The Board of Supervisors-appointed panel that has worked during the past two years to revise the county’s long-term community development and transportation strategies made the final tweaks to its work Monday night.
The June 18 Envision Loudoun Stakeholders Committee meeting was its only work session to follow a round of public open houses last month when the first drafts of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan and updated Countywide Transportation Plan were held out for review. According to staff tallies, 372 people participated in the six community meetings. Also, 1,163 comments were recorded during the sessions and online—enough to fill 184 pages in a staff report.
The panel didn’t dive into the specifics of those comments, but instead ran through a series of 51 votes on final plan changes that had been proposed by the staff or by individual committee members. Those ranged from major changes—such a failed motion to abandon plans to allow urban-scale development along Rt. 7 in the areas of the Dulles Town Center, Kincora and One Loudoun—to minor ones, like showing the locations of the Dulles Airport runways on the plan’s various maps.
The 24-member panel has one meeting left. On July 9, it will hear from consultants on the fiscal and transportation impacts expected as development occurs under the plans’ policies over the next two decades. After that briefing, the draft plan will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on July 19. Then the whole project moves to the Planning Commission, which already has agreed to forego its traditional August recess to begin its review. The first formal public hearing on the plans is expected this fall.
During Monday night’s session, many members said they were hesitant to reopen debate on policies that had been hashed out repeatedly during the past year, and only a dozen proposed changes found majority support. However, the motions set the stage for the debate that will continue during the planning commission’s review. The majority of the panel voted to move forward with plans to expand areas for high-rise, urban-scale development and to expand the Transition Policy Area—even over objections voiced by the Board of Supervisors. A proposal to add a statement that the Rural Policy Area was intended to be permanently rural fell just short of majority support. And a policy was added to support vocational training for rural industries, another last-minute change made after members realized in the waning days of their work that the plan didn’t address educational opportunities.
Loudoun’s existing comprehensive plan envisions a total of 180,000 residential units at the county’s full buildout. As of 2017, the county had 133,000 built, with another 29,000 already approved. That leaves about 18,000 additional units that could be approved under current planning policies. The draft new plan would increase that cap to 33,000 over the next two decades.
Studies being developed by consultants Tishler Bise for fiscal impact, and Kimley-Horn for the transportation network, will help the Planning Commission determine whether the development policies hammered out by the stakeholders group are sustainable in the long run. The results of that work will be the final pieces of information presented to the committee before it disbands July 9.