Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016

Loudoun Initiates Comprehensive Plan Review

A jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan is designed to provide public policy recommendations on issues related to growth, transportation, preservation, the environment, utilities, recreation, and more. While most comprehensive plans are drafted to be general in nature, their recommendations often form the basis to approve or deny legislative land use applications such as rezonings, special exceptions, and special permits.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has recently commenced an area-wide review of the County’s comprehensive planning documents to provide a vision for future growth and development over the next two decades. Loudoun has experienced substantial development over the past 15 years, and this exercise represents the first substantive revision since 2001 to the County’s chief planning documents, known as the Revised General Plan and Countywide Transportation Plan. Formally launched in March 2016, the initiative is expected to last for the next 15 months, during which the County and public will engage in a sustained dialogue regarding the future vision for the County.

It is anticipated that while certain aspects of the current plan will be retained, a majority of existing policies will be revised to account for the changing dynamics of the County. An emphasis will be placed on developing a strategic, understandable, and flexible document. Major policy changes are anticipated as they relate to the County’s Suburban Policy Area, with minor changes being made to the Rural Policy Area and Transition Policy Area recommendations.

Key to the process is soliciting the input of residents, landowners, developers, and business owners in this diverse County with competing interests. To that end, the Board has created a 24-member Stakeholders Committee, which first met in June. Led by the Chairman of the Planning Commission, the Stakeholders Committee is comprised of a broad range of citizen, environmental preservation, and development industry representatives.

Among the more critical issues to be addressed by the Stakeholders Committee is deciphering the future of the Transition Policy Area; namely, how the new plan can achieve a balance to protect current residents’ expectations while providing for future economic growth and housing opportunities. The Stakeholders Committee is also reviewing issues related to the redevelopment of older areas of the County, managing the planned Silver Line Metrorail extension, providing a multimodal transportation network, and ensuring availability of diverse housing options.

The County is in the process of holding four “Envision Loudoun” public outreach meetings to solicit input from local residents, developers, and business owners, the first three of which occurred on November 7, 14, and 16. Staff will use the information gleaned from these sessions to establish a clear and cohesive vision to determine the County’s preferences for the future.

Upcoming Envision Loudoun outreach sessions will occur on November 16, and December 8, and the Stakeholder Committee will next meet on December 19 at the Loudoun County Governmental Center. These meetings are open to the public, and additional information can be found here.