Residents Deserve Facts
Two experiences have occurred that might cause residents along Route 50 to question whether someone is deliberately trying to suppress information about the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment that is estimated to add 27,977 homes to the area.
First, I received a call from the Loudoun County parks and recreation department about a petition that was signed at the Arcola Community Center. Apparently, the department received inquiries for allowing the petition to be discussed and signed at the community center. The non-political petition was created by a group of property owners asking the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for informational sessions to foster a dialogue about the proposed CPAM.
Many of the people at the Arcola Community Center who signed the petition were not aware of the proposed amendment and were surprised to hear that it called for nine new elementary schools, three new middle schools and two new high schools.
The Arcola Community Center is a public facility, and citizens should have the right to get petition signatures and distribute information. This is a community issue, and the Arcola Community Center is the perfect forum for sharing information that will affect our community.
Second, a group from Families for Dulles South was invited by South Riding residents to hand out fliers at the Business Fair and Yard Sale Event on Sept. 10 from the residents' private yard-sale booth. We were prohibited from distributing the fliers, though, by the general manager of South Riding Proprietary. I would ask the general manager to show these residents where in the proprietary bylaws it states that members or invitees may not hand out information salient to the community. This action gives the appearance that someone wants to suppress the flow of information regarding the proposed CPAM to the residents of South Riding.
It is important that residents hear the facts about this amendment. These facts are posted on the county Web site at www.loudoun.gov/compplan/transition.htm. Citizens who read the county's own report will see that the new roads proposed in the document are insufficient to accommodate as many as 77,451 new residents and 298,716 additional daily car trips expected. If, as some suggest, these new homes are the best opportunity for Dulles South, why aren't the citizens of this area hearing more information?
Now is the time for South Riding and other residents who live along the Route 50 corridor to demand information and express their opinions before a decision is made by the county.
Historic Village at Stake
Recently, more than 150 people got together in Unison to talk about a threat to our community. The issue at hand was the Bloomfield Heights development planned for a 90-acre tract just up the street from the Unison Village Historic District, a Virginia historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What was described at the community meeting, based on documents from Loudoun County, was a development far out of proportion with our historic district and surrounding countryside. The proposal attempts to load the maximum number of houses on the property, thanks to a short-term window of zoning opportunity created by the Virginia Supreme Court ruling.
The development would affect the lands and roads where Washington's troops once marched, Col. John Singleton Mosby galloped and Union and Confederate troops spilled blood. It would pierce historic stonewalls and destroy Colonial roadways. The increase in traffic from 28 new homes would have a severe effect on the village of Unison. Then there are the consequences related to poor soils, risky alternative septic systems and dwindling groundwater supplies.
Quite simply, a successful Bloomfield Heights proposal represents a turning point that portends the destruction of this important historic area.
I can already hear the response from pro-development voices in Loudoun. They'll call us names and scream that western Loudoun wants to lock the land away. The developer has already started this line of attack, saying: "With all the growth in Loudoun County, you can't freeze this little section. It doesn't work."
That argument doesn't hold water. Some of our friends and neighbors make their living building homes and developing land in this area. We support their work. We recognize that growth is inevitable. But we all should have a choice as to how development proceeds.
What we will not support is a poorly planned, homogeneous development that would overwhelm our community, our history and our unique sense of place.
Chase is a board member of the Unison Preservation Society.