A split among Republicans on Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors has stalled an effort to put the Western Transportation Corridor, a controversial north-south highway, back in the county's transportation plans.
A vote on the road, which was scrapped by the previous Board of Supervisors, had been scheduled for Tuesday's board meeting after months of public hearings and debate. But three GOP supervisors joined the board's two independents and one Democrat in agreeing to postpone it. No date was set for a new vote.
Supervisors Lori L. Waters (R-Broad Run) and Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) said they opposed plans to run the road through such existing neighborhoods as River Creek and Potomac Station, east of Leesburg, and Brambleton, farther south.
"I think we could come to a better resolution if we allowed ourselves a little more time," said Waters, whose own home is near a section of the proposed route, known as the power-line alignment. "As someone who lives close to the road, I want to be able to go back to my neighborhood and be content to live there for a very long time."
Tulloch said that he supported construction of much-needed roads in Loudoun but that such a highway should not bisect neighborhoods.
"I'm only for a study that would establish a realignment around any affected communities this thing runs through," said Tulloch, who joined with Republican colleagues in January at their first meeting to launch the effort to revive the highway plan.
Supervisor Jim E. Clem (R-Leesburg), who cast the third GOP vote for a delay, had said he opposed the proposed route. But he indicated Tuesday he might, nevertheless, be willing to put the road back in county plans. A vote "doesn't say we are going to build this road. It says we're going to study it further," Clem said during the debate.
Supervisors Jim G. Burton (I-Blue Ridge) and Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) and Board Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) also voted for the delay, saying they opposed restoring the road altogether.
Supervisor D.M. "Mick" Staton Jr. (R-Sugarland Run) was joined by Supervisors Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) and Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling) in voting against the delay.
"If we don't act today, we'll have to go through the entire process [of public hearings] again," Staton said. He said the county must preserve access to land along the route that has been granted by developers. "This is an option. We are preserving an option," he said.
Proponents of the highway hope it will eventually run through Prince William and Loudoun counties and across the Potomac River into Maryland, serving as the western arc of an outer beltway to promote economic growth and shorten commutes in the traffic-clogged Washington region.
Opponents argue that such a highway would do nothing to reduce east-west bottlenecks and would sap scarce transportation resources while spurring additional building and attracting more cars.
Political sparring over what is sometimes called the "western bypass" has continued in Loudoun despite an acute funding shortage for transportation projects in Virginia and the longtime opposition of Maryland officials to a Potomac bridge east of Point of Rocks.
The supervisors were also briefed Tuesday by officials from Dominion Virginia Power which wants to run new transmission lines along the W&OD trail into western Loudoun. Dominion holds easements giving it permission to run the lines along the trail -- which would entail substantial tree clearing -- if it first obtains approval from the State Corporation Commission in Richmond.
Supervisors said they wanted Dominion to consider using other routes or burying the lines. Dominion executives said the latter option would cost tens of millions of dollars. The issue will be hashed out over the next year in local negotiations and in testimony before the State Corporation Commission.
Supervisors also approved policies on raises for constitutional officers and increased Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson's salary from $106,477 to $124,477. Other constitutional officers will receive smaller increases that match the percentage increases given to county employees.
Officials said Simpson was given the larger raise because state law limits other senior officials in his department to 90 percent of Simpson's salary, which created a "compression issue." That meant that several senior Sheriff's Office employees were ineligible to receive county raises.
Board members also voted to reduce -- by nearly $4,000 -- the amount developers are asked to pay to offset the costs of capital facilities, such as schools, associated with homes they build. On a party-line vote of 6 to 3, Republican supervisors voted to cut the capital contributions figure from $37,028 to $33,034 for a single-family home pending a reevaluation of which services the county should be providing.