Archive for the ‘News’ Category

GCA submits comments to the Loudoun County BOS regarding the True North Data Center

To: The Honorable Members of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors:
Phyllis.Randall@loudoun.gov ; ralph.buona@loudoun.gov ; suzanne.volpe@loudoun.gov ; Tony.Buffington@loudoun.gov ; ron.meyer@loudoun.gov ; Geary.Higgins@loudoun.gov ; Matt.Letourneau@loudoun.gov ; Kristen.Umstattd@loudoun.gov ; Koran.Saines@loudoun.gov

From: Goose Creek Association
Re: True North Rezoning Application ZMAP-2017-0003, ZMOD-2017-0011

Date: October 25, 2017

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board:

This letter is written to you to express the strong opposition of the Goose Creek Association regarding the proposed rezoning application from True North Data, requesting 105.6 Acres to be rezoned from TR-10 to Planned Office Park, in order to accommodate a 750,000 square foot data center. We urge you to deny this application for the following reasons:

1. The proposed new use is NOT in conformance with and is a fundamental direction change from the existing Comprehensive Plan. Additionally, given that the County has entered into a public process, “Envision Loudoun,” to review and update its current Plan, the decision to approve the proposed rezoning would be premature and would be taken without proper consideration due such a significant use change.

2. Questions still remain regarding the protection of Goose Creek, a State Scenic River and an important source of clean drinking water for thousands of users in the Goose Creek and Potomac River watersheds. While we appreciate Low Impact Development practices have been proffered, there is no way to ensure that they will result in adequate, effective storm water management in an area immediately adjacent to a significant expanse of Goose Creek. Accidental chemical spillage, possible impact of flooding of Goose Creek onto the subject property, large expanses of asphalt and a 42% developed building site utilizing impervious surfaces generating significant water and pollutant run off, and the potential for a compromised riparian buffer zone may impact the integrity of Goose Creek and the acceptability of its waters as a public resource for consumption and recreation.

3. A globally rare Northern Piedmont Maffic Barren Rock Community has been identified by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation on the northeast portion of the proposed site. It is unclear what, if any effort will be taken to protect this important area.

It is well known that Loudoun County benefits economically from the development and operation of data centers. The County has wisely zoned for such development in areas within the Suburban Policy Area that can and do appropriately provide both an acceptable commercial environment and adequate infrastructure to serve data centers. According to the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, the Route 606 corridor has current approved zoning for 43 additional data center sites of varying size where several data centers are now located. These already zoned areas can reportedly accommodate millions more square feet of development.

Rezoning in this particularly environmentally sensitive area of the TPA would send the wrong signal to residents in the TPA who have relied on the existing zoning, as well as prospective employers seeking locations in counties that choose to protect the environment.

Surely, given the wealth of space available and already zoned today to accommodate the growth of data centers in Loudoun, it is unnecessary to invade areas planned for less intensive use and scale within other Policy Areas, including the Transition Policy Area.

Thank you for your attention and we respectfully request that your vote to deny this rezoning application.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Mattingly Lori McGuinness
GCA Co-Chair Loudoun County GCA Co-Chair Fauquier County

________________________________
1 The Goose Creek Association (GCA) is charged with monitoring stream water quality, proposed developments, legislation, zoning changes, and other actions that have potential impact on the environment and quality of life in the Goose Creek watershed in Fauquier and Loudoun Counties, VA. We are a nonprofit 501C3 organization with hundreds of members who share a determination to protect and preserve the natural resources, historic heritage and rural quality of life found in this beautiful part of Virginia.

GCA submits comments to the Loudoun County BOS regarding Transition Policy Area

Date: October 25, 2017

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
1 Harrison Street, S.E., Fifth Floor
P.O. Box 7000
Leesburg, VA 20177-7000

To: The Honorable Members of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors
From: Goose Creek Association
Re: Transition Policy Area

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board:

On behalf of the Goose Creek Association1 (GCA) whose mission is to protect and preserve the environment and quality of life in the Goose Creek Watershed which includes a large portion of the Transition Policy Area in Loudoun County. We are submitting the following comments regarding the Transition Policy Area.

The GCA applauds your recognition of the citizens’ desire to retain a functional transition area that is true to its original definition stated in the Comprehensive Plan as a “…permanently defined policy area to provide a visual and spatial transition between the suburban development in the eastern part of the County and rural development in the West”. We are very encouraged by several of your recently published comments that denounce the direction the Stakeholder’s Committee has taken with the Transition Policy Area. This area has always been one of our biggest concerns due to its higher population density within the watershed and the current proposals have us extremely alarmed.

The purpose of the Transition Policy Area according to the current Comprehensive Plan established in 2001, is to serve as a buffer between the suburban eastern part of the County, and the rural western part of the County. The Transition Policy Area includes restrictions on housing and development specifically to protect and preserve Loudoun’s rural landscape and its natural resources. Now, after 15 years of unprecedented growth and development, these restrictions have become even more important for the preservation of our endangered countryside.

