Some Loudoun County supervisors expressed frustration with what they saw as inadequate review by the Planning Commission of the commission’s annual report Thursday.
Large rezonings and other land use decisions face review at the county’s Planning Commission, which negotiates with developers and makes recommendations before passing the application on to the Board of Supervisors. But some supervisors said some of those applications needed more work before they came to the county board—most recently, the ongoing Silver District West application to put a 3,706-home, mixed-use development on 158 acres along the Greenway.
The property’s owners have asked the county for permission to build nearly a quarter-million square feet of office space, 240,000 square feet of retail space, a site for an elementary school, a public park, 381 townhouses, and 3,325 multi-family units. The Planning Commission recommended approving that application 7-1-1, with Salmon opposed and Commissioner Tom Priscilla (Blue Ridge) absent. Supervisors have sent that application to what are expected to be several meetings at the board’s Transportation and Land Use Committee.
“When you approve an application, you approve it as-is. Not with work to do, but as-is,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), adding “If you don’t agree with an aspect of that application, please don’t send it to us with an approval.”
“The role of the Planning Commission, when you know you’re going to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors, is to make it the best application possible,” said Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). He said the commission has “the green light to push back on applicants.”
Commissioner Jeff Salmon (Dulles), who chaired the commission last year, said much of that frustration may be down to problems with communication.
“We intend to communicate more fully to the board and be more explicit in our recommendations,” Salmon said. He also encouraged supervisors to speak with their appointed commissioners when they are unclear.
Current Commission Chairman Cliff Keirce (Broad Run) agreed.
“Give us that feedback, because unless we get it back, we don’t know your concerns,” Keirce said. “And that’s how we can grow and learn from that.”