The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted the county's 2019 Comprehensive Plan Thursday night, setting the stage for future development, roadway improvements and efforts to preserve land in the west.
At Thursday's business meeting, a handful of speakers asked the board to reconsider some actions, including moving a piece of rural land, known as Land Bay Q1, into the Transition Policy Area and making Loudoun Water the primary utility provider of water and sewer in the joint land management area over the Town of Leesburg.
But the board moved forward in adopting the plan after three years of work and dozens of hearings and meetings.
Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said the local population was less than 172,000 residents when the last plan was adopted around the turn of the century. Loudoun now has over 402,000 people residing in the county.
“I am so proud of the work we have done as a board. I think this is a good plan, I think this is a balanced plan, and it has been my great honor to work through this plan with you all,” Randall said.
The plan, which includes the General Plan and Countywide Transportation Plan, will serve as a road map for land development, capital improvements, public programs and the local transportation network.
Some of the changes include a new planning area concept called the Urban Policy Area located near the upcoming Silver Line Metrorail stations and the board moving nearly one square mile of land from the Rural Policy Area into the Transition Policy Area. Land Bay Q1, which was proposed to be moved into the TPA, stayed in the RPA.
Additionally, the plan provides guidance on housing choices and diversity; natural, environmental and heritage resources; and economic development and transportation.
Supervisors thanked the stakeholders committee, Planning Commission, school division, local towns and county staff before voting to accept the resolution.
"Nobody got everything, and I knew that would happen [because] there were very competing interests,” Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said. “On one end of the spectrum, I think we had interests that probably didn’t want to see a human being in Loudoun County, and on the other end of the spectrum I think they wanted a paradise of parking lots, so I think there were competing interests, [but] I think we created a very good balance.”
The board also recognized Deputy County Administrator Charles Yudd and Planning and Zoning Director Alaina Ray for their service on the plan.
One of the most controversial changes was making Loudoun Water the primary utility provider of water and sewer over the town in the Joint Land Management Area, or JLMA. The action will impact businesses and residents in the Leesburg JLMA. Additionally, land that is brought into the Leesburg JLMA that can be served by the presumed utility service shall remain in the county and not be annexed into the Town of Leesburg.
“If the county adopts the June 5 proposal," Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk said, "it’s a statement to all the towns that no town can rely on any policy or statement that the county makes, no matter how formally stated."
Leesburg Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D), the only supervisor to vote against the plan, stood by her earlier remarks, telling the Times-Mirror that this plan is worse than the 2001 version. Specifically, she is concerned with the projected density in the Transition Policy Area and with the JLMA utility provider language. She also feels the plan does not do enough to provide workforce housing around the future Metrorail stations.
“There are many things I don’t like about this plan,” Umstattd (D) said. “We really didn’t talk to as many folks as we should have. We never looked at it holistically to find out how the different parts were, so I’ll be voting no.”
As for the hotly debated Transition Policy Area and how many homes will be permitted under the new plan, county staff did not have a definitive answer as of Thursday. The final figure is expected to be around the county staff's recommendation of 6,800 units.
In order to implement the plan, the county must take several steps, according to county staff, including the following:
-A comprehensive review and overhaul of the Loudoun County Zoning Ordinance, which is a regulatory document and establishes the rules governing the use of land.
-Development of an Unmet Housing Needs Strategic Plan that will identify the strategies, actions and programs that can best address the county’s current and projected unmet housing needs, including guidance on down-payment assistance programs, utilization of housing trust funds, and home purchase programs.
-Establishment of regular updates by county staff to the board on various elements of the 2019 Comprehensive Plan, which will allow the board to direct a comprehensive review of the plan at least every five years to ensure that the plan is kept current, according to county staff.
-Other implementation actions include updating the Land Subdivision and Development Ordinance and the Facilities Standards Manual so that development regulations and design standards are consistent with the policies and strategies of the Comprehensive Plan.
More information about the plan can be found at loudoun.gov/2019ComprehensivePlan.