Supervisors Deny Transition Area Plan

Supervisors Deny Transition Area Plan

The board reaffirms the current planned land use for the area.

The sweeping plan that would have allowed increased residential, retail and business development in the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley subareas died Wednesday night as a majority of Supervisors said they could not support the plan in its current form.

The decision, which came during the board's reconvened business meeting Nov. 8, was expected after Supervisors asked the county's staff to draw a resolution of denial Nov. 6 at the conclusion of their final work session on the proposal.

The board voted 6-3 for the denial, with Supervisors Stephen Snow (R-Dulles), Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) voting no.

It has been almost two and a half years since Supervisors combined several applicant-initiated Comprehensive Plan amendments into one large proposal for the entire area.

This summer, the Planning Commission recommended increasing the residential density throughout the transition area to four dwelling units per acre, with denser development toward the east and feathering out toward the west.

THE PLANNING COMMISSION recommended a large buffer at one unit per acre along the western side of the transition area up to the Rural Policy Area. Under the commission's proposal, there would be a buffer south of the area to the Prince William County border, with a 500-foot natural buffer and 1,300 feet of the one-unit-per-acre density. The recommendation would have allowed for the development of up to 34,000 homes in the area.

At the board's Oct. 3 business meeting, Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) proposed excluding any development south of Braddock Road from the proposal. At the meeting Tulloch said there appeared to be little support on the board of development in that southern area. Tulloch's proposal decreased the potential build-out to less than 27,000 homes.

Even with the decrease in residential units a majority of Supervisors said they could not support the proposed density for the area.

"I do believe that approving more residential units in the area will make things worse instead of better," Supervisor Jim Burton (I-At large) said.

DESPITE DENYING the amendment, board members expressed an interest in continuing to work with George Mason University, who planned to bring a full-service college to the county as part of a rezoning by Greenvest LLC. Last fall, Greenvest announced it would donate 123 acres to the school. The gifted area was located within a Greenvest development proposal north of the intersection of Route 50 and Route 659. In a letter sent to the board Nov. 1, Greenvest said it would not gift the land if its rezoning application for the area was not approved.

Supervisors were unhappy with Greenvest's assertion that it was not required to gift the land in the event of a denial and that the university would have a period of six months to purchase the land from the development company.

"I think that it is disappointing that George Mason has been used as a football in this game," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. "I think every member of the board supports higher education and bringing a full-service university to Loudoun County, but that is not what this CPAM is about."

Board members were also concerned about the amount of money the county would be asked to provide George Mason for the construction of auxiliary buildings, such as student housing and fitness centers.

AS THE SUPERVISOR for the area in question, Snow continued Wednesday to try and drum up support for a portion of the amendment, making a motion to approve only the areas surrounding the proposed university site. If approved, Snow said, the residential build out would allow for 5,210 houses.

"What I am trying to do in this endeavor is salvage benefit for the citizens so that we don't have to end up taxing and paying for a number of amenities, road network in the area," he said. "This is the only area in which we have to grow."

When only Delgaudio and Clem supported his motion, Snow made another motion asking for the allocation of $45 million to purchase the land from Greenvest and for the campus's auxiliary buildings. Snow's motion also asked that a letter be sent to Richmond asking for state funding.

"My point here is to bring something into this county somebody has to pay," he said. "If we really want this for our citizens then I think we need to leave this in there."

Supervisor Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac), who has been vocal in his support of bringing a university to the county, said he could not support the allocation of $45 million, but would support requesting money from the state.

Snow said he took full responsibility for the way that George Mason became involved with the Comprehensive Plan amendment, acknowledging that he took the idea to the college initially.

"It was my fault all the way," he said. "I thought it was going to be a good thing for my citizens."

WHILE EXPLAINING their decisions, many Supervisors expressed opposition to allowing applicant-initiated Comprehensive Plan amendments in the future.

"I say if you have a good idea, you bring it forward and find five votes to help start the process," Waters said.

Clem, who showed strong support for the overall amendment, said he did not agree with combining several different applications under one umbrella.

"I believe very strongly that any plan should stand or die on its own merits," he said.

Board Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) said his reason for denial was much simpler.

"It's about a vision for Loudoun County," he said. "We felt it was a mistake to think that the reason to support all the development is to get the facilities for development that is already there. All you are doing is playing chase and you are never caught up."