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Ask the Supervisors for Missing Information

At a public hearing next Tuesday, July 31, the Board of Supervisors will consider changes to the Zoning Ordinance, the laws that enforce our county's Comprehensive Plan.

We have a lot of questions and need answers to key issues. These changes could affect the net density of both residential and commercial development.

The Board of Supervisors needs to engage in an open public discussion of the costs and benefits of these changes, and provide an analysis of the impacts.

Ask the Board of Supervisors:

  • Can you provide us with an analysis of the impacts?
    Before moving forward, we need to know what the impact will be on our commutes, schools, and communities.
  • Can you give us visual illustrations?
    Show us how these changes will work and what they will look like.
  • Will these changes allow more new houses and commercial development?
    If so, we need to know what the ongoing tax burden will be.
  • Will the changes reflect the vision set forth in the 2001 Comprehensive Plan?
    For example: provisions to protect environmental resources, which are missing from the zoning ordinance changes.
  • Can you explain the reason for each technical change to the Zoning Ordinance?
    We don't know if these changes would improve our communities or compromise our quality of life.
  • Should these changes wait until the completion of the four suburban community plans?
    These plans, designed to address the needs of existing residents, are promised in the 2001 Comprehensive Plan. Before we change the Zoning Ordinance, we need to know what we want the Zoning Ordinance to do.

Available Information

Analysis of the proposed changes (pdf)
Prepared by Ed Gorski, Piedmont Environmental Council

Proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance (pdf)
County document

More county information and staff report


Email the Board of Supervisors

Tell the Board of Supervisors: It's unfair to expect us to weigh in without all of the information.

Ask them to provide analysis, illustrations, and justification for each change, and then to engage in a public discussion of the costs and benefits.

*Please be sure to include your name and address so your comments can be counted.

Ask the Supervisors for answers on
Tuesday, July 31

Please come to the hearing and ask the Board of Supervisors to give us more information.

Public Hearing
with the Board of Supervisors

Tuesday, July 31 @ 6:00 PM
County Government Center

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Questions about the Proposed Changes
There are 846 pages in the Zoning Ordinance, and many pages contain technical changes. We encourage the Board of Supervisors to engage in an open public discussion of the costs and benefits of these changes, including asking staff to provide illustrative comparisons, examples, and analyses of the impacts.

Our questions include:

  • Why are there so many technical changes to the Zoning Ordinance for residential areas? 
    These changes would alter the way our neighborhoods look and feel. The changes also appear to allow increased density.

  • What are the trade-offs and benefits of the proposed changes?
    Show us visual examples of the impacts, including the placement of houses on lots, reduced open space, less residential parking, taller buildings closer to the street, and density bonuses for unbuildable floodplain land. 

  • Why are environmental protections missing that are called for by the Comprehensive Plan?
    Such a thorough re-write of the Zoning Ordinance should include water quality and limestone protections among others. Why hasn’t the Board of Supervisors taken steps to readvertise and reenact the Conservation Design, Limestone Overlay District, and River Stream Corridor Overlay District?

  • Why remove a restriction against using residential streets for primary access to shopping centers -- which would allow truck traffic on our streets?
    Shouldn’t the County analyze the impacts on our neighborhoods and local roads before making such a change?

  • Why allow existing rules for developers to be easily changed without public say, including safeguards for the public and the environment?
    Should regulations be moved from the legally binding Zoning Ordinance to the Facilities Standards Manual (FSM), where changes can be made administratively? One example would be moving floodplain regulations to the FSM. This would increase the potential for flooding, destruction, and loss of personal property.
  • Why allow larger by-right business and commercial uses of land?
    This reduces the potential for transportation proffers and may result in uses that are incompatible with their surroundings.
  • Why allow changes in access to Route 50 that don’t match the Route 50 CPAM?
    The proposed changes would change retail access to Rt 50, contradicting the CPAM.
  • Why include technical changes that would harm our water quality?
    Some of the changes would have a negative impact, including increasing the amount of impervious surfaces allowed for non-residential uses, increasing the size of some retail parking lots, and allowing buildings to cover more of the lot area. Has this been analyzed?
  • Why is unbuildable floodplain included in density calculations? 
    Whether it is for residential or commercial development, increased density without corresponding environmental protections isn't in our best interest.
  • Why are legal definitions being changed, and what impact could that have?
    The way that words are defined could potentially change the entire interpretation of the law.

  • Why are road setbacks being changed and what impact would that have?
    The distance of buildings from the roadway creates a qualitative difference in the character of the area.  There could also be an additional gain in density from the setback changes. What is the goal of these changes?
  • Why have building height limitations been removed from the Village Conservation Overlay District?
    New buildings should be at an appropriate scale and context to the existing community and respect historic character.
  • Why are buffering and screening requirements reduced or eliminated?
    Why loosen regulations that require retention of existing trees and vegetation in residential areas?  If buffer yards are eliminated next to natural features, then can the county require a forested stream buffer?  
  • If the public interest is not served by the proposed changes, then how is this action consistent with the stated purpose of the Zoning Ordinance and the State Code?
    Should the county being moving away from these protections, and is it legal?  

    In section 1-102 of the Zoning Ordinance-- Goals, Purpose and Intent --it states “this ordinance is enacted in order to promote the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Loudoun County and to implement the Loudoun County Comprehensive Plan.”

The State Code sections 15.2-2200, 15.2-2224, and 15.2-2283 specify purposes of the Zoning Ordinance which are either not being met, are being loosened, or eliminated to the detriment of the public. 


What is zoning?
An ordinance that divides the county into different districts or zones.  The land in each zone is assigned specific use or uses, either by-right, as a special exception, or as a rezoning.  Zoning also determines how our communities look by guiding where and how buildings are placed in relationship to each other, whether and how environmental features like streams and trees are protected, and amount of impervious areas allowed.

How is the Zoning Ordinance different from the Comprehensive Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan lays outs the county's and citizens' vision for future growth: how much, how it will look, where it will be located, and what we want to protect. The Zoning Ordinance is the law that is supposed to ensure that the vision becomes a reality. It provides specific limits and rules for development.



Gem Bingol, Piedmont Environmental Council
On behalf of the Campaign for Loudoun's Future

Together, We're Fighting to Protect the Quality of Life in Loudoun

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