Stick With A-3 Zoning

The impression rendered by the June 21 meeting of the Board of Supervisors in its deliberations on zoning proposals was an affirmation of the principle that those individuals elected to public office, generally, have been promoted to the position of their greatest incompetence.

As one disgruntled government employee amply put it, "It was deja vu all over again."

The new members of the board, who campaigned on the preservation of property rights, had several unique opportunities to exercise their prerogative on this issue. The first came with their election to office, when they should have rejected the existing Comprehensive Plan.

There followed action by the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously taking the board members by their trembling hands and guiding their index fingers to the box marked "back to square one."

June 21 bore witness to a full morning of public comment unanimously proclaiming "Keep A-3" in language that, as one former planning commissioner once pleaded, "a third-grader could understand."

The board continued wallowing in indecisiveness, eventually putting forth only two proposals to be advanced for public comment, completely ignoring A-3.

A-3 is an across-the-board zoning, applied to both east and west, north and south, and one under which the county has achieved unprecedented prosperity. Why, then, should the area around Middleburg be singled out as any different from other areas of the county? And what public servant can afford a home in Loudoun on 10, 20 or 40 acres?

The decision whether to keep A-3 in Loudoun should be left up to its citizens, not the board members, the majority of whom, almost immediately and arrogantly after taking office, decided, in concert, to jump their campaign ship and discard A-3 zoning, virtually abandoning Loudoun landowners, 80 percent of whose remaining acreage will become nonconforming and therefore not able to be subdivided.

They should have "danced with the one that brought them," as the saying goes, and stuck with A-3, because the Virginia Supreme Court is once again about to ram it down their throats.

To preclude repeating this exercise in futility, while wasting enormous amounts of taxpayer money both in the county's defense as well as in legal fees paid by thousands of landowners, the retention of A-3 should be the only proposal considered at the board's upcoming public comment sessions.

The rush to judgment, in calling for public comment early in July instead of after the August recess, indicates that the issue is not one of planned growth but one of no growth favored by special interests.

In this context, the rural economy represents nothing more than a convenient vehicle by which affluent, absentee landowners can maintain their luxurious vacation retreats at others' expense.

The next lawsuits should ask the Virginia Supreme Court to reject the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance as arbitrary and capricious and exact severe penalties upon the county for the unjust taking of land under the Fifth Amendment.

Lawrence V. Phillips

Round Hill