Loudoun Open for Business

Loudoun Open for Business

Loudoun is open for business is the message that supervisor James Burton (I-Mercer) wants to get out.

The opposite message resulted from media and other interpretations of the EDC Interim Report on the Impact of the New Zoning Ordinance.

"I don't have a problem with the document but what has been done with it," said Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York (R-At large).

A subcommittee of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) studied the impact the new zoning ordinance has had on the county's land development process, but found the study to be immature since the zoning ordinance was adopted in January. After interviewing private developers, property owners and county staff, the subcommittee found that the Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in July 2001, created more confusion than the zoning ordinance's adoption and that the county staff applied the plan as if it were an ordinance, according to some of those who commented. They said the land development application process is hindered by current county politics and that the processing of site plans and development applications is "difficult, complicated, time-consuming and unpredictable," as stated in the report.

"We felt it was important [that] economic development projects carry high impetus throughout the county," EDC chairman Dave Parker said Monday at a joint Board of Supervisors and EDC meeting.

BURTON EXPRESSED his "disappointment" with the EDC Interim Report for not providing the names of those commenting, which he said does not give the report much credence. "I'd like to see evidence there is something wrong," he said. "If there is something wrong that needs to be fixed, we'll fix it."

"You said, 'Come to us if there is something wrong with the process,'" Parker said in response. "The intent of the report is [to show] what's going on. If there are issues, how can we bring them to the surface?"

Terrie Laycock, assistant to the county administrator, said applications could be "slipping" for two reasons, the applicants are not educated on how to submit applications or the county lacks a system to pick out economic development applications in a timely manner. "That's an issue, and that's something the county has to deal with," she said.

York explained that when the Board of Supervisors took office in 2000, the board chose to work expediently to revise the Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinance. Once the zoning ordinance was adopted, nearly 200 lawsuits were filed that tied up staff time. "We ought to make sure when economic development projects come forward, there is a smooth process," he said.

"We need to focus on industrial and commercial applications," said Supervisor Charles Harris (D-Broad Run). "The focus should shift to economic development in the east. ... This is a reasonable issue to point out. We can fix it with better communication."