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It’s back: Supervisors vote to reconsider One Loudoun rezoning application

Rendering of One Loudoun’s downtown
Loudoun supervisors voted Tuesday night to reconsider a major rezoning application at One Loudoun. The vote came about two weeks after supervisors voted to deny the rezoning.

The application, which last month included building 300 residential units in exchange for a park and ride, will be reconsidered and likely discussed by supervisors at their March 23 business meeting.

The motion to reconsider followed a hostile 5-4 vote to deny the application on Feb. 23. Supervisors at the time voiced concerns about the lack of surrounding infrastructure to support the development, as well as staying true to deals made with applicants when applications are finalized.

The effort to reconsider the application was spearheaded by Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) and Supervisors Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles).

Buona said he and Letourneau had multiple meetings and phone calls with One Loudoun officials in a bid to try to reach a solution to address their previous concerns.

After “several iterations,” Buona said, they had reached “an acceptable conclusion and solution” on the application, which included changes to the applicant’s proffers.

“With new information, you might think differently,” Buona said.

The vice chair's change of heart on the application came after his colleague, Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run), warned supervisors last month that he and his constituents would hold any board member who voted against the One Loudoun rezoning "accountable."

“Anyone who votes against this and -- I know who you are -- who supported 4,400 townhomes, I will hold you accountable, my constituents will hold you accountable anytime you run for anything else down the road,” Meyer said. “I will tell you that, and I will ensure it.”

Buona told Meyer he did not appreciate threats.

"Be careful...be careful," Buona said.

When asked Tuesday about specifics of the new proffers and number of residential units the applicant was currently asking for, Buona declined to say, adding that the details have not yet been finalized.

The latest decision to reconsider the application comes after months of deliberation and negotiations centered on the number of residential units -- a number that dropped by more than half since January.

Other supervisors said they had agreed to reconsider the application because there had been a breakdown in communication among board members.

“I think we certainly did not have a clear communication on exactly what the project was, what the applicant wanted to do, what their vision was and then what the board’s vision is,” Letourneau said.

Letourneau said his discussion with Buona and the applicant since last month’s vote gave them time to establish a “framework” they could move forward with that would be beneficial both for the applicant and county.

“I think that the confusion on this issue did not come from the applicant. I think the confusion on this issue came from my colleagues on this dais,” Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said. “I think there was a lot of statements made and a lot of deals brokered that didn't happen along with behind the scenes talks. It just got very very convoluted fairly quickly.”

Last year, the developer asked to build 725 more residential units in exchange to proffer a massive sportsplex facility, something county officials said would bring new revenue to the county.

Last month’s version of the application included developer Miller & Smith agreeing to lower the number of residential units down to 300 and proffer out a $3.29 million park and ride lot and a $3.2 million capital facilities contribution. Miller & Smith had also agreed to provide affordable housing units.

County staff have continuously expressed concern about the developer’s request for a reduction of the building setback to Route 7 from 300 feet to 235 feet.

Staff also estimated that the office space originally proposed by One Loudoun developers has been reduced by about 1 million square feet over the years.

Tuesday night’s motion to reconsider passed 5-2-2 with Randall and Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) opposed and Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) absent for the vote.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the vote to reconsider the application was 6-1-2 with Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) opposed and Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) absent for the vote. However, the 6-1-2 vote was a second vote during the discussion to send the application to the March 23 business meeting.

Comments


This entire situation stinks to high heaven.

I guess One Loudoun increased their bribes?  What else could explain this type of behavior by the BOS?


It is interesting that only Supervisor Umstattd is consistently voting against more residential growth, which is exactly what the majority of Loudoun County residents want to see done.  And correction or not, it is interesting that Chair Randall voted to allow this reconsideration to be scheduled - hardly the vote one would expect from someone who is opposed to this reconsideration.


This is absolutely heart breaking…just a couple of weeks ago I felt there was a glimmer of hope that Loudoun Inc. might actually be responsive to the needs and will of the community.  Now, samey samey…the right palms got greased, the right deals got cut, and now we’re going to have townhouses plastered along Route 7.

You know what disappoints me most of all?  You, Ralph.  You personally.  You’re my BoS rep and I was proud of that—I’m not now.  You went from someone trying to do the right thing to someone trying to cut the right deal.  Maybe I’m naïve, but I thought there was a chance we could get some government in Loudoun that really attempted to represent the interests of the people and not solely the developers.  I was wrong.

What was it, Ralph?  A threatened lawsuit?  Hounds season tickets?  It doesn’t matter—you let us all down.  You’ve lost my vote forever.


For a moment, there was a glimmer of hope.

Same old, same old.


The more things Change the more they stay the same.
It does not seem to matter who we vote in to the BOS or what they say when they run. There is always going to be DEALS to be done.
IF it is back up for discussion, where is the PUBLIC INPUT SESSION? OH YEA, they did that already, and besides now that they have DONE THEIR HOME WORK and cleared up the miscommunications amoung the BOS, they already know how they are going to vote this time, so PUBLIC INPUT IS NOT REALLY NEEDED.


TheMovingFinger, speak for yourself. As far as I’m concerned the quality of life in Loudoun keeps getting better. It is certainly better than it was when I moved here 16 years ago. The selection of restaurants and activities held at One Loudoun have contributed to the increase in the quality of life in Eastern Loudoun.


Note to LTM - referencing the County project numbers really helps the readers look into these things further, do their research, and understand the topic better. Using loudoun.gov/lola, we can look up the application, get to the files, find them in the BOS agendas and minutes, etc.  FTR, this whole One Loudoun thing is:  ZMAP-2015-0007, ZCPA 2015-0013, SPMI 2015-0008, ZMOD 2015-0011.  Looking at the staff presentation powerpoint from February 23rd, staff supported 4 aspects of the proposal (the +300 units, rezoning from Office Park to R-16 and Industrial Park, modification to the R-16 standards, and the contributions of $$ and P&R lot); staff rejected 3 things (self-storage design, changes to the ZCPA [?], and the reduction in the Rt. 7 setback of development).

I agree, all this oh-so-public-now behind the scenes wheeling and dealing is a blatant lack of transparency which Buona, Letournau, and Meyer seem to have no qualms about. Whatever public faith was gained by the 5 who voted against this is gone w/ the revelations of these private negotiations. I don’t think, or choose not to believe, that such actions are what the public voted these folks into office to do. The public needs open discussion and discourse, they need to have all the information available to them, and the opportunity to share their views with their elected representatives before they pre-determine their votes. Mockery is what this exemplifies.


This is how Loudoun operates…and why our quality of life just gets worse and worse. 

As you’re stuck in traffic and watch your school districts change each year,  you’ll have time to think about how much you value the work your Eastern Loudoun supervisors are doing….


We will hold anyone who votes for this rezoning accountable next election cycle—no more townhouses for 1 Loudoun, build the promised class a office space…Meyer and Buona need to go, maybe Saines will vote against it now - that would be smart….


Are you kidding me?

Voted down and the process was over. Back to the BoS with no review by planning, public input session, etc.

Two supervisors meeting privately to broker a new deal? And then a majority votes to reconsider.

Something is definitely askew here….

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