I will demand that the county’s Conservation Easement Program be fully funded for eligible landowners, based on financial need. I will amend the 2040 Comprehensive Plan to include the Transfer of Development Rights Program (TDR). Specifically, I would include the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program as a tool the county could use to preserve open spaces and manage density. The transfer or sale of development rights would offer rural landowners and Farmers additional opportunities to maximize the financial benefit of protecting undeveloped open space. Unlike a Purchase of Development Rights program, which would be dependent upon the county-identified funding source, TDRs create a private marketplace for development rights where any developer can pay the rural landowner directly for their development rights and then take those rights to an area suitable for development. In my vision, TDRs can allow for the severance of development rights from a “sending” property in a rural area and the transfer of such rights to a “receiving” property in a more urban area. My recommendation is that the county provide for sending properties in Catoctin to transfer the rights/density to receiving sites located in the newly created Metro taxing footprints. The areas around the Metro stations are already targeted for growth and are designed to be more densely populated; these areas would offer access to existing public utilities and amenities. We can have smart growth while growing our tax base.
To discourage additional density in the West, I will call for a temporary moratorium on home building and the issue of building permits west of Route 15 until a new land-use/planning policy is created which truly balances growth and protects Catoctin’s rural community. For example, some of our zoning ordinances need to be changed to reduce the amount of by-right housing that can be built in Catoctin. Catoctin is full. We have to first protect the quality of life of existing Catoctin residents before allowing newcomers.
2040 Comprehensive Plan – Critique
In a statement to the Board of Supervisors, I highlighted my desire restrict greater density to Metro taxing districts that were meant for that purpose, rather than encroaching upon residents that have chosen a rural existence. I asked, “Why are we spreading outwards, when we can be spreading upwards?” While the approved Comprehensive Plan is a marked improvement over the original plan, it is still not an example of smart growth. There is no balance. The plan calls for a significant increase in the county’s population with no consideration of the corresponding services and cost that it would require. There is no accounting for additional schools, teachers, fire trucks, firefighters, libraries, hospitals, road improvements, and so on. We are already paying too many taxes while our teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers are stretched thin and are underpaid.
Western Catoctin is currently zoned as AR-1 (Agricultural-Residential District) which allows a developer who elects to use a Cluster type subdivision to achieve a base density of 1 house per 5 acres of land to accommodate individuals who desire a rural or estate type living environment and to curtail urban development in areas which lack facilities. However, Middleburg in the Blue Ridge District is zoned AR-2 which allows developers who choose to Cluster a base density of 1 house per 15 acres of land. That is not fair and it has cost the county 67 Square miles of farm land. All of western Loudoun County should be zoned the same – AR-2. A successful adjustment to the zoning in the West would save the taxpayer money and help protect against sprawl.
I will not stand for more careless development and the loss of our farmland. I need your support to help me keep western Loudoun a beautiful place for years to come.