Supervisors Seek Options to Retain Loudoun’s Oldest Business

County government staff members will look for ways to keep Loudoun Mutual Insurance Company in Loudoun, as the company considers leaving the community it has served for 169 years.

Since 1849, Loudoun Mutual has operated in a building on High Street in Waterford. Since then, Loudoun’s zoning has changed—including putting that land in a residential district, causing the business to operate as a legal but nonconforming use. Under county code, while the company can stay in the building it occupies, it cannot expand its footprint.

“There’s some reason that this property was zoned inappropriately for a use that is not available to the zoning that it has, or it was overlooked,” said Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), who brought the issue to the county Board of Supervisors. “If there was a reason, then we’d like to know. If it was just overlooked because of a mapping mistake, then that would maybe bring a [zoning map amendment] onto the table as a correct way to address this problem.”

But while supervisors supported keeping the business where it is, the idea of changing the county’s zoning map gave some pause.

“There are other ways to solve this problem that don’t go to that extreme,” said Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). He said the only other board-initiated zoning map amendment he recalls during his time on the board is the ongoing planning work to accommodate the professional soccer team at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park in Leesburg. Developers have requested and received zoning map amendments to accommodate their plans.

“I’m very concerned that when you start initiating [zoning map amendments] for private landowners and private situations, that you’re opening up the door to have to do it for others,” Buona said.

Other supervisors supported the idea of a retention package from the Department of Economic Development.

The company has bought adjoining property, but cannot expand. Higgins said the company is considering leaving. Supervisors voted unanimously to ask county staff members for options to keep the company.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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