Still marveling over the new policy enunciated the other week by our developer-controlled all-Republican (but I repeat myself) Loudoun Board of Supervisors: to wit, that it is now the taxpayers’ job to save land speculators and developers from the financial consequences of their own stupid business decisions.
In addition to approving 100 new homes on what had been a commercially zoned property in the “University Center” area in Ashburn, the Board also gave megadeveloper Toll Brothers a similar fat gift by flipping one of their commercially zoned properties to high-density residential in the “Avonlea Reserve,” adding another 100 new homes.
The cost to the taxpayers of these moves? According to the standard formula used by the public schools to calculate how much the steady-state student population increases with each new home built in the county, it will mean $760,000 a year — that’s forever into the future — in increased school costs, plus $5.6 million in new school construction costs.
The rationale the Board gave for their generosity was that the poor developers had invested in these parcels and now found that they just couldn’t find anyone who wanted to build a commercial building on them. In one case, the property had a steep slope; in another, it was down a dead end and not visible from Route 7.
Now you’d think that Toll Brothers and their kin just might have been able to notice these defects in the properties when they bought them in the first place, and also just might possibly have noticed that they were zoned commercial on the county’s master plan.
You might also think that if a private company makes a business decision and it turns out to have been a bad one, it is not up to the government to open its purse to recompense them for their bad decision.
But that’s not being “business friendly,” is it?
Here was how Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) explained his “reasoning” in voting to approve the rezoning from commercial to residential:
“If I really thought this property would be developed as a commercial property in the next 50 years I would keep my vote and oppose it. I just don’t see any realistic opportunity for this part of the property.”
Yes, indeed — how could he turn a blind eye to such suffering on the part of a land speculator who got stuck with a dog of his own choosing.
It must be very comforting for developers to know that all they need to do henceforth in Loudoun County to open up any property to residential use is to purchase it, then declare that they are very very sad that they cannot find a customer for its zoned purpose.