The proposal that we should remove our development protections because of “projected population growth” is only rational to those who stand to profit from the endeavor. This misguided approach would ultimately lead to losing the Transition Policy Area, and also eventually the Rural Policy Area, while further exacerbating all of our current population and congestion issues. The Stakeholder’s Committee should refocus their energy on solutions that operate within the current policy area boundaries, such as how to promote responsible growth in the Suburban Policy Area and how to manage appropriate growth in the Transition Policy Area.

The citizens of Loudoun County have come forward almost unanimously in the Envision Loudoun meetings with sentiments that mirror our convictions. The citizen comments have been overwhelmingly in favor of limiting future growth and implementing additional protections of our natural resources. Please put your constituents first and reinforce the policy area restrictions that help preserve our quality of life, scenic landscape, and limited resources, in particular water resources, including drinking water, for future generations.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Mattingly Lori McGuinness
GCA Co-Chair Loudoun County GCA Co-Chair Fauquier County

VIA Email:

Phyllis J. Randall (Chair at Large): phyllis.randall@loudoun.gov
Ralph M. Buona, Vice Chairman (Ashburn): ralph.buona@loudoun.gov
Suzanne M. Volpe, (Algonkian): suzanne.volpe@loudoun.gov
Tony R. Buffington Jr., (Blue Ridge): tony.buffington@loudoun.gov
Ron A. Meyer Jr., (Broad Run): ron.meyer@loudoun.gov
Geary M. Higgins (Catoctin): geary.higgins@loudoun.gov
Matthew F. Letourneau (Dulles): matt.letourneau@loudoun.gov
Kristen C. Umstattd (Leesburg): kristin.umstattd@loudoun.gov
Koran T. Saines (Sterling): koran.saines@loudoun.gov

________________________________
1 The Goose Creek Association (GCA) is charged with monitoring stream water quality, proposed developments, legislation, zoning changes, and other actions that have potential impact on the environment and quality of life in the Goose Creek watershed in Fauquier and Loudoun Counties, VA. We are a nonprofit 501C3 organization with hundreds of members who share a determination to protect and preserve the natural resources, historic heritage and rural quality of life found in this beautiful part of Virginia.

Supervisors OK Marshall “Form-Based” Code

Laying to rest one of Fauquier’s more divisive land-use debates in years, the board of supervisors Thursday approved zoning regulations designed to ensure that Marshall develops like a traditional town.

The board voted, 3-1, to approve the “Marshall Code” — a 31-page document that includes new requirements related to building height and stories, lot size and width, setbacks, building footprints, parking, screening and landscaping. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: MARSHALL FORM-BASED CODE

Goose Creek Association recently submitted comments to approve the “Form-Based” code and not approve an amendment to allow a Car Dealership. See comments below:

October 11, 2017

Fauquier County Board of Supervisors
Warren Green Building
10 Hotel Street, Suite 208
Warrenton, Virginia 20186

RE: Comments on Marshall’s Form Based Code

Dear Supervisors:

The Goose Creek Association (GCA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the above project proposal. Our organization is charged with monitoring stream water quality, proposed developments, legislation, zoning changes, and other actions that have potential impact on the environment and quality of life in the Goose Creek watershed in Fauquier and Loudoun Counties, VA. We are a nonprofit 501C3 organization with hundreds of members who share a determination to protect and preserve the natural resources, historic heritage and rural quality of life found in this beautiful part of Virginia. The GCA is pleased to provide you with the following comments related to the proposed Marshall Code:

• GCA supports the form-based Marshall Code as proposed without an amendment that would permit auto sales and services in the Gateway area.

• GCA concludes that the form-based Marshall Code would best ensure that the historic, small-town character of Marshall is protected and preserved, while allowing for appropriate growth and development in the Marshall Service District.

• GCA believes that the water resources in Marshall should be better understood, monitored, and protected than they have been in the past. Zoning and enforcement in Marshall should ensure that industrial and other pollutants and run-off not be allowed to encroach upon the springs, aquifers and their replenishment areas, that provide water to Marshall’s businesses and residents. Inclusion of auto sales and services in the gateway entrance to Marshall, or any area of Marshall susceptible to industrial pollution, could jeopardize sources of fresh water in Marshall and should not be permitted.

For these reasons, we urge the Board of Supervisors to vote in favor of the form-based Code for Marshall without an amendment permitting auto sales and services in the Gateway area.

Sincerely yours,

Lori Keenan McGuinness
Chair for Fauquier County

VIA EMAIL:

Richard Gerhardt, Chairman – Cedar Run District – rick.gerhardt@fauquiercounty.gov
Christoper Butler – Vice Chairman – Lee District – chris.butler@fauquiercounty.gov
Mary Leigh McDaniel – Marshall District – maryleigh.mcdaniel@fauquiercounty.gov
Christopher Granger – Center District – chris.granger@fauquiercounty.gov
Holder Trumbo, Jr. – Scott District – holder.trumbo@fauquiercounty.gov

Loudoun County could see 18,000 new homes in transition area under revised plan.

