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Loudoun supervisors close contentious zoning ‘loophole’ in Old Ashburn area

Signs along Ashburn Road ask the county to “save old Ashburn.” Times-Mirror/Sydney Kashiwagi
After multiple public hearings and business meetings, the Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to put a cap on the number of residential units in the rural commercial zoning district and grandfather some applications in under current zoning policies.

The vote was unanimous, though Supervisors Koran Saines (D-Sterling) and Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) were absent for the vote.

The amendment to the zoning rule to cap residential development at four units per acre in the rural commercial zoning district was prompted after it was discovered last year that there was essentially no limit on residential density in those districts.

The zoning amendment caused a sharp divide in Old Ashburn, with property owners and would-be developers arguing their residential developments would have brought much-needed economic life back to Old Ashburn.

On Wednesday the board agreed to grandfather all applications that had been either approved or conditionally approved -- 34 total -- on or before tonight's public hearing. The 131 other units still pending county approval would not make the cut, they said.

“This has been through three Planning Commission public hearings. It’s been through two Board of Supervisors public hearings, two Board of Supervisors business meetings -- the public has had many opportunities to state their position on this. Frankly, I think some of them are getting tired of coming here,” Ashburn Supervisor Ralph Buona (R) said.

Buona said he hoped the county could work with the community through the Envision Loudoun comprehensive plan process to fix some of the issues regarding traffic and the revival of Old Ashburn.

“We are simply trying to follow the intent of the original [rural commercial] district and what should have been clear from the beginning,” Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said.

Dr. Thomas Jones’ Stubble Road property that proposed 28 new townhomes and affordable housing was one of the applications that didn’t make the cut.

“What has been decided tonight isn’t going to solve the problems of Old Ashburn,” Jones told the Times-Mirror after the vote. “I think the problems of traffic are not the result of people living in the old town or businesses in the old town. The problem of traffic exists because of surrounding development and commuters.”

Jones planned on consolidating his veterinary clinic business onto one property as a way to help save his business from declining.

After the board’s vote Jones said he doesn't yet know what he will do next, but hopes the process has helped the Old Ashburn community begin thinking about how to solve many of the infrastructure problems facing the area.

“The one positive thing that has come from all of this [is] it’s gotten members of the community involved. They seem to be investing in saving our town, and I’ve tried multiple times to get interest in past years but haven’t been able to. Maybe this will be a spark that gets the community thinking,” he said.

Related coverage:

-"Old Ashburn confronts new realities"


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