Loudoun's vision for development around the county's two planned Metro
stations in Ashburn could change if the Board of Supervisors moves forward with one member's initiative.
Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), who represents the are around both Ashburn stations – at Routes 606 and 772 – placed an item on the board's Oct. 16 meeting agenda to initiate a comprehensive plan amendment, or CPAM, across a wide stretch of land west of Dulles International Airport.
The comprehensive plan indicates the county’s desired development options for all of its land. An amendment would alter the existing plan. However, zoning guides the actual use of land. Generally, property must be rezoned to achieve a developer’s vision. Through the rezoning process, the county and the developer negotiate the build out of the property using the comprehensive plan as a guide.
Williams’ initiative indicates the county, possibly led by a consultant, would examine the existing plan for the specified area and then develop alternative scenarios for consideration. While landowners, developers and other stakeholders will be invited to play a role in the process, it's unclear how much control they would have offer specific scenarios.
“This proposal would evaluate the existing, planned land use patterns for its potential to realize the above-mentioned benefits, the probable timing for realizing the land uses and associated benefits, and the public investment that will be needed to support the land uses,” a staff report about the initiative states. The report also states that the idea behind the initiative is evaluate alternatives “that would minimize public costs for future infrastructure, maximize overall public benefit, and also allow for the tax district to generate revenues sooner.”
The Board of Supervisors elected in 2003 permitted comprehensive plan amendment proposals for the entire county and quickly found itself overwhelmed with such proposals.
The Williams initiative appears at first blush to be board-driven, with stakeholders having opportunities to weigh in. It also focuses only on land around the two Ashburn Metro stations, which will be part of Metro’s Silver Line, the first phase of which will soon be complete. A second phase will extend the line from its current terminus in Reston through Dulles International Airport and out to Ashburn.
A representative for George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis indicated earlier this year during an event at The George Washington University in Ashburn that county plans were not adequate to absorb its anticipated business and population growth. That representative and CRA’s Stephen S. Fuller have also stated that much of Loudoun’s future development would be drawn toward the rail line.
One problem for the Williams’ CPAM may be staff time. Supervisors debated during the Oct. 2 meeting about which of their initiatives should take priority as they lay out the schedule for the remainder of their terms. That debate will continue Wednesday.
While the accompanying map identifies a proposed study area, that could be altered by the board if it takes up the initiative.
Supervisors voted earlier this year to participate in the Silver Line project.