Loudoun Aerial Beaverdam Resevoir area credit NAIP

Loudoun Times, September 29, 2017 by Sidney Kashiwagi

Members of Loudoun County’s Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders Committee do not support the current version of the county’s Transition Policy Area (TPA), which limits development in the area of the county that serves as a buffer between development in the eastern part of the county and the more rural western areas of Loudoun.

County staff briefed the committee on future development projections in the TPA as stakeholders made their positions more clear this week.

Earlier this month, county staff presented the stakeholder team with two “scenarios” — keeping the county’s current Transition Policy Area land-use plan in the proposed new Comprehensive Plan, which includes limits on retail and single-family homes. The current plan allows a maximum of just 11,306 units. The second scenario, supported by committee members, broke away from the current plan and supported a different scenario, which committee members said would expand employment, increase density in some areas and develop more walkable neighborhood centers.

A majority of stakeholders argued that developing the area would help Loudoun meet future growth demands, particularly for housing diversity and affordability.

Over the last two weeks, staff put together a compilation of feedback they received from stakeholders on their views on residential density, where future development should be concentrated within the TPA, and what types of open space requirements should be adopted.

Staff presented a new draft development estimate based on feedback from stakeholders.

Under the new staff projections, the TPA area could hold 12,076 residential units in the lower Foley area east of Northstar Boulevard and along the Braddock Road corridor.

The committee’s recommendations would increase the total number of single-family homes in the transition area to 18,323 units concentrated in several different areas including upper Foley and upper Broad Run.

John Merrithew, a program manager with the Department of Planning and Zoning, explained the differences between the current plan and the plan developed by the stakeholder’s committee. “Scenario two had greater impacts in terms of transportation and capital costs, but it does meet the residential demand question,” he said. “It does give us a potential for greater affordability in terms of housing, and it does retain and protect the environmental and open space areas.”

The committee’s recommendations also projected additional industrial development south of the Greenway in lower Sycolin, in addition to 30.8 million square feet of industrial space and about 1.12 million square feet of retail use.

In addition, the committee’s feedback would result in 36.72 million more square feet of industrial space in the TPA area.

Both proposals recommended retaining 50 to 70 percent of open space in development projects.

Some stakeholders expressed concern over the projections. Gem Bingol, a stakeholder representing the Piedmont Environmental Council, said that more focus was needed to address concerns around housing in the suburban policy area before the committee set their sights on the TPA.

Directing her comments at staff, Bingol noted that stakeholders were not considering current density projections in the TPA. “I thought that that all of the information and analysis that you provided for us for the transition policy area is great. I would say that it really makes it clear that we are sort of jumping over my opinion. So much of our discussion has been ‘we need to put affordable housing here and we need to grow there,’ as opposed to understanding how much growth we’re already sort of planning for in the suburban area,” Bingol said.

In addition, Bingol said the projections for the area presented by staff appeared to be a “direct contradiction” to what the public envisioned for the TPA.

The committee also cast votes Monday night on a number of questions staff compiled based on feedback from stakeholders provided at the group’s previous meeting.

When asked if stakeholders would support a “wider range of housing types” in the TPA, including encouraging smaller units to help meet the county’s affordable housing needs, a majority of the stakeholders said they would. Only one member said no.

A majority of stakeholders also supported designating the lower Bull Run and upper Foley and upper Broad Run areas as areas to place small units, single family homes and townhomes, with a limit of four units per acre with a minimum of 50 percent of open space in each development.

The stakeholders also overwhelmingly said they would support taking an area along Evergreen Mills Road designated as a rural policy area to become part of the TPA and have land in that area designated for small lot, clustered single-family homes with limited retail to provide employment opportunities in the area.

The stakeholders committee will meet again Oct 16 to discuss a new draft map for the TPA and suburban policy area.

Article and Comments: Click Here

September Canoe Cleanup a Success!!

September 2017 Canoe Cleanup had wonderful participation. It was a beautiful day to float down a portion of the Goose Creek in Loudoun County just north of Middleburg. Participants enjoyed beautiful scenery which included the Middleburg Hunt riding along side the shoreline as well as spotting eagles. The group collected:

2 full bags of trash
1 bag of recyclables
22 Tires and 1 wheel
2 Outdoor chairs
Window A/C Unit
radiator
stroller
large plastic tub
10′ of aluminum wire

Thanks to all who participated!

Riparian Buffer Management – Control Invasives, Encourage Natives

August 23, 2017 by Bobby Whitescarver

As summer moves closer to autumn it seems there are more native plants in the various riparian buffers we have around the farm. Butterfly weed, jewelweed, wingstem, purpletop, and many other plants are in bloom now. However; there are many invasive, non-native plants in bloom as well.

