Listen to the Real Residents
In your article "Residents Pack Hearing on Rezoning Proposal" [Loudoun Extra, Oct. 6], several items were interesting and a few nearly funny.
First, every individual quoted in the article was not a resident of the area under review, or even of an area adjoining it. Residents of Purcellville, Blue Ridge and Leesburg were included, as well as Piedmont Environmental Council employees from Leesburg and Ashburn.
I was present for Monday night's hearing and spoke at it, and I witnessed the self-indulgent screaming in the lobby. It was primarily by western Loudoun residents, and I saw the lone sheriff's deputy on duty call for backup when the protesters continued to shout.
Second, as a Dulles South resident who has been receiving PEC leaflets for a year about this proposal, all with varying numbers of homes and cars, and varying numbers of exclamation points, I found the quote from PEC officer Ed Gorski to be quite humorous: "There was nothing specific to talk about," Gorski said. Well, that sure didn't stop PEC.
Third, the article closes with a quote from Andrea McGimsey of Ashburn, who is identified as being from the "nonprofit group" Campaign for Loudoun's Future -- whose Web site directs donations to the Piedmont Environmental Council. If the Campaign for Loudoun's Future was a real nonprofit, as opposed to simply being an unprofitable addition to the melee, its parent group would not be handling its money.
Further, although McGimsey still did not admit it that evening when sneering at the Planning Commission in her public remarks, she is PEC's eastern Loudoun field director.
In the eight years I have lived in Dulles South, every planning opportunity or service improvement has been vehemently opposed by non-residents and paid interest groups funded through PEC. The current issue is no different.
I attended the meeting to speak in support of planning and improvements, because if this area falls to continued by-right sprawl and attrition, the PEC may be happy in having created a wasteland, but the residents, as usual, will suffer. PEC apparently thinks we should suffer, as punishment for moving onto their driveway.
CPAM Is Foolhardy
As a concerned citizen affected by the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment for Dulles South, I was disappointed by Monday's Planning Commission public hearing.
It was evident, through the many 81/2-by-11 sheets of paper held by the first 30 to 40 speakers, that there was a concerted effort to derail public input via "talking points" favorable to the CPAM. Many of these speakers could not make their points without referring repeatedly to their script.
It was clear that development interests had stacked the hearing and were trying to keep out alternative viewpoints. If the CPAM in its current form had merit and local support, this kind of activity would be unnecessary.
I am a supporter of balanced, planned growth with respect for the integrity of the transition policy area, but I do not support the wholesale disregard for the Comprehensive Plan that CPAM proponents advocate. The Comprehensive Plan, which had public input and review, should be guiding development plans, not the reverse.
There are fundamental problems with the CPAM, as evidenced by the county's own staff reports and submissions. Traffic will end up below grade F on the Route 50 corridor. Ultimately the county, not the developer, is responsible for capital infrastructure costs, and if housing takes a turn for the worse, the county and taxpayers could end up with huge costs with no revenue stream (i.e., higher taxes) to pay for them.
Nothing has been discussed about the operating costs for the 14 schools and infrastructure once the development is complete. A Republican speaker with a background in planning and economic analysis suggested a half-billion-dollar price tag to the taxpayers for ongoing support.
For the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to even consider these changes without all the financial and quality-of-life issues fully reviewed is irresponsible. Going from 4,700 houses to 28,000 houses is a dramatic and irreversible change that warrants careful review.
I urge the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to maintain the integrity of the transition policy area and review individual projects in the area for responsible, managed growth without undue fiscal impact on future generations. We need continued growth in the county, but the current plans will make us a bedroom community with traffic gridlock. What real business would be attracted to such an environment? None!
A. "Jey" Jeyanathan
Developer Cooperation Key
The Loudoun County Planning Commission and staff are to be commended for recognizing citizen concern and a limit to how much traffic Middleburg can sustain. The commission forwarded Salamander Resort and Spa's special exception request to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing Tuesday but not before including conditions to reduce negative impacts to the area.
The development team, as development teams tend to do, sought a lot: permission for 43 events per year, each with no maximum attendance specified, in addition to an unlimited number of "resort-related" events such as conferences. Obviously, county staff and Middleburg's traffic engineer foresee traffic problems. Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hospitality, is to be credited for accepting the limits the commission recommended. If he is still willing to accept those conditions at the board hearing Tuesday, he will have taken a step toward rebuilding a sense of collaboration in Middleburg.
Many developers in Loudoun have not been willing to forgo significant development potential. This "full throttle" approach is robbing Loudoun not only of irreplaceable cultural assets but is undermining the tax-positive rural economic engine. Oak Hill and Oatlands, two of the county's most cherished and significant sites, have been degraded by this "all you can get" stance.
Nowhere would that approach be more ironic than at the "world-class" Salamander Resort. There's no beach, ski slope or eco-jungle in Middleburg. Devadas's best shot at reaching his goal is to assure the vitality of the assets that already bring people from around the world. The pastoral views, stone walls and architecture of Loudoun are the perfect backdrop for a world-class inn. But if Salamander is surrounded by spin-off development, choked in traffic and lacking that Middleburg one-stone-at-a-time feel, who will bother coming? There will be easier destinations to get to. The issues that have locals worked up are actually matters Salamander might want to pay attention to.
I hope Devadas will recognize that those of us dedicated to Middleburg don't want him to fail. A sense of collaboration requires concessions on all sides and assurances that each party's interests will be safeguarded. I hold out hope for collaboration. A better product is almost always the result. I would hope that the Board of Supervisors can muster the same spirit Tuesday.