In Loudoun, there’s an important stretch of land between the heavily suburban development in the east, and the rural area to the west. And this less dense section of the county, known as the ‘Transition Area’, is under a new kind of attack. The Transition Area is planned for moderate development, but developers have their eyes set on converting more of that land to houses.
One by one, developers have begun submitting proposals to increase the number of houses they can build there, hoping to gain approval by submitting ‘small’ changes.
This Wednesday, March 4, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors is set to vote on Stanley Martin Companies request to rezone their property next to Willowsford (south of Braddock Rd, west of Lightridge Rd). They want to double the density from 40 to 81 homes, and change the zoning from 1 house per 3 acres, to 1 house per 1 acre.
What’s the big deal? Every decision by the Board sets a precedent for the next. And higher densities where they are not planned for bring higher taxes to cover public services, more traffic, more school boundary changes, and less open space and resource protection.
Does a Precedent Really Matter? 5 More Rezonings on Deck:
The request from Stanley Martin Companies’ is the first in what looks like a run on the transition area. There are five more requests on the way — which would bring the total to 989 homes where only 220 are planned for.
- Wildwood Farms is a Pulte Homes Active Adult project on the west side of Goose Creek between Dulles Greenway and Sycolin Rd. The request is to rezone 105.6 acres from 1 dwelling per 10 acres to 1 dwelling per 2 acres, for up to a total of 177 units instead of 10. The Board of Supervisors Public Hearing is March 11th!
- Fleetwood Road North Assemblage is a Stanley Martin Companies project in the southeastern quadrant of Evergreen Mills Rd and existing Fleetwood Rd. The request is to rezone 136.04 acres from 1 dwelling per 3 acres to 1 dwelling per 1/2 acre, for a total of 216 units instead of 45.
- Ryan Road Assemblage is a Ryland Homes project between Ryan Rd, Evergreen Mills Rd and Northstar Blvd. The request is to rezone 93.35 acres from 1 dwelling per 10 acres to 3 dwellings per acre, for a total of 266 single family and townhomes plus a commercial center instead of 9 residential units.
- Elklick Preserve aka Braddock Assemblage is an EPH Group, LLC project south of Braddock Rd, adjacent to the Fairfax County border. The request is to rezone a portion of the 63.71 acres from 1 dwelling per 3 acres to 1 dwelling per 1 acre, for a total of 83 units instead of 29.
- Lambert Property is a Ryland Homes project south of Braddock Rd, west of Bull Run Post Office Rd, north of Buffaloe Run Lane. This old rezoning request has been reactivated to rezone 190.06 acres from 1 dwelling per 3 acres to 1 dwelling per acre, for a total of 206 units instead of the envisioned maximum of 87.
Rezoning requests come with ‘proffers’, things the developer promises to provide, like funding for schools, parks and roads. If the past has shown us anything, it’s that these promises are often left unfulfilled and their benefits never offset the long-term costs of the development.
What’s the point of having a citizen-driven plan if the Board doesn’t follow it?
If the Board votes to approve a proposal that doesn’t match what’s called for in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, that inconsistency gives the next developer that comes along an opening to go to court if their proposal is denied.
Over the next weeks and months, I will let you know when these and other such proposals are set to come before the Board so you can comment.
Loudoun County Land Use Officer
The Piedmont Environmental Council