From the get-go, our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors set out to show their extreme gratitude to the commercial developers who poured half a million bucks into local GOP coffers for the 2011 election: among other steps, they immediately abolished the volunteer program to remove illegally posted signs along the county’s roads, apparently on the grounds that it was too successful.
The Board then promptly overrode the county’s carefully worked-out zoning rules for permanent commercial signs, allowing One Loudoun to erect two electronic billboards — something forbidden by the statute and not allowed anywhere else in the county.
Now the Board rings in the new year with more goodies for the developers who want to get around the sign rules everyone else has to follow — and which were originally enacted, lest us forget, not only in the interests of people who live here and want to preserve the things they value about Loudoun but also because the ugly commercial clutter and visual blight of proliferating signs directly threatens other businesses that depend on Loudoun’s attraction as a scenic, historic, tourist destination. Those businesses, however, don’t have the political influence that comes with half a million bucks in campaign contributions.
The developers of the Loudoun Station complex along the Greenway have asked for a special exception to erect multiple huge signs, including a freestanding three-story-high sign designed essentially as a billboard to be seen on the adjacent Greenway. It is not an entrance sign; it is as the Planning Commission staff noted, just advertising for the development: “The signs are redundant and create visual clutter for the development.”
Perhaps needless to say, the Planning Commission, 100% packed with the GOP-friendly members, approved it unanimously last fall, brushing aside the staff report.
Now the Board of Supervisors has to give final approval. A public hearing is scheduled January 9. People can at least show up and say what they think — not that it will make any difference if a year’s experience is any guide.