Steep Slope Proposed Zoning Changes – Friday July 17 Decision Point
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is in process of reviewing proposals that would threaten steep slopes and floodplains. Protections for these critical natural resources have been in place for many years under the Revised General Plan that was adopted by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors with extensive citizen involvement.
The first proposal, which would open up fragile steep slope land for new uses, will be put to a vote of the Board of Supervisors Transportation and Land Use Committee in their Friday, July 17, 9 am meeting.
Additional details about the proposal can be found in documentation prepared for this meeting at loudoun.gov, and also on the website of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition of which Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is a member.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has written the following letter to the Board of Supervisors, and we urge our members and friends to share their views with their elected County representatives as well.
Contact information for the Supervisors can be found here: http://loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=86, and public meeting information can be found at http://loudoun.gov/Calendar.aspx.
To: Suzanne.Volpe@loudoun.gov, Eugene.Delgaudio@loudoun.gov, Janet.Clarke@loudoun.gov,
Dear Board of Supervisors Transportation and Land Use Committee Members – Supervisor Volpe (Committee Chair), Supervisor Clarke, Supervisor Delgaudio, Supervisor Higgins, and Supervisor York:
I write to you on behalf of the 1,000-member Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, to ask that you reject proposed zoning changes in ZOAM 2014-0004 whose purpose is to allow more uses in steep slope areas.
First, the proposed changes would violate the Revised General Plan that was adopted by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors with extensive citizen involvement, which states in Chapter 5 that the County will “prohibit land disturbance on slopes with a grade of more than 25 percent,” and that “special performance standards are to be used to protect slopes with grades from 15 to 25 percent.”
Second, the proposed changes threaten Loudoun County’s environment. As stated in the Revised General Plan, “steep slopes protected as part of a river and stream corridor or mountainside often serve as forested and vegetative areas that filter stormwater run-off and support various plant and wildlife habitats….Development on steep slopes often requires high volumes of clearing and ‘cut and fill.’ Such earth moving is subject to erosion and sedimentation that causes adverse effects on surface water quality and aquatic habitat.”
Third, we are concerned that the proposed changes would benefit a small number of individuals – for example, those seeking to build hillside residences – at the risk of general public health and safety. As stated in the Revised General Plan, “if improperly used and disturbance occurs, these areas could experience erosion, building and/or road failure, downstream flooding, and other hazards.”
Fourth, we have reason to believe that although the goal of the proposed changes is to be more ‘business friendly’, in fact the reverse will occur: new development on steep slopes would have adverse impact on Loudoun County’s rural economy and tourism.
Finally, the proposal includes allowing changes to development standards through the Minor Special Exception process, which would reduce opportunities for citizen input.
Please work to keep Loudoun County beautiful, and to keep all our citizens safe and prosperous, by rejecting zoning changes that would allow more uses in steep slope areas.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Conservation Advocacy Chair
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy