whitmer (Broad Run), former chairman of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee; Kathryn Miller (Leesburg), a historic preservationist; John Herbert (Catoctin), a former urban and regional planner; Wendell Hansen (Dulles), a retired landscaper who had worked with a building management company; Jane Kirchner (Sugarland Run), a former planning commissioner in a fast-growing Colorado county; and Tim Page, a Realtor, who is commissioner for Sterling.

"It's a very good planning commission," Van Huyck said. "It's a group that has individual expertise that will be very valuable to the county."

County Ready to Give Illegal Parkers the Boot

If parking is tight in Leesburg, don't risk pulling into the county garage unless you're in town to visit the government building.

Loudoun officials are cracking down on the use of the garage by noncounty employees who aren't conducting business in the government building. Guards from a contract security service began patrolling the garage this month, and violators face a penalty: an orange windshield warning sticker described in a county memo as "difficult to remove" for a first offense, and a $25 ticket for a repeat offender. Multiple violations, according to the memo, could result in a "boot" being locked onto the car's wheels.

County spokesman Jim Barnes said the tough stance is necessary because there are 501 employees working in the government building and only 317 employee parking spots.

The county has moved some government vehicles from the lot to make more room for employees, and in February the county will begin a shuttle service to satellite lots, including a lot on Harrison Street across from Raflo Park.

"It's still tight, but as far as I know the enforcement is working," Barnes said. "They screen everybody."