Happenings Around the Blue Ridge – May 18, 2023
Planning Commission Unanimous Vote to Strengthen MOD Protections
At the May 11 Work Session, the Loudoun County Planning Commission unanimously voted to accept the staff recommended rewording of the Mountain Overlay District (MOD) —section 5.04 — of the draft zoning ordinance. The reworded MOD section contains significantly greater zoning protections for the mountains than the January 2023 draft of the MOD.
Since January Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains and other environmental/conservation organizations have been working with the County Planning Staff to strengthen the zoning protections in the MOD. Friends had three separate meetings with planning staff and submitted suggested wording for the MOD.
Some of the specific changes to the draft ordinance include:
- The addition of zoning standards specifically for Non-Residential Covered Activities in the MOD (table 5.04-5). These standards include requirements to submit in accordance with the Facilities Standards Manual (FSM):
- A Tree Cover Inventory;
- A Tree Conservation Plan demonstrating the long-term management strategy for forest to be preserved on site; and
- An Invasive Species Management Plan to identify and address the removal and monitoring of invasive species.
- The “spring protection area” in which land adjacent to a stream may not be disturbed has been increased from 100 feet of a stream to 300 feet of a stream.
- There is a new parking requirement for non-residential uses. 50% of the required parking must be of permeable material and any overflow or special event parking must be of permeable material. According to the County Facilities Standards Manual gravel is not considered a permeable material.
- The amount of “by right” permitted clearing in forested areas and permitted Land Disturbing Activity is reduced in many areas.
While we commend and applaud the changes to strengthen the zoning protections for the mountains there remain serious weaknesses. The most significant of which is that the zoning ordinance will still permit certain uses that are inappropriate for the MOD because of the impact they will have on the steep slopes, and thin soils as well as the amount of traffic they will generate. Land uses such as rural retreat, sit-down restaurants, new commercial wineries, retail establishments, and commercial sawmills will seriously and permanently compromise the beauty of the mountains and the capacity of the mountains to clean our air and our water.
Friends will continue to work with the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to prohibit inappropriate uses in the Mountains.
May 20, 2023 at 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve
21085 The Woods Road, Leesburg, VA
Join volunteers on the third Saturday of every month and help with projects such as invasive plant removal, landscaping, gardening, painting and more. Please dress to work outdoors (closed-toe shoes, long pants, sunscreen, etc). Meet at the Visitor Center pavilion. Minors are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Email BansheeReeks@loudoun.gov for details or to sign up.
Celebrate Birds: Birding Bles Park
May 21, 2023 at 8:00 am
44830 Riverside Pkwy
Ashburn, VA 20147
Join Allison Gallo and Bryan Henson on a search for birds at this small but popular park in eastern Loudoun that borders the Potomac River. The rich bottomland forests, extensive wetlands, and grassy areas that comprise the park attract a great variety of birds. Bring binoculars if you have them. Meet in the parking lot (there is only one). Registration required.
Questions: Contact Bryan Henson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservation in Loudoun Fair
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Hillsboro Old Stone School
37098 Charles Town Pike, Purcellville, VA 20132
Are you interested in learning more about conservation in Loudoun County, but don’t know where to start? Well, look no further! The Piedmont Environmental Council’s (PEC) Catoctin Conservation Fund would like to invite you to participate in their upcoming Conservation Fair.
This event is for all Loudoun residents who want to be better stewards of their land, no matter the size or location. In fact, many of the organizations and agencies that will be present have programs and information specifically for individuals who live in residential and suburban areas, even those with HOAs.
This event is free, but registration is required. Due to venue capacity, the event will be limited to 75 participants.
Questions? Contact Hallie Harriman at email@example.com.