Loudoun Supervisors Balk at Rt. 28 Car Lot

County supervisors had strong words Wednesday night for an application to allow a 10-acre outdoor vehicle storage lot l at the intersection of Rt. 28 and the W&OD Trail.

“I’ve never read an application where the applicant, just in writing, appears to be so uncooperative,” said board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn).

The parcel, now called Guilford Station North, sits across Rt. 28 from a CarMax lot and the Dulles 28 Centre shopping center, and across the bike trail from Orbital ATK’s campus. It would serve as a storage lot for a car rental company. Supervisors have said the applicant needs to offer more green screening from Rt. 28 and agree to restrictions on any future plans to build data centers on the property.

“You are not going to have my vote if you do not proffer out data centers,” said Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run). “Or you could provide design standards for a data center.”

The applicant, B.F. Saul, has rebuffed county planners’ requests that, among other things, they create tree conservation areas and agree not to build data centers on the lot or agree to design standards if they do.

B.F. Saul Company Senior Vice President Todd Pearson said preserving the trees already there is impractical because his company will have to grade the entire site for the parking lot.

“We have to redirect the water on the entire site, so I can’t conserve trees when I’m grading the site,” Pearson said. Instead, the company plans to build trails on the site and a pavilion near a stormwater pond.

As to data centers, he said the company can’t proffer out what may be the highest and best use for the site.

A previous rezoning in 1985 changed the land from a residential to an industrial district, which resulted in an agreement to build the Rt. 28 interchange and Atlantic Boulevard, and not build some industrial uses like a dry cleaning plant or radio and TV broadcast stations.

But the site has remained mostly undeveloped, and since then the county has adopted the Rt. 28 corridor policies, which call for higher design standards on development. County General Plan policies in that area call for high-intensity office cluster or mixed-use development. The applicant has requested to convert the parcel to a more recent version of zoning ordinances, but some of the permitted uses that come with that zoning would conflict with Rt. 28 planning policies.

Gem Bingol of the Piedmont Environmental Council, also pointed out during a public hearing this week concerns that the development could further damage waterways in the area, like the Broad Run. She noted that it is already below state and federal standards for water quality, and is scheduled for more studies and costly cleanup.

Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) said he and the applicant have had many meetings with residents in the area, and said those residents were supportive of the car lot. But he said they likely would not support a data center.

The car lot is planned as an interim use until the area is ready for more intensive development. But Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said it is also “a fairly uninspiring application,” and said “there could be some much more interesting things happening here than this.”

“We’ve got a lot happening in this corridor in a relatively short timeframe, and I think the applicant may be being very, very shortsighted,” Letourneau said.

Only Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) openly defended the request, saying, “I don’t have a lot of heartburn with this application, and I certainly wouldn’t want you to proffer out a data center given the tremendous revenues that they provide the county, which we are going to need.”

Supervisors voted unanimously to send the application to their Transportation and Land Use Committee for more work. That committee will take it up March 26.

rgreene@loudounnow.com
@RenssGreene

5 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Balk at Rt. 28 Car Lot

  • 2018-03-16 at 1:49 pm
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    Data centers are going up left and right in LoCo. The BOS has no issues with building data centers on Broad Run and building huge diesel storage tanks on Loudoun’s source of drinking water! BFS Saul needs to kiss the ring or write a check or do whatever the other data center developers do. What’s the real agenda behind the BOS resistance to THIS data center and not the other 42?

  • 2018-03-17 at 2:03 am
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    Preservation of what remains of Guilford was endorsed in 2009 by the William and Mary Center for Archeological Research, which noted that “Ruritan Circle was bypassed by [major thoroughfares], essentially saving the tiny community.” The center concluded that Guilford Station should be preserved as “a compact, railroad-oriented, late nineteenth-century village [embodying] regional vernacular architectural trends.” The center added, “The handful of historic buildings clustered along Ruritan Circle and Ruritan Road are a rare reminder of the rapidly dwindling history of the area becoming increasingly threatened by development pressures.”

    Local folks still have a tentative vision for Old Sterling/Guilford: a walkable, bicycle-accessible commercial district, including a two-to-three-block business area, parking and green spaces such as a park along the W&OD Trail linking nicely to similar efforts in Herndon and Ashburn.

    Can Old Sterling ever become a pearl on the W&OD Bike Trail?

  • 2018-03-22 at 4:24 pm
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    Back on August 30, 2017, the B.F. Saul Company first presented to the Sterling Community their “interim” plan (that can last many many years) to develop 33 acres between Atlantic Avenue near West Church Road (and behind the IMI Furniture store) and Route 28. Currently, this area is a forest of trees. B.F. Saul initially described that the acreage would include a lake with a gazebo and trees, an area for car rental and car sales, upscale restaurants and a convenience store with gas pumps. This presentation has subsequently been presented to the Loudoun Planning Commission, the Loudoun Heritage Commission, and most recently to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and has been downgraded each time. For example, the lake has now been reduced to a storm water pond or rain overflow area, the car rental and car sale area has now been expanded to a 10 acre offsite rental parking lot to supplement Dulles Airport’s Enterprise car rental, and the high end/upscale restaurants have been reduced to a Taco Bell fast food restaurant. Worse yet, the area could contain yet another data center. The county already has 75 data centers. Sterling deserves better! If you feel the same, NOW is the time to speak up (the Mar 26 meeting in the article was cancelled but will be rescheduled). Please contact a member of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors to voice your opinion at Phone: 703-777-0204 or Comment Line: 703-777-0115 or website: http://www.Loudoun.gov. The Board of Supervisors include: Phyllis J. Randall (Chair), Ralph M. Buona (Vice Chair) (Ashburn), Koran T. Saines (Sterling District) or Loudoun.gov/Sterling, Suzanne M. Volpe (Algonkian District), Tony R. Buffington Jr. (Blue Ridge District), Ron A. Meyer (Broad Run District), Geary M. Higgins (Catoctin District), Matthew F. Letourneau (Dulles District), Kristen C. Umstattd (Leesburg District).

  • 2018-03-22 at 5:19 pm
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    In their presentations to the community, BF Saul painted a very rosy view which seems to conflict with the facts and their application. A mandatory stormwater detention pond was presented as a whimsical recreational “lake”. This might be a meaningful amenity for W&OD users but they won’t know about it, or likely venture through a massive parking lot to find it. We were told how in a decade or so, the site it will become a community asset (like a mall, as if we need another one). But this vision is clearly a prevarication/exaggeration if they are unwilling to proffer out a datacenter use. I repeat what I said to the Planning Commission: this is BF Saul’s land, of course they can build what they want, but please make a meaningful investment in “Guilford Station” (Old Sterling) to help preserve some aspect of the original railroad town. Show the community that it isn’t only about profit. I would have supported a plan that caters specifically to the W&OD — that removes the blight that is now Sterling Station.

  • 2018-03-22 at 11:55 pm
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    I’m glad to see there’s some resistance to B.F. Saul’s proposed development of this parcel of land. Having attended some of the “Envision Loudoun” meetings last year, I heard a lot of people speak up about having some “green spaces” in our planning. Why must everything be paved and covered with faceless, repetitive commercial businesses? Why is the bottom line always about money and turning every precious bit of land into what makes the most profit?

    The old railroad town of Guilford/Old Sterling needs to be restored and revitalized and this parcel should compliment and honor the precious history that lies therein. The Loudoun Design Cabinet studied this area and determined it could become a real “destination place” if developed with imagination and care.

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