Defend The Blue Ridge #4 Development Criteria
Dear Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains,
Loudoun County is in the process of writing a new zoning ordinance. A part of the new ordinance sets regulations for development in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the ordinance this is known as the Mountain Development Overlay District (MDOD) and the regulations are in Section 4.04.
What can you do?
The draft zoning ordinance is open for public comment until July 18th. FBRM as an organization has already submitted detailed information about our concerns: Click here
Now the county needs to hear directly from its citizens – directly from you.
How do you take action?
FBRM has strong concerns about 4 areas of the ordinance we’ll address over 4 weeks:
- Inadequate enforcement in the MDOD
- The uses that would be permitted in the MDOD are inappropriate for the mountain environment
- The definition of the MDOD
- The criteria used to evaluate proposed development in the MDOD
This week’s instructions apply to 4) The criteria used to evaluate proposed development in the MDOD. We will provide detailed instructions on the other three areas of concern in other emails.
There are four steps to suggesting specific criteria to be used in evaluating proposed development in the MDOD.
STEP #1 — Review the following table.
To be added to Section 4.04 F
Performance Standards in Highly Sensitive Areas
|Preserve natural ridgeline features||The maintenance of a closed forest canopy for the highest 100 vertical feet along any ridgeline or crest, with no development projecting above the canopy, should be required without exception.|
|Retain forest canopy||All development proposals should maintain the forest canopy in as closed a condition as is practicable, thus precluding clear cutting forestry projects, concentrated parking lots, etc.|
|Control erosion||The water courses found in mountainous regions must be kept free of added sediments and other pollutants in order to maintain local water quality and meet downstream water quality standards.|
|Prevent landslides and slumps||Mountain slopes are inherently unstable geologically, requiring that strict controls on removal of vegetative cover and disturbance of soils must be adhered to, so as to prevent development activities from creating increased landslides and slumping risks. The requirements in the draft ordinance are too weak to achieve these goals and should be strengthened accordingly.|
|Preserve upland stream water quantity and quality||Mountain springs and headwater water courses are a critical component of the hydrological system serving natural and human water needs. These features are highly sensitive to nearby and upslope developments. The draft setback requirements are insufficient to achieve the required protections.|
|Protect ground water recharge areas||Mountainous regions are a prime source for recharging ground water aquifers that supply much of our developed water supply, thus making it imperative that these recharge areas be identified and protected from any development that would diminish their recharge capacity.|
|Minimize impervious surfaces, and require mitigation||Impervious surfaces such as rooftops and asphalted roads are disruptive to the natural hydrological flow, so to the extent feasible their use must be limited in mountainous regions, and their runoff strictly regulated so as not to impact the functioning of natural water courses or to create sheet flow runoff.|
|Retain rural unpaved roads as per current Loudoun County policy||Loudoun’s unpaved rural roads are a part of its history and are more environmentally compatible than paved replacements. They must be preserved to the extent possible.|
|Protect wildlife habitat and migration corridors||MDOD development restrictions should protect wildlife habitats and migration corridors.|
|Protect air quality and visibility||Air pollution emissions from elevated terrain is more visible from distant vantage points and is more prone to travel greater distances to impact other areas; additionally, mountain ecosystems are more sensitive to polluted air resulting in potential decline of critical vegetative cover.|
|Preserve dark skies||Light pollution from ill designed lighting systems results in unnecessary visible loss of nighttime sky features and can be avoided by use of purposefully designed lighting elements.|
|Avoid intrusive encroachments on the Appalachian Trail corridor and prime viewsheds||The Appalachian Trail (AT) is an important historical, cultural, and economic resource for Loudoun County, so measures are warranted to avoid development encroachments on the AT and its corridor and prime viewsheds that would be detrimental to its premier trail status.|
STEP #2 – Copy and paste the Evaluation Criteria Table from this document into a new word document so that you can easily make changes in the wording of Table.
Make changes to the wording to make your comments unique – the Zoning Department counts identical comments submitted as one comment.
Do not change the title of the Table: Evaluation Criteria Table To be added to Section 4.04 F Performance Standards in Highly Sensitive Areas. The staff needs that reference in order to know exactly the part of the Zoning Ordinance you are commenting upon.
When you have re-worded the Table to your satisfaction save the document so that you can paste it into the text of the draft zoning ordinance as will be explained in Step #4.
Step #3 – Go to the submit comment section of the draft ordinance.
- Click here to view the Zoning Ordinance
- That will take you to the entire draft Zoning Ordinance. On the left of the page is the table of contents.
- In the Table of Contents, click on Chapter 4 – Overlay Districts
- Under Overlay Districts click on 4.04 – Mountainside Development Overlay Districts
- Once you are at 4.04 Mountainside Development Overlay Districts click the vertical comments tab on the left
- When the Comment Tab opens you will be able to select a section to comment on. Select “Covered Activities”.
Step # 4 – Fill out your name and email address on the form.
Copy the table – as you have re-worded it — into the comment section. Hit submit
Congratulations you are done! You have now officially and formally submitted your comments on the Evaluation Criteria for uses permitted by the draft Zoning Ordinance in the MDOD.
Instructions on how to comment on the other sections of the MDOD regulations that are of concern to FBRM are contained in subsequent emails over the next 3 weeks.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for making this effort to protect the Blue Ridge!
President, Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains