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Loudoun Comprehensive Plan stakeholders eye doing away with transition policy area

Lower Foley, an area of the TPA staff envision could house more residential development under the new Comprehensive Plan
As Loudoun continues to face immense pressure to grow and meet future housing needs, the county’s Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders team grappled with a controversial question on Monday: Keep the transition policy area (TPA) or do away with the status quo?

A majority of the group tasked with putting together the county’s new Comprehensive Plan agreed the county should do away with the current version of the area that serves as a buffer between Loudoun’s rural west and suburban east.

“One of the big takeaways we had is the status quo ... is not an option,” said Todd Pearson, a stakeholder who represents the county’s Economic Development Advisory Council and is also the Vice President of B.F Saul Company, one of the region’s largest private real estate firms. “No one in the group thought that was a good option.”

On Monday, county staff presented the stakeholder team with two “scenarios” -- keeping the the county’s current TPA land-use plan in the new Comprehensive Plan, which includes limited retail, single-family homes and an estimated buildout of just 11,306 units.

The second scenario they proposed broke away from the status quo and expanded employment, proposed targeted density increases and neighborhood centers.

“Generally, the bulk of public comment was preserve the transition policy area,” said John Merrithew, a program manager with the Department of Planning and Zoning. “They were looking at the environmental features of the policy area. They were looking at the open space … historic and natural resources, the water, reservoirs those sorts of things. That was important to people.”

“The question is, is that implemented under the current land use pattern? Or, is there ways of implementing those objectives under different land use patterns?” he added.

The county’s current TPA comprises more than 22,813 acres and accounts for about 7 percent of Loudoun’s total area of 333,558 acres.

For years, residents, preservation groups and some supervisors have urged the county to protect the TPA from further development and maintain low residential densities in the area.

But as the country grapples with a lack of affordable and workforce housing options coupled by a recent housing needs assessment report, which identified an 18,000 housing shortage gap by 2040, many stakeholders argued that opening up the TPA was necessary in order to meet the growing housing needs of the county.

Pearson said that by opening up TPA there would be opportunities to add more diverse housing. He also said parts of the TPA potentially could be used to add additional green space and parks.

Lars Henriksen, a stakeholder who is also on the board of directors of the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR), said he agreed.

“We discussed whether we should stay with the status quo or look for higher density in the transition policy area, and I think one of the big questions is, ‘Are we able to accommodate the demand over the next 5-25 years?’ And I think with the status quo that’s not possible,” Henriksen said.

Others also said that opening the TPA could allow for more amenities for nearby residents in the area, who often have to drive to Ashburn or Leesburg to go out to eat or watch a movie.

“I think it was very clear from the outset that the status quo just wasn't going to work, and I think our main argument was it doesn’t meet the housing needs,” said Jeff Salmon, the chairman of the county’s Planning Commission and head of the stakeholders team. “There’s a large amount of housing needs in a small amount of land to fill those up, and if you don’t do it here, you have to do it in the rural policy area.”

Al Van Huyck, who represents the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition on the stakeholders team and is often the lone dissenter of the group, questioned how those in favor of opening up the TPA would actually create affordable and workforce housing.

“Several of the groups have mentioned that [the TPA] was going to be a place for affordable housing and workforce housing. Did anyone talk about how that’s actually going to be made to happen?” said Van Huyck, who was one of the main architects of the current Comprehensive Plan.

Van Huyck’s question was met with silence.

Salmon assured Van Huyck the issue around creating affordable and workforce housing would be discussed at a later date.

“One of the points that’s brought up is we need the transition area for more housing to meet our housing needs and to provide affordable housing,” Piedmont Environmental Council representative Gem Bingol said. “Well, it’s a relatively small area, so what happens when it fills up? Now we’re talking about the rural area?”

Van Huyck told the Times-Mirror that he has asked county representatives on the stakeholders committee to conduct further analysis of the land-use scenarios in the TPA to better understand the quality of the sites and what kind of capacity each holds for the potential for increased densities.

“Unless there’s an analysis of the sites as to what is really involved, where they are, what access points … we’re just saying, 'Hey nothing’s built here, nothing’s built here,’ so we can put housing there. Well you can’t,” Van Huyck said.

With about a year left to go until the county adopts its new Comprehensive Plan, some of the stakeholders have expressed frustration over the progress the group has made. Additionally, there are concerns about the “vague” direction the new plan is headed in.

Merrithew said, at the moment, staff does not have any figure on how much housing should be included in the alternative TPA scenario, but plans to provide a ballpark figure on housing units and commercial floor area at stakeholders’ Sept. 25 meeting.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.


