Proposed Western Loudoun Zoning Tweaks Raise Concerns

Loudoun’s Zoning Ordinance Action Group has recommended a variety of changes to rural land use regulations, but a long line of public hearing speakers from the west agreed with staff that the changes need more work.

Some of the proposed changes are technical quick fixes, such as clarifying rules for equestrian facilities. Others are uncontroversial, such as writing in set-back and lot-size exemptions for historic structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But language about farm wineries and breweries again drew western Loudouners’ ire during a recent Planning Commission hearing.

“The contradiction is clear,” said Marvin Watts during the April 25 hearing. “When you industrialize the country, as with the so-called farm brewery, there is no country left.”

“I know I wouldn’t knowingly purchase a residence where the ingress and egress to my driveway is on the entrance for a farm winery, and that’s certainly what would happen in our little neighborhood,” Tom Curtis said.

Other amendments, however, enjoyed strong support—such as proposed rules that would allow more farm infrastructure, like barns, in open spaces. Many supporters of Willowsford turned out to support that amendment, allowing the Willowsford Farm to grow.

“We love Willowsford Farm, and we count the days every year until their farm stand opens,” Amy Beahm said. “Eleven days, by the way.”

Elizabeth Raitz-Cowboy and her daughters Nicole and Camerson also spoke as a Navajo family, telling the commissioners that they love Mother Earth and “you cannot have a farm without a barn.”

“We are here again as urban Navajos,” Raitz-Cowboy said. “We are real Navajos. Please let us build our farm structures to continue to support our children’s growth.”

“I like the farm, because it actually has hands-on experience, instead of reading inside a book and watching a video on how to do stuff,” Nicole Raitz-Cowboy added.

Representatives from the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition, the Aldie Heritage Association, the Transition Area Alliance, and the Waterford Citizens Association all turned out to ask the Planning Commission to give ZOAG’s suggestions a second look.

“We did not intend to assault rural Loudoun County, and I do think that needs to be said, because there has been some visceral reaction, obviously, to the work that ZOAG has done,” said Packie Crown, a ZOAG member.

The commission voted 6-2-0-1 to forward technical changes to the Board of Supervisors, while the rest of ZOAG’s proposed changes will go back to a work session for more review. The two western planning commissioners, Charlie Douglas (Blue Ridge) and Eugene Scheel (Catoctin), voted against.


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