Why Rural Zoning Matters to Suburban Loudoun
By Andrea McGimsey, Sterling
If you can make the time this coming weekend, I encourage
you to take your family on a drive out into rural Loudoun and see
for yourself what is at stake for our community. (Suggestions
for day trips)
Choose one of the main roads going west, Route 50 or Route 7, and
then take some of the smaller roads, and then maybe even a dirt
road if your car can handle it. (Warning: I did this the other day,
and the road disappeared into a big stream!)
is 230,000 acres, which starts east of Route 15 and extends all the way out
to the Blue Ridge Mountains, from just south of Rt. 50 up to the Potomac River
in the north. Harper's Ferry, a one hour drive from Ashburn, is across the river
from the northwest corner of the county.
As you drive through this huge, undeveloped area, imagine one house per
three acres, which is our current rural zoning. Imagine the roads, schools,
fire and rescue, etc., that will be needed to support all those houses. Listen
to our Board of Supervisors debate the transportation issues for just one
high school in rural Loudoun vs. the transportation needs in eastern Loudoun;
the lack of roads, sewer and water, etc., in western Loudoun is a great challenge.
Then imagine the county's mounting debt and your mounting tax bill if we need
to build and operate multiple schools in the rural area.
We still need so much in eastern Loudoun -- paved roads,
stoplights, interchanges, schools, fire and police stations, etc.
So many more houses have already been approved but not yet build
in our communities -- 17,000 more houses in Asbhurn, 11,000 more
house near South Riding, etc. We do not need more competition
state and local funds.
Note as you drive that there are no employment centers in western
Loudoun, except our rural economy, which is in jeopardy under the
current zoning. Think about how far these houses are from the Route
28 employment corridor, the Dulles Toll Road jobs, Tysons Corner
and Washington, DC. Think about the commuters
from 46,000 houses joining us on the Greenway, Route 7, and Route
50, squeezing in between the Potomac River and Dulles Airport
-- because both of those large, physical barriers prevent a decent
road grid. We do not need tens of thousands more commuters
on our congested roads.
Some suggested drives / trips for your
family in rural Loudoun
You can have a lot of fun!
Den and the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail has beautiful views of rural Loudoun and is
a fairly easy trail to hike for little ones, because it follows
the ridge line (my dad and mom have been taking me on it since I
was a little girl.) Bear's Den is a wonderful old stone house where
local Loudoun groups often meet and have and potluck suppers. Right
now, the mountain laurel along the trails should be beautiful. Not
far from the house is a rock outcropping with a gorgeous view of
the Shenandoah Valley.
This historic town has a view that Thomas Jefferson loved and is full of Civil
War history. Although Harper's Ferry is in West Virginia, most of the beautiful
drive is through rural Loudoun. There is also plenty
to do in the area.
Come and see where
the public hearings are being held, in the heart of historic
Leesburg, a vibrant town since the colonial days. Then take a drive
south on Rt. 15 to Oatlands Plantation, one of my very favorite
places in Loudoun.
of Andrea's favorite places in Loudoun County
About Andrea McGimsey
Andrea McGimsey is
the former director of the Campaign for Loudoun's Future and a
former employee of the Piedmont Environmental Council, a member
of the campaign's
coalition. She is also a former five year employee of America
Online where she worked for a senior executive, a former member
of the Sterling Volunteer Fire Department for which she raised
$80,000 and received the Administrative Member of the Year award
in 2003, a member of Our Savior's Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn,
and a former Ashburn resident. She has lived in Loudoun County
since 2001, worked in Loudoun since 1998, and is a native of
suburban, northern Virginia. She currently lives in Sterling.