Letter: Neil Conley, Aldie

Editor: Since 2000, Loudoun has been one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. The Planning Commission’s draft of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan forecasts 56,960 new homes by 2040, with 19,740 of those in the 36-mile strip called the Transition Policy Area. But “forecasted” numbers are county estimates, not what developers could build.

Using the draft’s proposed densities, a medium-scenario build-out of just the TPA results in 33,621 new homes. Justification for massive density increase is an unconstrained market analysis showing over 60,000 homes could be sold in Loudoun by 2040. The analysis focused “solely on what the real estate market would support” without barriers to development.

We suffer from one of the nation’s longest commute times. A traffic modeling study tested the county’s planned 2040 road network against the forecasted density in the Planning Commission’s November 2018 draft, showing many roads still at or near capacity in 2040. The March 2019 draft, however, increased density over the November 2018 draft.

Children often attend class in trailers because new schools are over capacity. Redistricting forces children into new schools regularly. In their 2020 budget, the county noted that by 2030 funds needed for school renovation would exceed funds needed for new schools because our population is decreasing. The draft, however, will force the county to build at least 33 new schools.

Loudoun is currently lacking sufficient parks and trails to support the current population. Under the Draft, the TPA will lose 3,700 acres of green space because the 70 percent open space areas will be reduced to 50 percent. Loudoun also loses 10 percent of the state’s most productive farmland every five years to development.

We cannot afford (literally) twenty years of unmanaged growth framed around market demand, hoping that a sea of data centers will always fund it.

Loudoun needs:

  1. Innovative solutions, such as those implemented in Denver, that create affordable housing for our workforce, senior citizens, and younger generations.
  2. Urban planning that maximizes walkable housing around our metro stations similar to the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor.
  3. Data centers around airports to mitigate them driving up land prices and driving out small businesses, which—like data centers—are zoned “light industrial.”

4. Infrastructure that supports the current and proposed population in an area before adding density.

  1. Land bays P1, P2, and Q1 to remain in the RPA.
  2. TPA open space requirements to remain as open space placed in a permanent easement held by the county.
  3. Land bays Q2 and L to be the only TPA areas to receive higher density. Infrastructure exists here to handle increased density.
  4. Northstar Boulevard to be four lanes maximum and a hard line—no high density development or transition community centers west of Northstar.

In sum, our Board of Supervisors need to chart a course for smart, managed growth that will create a diverse economy and affordable housing while focusing on ways to retain the TPA, green space, and rich farmland that make Loudoun unique.

Neil Conley, Aldie

4 thoughts on “Letter: Neil Conley, Aldie

  • 2019-05-15 at 11:53 am
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    After reading this letter, I have concluded that Mr. Conley took a bunch of statistics picked up from somewhere and threw them up against a wall to see if they would stick. It’s difficult to call out every misstatement in the letter, since there are so many. Let’s pick a few. The forecasted numbers are not “county estimates” that are pulled out of thin air. If you look at past purchase rates of new homes in the county, you will get a number of about 3,300 per year. If you multiply that by 20 years–you get about 60,000 homes that might be purchased over a 20 year period in the County. Makes sense. Another major point left out of this letter is that areas M1, M2 and M3 in the southern part of the TPA cannot be built until roads and other infrastructure are in place to support them. That takes away 8,300 homes from the 17,000 that are in the forecast. That leaves a little over 9,000 new homes that can be built in the TPA under the new plan.
    Let’s point out a couple of other misconceptions: Traffic, and the land bays in the Rural Policy Area. Traffic in some areas can be a problem. The issue that I have with all of the complainers is that when they moved to Loudoun, did they consider that there are going to be a whole lot of people going the same way that they are driving when they go to work? All those people have to drive home, too. So, these folks who bought in Loudoun who now are complaining that the traffic is bad. Duh! If you want a 5 minute commute to work, then buy a house close to your work. Facetious comments aside, the Transportation Impact Model shows several areas in the southern part of the TPA that are now and will remain at or above capacity. It also shows that even with development, there are still many roads that are under capacity. The county has taken steps during this Board’s term to increase spending on road infrastructure. In the works are several new byways that should help the southern routes to the east.
    Finally, I take umbrage at those who keep insisting that Area P1 be left in the RPA. The people who say to leave us in the RPA are ignoring the development that surrounds us. I’ll bet that Mr. Conley does not have a SportsPlex, a high school, a Walmart, a 55,000 square foot shooting range, and a Microsoft datacenter campus just yards from his property lines. These folks also ignore that Area P1 has a six-lane highway on one side, a four-lane highway on one side, and two more four-lane highways that will close the circle around it. There are schools, shopping, and sports venues within a mile of P1. Even Willowsford cannot claim the nearness to services. I’m baffled at why people who don’t live in my neighborhood keep trying to tell me what should happen to my property.
    I believe that the draft 2019 Comprehensive Plan has made a valiant effort at planning where growth should occur and not waiting for it to occur. To be sure, it’s not perfect, but I think it’s a good foundation on which to plan our future.