My view of CP-Stakeholders meeting take-a-ways:

1. Yes current state is mediocre & not acceptable, we can do better.

2.  Leave the Transition Area at 50% open space

3.  Limited buildable land is left especially after infrastructure-planned roads, schools, safety stations etc.

4.  Use housing clusters with innovative design to provide for diverse housing choices.

5. Increase public accessible green spaces especially around the reservoir, linear green corridors and create trails.  (little public accessible green space today). 

6. Give a true sense of place unique from the suburban areas by innovative design and sense of open space.

That’s what I heard!

Developers are like any business people—trying to meet demand. The real culprit of Loudoun’s explosive growth is jobs.  People need to work to live, and we have the work.  Jobs drive demand for housing (Econ. 101). It is human nature to want to be the “last house on the block” (increases the value of one’s house, too).  Everyone who lives here lives in a home developed by someone.  Was your developer evil?

Almost 2/3 of the county is zoned, in effect, for estate living due to 20- or 40-acre homebuilding lot requirements.  Public water and sewer, necessary for middle class housing, are outlawed. In other words, there is a real shortage of land on which to build homes.  This shortage has bid up the price of a finished building lot, increasing the value of existing homes.

Look at a Loudoun zoning map.  Then ask yourself, who are the greedy ones?


Stop building now! We all sit in traffic daily because the this BOS as well as previous BOS won’t stop developing. Preserve the quality of life in Loudoun now before it’s too late. Stop building. How many more houses and town centers do we need?

I think everyone on this committee should be required to have a full financial disclosure of their property holdings and holdings of companies that own the land.  I think quickly you will see those in favor have substantial financial gain if changes are made

ONE other thought while I am thinking about this.
Why do we always have to ACCOMODATE the DEMAND?
The last time I told a Boss that I Demand a 20% increase in my salary, I was told “Be happy with what you have or go else where.”
So all those People that DEMAND to be able to Live in LOUDOUN, let them be HAPPY to buy from the Options that are here all ready, or simply BUILD or BUY elsewhere.

If you study who supports it and who does not, most of them that support it are in one of the following Groups.
1) Politics (What the support and money from the Rich Contractors and Land owners)
2) Developers and Builders who make lots of money and leave the towns/counties with more debt and need for more improvements.
3) Real Estate. Who think more homes is more opportunity.
They might be right. Maybe because I am getting older and have never had a lot of money, I have grown to appreciate the simply things in life, like lifestyle and OPEN SPACES of Western Loudoun.

As a Realtor, I have been told that I am always suppose to support ideas that will bring more homes and more people to Loudoun.
Well,I simply do not see how more building and more people improves Loudoun County. The reason I chose Western Loudoun (Purcellville to be exact) 25 years ago, was the lack of building and the Small Town feel.
THE ONLY people that benefit from MORE building are the developers and current land owners.
Those already hear are hit with the Increase in Taxes, more crowded roads, and more frustration.
Then to have the people on the BOD and Committees throw around lack of affordable and workforce housing options is 100% BS. The more building allowed to happen puts the Western Loudoun Work force in even worse shape. Why because those that work closer to DC, on average Make considerably more money than those the actually work in Western Loudoun. The folks that work in closer to DC come out here because of our Life Style, they are willing and ABLE to pay higher prices so it makes it even LESS affordable for those folks trying to Live and Work in Western Loudoun.
Does it help the County or the Towns, dispite what they want you to believe, NO it does not. They have to take on MORE DEBT, they have to build MORE infostructure (which is always 10 years later that actually needed).
The most IMPORTANT THING OF ALL, is that with even motion to allow more building we loose a little bit of the lifestyle we moved here for in the first place.
How about this THOUGHT pattern.
STOP all building that has not already been approved. Once the New Building stops, we will not need MORE Schools, MORE Roads, MORE???, and since we do have a GREAT PLACE TO LIVE in Western Loudoun, current home owners will see the value of their homes go up, because there is not an option to buy New from Builders you have to buy existing homes.
NO Growth and all the problems and costs that come with it, and we keep what we (current residents) have always loved.
PUT politics aside, stop trying to help out your Developer Friends that help pay for your elections (Who knows what else) and Start Doing what is right for the People of Loudoun and Loudoun County as a whole.

First and Foremost it is a “Stakeholders Committee”. It is pretty hard to say being a “Stakeholder” is any type of a conflict.  Secondly Mr. Pearson does not own land in Loudoun.  His family has a paltry 3.7 acres in the entire 22,000+ acres of the TPA.  I doubt that moves the needle much…..

