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Loudoun supervisors debate ‘transition’ language in Comprehensive Plan vision statement

As Loudoun heads into Phase III of its Comprehensive Plan process, the Board of Supervisors considered a draft high-level vision statement and goals for the new plan during its business meeting Tuesday.

But a discussion that many thought was going to be quick and easy turned into a 30-minute-long debate around the wording of the draft texts and the scrapping of area-specific language in the vision statement.

“As far as saying something’s a transition setting, I’m not sure what that means in the English language,” Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said. “And so it might mean something to people who understand Loudoun history but for those people, like anybody in Ashburn, that hasn’t heard about our policy areas and read this would say, ‘What is the transition setting, does that have to do with someone’s gender identity?'”

Over the course of the Comprehensive Plan process, citizens and stakeholders helping to craft the new plan have expressed concern the transition area, which serves as a buffer between the rural west and suburban east will be eliminated under the new plan.

Others have said the draft vision statement and goals are too vague for a key policy document that will be used to carry the county through consequential land-use decisions.

Ahead of the debate on the vision statement and goals, several citizens came before the Board of Supervisors and urged them to protect the transition area.

Several supervisors thought the area-specific language would confuse residents.

“If you’re anybody from any other jurisdiction, any other place in north America, if you’re going to go to our county website -- think about this five or 10 years down the road -- and see the word transition, you’re going to start thinking, gee, transitional housing? Housing for people that have, you know, Alzheimer's ... they’re not going to know what the hell that means, plain and simple,” Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) said.

County officials have argued the vision statement, goals and objectives stakeholders have decided on are only “high-level” overarching ideas about the plan and that the details critics say are lacking in those statements will go in the actual plan as they progress.

Other supervisors said the “transition” wording needed to be included in the vision statement to ease concern from residents about the area being eliminated under the new plan.

“Given what the folks in the rural areas have said to us about their concern about making sure the rural areas are protected, given what we’ve heard now from the folks who are concerned about the transition policy area, I’m not comfortable with eliminating those terms,” Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) said.

Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said he considered earlier in the discussion removing the wording, but after hearing some of the sentiment expressed by supervisors, he changed his mind.

“For a little bit I was thinking ... maybe it’s fine if we just remove it all,” Buffington said. “But because of all of conversations that we’ve had up here and the stark contrast between those who are strongly supporting the transition policy area and those who have said it doesn’t work, it’s a failure ... now I think it’s that much more important that we include it in here.”

Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) suggested the board advance a vision statement without the area-specific wording, which supervisors approved 6-2-1, with Buffington and Umstattd opposed and Catoctin Supervisor Geary Higgins (R) absent for the vote.

The new vision statement draft reads: “Loudoun County continues to flourish as a prosperous and inclusive community with a well deserved reputation for great places, natural and built as well as historic and new in a variety of settings. The county will foster economic innovation, fiscal strength and sustainability."

The Board of Supervisors agreed to send the vision statement and goals to its May 18 business meeting and have staff continue to work on crafting the language.


I don’t remember Ron Meyer being elected to represent resident of Ashburn. Someone better tell Vice Chair Ralph he’s been replaced.

Clean it up LTM….

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