Loudouners packed into the old sanctuary of Ashburn Presbyterian Church were elated to hear Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) declare: “I’ve already got the votes to block this.”
“This” is an application by 20931 Ashburn Road LLC asking for permission to build a two-story, 10,575-square-foot child care center in Old Ashburn to serve 145 children. The center would be a branch of The Learning Experience, which operates nationally, including one in Sterling.
But a majority on the Board of Supervisors, contacted the next day, all said they either hadn’t made up their minds or hadn’t even seen the application yet. Although some expressed concerns, none that returned calls seeking comment said they had made up their mind on the application.
Residents in the area came out in large numbers both to a public hearing in October and the meeting in the Ashburn Presbyterian Church Thursday night.
Speakers at those meetings, both hosted by the Planning Commission, said they’re concerned about the size of the project and about its impact on traffic on and around Ashburn Road.
“The center is much too large for this less-than-one-acre lot,” said Ashburn Place HOA president Richard Ragsdale during a public hearing in October. “The road system, Ashburn Road, is totally inadequate to support traffic resulting from such a large daycare center.” He worried that the child care business, along with new traffic from the planned Loudoun School from the Gifted campus and another townhouse development planned for the area, would cause worse rush-hour traffic.
He also said the limited parking at the child care center could mean parents would park across the street—at his subdivision—and try to cross Ashburn Road with their children. He brought a petition he said had been signed by the residents in all 27 homes in his neighborhood.
County planners support the application, saying the applicant has addressed their concerns, including parking.
Ashburn District Supervisor and Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R) said Meyer’s comments “were extremely premature.”
The property sits in the Ashburn District. Ashburn Road forms the boundary between Buona’s district and Meyer’s Broad Run District; the Ashburn Place HOA is in the Broad Run district.
“We still have a process to follow, and nothing changes that,” Buona said. He pointed out the application must still go through another meeting of the Planning Commission. Only after the commission has made a recommendation will the application go to the Board of Supervisors for another public hearing and a final vote.
“The applicant can still choose to come back and change this based on their work with the Planning Commission, so if they decide they wanted to reduce the number of students or deal with parking and traffic in different way, they can still do that,” Buona said.
However, he said he does have concerns about the application, and has communicated those to his appointed planning commissioner, Fred Jennings (Ashburn).
“I also felt the comments kind of minimized the Planning Commission’s role, because the Planning Commission still has to do their work session and so forth,” Buona said. “And when you have comments like that, the Planning Commission says, ‘well, why am I even bothering.’ And there were frustrations expressed to me from the Planning Commission.”
Reached the next day, Meyer would not say which supervisors had committed to voting against the application.
“What I said is going to stand by itself,” Meyer said. “I’m not going to get into the vote counting, but there’s no way this passes the Board of Supervisors.”
He said he was not aware that the Planning Commission had not yet taken a vote, but said “this application, no matter what the Planning Commission’s vote, is not something that is going to have the support from the Board of Supervisors.”
“What it comes down to is that the community has a firm position on this, and at some point people who represent the community need to lead when the community wants them to lead,” Meyer said.