Last week, Loudoun’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) rendered the County’s residential zoning ordinances effectively obsolete and denied neighbors the opportunity to object in favor of out of state big business with a questionable track record. Local government officials did a disservice to Loudoun residents.

The issue for consideration was whether a rehab company can operate commercial treatment facility for 22 adult clients, aged 18-28, out of 3 adjacent signal family homes “by right”, setting a precedent across Loudoun. The facility would be for short term stays, with adults seeking treatment for 30-45 days on average.

Newport Institute submitted a use inquiry to Loudoun Zoning and received a Determination Letter stating, “…[your] proposed use is a Congregate Housing Facility, a use not permitted…”. However, Loudoun Zoning recommended that Newport might operate as separate group homes to secure “by-right” protections under Virginia State Code 15.2-2291, a code created to give equal opportunity for housing to residents with disabilities.

Local residents appealed that “Determination”, at last week’s BZA hearing on the appeal, Loudoun, with Newport’s lawyers seated behind them, claimed that that their “Determination Letter” was merely “advice” which should not have been appealable or used as a definitive answer.

Over 4 hours, arguments were presented and over 25 members of the public spoke, including A Farm Less Ordinary a local non-profit that would be directly affected by Newport’s operations. Then, one BZA member made a motion to dismiss based on the “advice” argument. The majority of the BZA soon believed that if they dismissed the residents appeal, Newport would still need to submit permits that could be appealed later. However, appellants pointed out that operating “by-right” means no future permits are required to the Planning Commission, only an administrative permit. Loudoun Zoning did not speak up to clarify. The BZA dismissed the appeal based on the permit misunderstanding, the “advice”, and not believing residents had proved standing.

The overwhelming message was that Loudoun has a different standard for companies professing to treat mental health, without regard for residents who are held to strict zoning processes and procedures. There was a palpable hesitation to enforce local zoning laws. The BZA Chairman even expressed concern for billion dollar backed Newport’s finances, but not for Loudoun residents who were forced to raise thousands of dollars to fund the appeal. It was, and is, an egregious situation, and all Loudoun residents should be outraged.

Now, the only option is Circuit Court. Residents and Protect Loudoun supporters must raise another $30k, or nothing stands in the way of companies using clusters of homes across Loudoun in lieu of congregate locations. Go to ProtectLoudoun.com for the transcript, audio, and all zoning documents to see the dire situation for Loudoun residents on this matter — and please donate if you can.

Submitted by Protect Loudoun

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.