After a tumultuous review process that included a sometimes-confrontational meeting with the project’s neighbors, Loudoun supervisors have voted along party lines to approve up to 74 age-restricted townhouses near the National Conference Center.
“This has been an incredibly difficult item for me, and I have been back and forth on this over and over and over again,” said board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn), who voted to approve it. He said the recent change to the application to make the townhouses age-restricted finally won him over. Under the developer’s agreement with the county, at least one resident of each townhouse must be 55 or older, and no children under the age of 18 will be allowed to live there.
At the same time, some supervisors indicated they would not support a second application for 27 more townhouses adjacent to the center. The applicant has requested action on that application be deferred, and with no vote, the deadline for board action passed, and no revisions submitted so far, it remains in limbo unless it is withdrawn.
“The applicant should withdraw west [the other application] because there’s not a chance on this planet that I will support the west application,” Buona said. “… I will not support it, and will work very hard to make sure it does not pass.”
The property is surrounded by the homes in Lansdowne on the Potomac, a homeowners association encompassing more than 4,000 homes. The townhouses are proposed for the southeastern end of the National’s property, east of Riverside High School’s sports fields.
The approval rezones about 20.3 acres to accommodate the townhouses, and rezones another 38.6 acres closer to the center itself to office park zoning.
The application’s opponents had argued its previous iterations would strain schools, crowd roads, and possibly impact the HOA’s amenities, among other concerns. Many of those remain opposed, showing divisions between the Lansdowne on the Potomac HOA board and many of their residents.
The board’s three Democrats voted against the application. County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) argued there are other, better uses for the property which will be precluded if the owner starts building housing. And she said the National Conference Center’s approximately 68 acres, much of that relatively undeveloped and which she described as “an environmental oasis, in many ways,” may soon be up for something new.
“I don’t believe that the National Conference Center is probably long for this world,” Randall said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to be there. I think it, to a great extent, has kind of seen its heyday.”