Chamber Insider Blog

Letter to Loudoun Board of Supervisors Regarding Housing Affordability

Letter written by Grafton deButts, Vice President of Membership & Government Affairs, and was delivered Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
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Dear Loudoun Board of Supervisors,

Since the beginning of the Comprehensive Plan process the Loudoun Chamber has closely monitored how this plan could set in motion our shared priority to impact housing affordability to meet the workforce needs of our business community.   Addressing this challenge is crucial for the present needs of the hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses in Loudoun County today who are cannot find or retain employees because of the lack of housing inventory for households at or below AMI.

Due to limited single-family housing options in the UPA, virtually full build-out in the SPA, and the increased market demand on by-right development that is permanently removing agricultural land in the RPA at an alarming rate, the Loudoun Chamber is strongly supportive of Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Plan Draft to leverage the TPA to address Loudoun’s housing affordability and inventory needs,

This shared priority of housing affordability will not be achieved based on the direction of the staff presentation on the TPA on May 20th. These edits and motions, if adopted, will negatively affect Loudoun’s ability to create the desired market-based affordability that, combined with programmatic solutions, must be used to affect Loudoun’s housing affordability. We ask that you consider rejecting two significant recommendations made by County staff that will lead to significant consequences in the achievement of our long-term goal.

  • First, please REJECT the removal of townhomes as a permitted use in the Transition Compact Neighborhood Place Type. This specificity of design standards and housing type will only limit our ability to work closely with landowners to provide for our housing shortage. Removing a proven product with market demand and replacing it with a product that is neither proven nor has demand creates a significant risk.  Local community developers and County leadership share the same goal of creating housing that our residents want and need.  We encourage an open market-based approach that promotes partnership and creative innovation to impact our housing affordability and variety challenge. Restricting specific types and designs at this point in the process is counter to our long-term goal.
  • Second, please REJECT the “Phased” approach to developing the TPA. Due to the restrictions laid out in the staff’s recommendations of a phased development approach running from north to south, it is likely that the new housing units needed to address the County’s unmet housing needs could be delayed indefinitely. By waiting for transportation improvements to be put in place before rezonings can occur, developers would be unable to contribute to these improvements, making it even harder to construct them. It is crucial that our landowners and community developers are enticed to seek rezoning, rather than develop by-right.

Thank you for your time and attention as we partner together to prioritize housing affordability for Loudoun’s current and future workforce. We’d like to, again, commend you for adopting an Affordable Housing Priority as part of the Comprehensive Plan and seek to ensure that the entirety of the plan is supportive of that goal.

Learn more about the Chamber’s Public Policy Initiative here.