Loudoun Puts Nighttime Economy Plan into Action

County leaders have taken the Nighttime Economy Ad-Hoc Committee’s 36 recommendations on how to shape the Loudoun lifestyle of the future and turned them into action.

Having accepted the recommendations that NEAC, a subcommittee of the Economic Development Advisory Commission, spent a year crafting, the Board of Supervisors has voted to put into action six of its recommendations.

NEAC recommended the county ask for authority to create Arts, Cultural and Entertainment districts, something towns can already do. This would allow the county to create economic incentives to attract and retain arts and cultural businesses in those districts. Authority to create arts districts is granted by the state.

County staff members will now form a multi-departmental working group, includding representatives from Parks, Recreation and Community Service; Economic Development; and Planning and Zoning. That panel will look at options for creating arts districts, the feasibility of the idea, and how a Loudoun arts district would look and work. That work will also fit into Envision Loudoun, the county’s ongoing comprehensive plan review.

NEAC also recommended creating a standing committee comprised of representatives from the Economic Development Advisory Commission, Visit Loudoun, the Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Economic Development, the towns, and other organizations to coordinate marketing efforts across the county. The logistics of that committee will be handled by the Chamber, Visit Loudoun, and the Department of Economic Development.

Another recommendation, to allow developers greater flexibility to react to the market, will be tackled by the Department of Planning and Zoning. County staff members will look at the possibility of zoning districts with greater flexibility of uses, and find areas where legislative applications can instead be approved or rejected on a staff level to offer a faster and less expensive review process.

Similar work will be done to address NEAC’s recommendation for greater flexibility in parks and public spaces and create safe spaces for pick up and drop off such as from public transportation, taxis, or Uber. The county staff will develop a guide to design features that could be incorporated into developments to provide those public spaces.

NEAC also recommended the county and towns coordinate to bring their rules and zoning ordinances into accord. The county administrator will send a letter to the town managers or mayors with NEAC’s recommendations.

Finally, NEAC encouraged finding public-private partnerships to build the infrastructure and public facilities for the planned mixed-use environments, such as around the future Ashburn metro station. The Department of Economic Development is tasked with seeking those out.

An additional 11 recommendations will be folded into work the county is already doing, such as creating community social spaces and the ongoing comprehensive plan rewrite. But 17 more recommendations will get no action, many because they reflect work the county is already doing or has already done, such as protecting the county’s proffer system from state restrictions and investing in transit and transportation in the county.

Two recommendations the county has decided should be led by the private sector. One is to professionally maintain public spaces, and another to encourage overnight parking options.

Read all of NEAC’s recommendations and the county’s planned actions on them here.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

@RenssGreene

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