Snappy service (for campaign contributors)

Once again, the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors has shown it can provide excellent constituent service . . . as long as the constituents happen to belong to the commercial development industry.

As reported earlier this month, the developers of the “Loudoun Station” development had an urgent need to violate Loudoun’s longstanding zoning ordinances governing the erection of advertising signs by plunking down along the Greenway a 27-foot high freestanding sign for their development.

That’s the height of a three-story house. This huge sign would be in addition to multiple entrance signs for the development, and the county planning staff opposed it as unnecessary, adding needlessly to visual clutter, and contrary to both the letter and the spirit of Loudoun’s policies.

But if you’re a commercial developer, the rules need not apply to you with this Board! The Loudoun Station developers applied for a special exemption, and last week at a public hearing the Board voted unanimously to approve it and send it to a final vote on February 6.

Mirabile dictu, Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) recused himself for the first time on a vote involving one of his very generous friends, not that it made any difference when you have a unanimous board in the pocket of the developers, but I suppose it was a nice gesture.

The Board also showed a blushing reticence to follow its normal bums-rush procedure; a motion by Supervisors Shawn William (R-Broad Run) and Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) to suspend the rules, thereby allowing instant final passage of the special exception, failed to gain the supermajority vote required. (Most of the other special exceptions the Board considered last week were snappily approved this way by suspending the rules. I guess if you don’t bother following the existing zoning rules there’s no point in following the rules about public process, either.)

Having already granted special exceptions to One Loudoun for the first-ever electronic billboards in the county, abolished the volunteer illegal-sign cleanup program, and turned a blind eye to the many large and completely illegal billboards and banners developers have already erected along the Greenway, we can expect further abandonment of Loudoun’s longstanding sign rules. It’s another perfect example of favoring the interests of one small business segment over both the people who live here and the businesses that depend upon preserving Loudoun’s scenic and historic values that make it a popular tourism destination. With this Board there is one rule and one rule alone: Money talks!

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