Home » Editorial »Opinion » Currently Reading:

Fear Not Metro

June 6, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Editorial, Opinion 1 Comment
malcolm_baldwin

Guest Editorial by Malcolm Baldwin

Despite Loudoun’s increasingly vibrant rural economy, rural residents fear that forces of sprawl may erase the economic, recreational, historic, and environmental values that Loudoun residents now enjoy. That fear affects debate over Metro to Loudoun, allying some rural residents with the no-tax, Tea Party/Koch Brothers Metro opposition. But, in fact, Metro offers positive opportunities for enhancing our rural economy, if we energetically pursue practical policies open to us. Otherwise, with – and especially without – Metro, Loudoun’s unique rural economy – that some call our oft-neglected economic “weapon” – risks a diminished future and a loss of what is arguably our county’s greatest competitive advantage.

One of Loudoun’s strengths has been the growing county-wide consensus that a highly developed east complements our rural west. Rural zoning fights that dominated Loudoun politics from 2004 to 2007 ended with an imperfect but still broadly-supported rural zoning that never even became a political issue in the 2011 local elections. Twenty-acre zoning in the northern part (mostly the Catoctin District), and 40-acre zoning in the south (mostly Blue Ridge) – albeit compromised some by the opportunities for clustering – has strengthened our rural economy over the past five years. The evidence is in the rising numbers of vineyards, wineries, tourists, events like the Farm Tour and the Wine Country Half-Marathon, and the growing popularity of fresh and local foods produced right here in Loudoun. Increasingly, eastern Loudoun residents appreciate that the rural west enhances their suburban life, and Loudoun’s economy as a whole.

Nevertheless, rural Loudoun remains vulnerable to impacts from heedless sprawl and the specter of some 40,000 already-allowed but unbuilt housing sites in the west. Some rural residents now fear that bringing Metro to Loudoun will add to this risk and that Loudoun’s future commercial development will be poorly managed, with sprawling residential growth around the new stations and eventual migration of new residents westward.

Bad planning around Loudoun’s Metro stations could indeed move the center of development west and fail to inhibit sprawl in rural Loudoun. Loudoun’s past promotion of costly growth naturally raises alarms. But a history of planning failures, coupled with Loudoun’s future growth projections, highlights the even more serious threats to our rural economy without Metro. Without Metro growth centers, where will Loudoun’s population increase and resulting development pressures find release?

From past experience alone, it’s a no brainer: these pressures will undermine our rural zoning and our rural economy. In fact, however, if we approve Metro in Loudoun we actually have the opportunity to control our destiny and achieve substantial commercial growth, vastly reduce pressure on residential taxes, and greatly enhance rural economic security and expansion.

The Robert Charles Lesser & Co.’s economic study of Metro’s impact, commissioned by our Board of Supervisors and updated recently, concluded that stations in Loudoun would induce dense growth centers around them, reducing growth in Fairfax and in Loudoun’s rural west. It suggests that these centers will attract childless households that minimize pressures on public services and schools, and we know from other studies that these groups increasingly value compact, walkable communities. With special tax districts for those benefiting most from Metro, and planning for appropriate density, we can foster concentrated commercial growth and long-term tax benefits to Loudoun homeowners throughout the County.

New Metro station centers can also protect and enhance our rural economy if we improve rural economic incentives and adopt appropriate market-based approaches to urban planning. One proven tool that is already available under Virginia law is to establish a system of Transferable Development Rights (“TDRs”), whereby development rights in rural Loudoun can be sold to buyers near the new Metro station centers. Neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland promotes such transfers and has protected over 52,000 acres of farmland with its TDR program. In its agricultural areas that have been down-zoned to allow only one house per 25 acres, rural land owners can sell development rights they had under the previous zoning designation of 1 unit per 5 acres to a buyer in an area designated for higher density growth elsewhere in the County. This private transaction between a rural seller (generally a farmer) and urban buyer (usually a developer) applies efficient market principles to landowner and community goals.

For Loudoun County, the TDR offers an extraordinarily useful market system tool – albeit with complexities requiring careful attention — to transfer development rights from a willing seller in the rural west to a buyer engaged development around the new Metro stations. That opportunity will not exist with a terminal Metro station at Dulles Airport that falls within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA).

We should welcome, and not fear Metro’s impact. If our Board approves Metro into Loudoun it offers immense opportunities for sustainable commercial development, sensible centers of growth and rural economy enhancement. But that happy prospect requires additional measures to nail down these benefits through informed debate, rational decision-making and continued consensus that Loudoun’s rural economy stands as a critical value and competitive asset that the County must protect.

1 comment

  1. Paul Martin says:

    Mr. Baldwin is correct that a TDR program in Loudoun is a great market-driven solution both for sprawl and open space preservation. I read today that Virginia is losing 100,000 acres of agricultural land every year to commercial and residential development and transportation. At the pace in a few years Virginia’s vibrant rural economy (the largest economic segment in the state) will start to wither.

    Governor McDonnell is to be commended for actively working to open many overseas markets for Virginia’s agricultural products with Morocco now the leading importer of Virginia’s Finest. However, we must do far more to preserve our most valuable lands such as western Loudoun’s thriving rural economy. I believe that METRO is needed to connect people with homes and work in the city and urban areas more efficiently. Complimented by a TDR program this may be the ideal solution to preserving all of Looudon’s many assets.

