One Loudoun: Setback Switch Wasn’t Us

The developers of One Loudoun seem caught between the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.

Cooley LLP partner Colleen Gillis, who represents One Loudoun, said the developer did not request a change to its application after the planning commission voted on it—a change that sparked a sternly-worded letter unanimously approved by commissioners Tuesday night.

[Read about the Planning Commission’s letter here.]

One Loudoun’s developer, Miller & Smith, has applied to rezone less than 5 acres from office park to residential and revise its concept plan to permit an additional 725 residential units, build a self-storage mini-warehouse, build closer to Rt. 7, and offer an indoor recreation center instead of $16.3 million in cash proffers.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of One Loudoun’s application in a split vote after a debate over the developer’s request to reduce the 300-foot building setback to 100 feet along Rt. 7. The commission endorsed only a 65-foot reduction to 245 feet. Under current zoning, developers along that area of Rt. 7 can build no closer than 300 feet to the road, although other exemptions have already been granted, including a recent reduction to 200 feet at nearby Lexington 7.

Commissioners objected after seeing a 200-foot setback referenced in the public notice advertisement for the application now before county supervisors.

Gillis said it wasn’t the developer making that change.

“Some supervisors wanted flexibility to change that, but we continue to reflect 245 feet in our material, so we believe we were respecting the wishes of the Planning Commission while also allowing what the board wanted, which was some flexibility to revert to a smaller setback,” Gillis said. “If they hadn’t reflected that in the ad, they wouldn’t have had the flexibility to change that.”

State law would forbid the Board of Supervisors from adopting a smaller setback than what was advertised before its public hearing without re-advertising and holding another public hearing.

One Loudoun’s application was advertised and came to the Board of Supervisors with a smaller, 200-foot setback, instead of the 245-foot setback in the Planning Commission’s recommendation. That happened at the recommendation of Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run). One Loudoun’s latest submissions to the county still show a 245-foot setback.

“We’re not trying to do this,” Gillis said. “And as you recall, Ron Meyer said from the dais, ‘don’t get mad at them, I’m the one who asked for the 200-foot setback.’”

Meyer again confirmed that the change was his suggestion the night the Planning Commission approved the letter, calling the scrum a “communication error.”

But Meyer’s mea culpa did not stop the commission from unanimously adopting a letter to the Board of Supervisors expressing “serious concern on several levels.” Gillis said that caught her off-guard.

“We had no idea, no indications, no heads-up that it was going to be covered at the Planning Commission on Tuesday night, it wasn’t on the agenda or anything,” Gillis said. “We wish we had known that it was going to be discussed, because we’d have loved to share our perspective and the facts, which seem to have been lost.”

One Loudoun’s application remains under consideration. The Board of Supervisors sent the project to its Transportation and Land Use Committee after a Sept. 14 public hearing. Meanwhile, the board has elected not to pursue a feasibility study for the indoor recreation center, indicating that some private firms have expressed interest in opening such a center in Loudoun.

[One Loudoun’s expansion faces an uphill battle with supervisors.]

One thought on “One Loudoun: Setback Switch Wasn’t Us

  • 2016-09-29 at 5:56 pm

    Maybe I should review the tape, but I thought the developer himself said they would look at the engineering and see if the 245-ft setback could work. Didn’t he then tell the supervisors that it wouldn’t work from an engineering perspective? If so, that calls into question his integrity once again. If not, then it’s Ron Meyer pulling his usual tricks.

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