The look of Rt. 7 in Loudoun between Leesburg and the Broad Run could be changing.
The county has seen a long trend of developments along that section of Rt. 7 requesting exceptions to a zoning rule that prohibits building closer than 300 feet to the road. It has granted several—including at Lexington 7, One Loudoun, and Commonwealth Center. Commonwealth, which includes iFly and Top Golf, was granted an exception down to 100 feet.
County planners have warned that granting piecemeal exceptions to a uniform rule could make a mess of one of Loudoun’s major road corridors, but several supervisors have made it clear they believe it’s time for change. The current setback rules were established for a “Keynote Employment Center,” which envisioned suburban office spaces.
But county leaders now think that probably won’t happen.
“We do agree that the corridor needs to be looked at holistically, because I think there is a danger in planning by rezoning,” said Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer, commenting on another recent application by Commonwealth Center. “I think that the plan as it’s currently written is probably not something that we’ll ever see come to fruition in the Rt. 7 corridor.”
Currently, the county allows buildings no closer than 300 feet and parking lots no closer than 100 feet to Rt. 7. The proposed changes would shrink the building setback to 200 feet, increase the parking setback to 150 feet, and establish new rules that would require a manicured, landscaped screen of native plan materials in the setback area.
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) said the new rules would both give developers more space and increase the green space around Rt. 7.
“I’m in love with this initiative,” Meyer said. “I’m glad we’re advancing it.”
The proposed changes will now go to public hearings at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.