Campaign for Loudoun's Future
For Immediate Release:
March 3, 2005
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Laura Olsen, (202) 244-4408 x4# or
Andrea McGimsey, (703)726-0646
Supreme Court Rules
Loudoun Must Re-Adopt Rural Zoning Due to Question
of Lucketts being a part of Western Loudoun
Today, the Virginia Supreme Court issued a ruling that will require
the Loudoun Board of Supervisors to re-advertise and re-enact the
new zoning provisions put into effect for Western Loudoun two years
“Despite significant public engagement and notice about the
proposed zoning changes two years ago, the court ruled that because
there may have been some confusion in the newspaper advertisement
about whether Lucketts is a part of Western Loudoun, Loudoun will
have to go back and re-enact the rural zoning,” said Andrea
McGimsey, with the Campaign for Loudoun’s Future. “The
rural zoning has ensured us in Eastern Loudoun that we won’t
have thousands of additional cars on our roads and thousands of
new houses competing with us for school funding.”
During the last update of Loudoun County’s zoning ordinance
and comprehensive plan, the potential build-out of the western portion
of the county was lowered in order to both ensure the viability
of agriculture and to allow the county the financial ability to
provide necessary services in the eastern portion of the County.
“We agree that public notice is extremely important, but
Loudoun County made significant efforts to ensure that every resident
and landowner were aware of the proposals. No one in Loudoun County,
with land in Loudoun County, or with a general interest in zoning
in Virginia was unaware that there was the likelihood of a re-zoning.
It was even the subject of national news coverage,” noted
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter
Loudoun County conducted four public hearings and twice sent letters
to 64,000 residents countywide explaining the proposal and notifying
property owners that they would be affected. In addition, there
were newspaper advertisements, website notices, and extensive media
coverage of the public hearing dates, the substance of the hearings,
and the likelihood of a decision by the Board of Supervisors.
“We hope the Board will respect the participation of thousands
of County residents in the process and acknowledge the demonstrated
reasonableness of the County's efforts to provide notice to all
affected landowners by acting quickly to re-advertise the proposal
according to the court’s standards and re-enact the zoning
for western Loudoun,” noted McGimsey.
The Court did not rule on the substance of the rezoning nor that
the letters to property owners and the public hearings did not provide
sufficient notice. The Court ruled that the newspaper advertisement,
which under current law is the defining element of public notice,
may not have provided sufficient definition of “Western Loudoun”.
The decision of the Virginia Supreme Court raises the need for
legislation to clarify what is required for adequate public notice.
In order for local governments to feel confident that decisions
made with full public involvement will stand, that law must be evaluated
against the increasing complexity of local government decisions
and the demonstrated ability to communicate by means in addition
to printed advertisements in the newspaper.
“The Virginia Supreme Court has determined that Virginia
law only looks at the narrow issue of the text of the newspaper
advertisement. And ironically, they reached that decision at the
prompting of lawyers for the development industry who were preparing
the legal challenge before the Board of Supervisors acted to rezone,”
noted Chris Miller, President of the Piedmont Environmental Council.
When the new comprehensive plan was adopted two years ago, there
were about 7,000 homes in the rural policy area of western Loudoun.
Before the zoning change, an additional 51,000 housing units could
have been built in western Loudoun adding over 150,000 new residents
to the county, almost doubling the size of Loudoun.
“As an Ashburn resident, I knew about the proposals to reduce
the amount of growth in Loudoun County, both east and west. I was
relieved that there would not be 150,000 more people heading east
on our already over-filled roads,” said McGimsey.
The Virginia Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision by the
Circuit court. The lawsuit against Loudoun County was brought by
developers, all of whom attended the public hearings held about
the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance.