The final step of the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Process is here. A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, December 13 at 6:00 pm in the Board Room of the Government Center (1 Harrison St. SE in Leesburg). The Board of Supervisors will vote on the adoption of the new Zoning Ordinance at this public hearing, and we need your support to reiterate our priorities for the next stage of the process. Call 703-777-0200 to sign up in advance to speak.
Many positive additions and alterations have been made throughout the process, and we are supporting the passing of the new Zoning Ordinance at this public hearing. Beneficial changes include:
- Open space – refinement of the open space credit system to incentivize high quality open space and protect the most ecologically valuable areas.
- Native plants – incorporation of heightened requirements for native plantings, with provisions for up to 85 percent required natives for new development plantings.
We urge that you show up to speak in agreement with these positive changes, as well as to reinforce environmental concerns that have not been addressed in the Zoning Ordinance as it stands, but will be tackled in future Zoning Ordinance Amendments (ZOAMs) and Comprehensive Plan Amendments (CPAMs). It is vital that we band together to convey to the Board the importance of prioritizing implementing ecological protections in these categories where they are the most important. The issue areas that will be handled in future ZOAMs and CPAMs that are of greatest concern for wildlife are as follows, beginning with Loudoun Wildlife’s highest priority:
- Western Loudoun Rural Uses had a significant number of important items that were deferred, making this the ZOAM that should be considered the highest priority. Some of the most relevant issues for wildlife are:
- Dark sky and lighting standards (Outdoor Lighting, Music, and Hours of Operation)
- Agricultural processing
- Use Restrictions in the Mountainside Overlay District must be more definitively developed in order to protect the valuable wildlife habitat that exists in this overlay district.
- The Solar Arrays Input Process & Policy as well as the Community-Scale Solar Facilities ZOAM/CPAM should be given more immediate consideration. This is a countywide issue, concerning the trend of landowners increasingly receiving solicitations for the installation of solar arrays. Proactivity on this issue is imperative to instill performance standards that protect natural resources and the rural environment, and to comply with regional and state climate goals.
- Data Center Design Standards & Locations (all associated CPAMs/ ZOAMs) are also justified in holding a place on the first tier of prioritizations. The high demand and high impact of data centers, combined with exponentially increasing stress on the power grid & rapidly growing citizen concerns demand imminent action on this issue. Land use issues relating to data centers are becoming increasingly apparent, especially when one considers the unprecedented number and magnitude of transmission line projects proposed in the county to meet data center power demand.
- The Lucketts Small Area Plan must also be prioritized so that it may be completed prior to the completion of the Route 15 North Widening Design Phase 2. We also encourage the designing of a template or similar resource that would serve to streamline the rural historic village planning process in order to maximize the efficiency of these projects.
- The Source Water Protection ZOAM & CPAM should be moved up in priority in order to protect water quality & aquatic health.
- The Floodplain Overlay District Updates ZOAM should be prioritized immediately following this.
We encourage you to use the above as talking points for the December 13th public hearing to reinforce to the Board the importance of putting standards in place to protect wildlife in these areas that affect them most, as expediently as possible. Supervisors will be providing specific prioritization directives to County staff in January as part of the Department of Planning and Zoning Work Plan.
The Zoning Ordinance Rewrite has been a multi-year campaign for Loudoun Wildlife and other conservation partners in the County. We have stayed involved and engaged by reviewing drafts and submitting comments in favor of wildlife protection inclusions at each stage of the rewrite thus far, and we thank all of our volunteers that have helped us in this process. We appreciate your continued support for protecting wildlife in County policy.
Final Zoning Ordinance Rewrite draft released at the start of December and a summary of revisions to the final draft.
Staff packet with more information on the public hearing proceedings.
Loudoun Coalition Matrix containing information on outstanding items of concern for future ZOAMs and CPAMs.