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Supervisors push back against recommendation for more housing in transition policy area

The areas of upper Foley and upper Broad Run where Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders say more than 18,000 homes could go.
The Loudoun Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders’ Committee and county planning staff’s recommendation to add anywhere between 12,000-18,000 more residential units in Loudoun’s transition policy area (TPA) received immense pushback from the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

For the last several weeks the county’s stakeholders committee -- which for the past year has been working on crafting Loudoun’s new Comprehensive Plan -- has grappled with how to meet the demands of growth in the county.

So far, a majority of the stakeholders group have expressed an interest in doing away with the current version of the area that serves as a buffer between Loudoun’s rural west and suburban east -- an area that for years residents, preservation groups and supervisors have urged the county to protect from further development.

The areas and densities currently being eyed in the new plan include 12,076 residential units in the lower Foley area east of Northstar Boulevard and along the Braddock Road corridor under staff’s recommended scenario, and 18,323 units concentrated in several different areas including upper Foley and upper Broad Run under stakeholders' recommended scenario.

“I think the conversation that is happening in the stakeholders committee is on a completely different planet than what it was at the Envision Loudoun meetings and what we hear from the public virtually every day,” Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said.

Supervisors questioned the committee and staff’s logic for adding additional housing in the area and urged them to step back from their recommendations before returning to the board for a final approval.

Letourneau cautioned that in order to even consider additional residential in the area, supervisors would need to work with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to amend its Comprehensive Plan because most of the gridlock occurring in the Loudoun area starts in Fairfax.

Other supervisors questioned why the committee had not spent more time considering how the roadways would be impacted by the additional housing.

“I think the fundamental challenge we have is that we are not taking into consideration the impact on traffic, which if we were to go with the staff's recommendation of additional 12,000 units or even more so, the stakeholders' initial recommendation being 18,000 units, we don't have the roads or the bus system to accommodate that kind of growth,” Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) said.

As the country grapples with a lack of affordable and workforce housing options -- coupled by a recent housing needs assessment report, which identified an 18,000 housing shortage gap by 2040 – many stakeholders have argued that opening the transition area was necessary to meet the growing housing needs of the county.

But supervisors appeared to strongly disagree with that argument.

“I know you guys have been working hard, and I appreciate the process and I appreciate all the work you've done, but I'm not real excited about any of these recommendations here tonight, because we're going in exactly the wrong direction from what people in this county told us,” Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) said. “And what worried me a little bit is that we're going to justify it in the name of affordable housing.”

The committee's recommendations also projected additional industrial development south of the Greenway in lower Sycolin. Additionally, the committee's feedback would result in 36.72 million more square feet of industrial space in the TPA area.

Both proposals recommended retaining 50 to 70 percent of open space in development projects.

Thus far, few stakeholders aside from representatives from local preservation groups have expressed concern over the increased densities in the TPA.

The stakeholder committee will meet again Oct. 16 to discuss a new draft map for the TPA and suburban policy area.

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


Epic fail.

The Loudoun Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders’ Committee should be disbanded.

If they were this far off the mark now, I can’t wait to read the Envision Loudoun developer sales brochure.

Loudoun doesn’t need any additional housing.  Housing is causing our problems, not solving them.  Loudoun is growing at a current rate of 1,000 residents per MONTH.  And these people can say with a straight face that we need more people?

You’re fired!

I guess the elected officials enjoy the perks ($, prestige, power) so much that they easily accept developer money. It gets even worse in the scenario of land use lawyers.  Randy Minchew=Developer, representing AT&T and Harris Teeter and others.  And the foolish BOS “listen” to the lawyers working for the developers.

If not mistaken, the stakeholders were appointed by each BOS member.

Supervisors need campaign money to get elected.  Developers provide that money, thus picking who gets elected.  Indebted Supervisors must than yield to developers wishes.  Such is politics - money talks.

All of this has to be viewed through the prism of the recent State law restricting the municipalities from extracting proffers through the re(up)zoning process for residential.  IF the BOS ultimately beefs up their affordable housing policy requirements for development, the state law restricts those proffers from being accepted (or demanded) basically (in simple terms).  So if the overall density policy of (some or all of) the TA gets changed to 4 du/ac, then that policy lays the groundwork for a rezoning to anything less than 4 du/ac, and if denied by the BOS (let’s say because they can’t guarantee the project will meet the ADU goals), there is substantial ground for a lawsuit.

So, while I hate to give creedence to the no-growth-ers, because it’s not reality, until the means to make rezonings pay for and provide more is figured out, policy changes that favor/facilitate more intense development will bring the gloom and doom.

I am so glad to see our Supervisors correct the course of the planners and committee working on this project. The actions of the “stakeholder” committee are specious at best, fraudulent at worst. The make up of the committee is primarily developers, real estate professionals, and other business men and women who stand to benefit from bringing more commerce more residential development to Loudoun County. To even discuss the further erosion of the Transition Policy Area is in direct opposition to the expressed will of the residents.

The purpose of the TPA, as stated in the current Comprehensive Plan, is as a buffer between the eastern more developed and commercial part of he County, and the rural Western Loudoun County. The fact that any development has been allowed in the TPA does not justify more in the future. Two wrongs don’t make it right.

Projected housing requirements are a self-perpetuating conclusion: yes if more commerce and housing come to western Loudoun and the TPA, more people will move to those places. But the goal, as made abundantly clear during the Envision Loudoun public input sessions, should be to do what the current residents want: keep the TPA as it is and stop development in Western Loudoun.

Development, both economic and residential, is not a fait accompli as the planners and stakeholders want you to believe! This is an outright misrepresentation! Now is the time to influence the plans to NOT further develop our beautiful County; to preserve its historic, rural culture; to facilitate agricultural tourism businesses and equine businesses and farming businesses that belong, and currently thrive, in the county. Now is NOT the time to trust the planners and stakeholders to do what is right for the residents of this County; they only have their own interests in mind. Tell your Supervisor that you support their efforts to stop the development.

