refused to even discuss re-advertising and re-enacting. In response,
hundreds of citizens spoke out in support of a compromise, known
as the Burton Plan, that would have allowed 13,936 new houses
to be built in rural Loudoun. The Board ignored input from the
public, 15:1, in favor of this proposal and did
not vote on it.
Now we are
being asked to comment on yet a third proposal, know as the
Staton proposal, which would allow an 80--110% increase in
density over the original 2003 zoning.
throughout this 21-month delay, subdivision applications at one
house per three acres and one house per one acre continue to be
approved throughout western Loudoun.
Thoughts on Supervisor Staton's proposal for rural zoning
From Martha Polkey, Black Sheep Farm, Lucketts
As a rural
landowner and rural business owner, I give you my thoughts on
zoning plan, which was presented to Loudouners as a bait-and-switch
fait accompli after Loudoun County Citizens overwhelmingly rejected
it and in favor of the Clem-Burton plan, which county staff spent
a year planning for.
Staton plan is A-3 zoning that has put on a few pounds.
It is a developer-authored
scheme to flip the entire northern tier of Loudoun County—thousands
and thousands of acres—from commercial to residential use,
on a scale that dwarfs One Loudoun or any other previous attempt
to reward developers with hugely more profitable residential developments
at the expense of local taxpayers.
piece of farmland in northern Loudoun that does not have a house
built on it saves the county’s taxpayers $10,000 in new school
construction and at least $6,000 a year in new salaries for teachers
and safety personnel.
agricultural producers provide a growing and expanding “cash
cow” for the county—while requiring very little in the
way of tax dollars for support services.
grown on Loudoun farms were sold for nearly $40 million in 2002
(a 40% increase from five years before).
- The equine
industry generates $80 million a year. The tonnage of grapes produced
in Loudoun have increased by over 200% during the past 5 years.
County is the largest hay-producing county in Virginia with over
54,000 acres in production, generating $7 million a year.
is one of the top 10 cattle producing counties in Virginia, and
maintains a herd of 34,000 head.
is in the top 10 sheep producing counties in Virginia.
plan, like A-3 zoning, threatens this agricultural engine. A viable
agricultural economy depends upon a web of infrastructure that in
Loudoun will be rapidly degraded by 5-achre zoning.
more houses in the northern rural area degrades or destroys the
value and business viability of adjacent commercial rural land.
- It threatens
agricultural businesses’ groundwater supply and safety.
- It makes
farming operations difficult (including spraying, protection of
livestock from trespassers and wandering dogs, movement of farm
of agricultural parcels (interspersed between housing tracts)
increases costs for farmers and custom operators.
profitability and subsequent loss of a critical mass of rural
businesses creates a cascading loss of support businesses (equipment,
service, supply businesses) that causes the entire rural infrastructure
- It destroys
the scenic (and revenue-positive!) vistas and historic destinations
which support the huge and growing tourism and recreational business
base for this western side of the Washington metropolitan area.
It also threatens
groundwater supply and safety present rural homeowners, who have
little recourse if their wells run dry or become contaminated by
sewage from adjacent developments. Northern Loudoun contains a huge
area where sinkholes and solution channels make it particularly
vulnerable to health issues from overdevelopment. The fragmented
geography of much of the rest of the region already has resulted
in strains on groundwater supply for present residents.
This push to
flip Loudoun’s growing and profitable rural business base
over to more, and more, and more houses comes at a time when the
demand for locally produced food and nearby recreation has never,
never been stronger. Consumers are demanding more and more food
that is fresher, produced sustainably, and produced fuel-efficiently.
That is the market a number of small businessmen—farmers—in
Loudoun’s breadbasket are now serving.
And if the
Staton plan is passed, this devastating and destructive change will
come at a time when national, state (Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania),
and local leaders of all political parties have recognized the national
historic value of the Route 15 corridor (as part of the Journey
Through Hallowed Ground Region) and have advocated its preservation
and development as a tourism destination for the nation’s
citizens to enjoy. Again, this is a profoundly revenue-positive
endeavor. (Tourists come, enjoy, spend money, and leave, taking
their school-aged children with them.) And Loudouners lucky enough
to live nearby it can enjoy it easily year round.
In short, the
Staton plan is an attack on Loudoun’s rural business environment
and its rural businessmen. There is every disadvantage for Loudoun
taxpayers and residents in losing this precious resource and positive
revenue stream, and every advantage for them in demanding that their
Supervisor reject it.
Together, We're Fighting to Protect the Quality of Life in Loudoun
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