Loudoun Planning Commission recommends supervisors approve rural commercial zoning amendment
The county decided to consider amending its zoning rules to cap residential development at four units per acre in rural commercial zoning districts after it was discovered last year that there was essentially no limit on residential density in those districts.
But the potential zoning changes has created a sharp divide among local residents, particularly in Old Ashburn, where seven applications have been filed with the county that propose a total of 165 new residential units.
Of those applications, 34 new residential units have been conditionally approved, while 131 units are still pending county approval.
Many Old Ashburn residents fear additional residential development will create safety and traffic issues in an area with aging infrastructure and narrow roads.
On the other side, several would-be developers have argued their residential developments will bring much-needed economic life to Old Ashburn.
Developers have also voiced concern over the county’s sudden change in its zoning rules, fearing that if the board adopts the zoning amendment and does not grandfather their applications in on current rules, they could see thousands of dollars in investments lost and a chance of economic viability on their properties gone.
“I think the point here is we all want development, and we all would love to see what’s left of Old Ashburn be re-developed,” Timothy Stone, president of the Ashburn Station Homeowner’s Association, told the planning commission. “Those historic buildings could be beautiful but they’ve sat non-operational, non-functional for at least 10 years. It’s sad.”
Stone argued that putting more residential development in such a small area would not help with re-developing Old Ashburn.
Property owner David Fogle said he thought the proposed zoning changes were “purely political.” He argued the county was not closing a “loophole” as some have characterized the zoning amendment, but making changes to settled zoning policy.
“There is no loophole, the 1993 revised zoning ordinance is the law of the county. The people who characterize this matter as a ‘loophole’ are misrepresenting the truth,” Fogle said. “The motivations are either political or otherwise misinformed by those seeking re-election.”
So far, the Board of Supervisors has not shown much of an interest in allowing more residential in Old Ashburn.
A decision on the zoning amendment has been held up by at least a month because county staff sent out notifications to nearby property owners just two days before a March 15 Board of Supervisors public hearing. The oversight caused the county to hold additional public hearings on the proposed zoning change.
Supervisors plan to hold a public hearing on the zoning ordinance amendment tomorrow. The board could suspend its rules of order and vote Wednesday night.
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