The county Board of Supervisors has begun work to let developers build closer to Rt. 7.
The proposed change comes as a result of a long trend of applications along Rt. 7 requesting exceptions to the county’s 300-foot building setback between Leesburg and the Broad Run. Over the years, supervisors have granted exceptions for several major planned developments, including Lexington 7, One Loudoun, and Commonwealth Center—the latter down to 100 feet. There are also uneven exceptions to the rule at Lansdowne. Director of Planning and Zoning Ricky Barker had warned that the county needs to take a “holistic” look at Rt. 7 setbacks, rather than approve exceptions piecemeal.
Under the new proposal, the county would reduce the Rt. 7 building setback from 300 feet to 200 feet and increase the setback for parking lots from 100 feet to 150 feet. It will also add a requirement that setback areas include a manicured landscape screen of native plant species.
By comparison, developers may build no closer than 100 feet to Rt. 28 or Rt. 606. For now, there are few consistent standards for the required 100-foot landscape buffer along Rt. 7.
“This is actually a great thing for the Rt. 7 corridor for multiple reasons,” said Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), who serves on the board’s Transportation and Land Use Committee that recommended the changes. “It both maximizes the growth of greenspace on a beautification corridor, and secondly, maximizes the development potential for commercial. It’s one of those things where usually you hear those two, and usually they’re competing interests.”
He also said the native plant screen will be “a great place for honeybees.”
County planners will now draft new regulations, which will go to Planning Commission for review.