Comment on this article


By commenting, you agree to abide by our Terms of Service.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

Human Fingerprints on Climate Change

noerpel_new

Presented to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors – June 23, 2016 Recently I was asked whether humanity’s fossil fuel use was the cause of the current global warming. This is a good question and I’m not surprised that there …

Ice house, Hot House and Mad House

noerpel_new

Recently, I was asked: “I know we are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and scientists say that will warm the planet but there were also ice ages and warmer climates in the past before humans so what caused those …

Sugar Crash

Lunde new

Sugar runs inside our body and fuels our very being. In biology they teach us that sugar is really glucose which is broken down in the body to produce ATP (adenine tri-phosphate). So why bring this up? Well, sugar is …

The Art of Memory

moore-sobelnewmug

By Samuel Moore-Sobel Still Alice. A movie that not only elicits tears, but naturally incurs reflection. This heartrending movie was the starting point of a personal wrestling with the implications of human memory. Remembering can bring us back to a …

Living in Debt

Michael_Pic

Dr. Mike, My husband has issues with money that are hurting our relationship and family. He makes a lot of money, but he spends more than he makes and we are in debt. He can’t just have a luxury car, …

June in the Garden

juneingarden flowers

Conserve Water, Beat the Heat and Keep Things Blooming By Andrea Gaines It’s getting hot out there. And, there’s nothing more discouraging for a gardener that to come home after a weekend away – or miss a regular watering schedule …

Editorial

Grief and Greed

blueridge2

By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Oh No, It’s the Christians!

blueridge2

By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Thank You

nedimogelman

It is with great anticipation that I look forward to Monday, June 27, 2016. On that day new Purcellville Town Council members will be sworn into office, at Town Hall. …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

blueridge2

Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016

eaglescout

Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

(Be the first to comment)

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

(Be the first to comment)

Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

benkellog

Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

(Be the first to comment)

Calendar

July 2016
M T W T F S S
27

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

28

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

29

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

30

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

1

Dancing Through Color

2

Dancing Through Color

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

3

Dancing Through Color

4

Dancing Through Color

5

Dancing Through Color

6

Dancing Through Color

7

Dancing Through Color

8

Dancing Through Color

9

Dancing Through Color

Yard Sale Benefiting EPIC

10

Dancing Through Color

Moon Music Live at North Gate Vineyard

11

Dancing Through Color

12

Dancing Through Color

13

Dancing Through Color

14

Dancing Through Color

15

Dancing Through Color

16

Dancing Through Color

17

Dancing Through Color

18

Dancing Through Color

19

Dancing Through Color

20

Dancing Through Color

21

Dancing Through Color

22

Dancing Through Color

23

Dancing Through Color

24

Dancing Through Color

25

Dancing Through Color

26

Dancing Through Color

27

Dancing Through Color

28

Dancing Through Color

29

Dancing Through Color

30

Dancing Through Color

31

Dancing Through Color

Current Print Issue:
Sign up for our email newsletter:

Recent Comments

Lifestyle

Rummage Sale Trailers Open July 9

27 Jun 2016

rummage_sale

78th Annual Ladies Board Rummage Sale Ready For Donations The Ladies Board of Inova Loudoun Hospital is officially accepting donations for the annual Rummage Sale. The first Donation Day of the summer will be on Saturday, July 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Inova Loudoun Hospital, 44045 Riverside Parkway, Leesburg, and at Inova Loudoun Medical Campus – Leesburg, …

(Be the first to comment)

Troy and Paula Haag Perform at Old Stone School

9 Jun 2016

troy and paula haag 1a

Troy and Paula Haag, will appear on The Gap Stage at the Old Stone School on Saturday, June 18. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Dinner will be sold by Big Mike’s BBQ, drinks will be sold by the glass, and there will be desserts at intermission. Troy and Paula will be joined by Max Haag …

(Be the first to comment)

Here’s To the Colorists, Manicurists and Blow Dry Mavens… Thanks for Listening!

1 Jun 2016

hair color

Sunday, June 26 is Beauticians Day, celebrating the cosmetology and other experts who keep us looking and feeling our best – whether it’s with a haircut and style, a facial, a manicure, or just some quiet and light conversation.

(Be the first to comment)

Around Virginia

HUD Awards $2 Million in Housing Counseling Grants To Virginia

Kaine

Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Catholic Charities USA, headquartered in Alexandria, will receive $951,150 in federal funding, and the Virginia Housing Development Authority, located in Richmond, will receive $1,040,918. This nearly $2 million grant by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) …

(Be the first to comment)

Four Hop, Skip and a Jump Local Destinations

morven

Last month we encouraged our readers to consider visiting any one of five great destinations within just a stone’s throw of Loudoun’s history-lined borders – Berryville and Harper’s Ferry among them. This month we feature four destinations – two right here in our much-celebrated county, and two just over the …

(2 comments)

Out and About Loudoun and Beyond

The Plains’ charming restaurants, shops and sidewalks.

Five Stone’s Throw Spring and Summer Destinations By Andrea Gaines Bordered by the Potomac River to the north and beautiful mountains to the west – and with easy access to Rt. 95, the Dulles Toll Road and Route 66 – Loudouners have no short list of fun spring places to …

(Be the first to comment)

Sports

The Lady Vikings Earned Back-to Back Conference Title

1 Jun 2016

lvhs

The Lady Vikings earned the back-to back conference title with a 4-1 win over Heritage in late May. The team earned a first round playoff bye finishing first in the conference and then went on to defeat Rock Ridge 12-0 in the conference semi-finals. The Lady Vikings ended their regular …

(Be the first to comment)

Big Baseball Coming To Fireman’s Field

1 Jun 2016

purcellville cannons

Got Your Father’s Day Gift Lined Up Yet? The Purcellville Cannons’ Brett Fuller couldn’t be happier. He’s the owner of one of the most popular teams in the Valley Baseball League. The team, up until recently was called the Charles Town Cannons but now calls Purcellville its home.

(Be the first to comment)

Archives

  • +2016
  • +2015
  • +2014
  • +2013
  • +2012
  • +2011
  • +2010
  • +2009