Moving Too Fast on Homes
A number of real estate developers -- major contributors to the campaigns of the recently elected Republicans on the Board of Supervisors -- have recently filed 21 applications to change Loudoun County's Comprehensive Plan.
This appears to be an extraordinary effort to undercut the plan, which the previous board and Planning Commission took great pains to design with substantial debate and citizen input, as required by the Code of Virginia. Section 15.2-2223 requires that "[i]n the preparation of a comprehensive plan the [planning] commission shall make careful and comprehensive surveys and studies of the existing conditions and trends of growth, and of the probable future requirements of [the county] and its inhabitants."
Once again, just as with the possible settlement of a series of lawsuits challenging key elements of the Comprehensive Plan, the board has placed itself in a position to roll back decades of planning by means of a series of expedient decisions that spare the board the tough work of undertaking open, impartial and thorough analysis. I find it hard to believe that the near-simultaneous filing of 21 proposals to amend the Comprehensive Plan is purely a coincidence and not a coordinated effort to push through an enormous boost in development in an already overstressed county.
All these proposals raise urgent questions about how to maintain the quality of life that makes Loudoun so attractive -- questions about school funding and maintaining parks and natural areas -- and how to deal with the problems that fast growth has already brought us -- ever-increasing residential property taxes, congested roads and interminable commutes.
Do the pro-growth members of the Board of Supervisors truly believe that adding as many as 40,000 homes -- beyond the many tens of thousands that the current Comprehensive Plan already allows -- makes sense? I don't, and I doubt that many residents of Loudoun do, either -- unless they have an ideological or financial interest in rampant development.
Opponents of the development juggernaut need to communicate our views, loudly and clearly, to the board at email@example.com.
Driven by Greed?
In January, when the supervisors' pro-growth majority voted to extend water and sewer in the Transition Zone, it was done under the thinly veiled guise of "health and safety standards" and not to ostensibly overturn the Comprehensive Plan to allow extensive development.
How do these supervisors now explain the 21 Comprehensive Plan Developer Amendments (CPAMs) that they want to ram through in 90 days, that will allow 41,000 residences in addition to those 39,000 homes that are already in the county pipeline or that have been approved by the Comprehensive Plan? If these supervisors are so concerned about county finances, why would they consider spending taxpayer funds to process these applications -- unless it is personally advantageous for them to do so?
After the media made the CPAM information public, I colored all the designated areas on a county map to have a better understanding of where these huge developments will be located. It is exceedingly apparent that the entire county up to Route 15 will be now blanketed by development.
Indeed, this spate of development has huge regional implications with added congestion affecting not only Loudoun but also Fairfax and Arlington. Think sitting on Routes 7 and 50, Interstate 66 and the Dulles Toll Road is fun now? Just wait -- no pun intended.
Can these supervisors honestly explain how this onslaught of development contributes to a better quality of life for Loudoun residents by creating additional pressure for more schools (as if we are not stressed enough), additional pollution, deterioration of water quality, loss of parkland and natural resources, horrific congestion and exceedingly horrendous taxes?
What can they possibly be thinking? Why would they want to do this? Barring "creative developer solutions," we residents who already live here will be left holding the proverbial bag for future operating expenses. If we "dumb" residents understand the bottom line, what is it that Supervisors Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac), Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles), Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling), D.M. "Mick" Staton Jr. (R-Sugarland Run), Lori L. Waters (R-Board Run) and James E. Clem (R-Leesburg) can't comprehend?
Why do these supervisors want to dismantle a carefully conceived Comprehensive Plan that was so painstakingly crafted through huge public input during the last board administration? Decisions of catastrophic proportions are now being determined by a few, behind closed doors, with little or no public input.
So, exactly who are the beneficiaries of all of this development? Who do these supervisors represent? Developers, of course! "Glory to Greed"?