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.

What’s next?

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.

(8) comments

WarehouseDistrict

I don't understand all this hoopla over the new "Urban Policy Area". If you look at the map of this area in the new comprehensive plan, practically all of that land is already approved for various developments. The exception being some of the commercial-only land around the (worthless) Loudoun Gateway station. So a handful of buildings might get an extra story or two, that's going to be the only real difference. I wonder how much time the BOS wasted on that? What we really needed was a ban on new data centers within a 2-3 miles radius of a metro station.

More Cowbell

Just more rubber stamping from BOS. Meanwhile, we have poor road conditions, but did see a new light go up and new road which is seldom used off Sycolin. I recall half a dozen 4 way stops at major intersections going without lights for many years because of VDOT. Many major accidents and no lights. Why isn't the light blinking during off hours? When will Sycolin RD be paved? Route 7?

BobOhneiserEsq

Apparently the current Chair of the BOS believes this is a "balanced plan". I didn't notice in the article any mention of how this plan "balances" the current well defined problems of TRAFFIC, TAXES TOO HIGH or even if waste removal and recycling targets can be met with thousands more homes or is the new developer plan to use western Loudoun open space to build more land fills. Fortunately the new BOS starting in January can control this plan with a new Chair to put the agenda back on track for residents not developers.

Donna Olive Kropotkin

Looking good Charles!

Concerned

If the BOS thinks their own buildings don't belong in the county historic district (e.g., the Aldie Firehouse fiasco), then get rid of local historic district regulations. Few homeowners actually seek appropriate permits under the rules and the county staff apply them in an arbitrary manner. The state has adequate programs in place for protecting historic properties via easements (along with financial incentives) and the local layer, while ignored by the BOS when convenient, can be seen as duplicative or overreaching. If the same rules are not going to apply to all, then are they really necessary? Reduce county expenses by trimming the government.

David Dickinson

It will never be over. Development interests will always be applying pressure for more and working to elect people that are friendly to their cause and taking their bribes (campaign contributions). There is nothing here a special exemption can't change---think the approval of the TrueNorth data center in the Transition Zone. This struggle will never end.

applicant45554

David, I agree with you in principle, but I'd have to respectfully disagree that the True North Data center was a product of such behavior. There is a legitimate concern among BOS that Loudoun is going to lose lucrative data center revenues if the supply of available data center land is limited to what's currently zoned (and the price stays as high as it is now as a result). We need the data center money so bad that I personally feel its worth the ugly views at least until the landscaping grows in a bit more.

David Dickinson

Data centers are a tremendous source of revenue and are very cash positive. Recently I read that without data centers, the tax rate would be .23 higher. It is a shame that the BoS simply spends all that additional revenue (primarily on a school district that doesn't need it). But, if what you say is true (and I don't doubt it), then what are the limits of data centers? How many are too many? Where can't a data center be located? It is the special exemption that bothers me about TrueNorth. That means the BoS will consider putting a data center anywhere. If they would keep them in the areas designated in the new Comp Plan, that would be great. I just don't trust them or any future Board to actually abide by the Comp Plan.

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