A excerpt from a speech delivered by our president at the Loudoun County Planning Commissioners on January 24, 2023
The following is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Peter Weeks to the Loudoun County Planning Commissioners on January 24th on the subject of rewriting the mountain ordinances:
My name is Peter Weeks and I am a homeowner from Bluemont and for the last 14 years I’ve lived on the Blue Ridge. I’m also president of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You may be surprised to hear that there have been no substantive changes in the mountain overlay district (MOD) in 30 years, since 1993. 30 years!
So far in the current zoning ordinance rewrite draft, county staff has left intact the 1993 ordinances. Possibly different setbacks and performance standards are being contemplated. We shall see. Staff has taken the “D” out of the originally named “MDOD” but the current draft does nothing to curtail its practice.
Here are 3 planned “by-right” subdivisions on the Blue Ridge Mountains that developers have recently notified the county:
- “Westview at Short Hill” – west side of Short Hill facing Forever Farm Winery (9 lots)
- “Ridges at Hillsborough” – west side of Short Hill behind Breaux Winery (22 lots)
- “Reserve at Piney Run” – east side of the Blue Ridge adjacent to the new Street Run State Park (22 lots)
As you are hearing, removal of the letter “D” will not change the reality that development threatens the awesome beauty of the Blue Ridge, Short Hill, Catoctin, and Bull Run Mountains.
What is at stake? Most of us acknowledge we are approaching potentially catastrophic climate change. The mountains are our ally, the source of clean water for our rivers, lakes and streams, it’s tree canopy removes carbon dioxide and converts it to the oxygen we breathe. County leaders must demonstrate the courage and resolve to protect these natural resources, working to reverse this downward spiral. It’s not too late.
We can’t expect county staff to be experts on how to protect the mountain habitat: the tree canopy, our water, wildlife. We have these experts on staff. We offer to work directly with staff. Let’s organize planning meetings. Now is the time to act – we cannot sit another 10, 20, or 30 years! Let’s leave it to the conservation and forestry experts to re-write the MOD, not developers who lobby to maintain the status quo.
Economically, the mountains frame our region and draw visitors who support local businesses and services.
The MOD must be redefined to be viewed as an organic whole from its base to its ridge line. Inappropriate uses must be eliminated. Dividing the mountains into geographic zones describing degrees of sensitivity is both confusing and very difficult to enforce.
The world has changed since 1993. Climate change is now and if we have the courage, there is still time to act.