See Complete Blog at:

http://www.gettingmoreontheground.com/2017/08/23/riparian-buffer-management-control-invasives-encourage-natives/

Goose Creek Association Annual Report & Notice of Annual Meeting

PLEASE JOIN US FOR OUR ANNUAL MEETING
JUNE 13, 2017 AT 5:30 PM.

Annual Report 2016

CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT

2016 Annual Report

Proposed Blackthorne Inn Development near Upperville, VA

The Goose Creek recently sent comments to the Fauquier Planning Commission regarding the Proposed Blackthorne Inn Development. See below and keep updated at Fauquier.com.

Signed GCA Letter 5 17 17

Blackthorne Inn – Cynthia Kirsch Photography

 

Holly Meade
Chief of Planning
Fauquier County
Department of Community Development
10 Hotel Street
Warrenton, Virginia 20186

May 16, 2017

RE: SPEX-16-006207

Dear Ms. Meade:

The Goose Creek Association is concerned with the size and scope of the special exception applications filed by the Easton Porter Group (EPG) for development of the Blackthorne Inn property in Upperville, Virginia. This 57acre property lies within the Goose Creek watershed, an integral source of groundwater for residents of Fauquier and Loudoun counties, as well as part of the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. The property also lies within the Unison Battlefield Historic District.

GCA endorses the Planning Commission’s review comments on the proposed development and appreciates the professional review you, your staff and other agencies have provided. We strongly believe that the EPG should address all the issues and questions raised in your report, before any special exception permit is issued. In particular, the extensive use of water and alternative septic systems (ASS) should be scrutinized and tested before any development for their impact on the ground water.

We cannot simply accept EPG’s assertions that there will be no impact on the watershed, as we have heard this before. Marshall is facing a groundwater crisis that is being addressed with over a million dollars of taxpayers’ money, despite frequent assertions that there is plenty of water in Marshall. Fauquier and the US Army Corps of Engineers are in the midst of a multi-year study of Fauquier’s aquifers. Without the results of this study and a site-specific drawdown study on the property, we simply cannot accept the developer’s assertions that there will be no impact on the surrounding wells and watershed.

Further, the use of ASS raise issues of maintenance and the toxicity of dispersed outflow. These systems incur more frequent mechanical break-downs than regular septic systems, especially when used intermittently due to seasonal fluctuations of use, and do not resolve all toxic outflow when operating as intended, as nitrates and other non-biologicals can infiltrate and pollute the groundwater.

Finally, granting these special exception requests, as proposed, will create a precedent for all properties zoned as Rural Agricultural in Fauquier. Such zoning does not require or compel commercial development on the scale proposed, even for so-called agri-tourism. Granting this application could lead to similar development requests throughout the county with consequences that are not amicable to the peace and quietude of our countryside.

The size and location of the events center and other potential outdoor events are of particular concern given that they are likely to impose excessive noise, light and traffic burdens on the otherwise rural and residential community. Last November Mr. Dean Andrews asserted that the resort would work within the parameters of the 2014 special exception “license” approval. However, EPG’s current application far exceeds the parameters of that approval. See Fauquier Times, “Blackthorne’s new owners vow to ‘minimize impact’ on neighbors,” November 17, 2016. The proposed size and frequency of events belie EPG’s assertion. In the article, Mr. Andrews also suggests that the overnight guest accommodations would be capped at 120, not the EPG proposal’s 78. EPG’s subsequent assertion that the number of overnight residents will be fixed as proposed at 78 rather than lead to more lodging development in the future must be scrutinized. Whatever the amount of accommodations and events that are permitted, perhaps the EPG could put the property under an easement that sets the development at that level to ensure no further development by EPG or another owner occurs in the future.

The nearby Salamander Resort began as a proposed @ 70 room inn and morphed, for commercial reasons, into the size and scale it is today (168 rooms). EPG’s proposed events center size and the frequency of events requested are similar to those of the Salamander Resort and more than the Airlie Resort, both of which are located on hundreds of acres, not 57, with specially built water reserve facilities. In addition, other nearby resorts and event centers are being planned on a massive scale that will only bring more competition for accommodations and events. See Banbury Cross Reserve on Rt.50 east of Middleburg in Loudoun County.

If Fauquier County’s Comprehensive Plan for Rural Agricultural zoning is to have any meaning, our Planning Commissioners and Supervisors must address whether and where developments of this size are appropriate and credible. Promises of over one hundred full-time jobs in a seasonal business and bounteous tax revenues must be weighed against declining adjacent property values and reality.

EPG’s proposal seems to be preliminary, and they have not yet responded to staff comments, so GCA will continue to monitor EPG’s application for responses to the concerns raised here, by neighbors and by the Department of Community Development. EPG is a high quality developer and professes to be a good steward of the environment that has produced beautiful properties elsewhere. Therefore, we hope that EPG will amend its proposal to address these concerns and produce a more appropriate plan for our watershed and community.

Sincerely yours,

Lori Keenan McGuinness
Chair, Fauquier County, on behalf of the
Goose Creek Association

Loudoun County Public Hearing – Catesby Farm Minor Special Exception

goosecreeklogo

Dear Friends and Rural Loudoun Neighbors,

It is important that we come together as a community to oppose changes in the Zoning Ordinance that threaten established patterns of agricultural and traditional land uses in our rural residential area and, when allowed to multiply over the landscape, will diminish the cherished agricultural and conservation values we all hold dear.  Please read here about ways to help, and stay tuned for updates as this particular request for a zoning change attempts to move through the process.  A Public Hearing before the Loudoun Board of Supervisors will be held on Wednesday, September 14 in the evening—please mark your calendars and plan to attend and/or speak.  We will send reminders and exact times for the hearing in a few weeks.  Thank you and please feel free to contact me at the email address above if you have questions.   In the meantime, please:  Send online comments or a written letter as shown here, below:

Action Item

Submit comments online to Loudoun opposing the application for a Commercial Banquet/Events Facility at Catesby Farm:  Minor Special Exception, SPMI—2015-0018

Catesby Farm has applied for permanent permission to hold up to 24 events a year (almost weekly if occurring in warmer weather) with up to 200 attendees each event.  Staff and departments at the County have raised a number of concerns to which the applicant insufficiently responds.  The County’s project planner has noted that there has been no opposing comment posted on the website since March!  We MUST change that.  Please submit comments in the manner described here below. Please, try to do this in the next one to two weeks so that the County Staff can have time to include comments in their recommendation.    If you have already sent online comments, please excuse the redundancy.  Here is a link to the County’s Land Use website (LOLA) where you can find the Catesby Application:

https://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=3362

Open the site: enter the Min-year “2015”, enter the Application Type “SPMI”, Click “Update MAP.”  Click on the light blue balloon on the map just above and to the right of Upperville to open the Catesby proposal.  IMPORTANT:  You may have to click the “update map” a few times to get SPMI-2015-0018 for comments, since the Applicant has actually two special exception requests now, one for the event/banquet facility, and, one to exempt the internal Catesby roads from the zoning width requirements, SPMI-2016-0007, which will show no documents or comments.  Once SPMI-2015-0018 is opened, click on “More information,” scroll down to “Click here to leave a comment.”

If you can’t get through on the site, please send your written comments to:

Steve Barney, Planning Department

County of Loudoun

PO Box 7000

Leesburg, VA  20117

Suggest you choose one or two issues important to you, and use your own wording to personalize the message.

The major issues are below, ones that support concerns raised by County Staff and Landowners:

  1. 1 Historic Welbourne Road is a narrow unpaved road with ditches, steep banks and stone fences.  At places, vehicles cannot pass without pulling off-road. Twenty-four annual events with the ensuing traffic (estimated110 vehicles in and 110 out often after dark, plus event trucks, service vehicles, and buses) present a serious level of safety hazard and nuisance for travelers, adjacent property owners, residences, and traditional farm, equine, and pedestrian users. Large, slow-moving farm vehicles, horseback riders, and pedestrians, particularly in the village of Willisville, are frequently seen.
  2. 2  The proposed use is not compatible with the scale, use, and intensity within the dominant rural agricultural use pattern.  Conditions of approval mentioned by Zoning Department and Health Department are are unlikely to acceptably mitigate environmental, noise and light nuisance impacts (impact on wildlife of nighttime operations; dust and safety concerns from traffic; surface, well water supplies; and sewage disposal).

3  3  The Loudoun County Equine Study 2016, shows a $180M total annual economic impact from the County’s horse industry, and, accorning to the County’s own study, the equine industry accounts for some 2,700 jobs in the County with a $90M labor income impact.  The traditional equine industry in western Loudoun is a thriving and successful rural economic sector and should be encouraged by the County as a traditional rural economic use appropriate to the Welbourne Road area.  The County’s Zoning Ordinance cites a purpose and intent of the AR-2 District as, “1.(A)  Support the use of land for rural economy uses consistent with the pattern of rural and agricultural land uses in the district”.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Catesby Point Paper                                                           July 16, 2016

Catesby Minor Special Exception: SPMI-2015-0018

This document presents individual factual “points” for use on the Catesby proposal:

General Description and Nusiance Issues:

ŸCatesby Farm owners propose a new commercial use in historic rural Loudoun, an “Events/Banquet Facility,” with twenty-four events and up to 200 guests (plus service personnel and vehicles). The use requires two “Minor Special Exceptions” to the Zoning Ordinance, it is not a “By Right” use.

ŸAs described in the Applicant’s Statement of Justification 05-26-16, events “will be outdoors” and, “where outdoor tent facilities can be made available for the events for any type of weather.” Presumably, most events will occur on weekends during the warm weather months when residents in the community will also be using outdoor spaces on their properties.

ŸThese recurrent events will more than double the daily traffic load 24 times a year, introduce outdoor amplified music during the 12:00 Noon to 12:00 Midnight hours of operation, operate existing outdoor lighting and vehicle lights until or beyond Midnight. The Applicant states that noise, lights, and odors will meet County standard and “not traverse property lines.” It is not clear how this will be accomplished. During a recent “private” wedding on Catesby, loud music was easily heard on adjacent properties at 12:30 AM.

ŸRecent independent professional noise measurements in rural southwestern Loudoun County, described during the July 13 BOS public hearing on the Zoning Noise Ordinance, show ambient noise levels at between 25—33dba in rural areas. The noise level of one vehicle on a gravel road is 75dba.

ŸThe area of Catesby is within the Middleburg Ag District and AR-2 Rural Zone of Loudoun. It is a rural, residential, agricultural neighborhood.  People live there as permanent residents of Loudoun County, including immediately adjacent to Catesby.

ŸThe owner/Applicant of Catesby does not live in Virginia and is not a legal resident of the Commonwealth or the County.

ŸCounty Health Department has recommended denied of approval due to inadequate studies of water supply and waste water disposal systems for the proposed new use. HealthRef3, 06-10-16.

Road and Traffic:

ŸWelbourne Road is a narrow, unpaved rural road with steep banks and deep ditches. In response to the Application, County Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure (DTCI) states, “due to continued concerns about the substandard condition of Welbourne Road, DTCI cannot support approval of these applications.” DTCI Ref3-06-10-16.

ŸDTCI, “continued concerns” include:  “safety, width, deep gullies, severely uneven character of the roadway, use in darkness and during weather events” (“by unfamiliar users”). DTCI Ref-3-06-10-16.

ŸThe entirely residential hamlet of Willisville is adjacent and to the west with most homes closely fronting Welbourne Road. The Applicant states traffic will be directed to Willisville Road, ¾ mile to the west, through Willisville.  This will place much of the increase in traffic on a narrow, dust producing, unpaved road literally at the front door of Willisville Residents.

Rural Economy and Economic Impact:

ŸThe area around Catesby has a vibrant rural agricultural economy. As an Ag District and R-2 zoned rural area in Loudoun, the community in the Catesby vicinity has 7 horse and 2 cattle operations, a sheep/wool business, 1 large grain farm, 3 hay farms, a tree nursery, a vineyard.  Also, 2 National Register & Virginia Landmarks properties, 3 historic districts: Unison and Upperville Battlefields, and Beaver Dam Creek Historic Roadways District, which foster and generate heritage tourism activities.

ŸThe Loudoun County Equine Study 2016, shows a $180M total annual economic impact from the County’s horse industry, and, the equine industry accounts for some 2,700 jobs in the County with a $90M labor income impact.* The traditional equine industry in western Loudoun is a thriving and successful rural economic sector and should be encouraged by the County as a traditional rural economic use appropriate to the Welbourne Road area. The County’s Zoning Ordinance cites a purpose and intent of the AR-2 District as, “1.(A)  Support the use of land for rural economy uses consistent with the pattern of rural and agricultural land uses in the district, including sustaining and nurturing the economically significant equine industry. “

*Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Loudoun Co Equine Study,2016, UVA.

ŸCatesby’s owners say they want to increase income production on the farm to defray expenses of maintenance. The community has prevailed on the owners to seek more uses compatible with traditional uses and ones less disturbing to the pastoral nature of the area.

Catesby Farm has a 30-stall horse barn and paddocks, and was a racehorse training facility at one time. Neighbors have offered to assist the owner in finding possible equine operators.

There are also 5 residential units on Catesby Farm that could be used for rental income.

ŸLoudoun County contributes significantly to Virginia’s #1 industry: Agriculture.

Figures from the County’s website show how much:

Agricultural Census

The following are facts and figures from the latest Census of Agriculture for Loudoun County:

  • Average size of farm – 100 acres
  • Equine industry – 15,500 horses at a value of $208 million
  • Land in farms – 142, 452 acres
  • Market value of production – $33,807,000
  • Number of farms – 1,427 ŸThe intent of the County’s rural economic development plan is to decrease the tax burden on County citizens. Recent real estate appraisal data, prepared to support an objection to a proposed craft brewery in the rural zone, hosting regular outdoor events with accompanying exterior lights and music similar to an events/banquet facility such as proposed for Catesby, shows a decrease in property values for landowners in the immediate vicinity of, conservatively, 30%. Such decrease in property values hurts the landowners and ultimately reduces the real estate property tax base, a vital source for schools, which, for the rural zone, is a cash positive gain to the County. ŸAs currently developed, the rural zone uses significantly fewer County services therefore demanding less of the County’s cash resources. Increased commercial developments such as Catesby and of the type similar to commercial events/banquets facilities will necessarily increase the demand for additional services from fire, police, rescue, road maintenance, and public utilities.ŸThe saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Clearly, the established agricultural rural economic enterprises throughout western Loudoun are economically viable uses. Landowners have a host of proven opportunities to enhance the income production of their properties without resorting to seeking “exceptions” to the County’s General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.Incompatibility with the Comprehensive Plan:   ŸCatesby Farm is protected by a Conservation Easement held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF). The easement specifies a number of allowed uses including agriculture, viticulture, horticulture, aquaculture, silviculture, equine, and canine activities. While the VOF finds the proposed use allowable, we question whether the spirit of the easement and the conservation values identified in the easement are compromised. ŸThe majority of properties adjacent to and in the vicinity of Catesby are under conservation easement; the impact of the proposed commercial use on those properties is not described.

Conservation Easements:

  • ŸThe Catesby Special Exception proposal for a commercial events/banquets venue is inconsistent with and hostile to established traditional agricultural uses. The proposed rural economy use is not compatible with existing permitted residential uses. The proposed use is not compatible with the scale, use, and intensity with the dominant rural agricultural use pattern. Conditions of approval mentioned by Zoning Department and Health Department are not described and are unlikely to acceptably mitigate environmental, noise and light nuisance impacts. (impact on wildlife of nighttime operations; dust and safety concerns from traffic; surface, well water supplies; and sewage disposal).
  • ŸThe Community supports the vision for western Loudoun as described in the Comprehensive Plan: “The preservation of the Rural Policy Area’s unique Green Infrastructure includes the preservation of the physical environment of public open space and trails, stream valleys, floodplains, wetlands, and mountainsides as well as the scenic byways and vistas, historic and archaeological sites. The rural economy directly benefits from the protection and enhancement of the Green Infrastructure and it contributes to the quality of life of all of Loudoun’s citizens.” The community contends that Event/Banquet Facilities of the scope allowed in the Catesby proposal are incompatible with our County’s own Plan.
  • ŸTo the Community’s knowledge, the Department of Economic Development in Loudoun County has no published economic impact information for rural Events/Banquet Facilities or other “event entities.“ The Applicant states in the SOJ 05-26-16, that the events/banquet facility “will greatly further the Loudoun County’s desire to support the rural economy.” How is this purported benefit to the County quantified? The economic impact of the new use is undemonstrated.

 

Proposed Markham Truck Rest Area Comments from the GCA 8-1-2016

A Proposed Truck Rest Area in Markham is a potential risk to the Goose Creek Watershed.

The Goose Creek Association recently sent comments to VDOT and other officials.

goosecreeklogo

 

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot ….” — Joni Mitchell

Comments on the Proposed Markham Truck Rest Area

VDOT’s Truck Parking Study recommends expansion of existing facilities vs. construction of new facilities. VDOT Study at 6.

  • Fauquier Transportation Board Resolution supporting Markham truck rest area was issued 2.5 years before VDOT study published in July 2015, so it lacked information on overall needs, capacity and recommendations.
  • 2003 National Study found: “ a shortage in the number of available public truck parking spaces in Virginia and a surplus in private truck parking spaces; however a sufficient number of parking spaces were available during peak demands on the overall system.” VDOT Study at 11
  • Real-time parking information system for notifying truckers where spaces are available needs immediate development and is “most practical and cost–effective strategy. “ VDOT Study at 15
  • Illegal truck parking and I-66 corridor safety issues require current info on all (private and public) parking space availability nearby in Opal/Warrenton, Manassas/Centerville, Linden/Front Royal, specific safety statistics in the Manassas to Front Royal portion of I-66, as well as strict parking enforcement.
  • Markham truck rest area at taxpayer expense may be unnecessary, resulting in permanent loss for Markham and the Goose Creek with long term pollution, view degradation, property depreciation and other issues.
  • What’s the overall VDOT plan to meet demand? 20-30 spaces won’t begin to meet demand (-542) on I-66 that VDOT Study foresees

Creation of a new facility with >$500K requires federal/state environmental and historic resource review.

  • VDOT Study describes Markham Rest Area as a “New Facility,” page 18 and estimated costs are >$500,000.
  • Proposed Markham Rest Area purchased by eminent domain in the 70ies; closed for over 40 years and never operated for good reason: land doesn’t perk and lies within Goose Creek floodplain with standing water.
  • Other VDOT properties and private truck stops available and more appropriate.

Markham Truck Rest Area lies within historic districts

  • Markham is an historic, bucolic, agricultural area without commercial or industrial development.
  • Markham hosts two historic districts (Markham and John Marshall’s Leeds Manor Historic Districts) and many properties in conservation easement.
  • Truck rest area in Markham is wrong for Markham and Fauquier.

Fauquier County needs to complete aquifer study plus study of aquifer replenishment areas before committing to VDOT facility near vital sources of water.

  • Build it first, then study is backwards for Fauquier given its history of thoughtful development with conservation and historic preservation foremost.
  • Fauquier will lose its character if it loses its view sheds, historic resources and pristine waters.

Goose Creek Association is a public nonprofit with hundreds of members dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural resources, open spaces, historic heritage and rural quality of life within the Goose Creek watershed, part of the Potomac and Chesapeake watersheds. See www.goosecreek.org.

LETTER TO VDOT – August 1, 2016

Charles A. Kilpatrick, PE

Commissioner, VDOT

1401 E. Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23219

 

Mark Nesbit

VDOT Administrator, Warrenton Office

457 E. Shirley Ave.

Warrenton, VA 20186

August 1, 2016

RE: Goose Creek Association Comments on the Proposed Truck Rest Area in Markham

Dear Mr. Kilpatrick and Mr. Nesbit:

The Goose Creek Association (GCA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the above project proposal. Our organization is charged with monitoring stream water quality, proposed developments, legislation, zoning changes, and other actions that have potential impact on the environment and quality of life in the Goose Creek watershed in Fauquier and Loudoun Counties, VA.   We are a nonprofit 501C3 organization with hundreds of members who share a determination to protect and preserve the natural resources, historic heritage and rural quality of life found in this beautiful part of Virginia.

GCA is concerned about the proposed VDOT rest area for trucks off Interstate 66 near Exit 18 and Mile Markers 16-17 in Markham. Please include GCA as an interested party in any future communications about this important issue.  GCA also requests that any public meetings be held in the fall, not during summer vacations in August, to ensure full and fair discussion of the issues.

People come to and through Fauquier County as residents and tourists to leave the stress and urbanization of the DC metro area behind. Fauquier County is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains with a pristine view-shed that must be preserved.  Driving west along I-66 there is a palpable “ahhh,” moment when Prince William County gives way to Fauquier County.  The scenery of plains and foothills to the Blue Ridge Mountains is magnificent, unimpeded by commercial development or detritus.  This view is essential to the rural, agricultural character of our county. While trucks may be a necessary element of our nation’s commerce, a truck rest area in Markham, or elsewhere along this corridor in Fauquier, would be totally inappropriate and out of character with our history, culture and rural quality of life.

There are existing truck stops in Manassas and Front Royal that could be expanded to accommodate truckers, with nearby motels, restaurants, and facilities attuned to their needs. As noted in VDOTS’ own report, page 8: VDOT should prioritize expansion of facilities versus construction of new ones.[i] [1]It would also be more economically efficient for VDOT to maintain expanded truck stops than to build a new rest area in the middle of an otherwise bucolic area whose peace and quietude would be destroyed.

Markham is a rural area known for its history as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall’s boyhood home, as well as the present day home of fruit orchards, Christmas tree farms, wineries and other rural, agricultural and residential endeavors. Currently, there is no industrial and limited commercial development potential in Markham or its surrounding area.  Notably, Markham is also near the headwaters of the Goose Creek, a State Scenic River, two historic districts (John Marshall’s Leeds Manor Rural Historic District and Markham Historic District) listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, and many properties under conservation easement. These property owners did not put their land in easement foreseeing a truck rest area nearby that would impact negatively the view-shed and property values due to the inevitable pollution and crime issues.

Given that the proposed site is also in the floodplain of the Goose Creek, on land that may not perk, a truck rest area would endanger an essential source of drinking water, not only for Fauquier residents, but also those downstream in the Goose Creek, Potomac and Chesapeake watersheds. A truck rest area in remote Markham would create pollution from noise, lights, litter, exhaust, oil, other fluids, and smells from idling engines, drainage, and run-off. This would contribute to the further degradation of our drinking water necessary for humans and livestock at a time when the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has announced an endeavor to bring the Goose Creek’s TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) of pollution back to a standard acceptable for recreational activities.  A rest area in Markham would be a step backwards, not towards this goal.

GCA believes that environmental impact review[2] is necessary to assess the impact of any truck rest area near the Goose Creek or its tributaries and floodplains. Lacking a comprehensive understanding of our aquifers and their replenishment areas, Fauquier County and VDOT must not proceed with this ill-advised truck rest area in the floodplain of the Goose Creek in historic Markham.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

 

Lori Keenan McGuinness

Co-Chair, Fauquier County

Goose Creek Association

[1] VirginiaDOT.org/projects/resources/VirginiaTruckParkingStudy

[2] See VACODE 10.1-1188 et seq.

Cc: Honorable Jill Holtzman Vogel, VA State Senator

Honorable Michael Webert, VA State Delegate

Honorable Mary Lee McDaniel, Fauquier County Supervisor, Marshall DistrictScott Kasprowicz, Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board

Mark Peterson, Chairman, Goose Creek Senic River Advisory Committee

Christopher Miller, President, Piedmont Environmental Council

Kimberly Fogle, Director of Community Development, Fauquier County

May Sligh, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Heidi Moltz, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin

Jenny Biche, Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission

 

VDOT will be having a meeting for residents and other interested parties on August 31, 2016 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Location:  Marshall Community Center.

VDOT Meeting for Proposed Markham Truck Rest Area

 

08-27-16 Markham Petition (2)

08-16-16 Mary Leigh McDaniel re VDOT Truck Stop

 

 

 
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