Critics see snarls in new Loudoun development plan
Critics of the new draft of Loudoun County’s comprehensive plan question a proposed increase in residential development, arguing it will intensify congestion.
“Loudoun 2040 Comprehensive Plan,” written by the Envision Loudoun Stakeholders Committee, is meant to serve as the county’s guide for land use and transportation policy.
A draft of the plan was posted on the Envision Loudoun website (www.envision-loudoun.org) in May, and the county held a series of meetings to give the public the opportunity to comment. The Board of Supervisors expects to vote on the plan early next year.
The plan establishes “urban policy areas” around Silver Line Metro stations and along state Route 7. It emphasizes “appropriate density and walkable or transit-oriented mixed-use development in these areas.”
As work on the new Metro corridor continues, discussion about urban development there is timely, says Gem Bingol, a field officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council.
“We need that kind of density. We have a huge investment in transit. We need to manage how growth happens over time or the county could easily not get what it’s looking for,” Bingol says.
Nonetheless, plans for urban development along Route 7 are “premature,” she says. “We don’t have a plan to make that an urban area.
We don’t have the transportation. Let’s make sure we have a good handle on the urban area we have been planning before we start thinking about that.
“Loudoun has a lot of history of too much development at once, and we’ve paid the price,” Bingol adds. “The county has managed to keep its high triple-A [bond] rating, but the residents have felt the impact.”
The new comprehensive plan also has met resistance from the Transition Area Alliance, an organization that aims to preserve open space as a buffer between the high-density suburban areas in the eastern and northern parts of the county and rural areas in the west.
The draft plan calls for “up to 1,500 newly planned residential units in the transition area over the next 20 years.”
That’s still too much growth, according to a statement on the alliance’s website, “As a county, we have not matched our infrastructure to the pace of new residential building.”