Editor: As a member of the Loudoun County Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders Committee, I recently had the singular honor and privilege of meeting several hundred of my friends and colleagues, all fellow Loudoun residents, at four of the six community forums held by Envision Loudoun. This is the project name given to an initiative by the county supervisors to rewrite the county comprehensive plan for the first time since 1999. The county comprehensive plan guides virtually every aspect of county land use and development, including zoning, transportation, commercial development, residential development, parks and greenspace development, protection measures for western Loudoun, bike and hiking trails and a myriad of other associated issues.
The citizen discussions at these meetings were insightful, inclusive and free-ranging. However, over the course of the four meetings I attended, a few common, major themes emerged and rose to the threshold of what I would call a consensus in this remarkably diverse county.
First, our citizens are concerned by the quantity of growth—probably no surprise to anyone—but they are equally concerned about the quality of that growth. There was a great deal of discussion in my groups about specific development projects that, in their view, significantly damage the unique aesthetic of Loudoun County.
The second major issue I discerned was transportation congestion, again probably not a surprise to anyone. But it was the depth of commonsense understanding of this issue by our citizens that caught my attention. Many citizens expressed strong feelings about new development overwhelming existing and even planned infrastructure. They acknowledged growth was going to occur, but they were notably frustrated by projects begun and completed with what they characterized as almost no regard to the burdens those projects would place on our major transportation arteries.
Several projects coming before the board in the next few months will serve to showcase these precise concerns expressed by our citizens in near unanimity. The one most pressing is a proposal to build 640 new residential units at One Loudoun at the intersection of Rt. 7 and Rt. 28.
For those of us who commute down Rt. 7 and Rt. 28 in the morning, there is simply no way 640 new residential units at that critical road juncture will not add significant traffic to a county transportation node already overwhelmed. If the transportation algorithm being used by county staff doesn’t show that, they really need to get a new slide rule.
I commute to Old Town every day, and the two worst stretches of my commute, by far, are Rt. 7 and Rt. 28. This many new units at that location will have a major impact on the daily quality of life of residents in Broad Run, Algonkian, Ashburn, Dulles, Sterling and Leesburg districts. In fact, since Brambleton residents heading for Rt. 28 and Catoctin residents in and around Leesburg heading for Rt. 7 will also be affected, the Blue Ridge and Catoctin Districts also have a serious stake in the game.
We on the Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders Committee are honored to be asked to contribute to this county’s future, and we take our jobs very seriously. But Board of Supervisors approval of projects such as this, in the face of what is clearly a common consensus in the county by its citizens regarding the desired direction of future development, would be at best ill-advised and at worst render the Envision Loudoun project meaningless. I would respectfully suggest the board place on hold any controversial development projects until it has time to hear and digest the findings of the 26-member citizens group it commissioned to consider precisely these kinds of issues.
Mike Turner, Leesburg
At Large Representative,
Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders Committee