Supervisors ask governor to purchase land and create state park to block development

The Board of County Supervisors just asked the state to buy 4,154 acres, to block proposals for massive subdivisions that will create equally-massive traffic congestion, school overcrowding, and higher county taxes.

The supervisors noted that the new park would protect water quality in Bull Run, the Occoquan Reservoir, and the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s true.  However, the supervisors are in Loudoun County.

On that side of Bull Run, elected officials have figured out that requested rezonings would permit too much growth, sprawled in too many places across the county.  The elected officials have figured out that the taxpayers can’t afford to build the new public infrastructure for the proposed new growth.

The political solution proposed by local officials is to request a bailout by taxpayers all across Virginia.  If the state purchased the land and blocked tens of thousands of new housing units, local supervisors could bypass voting on a rezoning proposal.

Don’t hold your breath that the state will spend $69 million on such a bailout.  Loudoun officials dug their land use planning hole, and Loudoun officials will have to climb out of that hole.  Scattered development will increase the costs of schools, roads, and other public facilities – until growth is planned to consider long-term taxpayer costs as well as short-term developer profit.

Prince William supervisors have dug their own hole, with 40,000 parcels already zoned for development.  We could accommodate projected population growth with NO REZONINGS for another 10-15 years.  Every time a supervisor supports rezoning for more development, without paying attention to where growth is already permitted… well, that supervisor is just digging the hole deeper.

The solution within the span of control of county supervisors is politically hard, but Fairfax County showed it can be done successfully.  Fairfax supervisors downzoned 41,000 acres in 1982, in large part to protect the drinking water in Occoquan Reservoir.  That decision was controversial, big time controversial back then – but in 2003, it was so popular that the 1982 supervisors were honored as visionaries.

Now it’s time for Loudoun and Prince William to consider downzoning, to protect the wallets of the taxpayers.  If we permit building Anything, Anywhere, at Any time, busting the boundaries of the Rural Area with projects like Avendale – we’ll go broke trying to provide satisfactory Levels of Service (LOS) to all places in the county.

It is within the span of control, and it is a primary responsibility, for county supervisors to  steer new population growth to places where infrastructure costs can be minimized.  as a bonus,  the low-tax option for land use planning can also maximize environmental benefits, making Prince William both affordable and green in the future.

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