Editor: Goose Creek is under assault, again. Developers are currently seeking to rezone an environmentally sensitive track and undo protections that have been in place for over four decades.
In 1976, Goose Creek was designated as a scenic waterway and was entered into the Virginia Scenic Rivers program. On March 2, the Board of Supervisors will vote whether to rezone a portion of the watershed to allow for the blasting of the slopes and clear-cutting specimen forest for the construction of Goose Creek Overlook, a development of 251 townhomes.
To add insult to injury, the proposed rezoning is directly across from the controversial and ill-fated True North data center project that after two years remains stalled in construction with no buyer and generating none of the revenue promised to the county. Located across the creek, the proposed development is not only a death blow to this section of Goose Creek, but everything downstream as storm water and pollution make their way through Leesburg and into the Potomac River.
Goose Creek is a gem of Loudoun and a rare opportunity to experience the wilderness in eastern Loudoun. The habitat in this area includes critical wetlands that support diverse waterfowl, endangered turtles, egret rookeries, small and large mouth bass, and bald eagles. On land, the watershed provides a critical corridor for wildlife to transverse the county. It’s also the source of our drinking water.
The applicant’s proposed land purchase is speculative and contingent on successful rezoning. For its part, the developer is promising affordable housing units located over 5 miles from the closest metro station and over 3 miles to the closest public transit hub. The applicant concedes the AHUs lack adequate parking, arguing that AHU residents don’t require as many cars. They will need cars.
The developer also promises a nature trail in exchange for destroying the very same environment through which the trail will run. No thank you. The county already owns easements suitable to provide public access on both sides of Goose Creek. This is a unique opportunity to provide both protection and a public space for the enjoyment of generations of Loudoun residents as envisioned in the General Plan.
Since True North, we have a new Board of Supervisors with promises to better protect Loudoun’s rural and wild areas and promote smart growth over reckless growth. Hopefully, this time will be different and we’ve learned that we can’t expect to kill the Goose and continue to enjoy the eggs.
Karl Kelley, Leesburg