Letter: Al Van Huyck, Round Hill

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.]

One thought on “Letter: Al Van Huyck, Round Hill

  • 2018-05-17 at 12:21 pm

    First of all, thank you Mr. Van Huyck for all of your service to Loudoun County. You were one of the architects of the current Comprehensive Plan and look how many years it has stood the test of time. I also agree with you that people should be involved in evaluating and commenting on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. I believe that the challenge for everyone is that discussions about development are both overt and nuanced. When a citizen listens to only one side of the argument, he can overlook or not be aware of nuances that are not presented. For example, I believe that most people will agree that the Washington Metro area will continue to grow, since the government is not moving to the west coast anytime soon. Where will this growth occur? People need a place to live. Not that we can accommodate all growth in the DMV, but we can certainly absorb some of it. What happens to the leftover? Most experts agree that those folks will move further west and then drive through Loudoun to get to their jobs in Loudoun or to the east of Loudoun. So, will preventing the growth of new homes in Loudoun stop the growth of traffic? I say no.

    But, back to Mr. Huyck’s point–citizens need to be involved in the process. If we do nothing, the growth happens anyway. At least with proper planning (like he and others did 15 years ago), growth can be anticipated, budgeted for, and ameliorate challenges that growth brings. If you are just now starting to participate in the discussion, and looking at the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, I ask you to evaluate the big picture. Don’t get caught up in one-sided conversations for or against growth. Don’t let the drum beat of one side or the other of the argument unduly influence you. A great place to start is to attend the Envision Loudoun Open Houses that are going on now until the end of May. Then you can make up your own mind as to whether the new plan does a proper job of planning for growth to come.

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