Campaign for Loudoun's Future: Promoting Sensible Limits on Future Growth
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Timeline of Rural Zoning in Loudoun County

Loudoun County’s outdated comprehensive plan calls for suburban densities throughout the county, including the western portion of the county. The western portion of Loudoun County is zoned A-3, or one house per three acres.

Loudoun’s Rural Economic Development Task Force warns that the county’s rural economy, worth millions to the county, is being threatened by rapid, inappropriate growth. “A thriving rural economy can exist only where there are adequate resources,” their report reads, and those resources are “disappearing to residential subdivisions at an alarming rate.”

Loudoun County posts a record year for growth, becoming the fastest growing county in the nation. Growth is propelled by the growing Washington metropoiltan region, and developer-friendly politicians whose land use policies and zoning ordinances were less restrictive than neighboring jurisdictions (such as Fauquier and Clarke Counties, and Montgomery County, MD).

January 2003
The County conducts an extensive public input process to develop a new comprehensive plan for the county. After three years, four public hearings, and sending two mailings to 64,000 residents, the Board of Supervisors voted to protect Loudoun’s rural economy and businesses by zoning western Loudoun as rural (AR-1 and AR-2). Smaller lots already subdivided within the new AR-1 and AR-2 districts were not affected, except that they could not be further subdivided.

The enactment of the AR-1 and AR-2 zoning ordinances stimulates lawsuits against the County brought by speculative developers. These suits were later consolidated. The case is contested up to the Virginia Supreme Court.

March 2005
The Virginia Supreme Court rules in favor of the landowners (the plaintiffs). The Court’s decision was based on a procedural technicality - a controversial interpretation - and not on the validity of the rural zoning.   The case returns to the Circuit Court. The normal remedy in such a case is for the Board of Supervisors to correct the defect by re-advertising and re-enacting the rural zoning ordinances. Doing so would allow the adopted AR-1 and AR-2 zoning to stand.

April 2005
The Board of Supervisors, whose membership changed with the 2003 elections, refuses to re-advertise and re-enact the rural zoning provisions. 25 affected landowners from Western Loudoun, with the support of the Piedmont Environmental Council, file a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of AR-1 and AR-2 zoning.

The Circuit Court decides that the Western Loudoun zoning reverts to pre-January 2003, the A-3 standard. The Circuit Court certifies the case for immediate appeal to the Supreme Court. The intervenors file a notice of appeal and are given 90 days to prepare their petition. If is uncertain whether this does or does not suspend A-3 subdivisions during the appeal process.

May 2005
Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors propose two compromises that would bridge the differences between the old A-3 zoning and the 2003 rural zoning, AR-1 and AR-2. The proposals are just two of the many possible options for Western Loudoun. Two public input sessions are held.

July 2005
The Board of Supervisors vote 5-4 to send Option 1 (also known as the Clem/Burton Proposal) to the public hearing process. A final vote on the rural zoning issue will likely happen by the end of 2005.

November 2005
The Board of Supervisors votes 6-2-1 to move forward with consideration of Option 1. The six voting to forward the process were Burton, Clem, Kurtz, Tulloch, Waters, and York. The next step is a public hearing. Meanwhile, A3 subdivisions continue to be filed.

February 2006
The Planning Commission held two public hearings on the proposed zoning changes.

June 2006
The Board of Supervisors held two public hearings on the proposed zoning changes, but failed to take a vote.

July 2006
The Board of Supervisors held yet another public hearing on July 24 -- but failed to take a vote on the proposed changes.

September 2006
The Board of Supervisors again fail to take a final vote on the matter, and Supervisor Mick Staton put forth a last-minute plan that would allow 18,000 new houses to be built (about 4,000 more than the Clem/Burton Plan would allow). The Supervisors announce they will again hold a public hearing. When will it end?

December 2006
After a 21 month delay, three rounds of public hearings, and citizen comments 15:1 in favor of the more restrictive plan, the Board voted 5-4 in support of a plan to allow 18,000+ new houses in rural Loudoun. The so-called Staton Plan is better than A-3 zoning, but not as protective as the 2003 zoning. Supervisors York, Burton, Kurtz, and Waters voted in opposition.

The Staton Plan is hardly a compromise for Loudoun taxpayers and commuters. It puts our rural economy and its tax base in jeopardy, adds more traffic to our roads, and will divert county resources from the needs of our existing communities. During the 21 months of delay, A3 subdivisions continued to be filed.

Special thanks to Mr. Bruce Smart for his assistance with content.

"The 200,000 Acre Solution: Supporting and Enhancing A Rural Economy For Loudoun's 21st Century"; Loudoun’s Rural Economic Development Task Force.

Our Rural Economy

What is the rural economy?
The rural economy benefits ALL of Loudoun
Loudoun's rural economy is booming
Why zoning protects the rural economy
What's at stake
A Suburban Viewpoint
Why rural Loudoun matters
What is Grandfathering?
Timeline of Important Events
Glossary of Planning Terms
Links & Resources
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