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Sterling Quarry Would Become Lake In Waterside Development

© Leesburg Today - 05/26/2015

The Loudoun Quarries made negative headlines last week because of a blasting incident, but a developer is banking on the property generating a lot of good news in the future.

No one was seriously injured, but four reports of rocks flying out of the quarry jolted Sterling on Thursday, prompting regulatory agencies and emergency crews to scrutinize the operation.

And as if word of large stones falling from the sky weren't weird enough, the event also made for a strange juxtaposition: It came less than 48 hours after a plan for the Waterside development was presented to the Loudoun County Planning Commission.

That proposal calls for filling Loudoun Quarries with water to create a 54-acre lake that would be the centerpiece of a 335-acre project east of Rt. 28 on the north and south sides of Old Ox Road.

Nearly 2,600 multifamily residential units would be built, 395 of which would be for those age 55 and over. There also would be retail businesses, offices, two hotels, one school site, one school/library parcel, and a tract for a fire-and-rescue station. All told, the nonresidential uses would take up 3.8 million square feet.

Plans for Waterside have been in the works since 2011, but the current rezoning application is largely the result of efforts from last fall.

For example, the current version of the project would generate 506 students for the public school system, 170 fewer than a previous incarnation, as townhouses were eliminated and the age-restricted homes added when the developer went back to the drawing board, Antonio J. Calabrese, an attorney for quarry owner Chantilly Crushed Stone, told the Planning Commission on May 19.

The developer pledges to make more than $40 million worth of road improvements, as well, including widening Old Ox from four to six lanes, and Calabrese said the project would generate more than $160 million in local taxes over 25 to 30 years.

Still, county planner Judi Birkitt told planning commissioners May 19 that her department can't officially endorse the application. It doesn't jibe with what Loudoun's government policies say should be on that land, and the county staff is not allowed to make a recommendation that conflicts with established policies.

That may not prove much of a hurdle, though. Responding to Birkitt, Commissioner Kevin Ruedisueli (At Large) said, ""It's time to move on.""

And Commissioner Jack Ryan (Broad Run), who represents the area where Waterside would be, said the project would be a ""very positive development.""

""I love this application,"" he said.

Ryan made a motion at the commission meeting to continue discussing the project at a work session June 2. The commission voted 8-0-1 in favor of the idea, with the panel's chairman, Jeff Salmon (Dulles), absent.

However, Commissioner Helena Syska, who represents the adjacent Sterling District, did voice one concern, saying that adding so much housing to the Rt. 28 area could strain infrastructure even though the developer pledges to build a lot of roadway.

Putting that housing density close to a proposed Metrorail Silver Line station is seen as a good idea, though.

""Let's take advantage of the Silver Line,"" Calabrese said.

And county Supervisor Shawn M. Williams (R-Broad Run) said Friday that he was warming to the project, at least partly because it would represent the first big investment in a special tax district created to help pay for the Silver Line construction and for the ongoing costs of providing Metrorail service.

Special tax districts are located in the areas surrounding the three planned Loudoun Metro stations. Owners of property in the districts are to pay an additional real estate tax of up to 20 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Williams said the first version of the Waterside plan was almost ""dead on arrival"" because of the large number of homes the developer wanted built.

But the revisions are getting closer to what the supervisor said he could endorse.

""I like where they are headed on Waterside,"" Williams said.

His support is key because he represents the area under consideration. Another important vote for the project could come from county Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large). He said last week that he probably would be able to support it when the application reaches the Board of Supervisors, which has the final say.

The supervisors are scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal June 10. So it's likely that the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the board June 2.

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