Letter: Lynne Wright, Leesburg

Editor: This can happen to you. How many Loudoun County residents are aware that a corporation purchased three adjacent houses on Gleedsville Road in southwest Leesburg in January to open a for-profit commercial Residential Treatment Facility?

This proposed facility could house up to 24 clients at a time with mental health and behavioral issues whose therapy treatment cycles would run 30-90 days. With staff, unlimited visitors, caretakers, and service people there could be more than 50 additional cars a day traversing this residential road. 

How many Loudoun County residents are aware that this type of commercial facility, known as Congregate Housing, is not permitted in an AR-1 zoned district? While the Loudoun Planning & Zoning Board did determine that this proposed use was considered a Congregate Housing Facility and not allowed in an AR-1 zone, they suggested a workaround of the zoning requirements to this corporation, Newport Academy/Newport Institute, so that they might be allowed to operate in this residential area.

The residents of Gleedsville Road are not against mental health facilities and treatment; we recognize the escalating need for these services for adolescents and adults in our community and elsewhere. What we are against is a commercial facility, with a very poor track record as a neighbor in other locations, in the middle of our residential neighborhood. In other areas where these types of facilities have been permitted to operate there has been a marked increase in police and other emergency services. Adjacent to this property is a non-profit agricultural business, A Farm Less Ordinary using donated land in our community for over three years. AFLO hires and trains young adults with intellectual and developmental challenges and teaches them to be employable and productive through farming. If Newport Academy becomes operational, AFLO would likely have to cease operations on Gleedsville Road because of safety concerns for AFLO employees. The Zoning Board seems unconcerned that a small local and successful nonprofit may be forced out of business by an out-of-state for-profit corporation.

How many Loudoun County residents are aware that this can happen in their own neighborhood? Unless you or your community HOA have current and specific ordinances, the Planning & Zoning Board can allow this exception, even in multi-million-dollar neighborhoods. The residents of Gleedsville Road have spent thousands of dollars appealing the board’s determination and trying to get a preliminary injunction but were unsuccessful. The Circuit Court is next on Sept. 26. In 2019, the Zoning Board in Fairfax County determined that Newport Academy could not operate an RTC out of three adjacent homes it had purchased for $9 million in McLean because it was deemed a Congregate Housing Facility, not a Group Home. Why is Loudoun County’s Zoning Board and Board of Supervisors not putting their residents and taxpayers concerns above that of Newport Academy?

If the Loudoun County Planning and Zoning Board allows Newport Academy to become operational in a residentially zoned neighborhood, no residential neighborhood will be immune. This can happen to you. 

Lynne Wright, Leesburg

4 thoughts on “Letter: Lynne Wright, Leesburg

  • 2022-08-29 at 10:06 am
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    This is why elections are important. Each County Supervisor appoints a member of the zoning board. When we elect scoundrels to the board they are going to appoint scoundrels to the zoning board. Part of our problem is that we don’t attend a lot of meetings on a regular basis and we are surprised when something negative happens in our back yard. We should all be aware of what our government representatives are doing. I’ll admit I haven’t gone to many meetings in the past two years. Residents should organize watchdog groups in their districts to get more eyes on these boards early on. Remember that local elections have local consequences.

  • 2022-08-29 at 10:11 am
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    Most of your letter is excellent but I have to emphasize one phrase that is absolutely wrong and one that is absolutely right. “not permitted in an AR-1 zoned district” is provably false if you were to list ALL THE EXCEPTIONS THROUGHOUT LOUDOUN! Are gas station or cell antennas zone approved for AR1? Second the best phrase which is absolutely true as long as campaign donations exist and elected officials don’t recuse themselves from votes “no neighborhood is safe”. Time to get ALL your neighbors to VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS! 🙂

  • 2022-08-29 at 1:29 pm
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    Wow. This is a tough one. I support congregate housing for those with mental-health challenges. By the same token, I see Ms. Wright’s point. It appears Newport Academy is slipping through due to a loophole in Loudoun’s rules. Why did Fairfax County put the kibosh on such a facility — but not Loudoun County? I hope both sides can hit the negotiating table in good faith & figure out a solution that everyone can live with. Meanwhile, Happy Individual Rights Day Loudoun!

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