Spiraling costs of growth

Since taking office in January, our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors has been dislocating its collective shoulder patting itself on its collective back in self-congratulation over its plans to increase commercial development in the county. At its last meeting in July before getting out of Dodge for the rest of the summer, the Board unanimously removed the crippling regulatory burden that had allowed citizens to be heard before a big box store is constructed, and in a bold move for free enterprise and the universal rights of man, granted to commercial real estate developers the automatic right henceforth and forever more to build two-acre and larger retail establishments “by right.”

Such measures, we have been assured, have nothing whatsoever to do with the half a million bucks the supervisors’ campaigns received from the commercial development industry. Rather, the aim is to lower the crippling property tax burden on us all by “increasing the commercial tax base.”

Funny how growth hasn’t quite worked out that way. Over the last two decades, two previous Republican-controlled Boards threw open the county to massive residential development, tripling the population and nearly tripling the typical property tax bill of existing residents. Now Republican-controlled Board No. 3 is shocked to discover that property tax bills have increased to pay for all the new schools, roads, and public safety services required by all that growth and insists that the solution this time is more commercial growth.

And because commercial growth is so very, very good for us all, it turns out that government under the Loudoun Republicans needs to subsidize it with millions of new spending.

It also turns out that the traffic congestion created directly by new commercial development is also the taxpayers’ responsibility. The cool $80,000,000 taxpayer–backed and subsidized loan granted to Scott York’s buddies  behind the Kincora mixed-use development (so they wouldn’t have to come up with that dough themselves to pay for the  road improvements they promised to provide) was just the beginning.

Another snappy move at the Board’s last meeting was its unanimous approval of an out-of-nowhere amendment from Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) to toss in $1,000,000 to help alleviate what he described as “the terrible backups that occur when needing to make a right turn out of Target and Wegmans onto Waxpool Road.” The money, by the way, Williams assures us, is free, since it was merely swiped from an already-approved project to construct a Park and Ride lot that in Western Loudoun that was to reduce congestion for existing residents on existing roads. Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) got rid of that earlier in the year, vaguely assuring us that she had been vaguely told that the very Christian folks at Patrick Henry Bible College would be willing to lease to the county the use of some of their lots under some vague conditions to serve the same purpose.

Moral of the story: if you merely live here, forget about your problems. But if you want to build a new big box store or other commercial project and aren’t willing to pay for the costs it will incur in new roads and new traffic congestion, you’ve got a friend — or rather nine friends — ready to rush to your aid.

If our hard-working elected officials can take a break, so can we mere citizens who live here.

Real Loudoun will be back later this month with more exciting developments in our Board’s fearless endeavors to give your money to large profit-making companies, to promote the one true faith, to obliterate Loudoun’s heritage and scenic beauty, and to remind us in their very helpful taxpayer-funded constituent communications just how proud they are of the job they are doing, even if they say so themselves, which they do, repeatedly.

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