Editor: I recently attended a meeting where Deputy County Administrator Charles Yudd spoke about the draft of the new Comprehensive Plan, developed through the controversial Envision Loudoun process.
At that meeting, Mr. Yudd explained that both a fiscal impact and a transportation impact study of the new Plan would be done, with results presented to the Stakeholders’ Committee at their final meeting on July 9.
Mr. Yudd said the baseline—the starting point—for the analysis of the impact of the new plan is by-right development in the existing Comprehensive Plan. This analysis will determine if the new Plan would have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on the county’s fiscal health and transportation situation.
As a resident of the Rural Policy Area (RPA), my concern with this method is that the existing plan already allows an additional 7,500 houses to be built in the RPA. The new plan may or maynot add more density in the RPA, but the starting point by which it will be judged already has us already absorbing the effects of those 7,500 homes.
What are the effects?
VDOT estimates that each house generates 10 vehicle trips per day on our roads. Those 7,500 homes put 75,000 cars, delivery trucks, landscaping companies, garbage trucks, and everything else that services a home on our already congested byways each and every day.
The county estimates that each new single-family house built in the western part of the county has an initial cost to taxpayers of $31,007. This amount covers the costs to the county of building new schools, fire stations, and other public facilities resulting from increasing residential density. Additionally, the county recognizes that each newhouse costs taxpayers money year after year, because each household continues to consume more in services than it pays in taxes.
(New houses built anywhere in the county are a cost to all county taxpayers, no matter which policy area you live in, due to both the initial costs for the services required, and the ongoing expenses of maintaining those services.)
By using the existing plan as the baseline, the new plan will likely be declared fiscally and transportation neutral in the Rural Policy Area if it doesn’t add density. But what is missing in this analysis is that the RPA will already have been bludgeoned by the effects of the existing plan.
I’ve heard one of our political leaders refer to the fact that there have been “rumblings” about the proposed plan from the rural area, which this elected official didn’t understand because the RPA is being “left alone.” Those rumblings are a response to the damage already being inflicted on the rural area—the destruction of farmland, the degrading of our unique and historic rural road network, the squeezing out of the equestrian industry, the overloading of the major transportation arteries, the crowding in schools, just to name a few of the consequences of unchecked growth.
Citizens beware. Envision Loudoun (the process creating the new plan) is a growth plan. Remember that the criteria by which it will be judged—the impact studies under way now—do not account for thegrowth with which we have already been saddled.
Emily Houston, Paeonian Springs