Keep A-3 Zoning in Place

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors met June 1 in its third needless work session on proposed changes to A-3 zoning, which has brought prosperity to Loudoun for more than four decades and was recently validated by a unanimous Virginia Supreme Court.

In attending the meeting, I was witness to an extraordinary demonstration of the negation of the required public input process, which, in my opinion, made the subsequent action taken by the board of questionable legality.

No proposals on zoning changes should have been offered by board members prior to the required open public comment by the citizenry.

Only after public comment should the board have convened its work sessions and considered individual zoning change proposals.

The apparent ulterior motive of the anti-A-3 zoning board members, led by the Blue Ridge supervisor [Jim G. Burton (I)], was to circumvent the public input process, in this manner, without having comment on its procedural legality, the county attorney being conspicuously absent from the proceedings.

Consequently, two proposals initiated without public input were advanced to the board's next formal meeting for final approval, after which the public, presumably, will be invited to express opinions, not on what zoning changes, if any, should have been made in Loudoun, but on the appropriateness of a proposal approved by the board.

Announcing that A-3 zoning was dead without first allowing public input augmented the public-be-damned attitude of the anti-A-3 zoning members toward the public input process.

The zoning proposal authored by the Blue Ridge and Leesburg [Jim E. Clem (R)] supervisors was specifically designed to resurrect AR-1 and AR-2 zoning.

Recently, Leesburg officials and the board clashed over the town's land-use issues.

As a result, the Leesburg supervisor, being the town's conduit to the board on issues regarding growth, the extension of water and sewer as well as annexation, may have been inclined to join the Blue Ridge supervisor, unfortunately, in instituting zoning changes more harmful to western Loudoun residents than the aborted AR-1 and AR-2 zoning.

With the Catoctin supervisor [Sarah D. "Sally" Kurtz (D)], board chairman [Scott K. York (I)] and the "acting" chairman [Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac)] against A-3 zoning, the Blue Ridge supervisor needed only one additional vote to advance his initiative. This political marriage of convenience makes Leesburg appear to be selling out its soul, as Purcellville was accused of doing, alienating thousands of potential western Loudoun voters.

Furthermore, the board's action, if sustained, is guaranteed to initiate an avalanche of lawsuits.

The Virginia Supreme Court will once again have the opportunity to cite violations of regulations as reasons to reject these zoning changes.

Unfortunately, the pawns in these proceedings are the county's farmers and other property owners, who will suffer a loss of equity, pay additional taxes to defend the county and, finally, spend exorbitant legal fees to protect their property rights.

It behooves every citizen of Loudoun, therefore, to enlist their supervisor and attorney in persuading the board to abandon its zoning madness by rejecting both zoning change proposals and preserving A-3 zoning.

Lawrence V. Phillips

Round Hill