County Reigns in Horse Trail

County Reigns in Horse Trail

Board approves equestrian trail funding.

Catch your nose, Citizens for Property Rights president Jack Shockey said about a proposed equestrian trail near the landfill, playing off the tourism phrase, “Catch Your Breath.”

"These horse people can't find a place to ride a horse," Shockey said at the July 7 Board of Supervisors meeting.

The county landfill Shockey referred to has received several “glowing reports” on its operation and lack of odor, said Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) in response.

And the county has not spent any funds on equestrian parks and recreation facilities in the past 13 years, Chairman Scott York (R-At large) said.

With that, the Board of Supervisors approved building a trail, entrance and parking lot by way of a public-private partnership between the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services and the Loudoun equestrian community. The county’s share will be $55,000 to engineer and construct a standard commercial entrance and parking area at Route 711, or Woods Road, leaving the responsibility of constructing and maintaining the trail to the equestrian community, a project estimated to cost $67,400. The second entrance will separate landfill traffic from equestrian traffic.

Supervisor Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge) asked for a friendly amendment allowing trail work for the Pilot Equestrian Trail Program to begin immediately, instead of waiting for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to approve the finished entrance and parking lot. William Bogard (R-Sugarland Run) accepted the amendment, being the one who called the motion.

The Pilot Equestrian Trail Program calls for building a trail network using county owned facilities, such as the landfill and Banshee Reeks Park. The portion of the trail that will cross the landfill will extend 3.5 miles on the outer perimeter of the property, starting at Banshee Reeks Park north of Woods Road.

Drew Hiatt (R-Dulles) said the county does not have the resources to complete the project. In response, Charles Harris (D-Broad Run) said the project is “doable” and is a “reasonable use” for the property. “It puts multiple uses to existing facilities,” he said about the trail, which will be accessible for equestrian and hiking uses.

“This is a very, very, very small investment for one of the biggest industries,” York said.

“Our equine industry is a million dollar industry,” Towe said. “It is a viable industry. … Horses have been adding to our coffers for a long time.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the Board of Supervisors:

* Approved a $41.9 million bond referendum to fund school and public safety capital projects. The referendum will be divided into two questions on the 2003 ballot for two elementary schools in the Belmont and Leesburg areas for $27.3 million and two fire and sheriff stations in the Brambleton and Lansdowne areas for $14.5 million.

Hiatt asked for four separate questions before the vote was taken. “You got to trust the taxpayers and voters to make decisions.”

Harris disagreed. “If you don’t build all of the schools that are needed, someone suffers,” he said. “Boundary changes are killing us in the east and are becoming a small nuisance in the west.”

* Forwarded to the September public hearing the proposed 20-year capital facility standards and cost estimates for the county’s departments and agencies. County staff developed service plans to establish the number and type of facilities the county needs to meet county growth. The facility standards within each service plan sets the triggers for developing the facilities.

“We can’t keep up with what we planned for and now we’re planning for more,” York said. “It’s an unrealistic expectation in some of these numbers.”

“They are not dictates. They are standards,” James Burton (I-Mercer) said in response, adding that the standards are something for the county to strive toward without giving county residents false expectations. “You’re not going to find a formula. … It’s a sense of level of service we can strive to provide.”

Setting the standards too low would inhibit the county’s ability to negotiate proffers, which can include the facilities in exchange for zoning changes, Harris said.

“This gives staff, developers and citizens a standard to make sure we have the facilities for the people we’re bringing into the county,” Kurtz said.

* Approved taking the necessary steps for the county to take over storm water management and maintenance countywide. The board authorized the county administrator to develop a storm water ordinance for areas without dedicated storm water easements and to include additional funds in the budget beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 for maintenance, repairs and component replacements that will restore the county's storm water system to its original design by the end of FY-08.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality requires the urban area of the county to obtain a permit to discharge storm water into the state’s waters, a permit requiring a storm water management program.

Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) asked if a storm water management fee could be considered. Staff said a fee is premature and may be considered after a storm water management report is given in four to five years.

* Approved a special exception permit for Maryland company Loudoun Square Storage, LLC to build a 73,700-square-foot facility with warehousing self-storage units at a 4.2-acre site south of Route 7 near Richfield Way and Russell Branch Parkway.

Harris said he is not comfortable with the proposed use for the site. In response, York mentioned that the site is bordered by roads and streams and has been on the market for several years, adding that the market will show whether or not the use is wrong for the site.

* Supported the Washington Metropolitan Council of Government’s proposed mutual aid legislation, which will limit the liability of public safety agencies when they provide emergency assistance across state lines and in the District of Columbia.

“This type of regional cooperation is absolutely essential,” Harris said, giving as an example the fact that gangs like to cross jurisdictional lines to complicate emergency response.