Why can’t LoCo do what western towns do? They don’t cater to the developers who want to cram houses on every open acre. They don’t feel any responsibility to provide housing…just because the developers want to build. I lived in California for a number of years, and the way my county restricted growth was to just not approve water hookups. They did this until the roads and schools were in place to handle growth and then they planned for it. This place does it backwards….they approve all these houses and then try and catch up…that is stupid, but seems to be the Virginia Way. No jurisdiction should be on the hook just because people want to move here. Where did this come from?? Not everyone should be able to live where they want…or else everyone would want to live in Beverly Hills, or Palm Beach. Finally the BOS seems to have some guts and grit. Stakeholders? Show us their names!

Here’s a link to the committee list.  Feel free to email these individuals and let them know you’re not happy with their recommendation

The only real stakeholders are the citizens of Loudoun County who vote.

At least the Supervisors pushed back - for now anyway.  Letourneau is right (and generally a great Supervisor IMHO), and he put it as nicely as he could.  But the subtext is that these ‘stakeholders’ are not representing the wishes of the governed.  So who’s wishes are they representing??

Short of getting real representation on this committee, we do have elected Supervisors from the districts.  They should be mindful that a backlash is growing among the citizenry.  No amount of developer cash donations will save you if you buckle, because someone will run against you and paint you as the cause for every voter’s soul grinding commute. Soon, and perhaps already, that will be the only winning tactic needed.

The build up and out of Loudoun County has been staggering.  We’ve all seen the traffic get gridlocked, then get fixed, which only led to more high-density housing and a return to the old traffic gridlock problems.  Something’s got to give. 

Do not increase density based on an affordable house projections in the out-years funded by the developers looking to build affordable housing.

You should be advocating what’s best for the current residents who voted for you.  We are struggling to build roads to handle the traffic from the 2000’s

And affordable housing = ‘workforce housing” is a false argument for the current residents of Loudoun.  Why is it Loudoun’s responsibility to create affordable housing for workers to commute into Fairfax and DC? 

Leave the number along, or change to the 3+ per acre level.

Mission creep western Loudoun, lookout. They are running out of space in eastern Loudoun so much so that they want to tear one of the oldest neighborhoods apart to add a bridge that adds to population density.

Loudoun County has increased crime with increased population. Children don’t have seats in the bus. Parents have to leave work early to pick up their child from schools. Traffic is horrible. Every day accidents on the roads. Wild life is dying and fleeing away. I think we should al get together and fire these people and not re elect certain people that are responsible for letting builders put up new condos and town homes for the sake of money. There are many counties in VA that can grow. Loudoun is not the only one. I am definitely not voting for the people not caring about current residents, wild life, and the environment. Enough of this greed and putting concrete every corner they find. LC is beautiful because of its nature and wild life. What good would it come from cutting down all these trees besides money? Leave space for wild life and keep LC beautiful. We don’t need more condos and town homes. We need a peaceful environment and less traffic.

I’d be curious what this group thinks affordable housing should cost? Didn’t Loudoun One make that claim so they could build more? They built condos/Townhomes/some single family homes selling for $600K - $1 million. I guess those weren’t affordable? We need another 18000.

I think all committee stakeholders should be forced to have a financial disclosure of all of their ties to the developers.  I would assume all voting for this change have significant financial benefits if it goes through

Let’s just have a pause for 2-3 years before new development is approved.  We need to let the school building and the road building catch up.  Routes 15 and 9 especially need to be improved to allow more traffic.  Bypasses are needed and more lights need to be eliminated county-wide.  We are back to having multiple schools with trailers again. 

Let’s just slow it down and let things stabilize… please!

+1 what FredSandford said

I’m glad the supervisors brought up the point that the idea of affordable housing is being used to force this through.  The flawed stat that loudoun will be short 20k houses by 2040 is behind this push.  So these stake holders want to build 18k houses crammed into a space that only comprises 1% of the total land of loudoun.  The cost of land is what drives housing prices and apparently Higgins was the only one to bring that up.  If these stake holders were so bent on the affordable housing they would be pushing for it throughout the county.  Not the outreaches that have zero infrastructure to accommodate these developments.  There was no mention to the lack of roads to handle the 18k new houses( evergreen mills).  Or the schools or buses, but they sprinkle in some remodeling of strip malls in eastern loudoun to try and get those district supervisors to bite.  Press your supervisors to vote no to all changes to the TPA.  And stick with the status quo. 

Watch the last board meeting on the county website.  See for yourself.

Committee of foxes recommend removing doors from hen house…

The only housing that should be allowed in the “transition area” are homes which are not in neighborhoods and have a minimum of 3/acre lots per house. 

Rules like that will keep developers from being able to realize mass home construction in the transition area as being profitable. Instead what you’ll have are more upscale homes scattered around creating a true buffer zone between the more urban east and rural west.

“few stakeholders aside from representatives from local preservation groups have expressed concern over the increased densities in the TPA.”

Nine of those stakeholders were appointed to directly represent the citizens of Loudoun. Perhaps the Supervisors need to have a chat with these ‘representatives’.

The stakeholders are mostly folks with a direct link to builders and developers. 

These people stand to gain much from developing the transition area.

Also look st our ZOAG - advisory group to the BOS manynof the very SAME folks.  They sit in both boards - neither of them serve the residents of this county.

Good position Supervisors - stand your ground and represent the people who voted for you - NOT these special interest groups.

List to the PEOPLE they live here - we are not passing tourists or people who live elsewhere passing through.

Serve the PEOPLE take care of them!

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