Misleading Data on Inn

Your story "Johnson Clears Her Final Hurdle" [Loudoun Extra, Sept. 26] on growth and the nuances of the Salamander Inn controversy was the most balanced reporting on the project to date in The Washington Post.

One piece of information does deserve clarification. The article stated that "only 1 percent of the site's 340 acres would be built upon." The correct number is considerably higher.

In its application for an initial grading permit, the developer indicates that 32.3 acres of the 252.45-acre development will be graded. That's 12.8 percent of the 252 acres in Loudoun County; it is not known what will become of the 87 acres inside the Town of Middleburg.

Although the "total lot coverage" is approximately 1 percent, this is not the meaning that is implied in the quote. Lot coverage refers to the total area of all building footprints -- structures under roof. It does not include the 379 parking spaces and other impervious surfaces and permanent changes to the site. Nor does it reflect the 181,562.5 square feet of commercial space that was approved (about the size of a superstore -- the Leesburg Home Depot is 100,000 square feet). Since that is 10 times the size of the Middleburg Safeway, I think in fairness to readers this clarification is important.

In fact, only the minimum required by ordinance for a "Rural Retreat" (189.34 acres-75 percent) is protected and designated as "open space." The rest (63.11 acres-25 percent), including the many acres of septic drain fields, is designated as "development area." Those drain fields will disperse 35,000 to 50,000 gallons of septic effluent a day and are susceptible to damage. They cannot, for instance, support the weight of a horse or riding lawnmower. They are not therefore considered "conservation areas" by Loudoun County.

To make the facility fit within the county's 75 percent open-25 percent developed guidelines for rural commercial activities, the developers needed to calculate down to the hundredth of an acre. In other words, not a hundredth of an acre above what the ordinance required was protected.

Given the environmental, historic, scenic, traffic and other quality-of-life issues associated with the project, this maximum development approach that Sheila Johnson's development team has taken speaks to Supervisor James G. Burton's (I-Blue Ridge) quote about trying to fit too much into too little a bag. It is also at the center of the Piedmont Environmental Council's objections: not that an inn is necessarily bad but that this proposal is simply too big for the site and for the community.

Mike DeHart

Piedmont Environmental Council spokesman

Seeing War in a New Light

After 9/11, I believed we had to unite behind our leader and do what he thought was necessary to neutralize our enemies, including going to war in Iraq. I bought into the idea that our troops would be welcomed as liberators and that we could "nation build" our way to security.

Now I see that our invasion of that country was misguided, without a plan and is in no way making our nation or the world a safer place. I question the original motive for going into the war. Does that make me, and the many other parents who thought we were protecting our children by supporting President Bush's war decision, a "flip-flopper"? I don't think so.

I think the ability to evolve in my thinking and change course in the light of better information is a good thing. I want a president who can recognize a mistake and change course, in other words, a thinking person. Sen. John Kerry is a thinking person, and the fact that his opponent has tried to make that a liability tells me all I need to know.

I have two children. If we stay on the course we are now on, there is no a doubt in my mind that they will be subject to a draft and a hostile world.

Without new leadership in the White House, the mess in Iraq will drag on for years and expand. Who's next? Iran? Syria? And we're going to be welcomed as liberators there, too, I suppose, as we charge across the globe without international support?

Sorry, but I am not willing to offer up my children for a mistake.

Lorraine Moffa

Ashburn