It's home-stretch time for the blueprint for Loudoun County's future, and advocates of rural charm are rightly sounding the alarm.
The Loudoun 2040 Comprehensive plan will serve as the county government's guide for land use and transportation policy for the next two decades. The plan will examine existing and new policy areas, calling for new urban policy areas around the future Metrorail stations in Ashburn.
The current draft that allows for tens of thousands of new homes profoundly threatens the qualities that make Loudoun unique – our east-west, suburban-rural dynamism.
“I think the biggest thing is not so much about the town,” Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton said during a Loudoun Chamber policymakers event this week. “It is about everything around the town. What do you want our vision to be? We want the right vision to ensure how Middleburg is impacted by the greater community in the next 50 to 100 years. Land use and the [Transition Policy Area] cause great concern. We are at a precipice right now as to what it will look like for the next five generations, and it is a big concern to me.”
You can substitute any Loudoun town, village or simply the “rural way of life” for “Middleburg” in Littleton's quote, because that is what's at stake here.
Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance said he too is concerned about the “intrusion” into the Transition Policy Area.
“We want to preserve a historic treasure. We are 100 percent built-out and have been for about 150 years,” Vance said, speaking about his quaint town from another era.
We share Vance and Littleton's concerns.
While the transition zone creep is alarming by itself, even more worrisome is what's likely to come next; start with increased development in the transition buffer area, and mile-by-mile western Loudoun's picturesque countrysides will come under assault.
Equally unnerving is the apparent disregard for community feedback. After an initial stakeholders group stockpiled with builders and developers and a Planning Commission that has either ignored or discounted citizens' wishes, we urge Loudoun County's supervisors – the ultimate decision-makers on the new plan – to carefully review and revise the document that arrived on their desks this week.
During the public input period for the comprehensive plan 18 months ago, 80 percent of the 13,000 respondents stated they wanted no additional growth in the TPA, according to Littleton. Those percentages aren't even close. The desire for duality is blatant. Loudouners don't want to live in Anywhere, U.S.A.
The county has announced a slate of upcoming dates leading up the plan's tentative adoption date of July 2. Beginning April 3, the Board of Supervisors will hold a series of work sessions to review the document. The complete list of work session dates and times is posted on the Loudoun County government master calendar.
Most importantly, there will be public comment sessions – a chance to directly engage with your local representative body – on April 24 and April 27.
We'll be in attendance, pen and pad in hand. We hope to see you there.
Key comprehensive plan dates:
-April, May, June: Beginning April 3, the Board of Supervisors will hold a series of work sessions to review the plan. The complete list of work session dates and times will be posted via Loudoun.gov.
-April 24 and April 27: Supervisors will hear public comment on the Loudoun 2040 Comprehensive Plan during hearings at 6 p.m. April 24 and 9 a.m. April 27.
-The current draft and related documents are posted at Loudoun.gov/Loudoun2040. Citizens wishing to comment on the plan can contact their supervisors or the board as a whole via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to 703-777-0115.