Saturday, Sep 10, 2022

Update on Loudoun County’s Zoning Ordinance Rewrite

Following the passage of the 2019 General Plan, which was the first overhaul of Loudoun County’s long-term planning document since the early 2000’s, Loudoun County has now turned its eye towards a comprehensive rewrite of its entire Zoning Ordinance. While this process has been ongoing for well over two years, the County recently concluded a 90-day referral period this summer, in which the public was encouraged to review the proposed draft text of the Zoning Ordinance and provide feedback to the County.

The Leesburg office took the opportunity to conduct an in-depth review of the proposed Zoning Ordinance. This review resulted in our drafting of a nine-page executive summary and the recordation of hundreds of comments. This combined letter was then submitted to County administration, County staff, and to all members of the Loudoun County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. The scale and scope of the feedback produced by our review speaks to the incomplete nature of the current draft text, as well as the major overarching concerns and issues that were brought to light by our review. Where possible, we offered solutions and options for resolving concerns, and have already had productive conversations with members of County staff, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors.

When the proposed Zoning Ordinance is adopted, it will be the controlling document for all development in the County. Our review of the Zoning Ordinance in its current state raises serious concerns about the future of land use regulation in Loudoun County. While large sections of the Zoning Ordinance have yet to be released, the sections that have been released to the public are overall too prescriptive and often incomplete. Loudoun’s 2019 General Plan provides an overall vision for development through 2040. The proposed Zoning Ordinance should be a document that provides a regulatory framework for citizens and the development community to facilitate the implementation of this vision.

We highly encourage stakeholders to review the draft text and continue to follow the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite process. Our Leesburg Office stands by ready to assist our clients and stakeholders in providing information and updates, in an effort to protect individual property rights, and safeguard against unnecessarily prescriptive and burdensome regulations which may limit Loudoun’s land use and economic potential.

At the Planning Commission’s August 30th public hearing, we heard some encouraging comments from Commissioners in regard to taking the time necessary to produce a Zoning Ordinance that works.  The Planning Commission will hold another public hearing later this fall and will conduct many work sessions to review additional sections of the proposed Zoning Ordinance. While we are hopeful that a substantive and thorough review comes to fruition, the time and opportunities to make further changes are not limitless. For this reason, we would encourage anyone with specific questions or concerns to reach out to J. Randall Minchew so that we may begin to assess your case.