Mopar19 I’m pretty sure the 3.7 acres “the Pearson’s” own are not a conflict of interest. However, I’m sure my parents would gladly welcome you to their home for dinner and let you know how their quality of life has been affected with the current comprehensive plan.

I kept telling people in western Loudoun to start caring about what’s going on in the east, because when they’re done with use they’re coming for you.

This is just the beginning.  Eventually there will be nothing but sprawl from Leesburg to Winchester.

Yes let’s open the area for more one level office park warehouses.  Because we know loudoun is against class A office space.  Throw in some Harris teeters, cell phone retailers, and just about any thng that pays minimum wage.  Then build out the roads so they can commute to West Virginia where they can afford to live. 
So how much property do the Pearsons have in the TPA and how much do these developers and realtors have to gain.  That should be the issue.  Not that we need more movie theaters and amenities.  Total conflict of interests

“As Loudoun continues to face immense pressure to grow and meet future housing needs…”

I do not believe the Loudoun County voters are driving this pressure ..

To All -

The mission of the Loudoun Economic Development Commission is to “Promote the long term economic growth and development of Loudoun County in a way that is economically sustainable and results in the expansion of it commercial and industrial tax base.”  We are an advisory body made of professionals from the business community that volunteer our time to help Loudoun County. 

Furthermore, I am a representative of the Economic Development Advisory Commission on the Stakeholders Committee.  While I am employed at B. F. Saul this is a “Stakeholders Committee” and that does not conflict me anymore than the members of the PEC or Heritage Commission.  As a matter of fact I sat next to Mr. Van Huyck, a very good man, at the meeting and we discussed these issues and will continue to do so.  I believe it is the diversity of the stakeholders group that will ultimately lead us to sound, thoughtful, and appropriate recommendations for the Comp Plan. 

I would also like to point out that while the LTM was very quick to shorten my quote, excluding the fact that my comments were from a group report out and not my own.  Also, I stated emphatically that while ALL in our group did not think the status quo was an appropriate path we ALL offered very different views of how the TPA should be addressed.  LTM also chose to highlight I work for a developer in an effort to boost a story I guess.  It was conveniently overlooked in the reporting that my family has been in Loudoun since the 1700’s.  I am very well versed on the history of Loudoun and am very passionate about it.  I was born and raised in the TPA.  I lived there long before Willowsford, Red Cedar, or the many other Villages that exist were built.  I have witnessed some of the unintended consequences of the last Comp Plan:  unforseen traffic pattern changes, use conflicts, and infrastructure issues.  I would say that certainly merits honest review.

No decisions have been made and there are many fruitful discussion yet to be had.  However, please before you go to the comment section to of a newspaper to slander individuals that are gladly volunteering their personal time to benefit the County take a deep breath, get involved, and join us at the next meeting or public outreach meetings.  I hope to see you there.

More like “developers and the weak politicians they fund” eye doing away with transition area…

“Generally, the bulk of public comment was preserve the transition policy area. They were looking at the environmental features of the policy area. They were looking at the open space … historic and natural resources, the water, reservoirs those sorts of things. That was important to people.”

“The question is, is that implemented under the current land use pattern? Or, is there ways of implementing those objectives under different land use patterns?”

Or in other words, how can we appear to give the majority of the people what they want, without actually giving the majority of the people what they want?

Pretty soon, Loudoun BOS will pass or allow developers to build up, meaning 50 story apartment complexes and condos. I still wonder how/why Loudoun One was allowed to build those single family homes on what seems like a tenth of an acre? They should have just been town homes they’re so close and cost $600-800K. I thought it was for affordable housing? if they were town homes, the cost would have only been $250-400K.

How can Mr Todd Pearson fairly represent BF Saul Company and the Loudoun Economic Development Council?
Sounds a like tremendous conflict of interest.

Ah, the developer knives come out to devour even more of Loudoun.

“...workforce housing would be discussed at a later date.”

I always teach my kids when someone says you give me what I want now and I’ll give you something later, you run from that deal because they have no intention of following through.

As stated, once the Transition Zone is devoured, then the West is next.  They are boiling the frog slowly with development and the development blob moves westwards.

The Transition Zone ain’t broke and it don’t need no fixin!

The county doesn’t need workforce housing or any other kind of housing.  Right now, we gain 1,000 people a month who are moving into new housing and we can’t meet those infrastructure demands right now.  Traffic is backed up and kids get redistricted with alarming frequency.

Please email or call your supervisor and tell them “No new houses!”

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