Editor: One phenomenon of rapid growth by a locality is that it tends to expose inadequacies in its leadership. Loudoun County is not unique in its growth however, it is certainly a fair example of the challenges that can occur with growth.
The Board of Supervisors seem to not grasp the concepts of how to design an effective plan to steer the county forward. Sound planning does not start with appointing a group of mostly biased builders, planners, and realtors, as a majority, because it ends up with an inane “let’s build more houses” plan like Loudoun County is now considering. Is it just me or did the group seem to first identify prime areas of land for residential development that will be the most profitable for builders? Then came the manufacturing of a story line for elected officials to use in selling the density, density, and more density plan to constituents.
The angry backlash against this massive density buildout idea seems to be coming from a majority of taxpayers, so the supervisors are now falling all over themselves to change the conversation from “we need more and higher density residential developments” to “worker housing, affordable housing, mixed use developments, and so on.”
Harkening back to my opening paragraph, Loudoun County needs leadership from supervisors, committee chairs, and department heads who understand how current taxpayers want their county to look 10, 15, 20 years from now. Basic to that, they must consider how transportation infrastructure and county services can be effectively expanded to service all residents, new and old alike, prior to designating more areas for residential development. And most importantly, rather than regurgitating a developer driven story line, the board needs to be clear about how a plan that increases housing density by 50,000 plus units fits into the vision current residents’ have for Loudoun County in 2040.
Loudoun has long been known as a “developers” county and in years gone by politicians needed to kowtow to the industry to keep them happy and investing. However, there are sufficient other revenue streams today and kowtowing is now just a lazy habit.
Hopefully, the supervisors will come to their collective senses and designate the plan in front of them as insufficient in addressing the desire of a majority of Loudoun residents. After so many good people have invested so much time and effort into a work product, it’s painful for all when leadership says it misses the mark. But in the end, true leaders must be willing to step up and make the tough calls.
Tom Jeavons, Lansdowne