The Middleburg Town Council heard a report Thursday on the county’s effort to rewrite its comprehensive plan and raised some concerns.
The county’s work, dubbed Envision Loudoun, has been underway for more than a year. After a series of public input sessions, a steering committee has been at work shaping the county’s next comprehensive plan, getting ready for another series of public input sessions before passing its recommendations to the county Planning Commission.
One of the Town Council’s members, Bridge Littleton, has been at Envision Loudoun stakeholder steering committee meetings in the audience, but does not have a seat at the table.
Middleburg Mayor Betsy Davis said she’d like towns to have more involvement.
“It would have been nice to have seen a representative from every town.” Davis said.
The 26-member steering committee is made up of representatives from industries and special interests ranging from Realtors, to developers, to the airport, and conservation groups. It also includes one appointed member from each county election district and the chairman and vice chairwoman of the Planning Commission.
Council members also echoed a common concern among Loudouners, that the county is losing control of its own growth.
“I hope the county realizes that there is a point of saturation.” Davis said.
“I have yet to experience growth in this county that did not impact our taxes,” said councilman Mark Snyder.
“I feel strongly that I’m subsidizing people to move here,” Snyder said. “So all the ones that want to move here, I don’t want to accommodate that because I don’t know if I can afford it.”
County Planning and Zoning Director Ricky Barker assured the council that his department was looking for the balance between residential development, which usually costs the county more than it generates in tax revenue, and commercial development.
And with the committee in the middle of work on revising policies for the Transition Policy Area between rural west and suburban east, other council members worried about what it would decide.
“The rural area is going to get choked off if the transition area is not left reasonably open,” Snyder said. “We depend on people coming from other parts of the county, other parts of the state, and frankly through Dulles International [Airport]. If they can’t get here, they’ll find other destinations. We will kill the west if we oversaturate our transition area.”
Councilman Peter Leonard-Morgan expressed concern about a specific project: the application to put a 750,000-square-foot data center complex along Goose Creek in the transition policy area.
“Putting them [data centers] into the Transition Policy Area, as has been suggested and is looking sort of worryingly possible, is a grave concern with the Goose Creek area,” Leonard-Morgan said. “The beauty, the natural resources are being threatened, and people do travel to Loudoun County for the beauty, as
Betsy has been saying. That’s why I moved here.”
Littleton pointed out much of Loudoun’s marketing material shows off its rural west.
“They have ads in Beijing, and what are the ads?” Littleton said. “Middleburg, and the wine country, and the pasture land. It’s not the data centers.”
“It seems to me it’s about where should we grow and by how much. It’s all a discussion on units, and not on values, what’s important, why should we grow, said councilman Philip Miller.