Last-Minute Support For Rural Loudoun

Last-Minute Support For Rural Loudoun

Just over an hour before the Board of Supervisors was set to convene its first public hearing about the rezoning of the Rural Policy Area, Campaign for Loudoun's Future organized a press conference in front of the Government Center to reiterate its support for the proposed downzoning.

"We wanted to make a statement," Campaign for Loudoun's Future director Andrea McGimsey said. "We wanted to show how important this is to every single person in this county."

Speakers from both eastern and western Loudoun spoke at the press conference, showing they were united in their support for what they call "the Clem-Burton plan," a reference to Supervisors Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) and Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge).

"We are one county," Doug Fabbioli, the wine maker for Windham Winery and owner of Fabbioli Cellars, said. "We are looking for a balance in our county."

THOSE PRESENT at the press conference said the extra development allowed under the current A-3 zoning would be too much for the county to handle.

"This issue comes down to three things," Sugarland Run resident Susan Buckley said. "It is taxes, traffic and the quality of schools."

Current zoning allows for the development of one dwelling unit per three acres. Under the proposed "Clem-Burton plan" zoning, the northern portion of western Loudoun would allow for one dwelling unit per 20 acres and the southern portion of western Loudoun would allow for one dwelling unit per 10 acres.

"We need to have the new rural zoning enacted to reduce the amount of development west of Ashburn," Ashburn resident Sandy Sullivan said. "This is just growth piled on top of growth."

McGimsey said that the proposed zoning is "totally reasonable" in a rural are and the county should be trying to preserve its rural characteristics.

"We [in the east] enjoy western Loudoun," she said. "It is one of the best things about this county and we want to keep it that way."

BESIDES THE RURAL zoning, speakers were concerned about the impact a grandfathering clause would have on the landscape of the west, whether the proposed densities were accepted or not.

A grandfathering clause would allow those people who have begun the process of subdividing their property under the current A-3 zoning to continue through the process at that density. The Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors adopt a grandfathering clause in the proposal.

Many people fear that allowing a grandfathering clause would support what they believe is a rush to be allowed to develop at the higher densities and therefore make more money. They believe that a grandfathering clause would negate the positive affects of the downzoning.

"There is no reason on earth why people can't make money under this [proposed] plan," farmer Malcolm Baldwin said. "Land values go up and down, but they could still make a reasonable profit."

"Grandfathering causes all of us problems," Fabbioli said. "These are people who won't be living here or won't be living here in the future. They are here to make their living and get out."