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Loudoun supervisors approve new town center zoning guidelines

After years of deliberations over guidelines for Loudoun’s town centers of the future, the Board of Supervisors approved new standards for future developments Tuesday night.

The planned development-town center (PD-TC) zoning ordinance amendment aims to create a mix of “commercial, cultural, institutional, civic, governmental and residential uses in compact, pedestrian oriented urban activity centers” that are consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Under the latest zoning ordinance amendment, Loudoun’s new town center districts will be no less than 30 acres and no more than 125 acres in size and located within a mile of the town center cores.

Single-family detached homes will also be permitted in the core of the town center, but must be designed to conform to a number of standards, including being a minimum of three stories in height and having entrances with a minimum of three feet above the grade of the sidewalk.

Other permitted uses in the new town center districts will include data centers; childcare homes; banquet and event facilities; churches; colleges and universities; libraries; police stations and other uses.

The latest zoning ordinance amendment was crafted by the county’s Board of Supervisors-appointed Zoning Ordinance Action Group (ZOAG) -- a group whose membership includes a majority of people that work for some of the largest land-use and development firms in the region.

Early on in the process, Al Van Huyck, the head of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition and a member of the county’s Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, warned the board to let the plan’s review process run its course before making any decision on the PD-TC district.

“The new Comprehensive Plan will be about making great places, housing to meet all needs, walkable communities, great schools, and multi-modal transportation system providing connectivity to everything,” Van Huyck said. “But the adopted Goals and Objectives, provide no limits or controls on future growth. When the plan is unconstrained and the zoning ordinance is loosely drawn, like the PD-TC, then the development process becomes largely opinion rather than analytical.”

Ahead of the vote, supervisors applauded the efforts of staff and ZOAG on the final PD-TC amendment.

“There’s been great community input. I’m very hopeful that with these changes, for example, we won’t have an application come forward with like 8,000 zoning modification requests … and I’m very hopeful that the changes that we’re making will also encourage innovative design features and that type of thing for these town center projects,” said Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), who heads the board’s Transportation and Land Use Committee.

Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) was the only supervisor that pushed back on some of the recommendations in the PD-TC zoning ordinance. He wondered how single-family detached homes were consistent with the inner core of the town center.

“The idea with the town center is to drive density, right -- vertically integrated density? So I still don’t understand why a single family-detached residential dwelling gets us to that goal?” Letourneau said.

Supervisor Letourneau was the lone opposing vote on the town center zoning ordinance.

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


Why would you ever want to put a data center at a town center?

To give the 10 people that work there more lunch options?

Isn’t this a bit too late? This should have been done 20 years ago. Of course nothing will really change in Loudoun. Developers do whatever they want and BOS allows it to happen.

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