Editor: At a meeting in Broadlands one of the folks asked, “Why should I be interested in the Envision Loudoun new comprehensive plan? We live in a built community and really only worry about our schools, traffic congestion, property values, and high taxes.” I thought to myself that is exactly why you should be paying attention to the new plan now being prepared.
Over the next 20 years there could be another 50,000 housing units built in eastern Loudoun and maybe 70,000 if some have their way. In either case there is going to be complete build out. If the county does not plan for it now there could be a basic shortage of schools, parks, libraries, and other facilities with no room left to provide them. Despite Metro and more bus transit, all these new folks are going to have cars and even though Supervisors Meyer and Letourneau and others have accomplished a lot there is only so much relief possible. There could be permanent traffic congestion and wasted hours for all sitting in traffic. And it is certain that property taxes will have to increase to finance all the new growth that does not pay for itself even while property values will stagnate or increase more slowly as the quality of life is reduced for all.
Already the Six-Year Capital Investment Plan allocates $639 million for schools construction and $804 million for transportation all to take care of existing deficits knowing the future growth will demand millions more, while building parks and trails are being left behind.
What about opening up the rural areas for major development one might ask? After all there is plenty of open land out there and indeed there are development interests that would love to accommodate. But the problem only becomes worse for eastern residents. The county estimates the capital public facility cost of each new single family house in the west is in the range of $ 50,000 and in the rural areas there are no proffers to be collected so 100 percent the costs hits the wallet of all Loudoun taxpayers. Beyond that the present road system is designed for a rural economy and there is limited school capacity all of which would have to be massively upgraded to accommodate a significant share of the possible new growth. And, of course, these taxpayer funds will not be available to address the growing development problems in eastern Loudoun.
In addition the rural area is one of Loudoun’s assets that both provides recreation and social opportunities for eastern residents in the countryside and is a key to attracting high value jobs to the county.
So when we think about it all citizens have a huge vested interest in seeing that the new Comprehensive Plan provides well thought out policies to control over development and retain the quality of life we all enjoy. This May there is an opportunity to make our voices heard and opinions known at the Envision Loudoun public open houses. Don’t miss it because the stakes are high and the concern for schools, traffic, property values, and taxes in the future will be on the line.
Al Van Huyck, Round Hill
[Editor’s Note: The writer is a member of the Envision Loudoun Stakeholders Committee.]