"Promoting housing affordability by combating exclusionary housing policies"



Loudoun County, Virginia, Supervisors continue to be skeptical about recommendations for meeting County's housing needs


EHI has been providing input to Loudoun County, Virginia—a rapidly growing outer suburb of Washington, DC—on the County’s future housing needs, since 2015. Loudoun’s residential development planning—especially near its future Metrorail (commuter rail) stations—will have a substantial impact on housing costs and supply for Loudoun residents and the rest of the Washington, DC, region.

Whether and where to permit a substantial increase in housing continue to be highly controversial topics in Loudoun County. The County’s Dept. of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) issued a draft Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CP) for the County on May 7, 2018. The draft plan, which covers the period until 2040, calls for a huge reduction in the number of new housing units planned for the County’s Transition Policy Area (TPA), compared with DPZ’s initial scenario. (The TPA is a largely residential area of east-central Loudoun County that is intended as a buffer between the rural west and more suburban east (see Policy Areas map above).)

The draft CP reduces to 1,500 the number of additional residences envisioned in the TPA by 2040—down from the 12,000 or more additional housing units initially suggested as an option for the TPA, by DPZ and the County’s Stakeholders’ Committee. (Those units would be in addition to up to 2,800 new residences already provided for in the current comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 2001.)

Those reductions are consistent with the adverse reaction of numerous members of the Board to the initial recommendations. Various Board members have emphasized that most of the voters they hear from object to planning for new housing in such great amounts.

Loudoun’s DPZ and Stakeholders Committee are attempting to deal with the forecast in the County’s recent Housing Needs Assessment of a net shortfall of more than 18,000 housing units in the County by 2040. (For more on that report, please click on our website article LOUDOUN HOUSING NEEDS SURVEYS 2017.)

DPZ and the County’s Planning Commission had recommended permitting roughly 15,000 new housing units near Loudoun’s future Metrorail stations, to absorb much of the housing demand that will be created by job growth due to new commercial development there. However, those recommendations were not accepted by the Board in June 2017. Instead, the Board folded the planning for those areas of eastern Loudoun County (the “Silver Line Small Area Plan” process) into the slower, County-wide Comprehensive Plan (CP) revision track (the “Envision Loudoun” process).

Even with the newest housing reductions, however, the draft CP’s recommendations for housing and overall growth have been met with skepticism by many residents of the County. EHI hopes that supporters of housing growth and skeptical residents can come up with approaches that meet housing needs while satisfying the legitimate concerns of county residents about new development. If well-enough planned, the necessary growth might be achievable with general public support. 

For information on Loudoun’s CP proceedings during 2017, please click on LOUDOUN DELIBERATES HOUSING GROWTH.