Only hours after a room full of Lansdowne residents gave county supervisors an earful about a proposal to build 101 townhouses around the National Conference Center, and only a week before a scheduled vote on the project, the National’s owners have proposed “quite significant” changes to their application.
“We got the word this morning, about 12 noon, that they wanted to change the application again,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) on Friday. “I have not yet talked to them.” She said her staff has handled that change while she has been in other meetings, and “as soon as I get them I will send the information on to the residents so they can see it.”
Randall and Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) hosted a meeting at Lansdowne on Thursday night to hear from residents about the application, which has seen increasingly strong opposition from neighbors.
The applicant has offered a number of concessions, including agreeing not to build certain other things on the property like data centers, constructing public spaces like basketball courts and a dog park, and keeping the average size of the townhouses at or above 4,000 square feet—and, notably, an offer to build age-restricted the housing that the Lansdowne HOA rejected.
But those offers have not satisfied the people living nearby in Lansdowne. The meeting between residents and county supervisors Thursday evening got contentious several times.
And those offers could be out the window, depending on what’s in the revised application. That has not yet been publicly released, but is expected to be shared with residents early this week.
At the meeting, residents complained not only about the potential visual impact, but raised concerns about safety and traffic on their streets. Many were skeptical of the traffic study conducted by the applicant, which both supervisors the applicant’s representatives in the meeting acknowledged did not encompass some intersections in Lansdowne. Buona said the county government has begun work to conduct those required traffic studies in the future itself, rather than rely on developers’ reports.
People in the meeting also complained they had been left out of the conversation around the project until recently. Randall said she would work on improving public outreach.
“It’s on our side. We’re the elected officials, we’re supposed to be the ones to do the reach out,” Randall said. “But I wouldn’t mind some ideas of what to do in the future.”
Both supervisors entered the meeting saying they were undecided on the National’s application.
“If the same application were anywhere else, with the affordable dwelling units, it would be easy for me,” Randall said. “But the location is a tough location.”
After seeing the community’s unanimous opposition to the project in that meeting, Randall hinted she was leaning toward opposing the project, but cautioned that would also take away proffers that would restrict what the National could build on its property in the future.
“If you’re saying no to the homes, something’s going to be a yes,” Randall said.
And Buona encouraged residents who were concerned about the application to send their concerns to the board and other individual supervisors.
The application was scheduled for a vote Thursday, Feb. 22, but is likely to come off the board’s agenda for that evening.
Loudouners can contact the county Board of Supervisors by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find contact information for individual supervisors at loudoun.gov/bos.