    • 2019-05-21 at 10:28 am
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      Mr. “Galluponover,” you consistently conclude wrong in your rambling comment. First, let me point out that the forecasted housing statistics that I used were taken from Table 1 in the Planning Commission’s March 13th draft. When you claim that 17,000 homes “are in the forecast” for the TPA you are mistaken, perhaps referencing a prior draft that you may have glanced at many months ago. The forecasted housing number for the TPA, in the March 13th draft, is 19,740 homes.

      Second, you are apparently confused as to the definition of “estimate” if you think forecasted numbers are not estimates. Here is how the County–in its own words–estimates the constrained housing forecasts: “By utilizing the proposed guidelines contained in the land use place types, such as density ranges, allowed uses, expected product type mix, along with the land allotted for each land use place type, an estimated forecast of each product type is developed.” (See page 8, Item 14, Envision Loudoun Fiscal Impact Analysis, Finance/Government Operations and Economic Development Committee, March 13, 2018). Note that the County used the words “estimated forecast.” To further clarify, for your benefit obviously, the 60,000 number is an unconstrained market analysis forecast estimating how many homes could be sold in Loudoun, if there were no barriers to development. (See page 2, of County staff’s April 3rd, Item 1 report.) In other words, you are conflating unconstrained estimates with constrained.

      Third, your claim that “a little over 9,000 new homes that can be built in the TPA under the new plan” is patently wrong or perhaps you’re just trying to be clever with numbers. Just because 8,300 of the planned homes in the TPA will be delayed until the requisite road network is built out does not mean that you can simply remove them from the forecast and conclude that they will not be built under the new plan.

      Fourth, your rambling road diatribe is nonsensical. You seem to suggest that people who recently moved out to Loudoun should now embrace the Planning Commission’s massive density increases because that is what we bought into, and we should not impede plans to make things worse. As for me and many others, we obviously understand congestion is a way of life in this region, and that growth will continue. The point that you fail to understand is that I and others want managed growth focused on first providing the needed infrastructure so that congestion, for example, is not massively worse than it currently is. County staff noted as much on page 2 of their May 20th Item #1 report to the Board, ” [S]taff recommends a limited approach for density increases in the TPA. Staff’s recommendations are based primarily on the ability of the existing and planned transportation network to provide adequate capacity for current and future conditions and on the ability of the County to provide public facilities, including parks, trails, and open space, to current and future residents.”

      Fifth, as for your eagerness as a P1 resident to “galluponover” to the TPA, I can only presume you have some acreage in P1 that you hope to monetize via higher density zoning. I can appreciate that. Although not expressed coherently, I do see your rationale for adding density to P1 and including it in the TPA. County staff expressed the reasons a bit more clearly in their recent recommendations. In fact, you’ll be happy to read that County staff, in their May 20th Item 1 document, recommend the Board add some density to P1, P2, and Q1, and include them in the TPA. Giddyup.

  • 2019-05-15 at 4:36 pm
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    It’s kind of interesting that Mr. Conley lives in a subdivision that was rural land not too many years ago. Now that he has his wonderful life in Loudoun, he and many other hypocrites want to shut the door on others wanting what they have. The thing of it is, new potential residents of Area P1 would have a lot less impact on Loudoun roads than residents in his subdivision in Aldie. And, there are already 5 schools within a 1 mile radius of Area P1. The same was not and is not true regarding his subdivision home in Aldie. Their kids are bused up to 10 miles. As the other writer who commented above notes, there are many inaccuracies in Mr. Conely’s “opinion.”

    • 2019-05-21 at 10:48 am
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      “Smarthgrowth.” You’re being melodramatic and inaccurate. I do not want to “shut the door on others” wanting what I have. I never stated that nor implied that. What I do want, as I wrote in my letter, is smart, managed growth. (Similar to your moniker with which you disguise your name.) As for P1 becoming part of the TPA, I have read the County staff’s recommendations in their recent Item 1, filed May 20th. I appreciate the rationale posited by County staff. The infrastructure seems to be in place or soon will be. As for inaccuracies, your short comment assuredly exceeded my letter. My community is quite large, but I can tell you no children near me take a bus 10 miles to school. In fact, we currently have 4 schools within a mile, will have 5 schools by next year, and will have 6 schools within 1.5 miles.

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