Loudoun County supervisors on Feb. 17 voted to establish a Limestone Overlay District in the northeastern portion of the county, but vowed to continue talks on how to solve the water problems associated with the area.

The purpose of establishing the district – which includes 14,000 acres and about 1,200 property owners – is to protect residents from sinkholes and groundwater contamination caused by limestone, according to county leaders.

The land is an area that's made up of porous limestone that can cause sinkholes, underground streams and caverns, according to county documents.

Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) voted against establishing the district.

Delgaudio unsuccessfully attempted to get the board to postpone the vote until an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study could be completed that would provide information on the water system in the Raspberry Falls subdivision.

Residents of Raspberry Falls, a community located north of Leesburg in the Route 15 cooridor, have called on the county to replace their communal well system. The system, residents said, is failing because of limestone deterioration.

The regulations supervisors approved in establishing the Limestone Overlay District do not include plans to bring a central water line to homes within the Raspberry Falls community, or the district as a whole.

Waters said she was confident the board would have to deal with the issue again.

“At some point the board is going to deal with water and sewer in this area. More problems are going to occur in Raspberry Falls," she said.

The regulations the board approved also include restrictions on homeowners from constructing new structures -- such as swimming pools, spare rooms or barns -- without first paying for a geological survey to prove the stability on their land.

In addition, developers looking to build subdivisions within the Limestone Overlay District would be required to undergo more detailed evaluation before they could receive approval to build.

The regulations would not apply to wells and sewage disposal systems approved for use before the board's final vote.

Supervisors who voted against Delgaudio's request to postpone Wednesday's vote said the issue of water accessibility and contamination was separate from what the board was trying to accomplish at the present time.

“I do believe that we do have a serious public health issue and the establishment of the LOD is a good first step in dealing with the issues out there,” said Vice Chair Susan Kilmek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run). “However, this does not solve the problem of water quality in Raspberry Falls. This merely reduces the risk of contamination of water. It should a top priority of this board to find a solution to the problem of water quality in Raspberry Falls.”

For updates on this story, visit LoudounTimes.com or see the Feb. 24 print edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

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