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More Than 70 Show Up To Talk Silver Line Development

© Leesburg Today - 08/27/2015

If there was any question about whether Loudouners care about what the extension of Metrorail could mean to the county, the answer was clear Wednesday night.

More than 70 people showed up at Moorefield Station Elementary School in Ashburn to talk about development around the planned rail stations at Rt. 606 and Rt. 772.

Yes, other people may have been lounging while on August vacations, but these folk committed two hours to talking about zoning. They participated in a second public workshop geared toward helping Loudoun's leaders decide how land should be used near the Silver Line stations.

The meeting was held by county government staff and consultants, and, as at a similar gathering in May, the crowd was dotted with developers and Board of Supervisors candidates. Many of those present Wednesday, in fact, attended the first workshop.

The participants were divided into groups and asked to use interactive technology to model how the Silver Line areas could look in the future. They answered questions such as: Should there be homes and businesses in certain areas? and How tall should buildings be?

They also heard about feedback collected at the May meeting, when participants said the area should have walkable, mixed-use centers; multi-modal roads with room for cyclists; mid- and high-rise apartment/condo buildings; and outdoor spaces for neighborhood concerts and gatherings.

Current county plans call for most of the property there to be developed as ""keynote employment"" uses: office campuses with some retail uses, but no housing. That concept hasn't found a strong market since it was developed in the 1990s, though, and other parts of Loudoun planned for that kind of development have been converted to mixed-use centers with businesses and homes.

A mix of uses is what Al Nevarez said should go around the Ashburn Station at Rt. 772, including affordable housing. He's particularly interested in the Silver Line study area because most of the land in it lies within the Board of Supervisors' Broad Run District and he's the Democratic nominee for the seat representing that district.

Around the Rt. 606 station, to be called Loudoun Gateway, Nevarez would like to see campuses of technology businesses. Property there isn't as conducive to residential development because flights coming to Dulles Airport go right overhead, making lots of noise.

One thing Nevarez said he doesn't want to see in the study area is single-family homes, calling it just not the ""place for that.""

But his opponent, Republican Ron Meyer, said single-family homes at least generate a fair amount of tax revenue.

What he said he doesn't want in the study area is a bunch of townhouses: They don't have the value of single-family homes.

""I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure those are not there,"" he said.

Consultant Matt Noonkester said that team members working on the Silver Line project will take what they heard Wednesday, add it to their previous work and brief supervisors Sept. 16. Then they're scheduled to give a final report to the county board in November.

If supervisors agree to move ahead with the project group's recommendations, another round of public review and public hearings will follow, starting with Loudoun's Planning Commission.

For more information on these efforts, see silverlinescenarioplanning.com.

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