Loudon County, Virginia knows sprawl. According to yesterday’s Washington Post, the northern Virginia county has experienced a 67% growth in population during the 90s, bringing 12,000 new residents a year into the county at this point. A group called “Voters to Stop Sprawl” (VSS) made their mark yesteday in Virginia elections, by helping to elect a slate of eight anti-sprawl candidates as county supervisors, including Board Chair Scott York, who walked away with 65% of the votes. York was described by the media as a “Republican slow-growth advocate”. Voters to Stop Sprawl made a clean sweep of the election. “They sent a very clear signal this evening that they want change,” said York. Voters to Stop Sprawl spokesman Joe Maio said: “It is so overwhelming that it is not just a local result. It is a national result. There is only one way to say it. This is what people want.” The term “slow development” was used in the media reports about this remarkable election sweep. To get the support of the VSS, candidates had to commit to seeking state authority to limit local development until schools, roads and other infrastructure can accomodate it. VSS also pushed for the power to levy impact fees on developers, to strictly enforce county zoning laws, and to improve the public’s participation in land use decision-making. The VSS candidates apparently took a pledge not to accept developer donations to their campaigns. Loudon is reputedly the third-fastest growiong county in the nation. Board Chairman York characterized his opponent as an ally of developers. During the campaign, VSS sent mailings to voters cautioning that yesterday’s election was the last chance to save Loudon County from being devoured by developers. Local activists have succeeded in making “managed growth” a top political priority now in Northern Virginia — and not a moment too soon.
A group calling itself the Coalition for Smarter Growth said that the November 3rd. election was “a vindication”. “We have long said that growth is the issue in Northern Virginia,” Stewart Schwartz told the Washington Post, “particularly at the local level, and this confirms that.” For more info about the Loudon County victory, contact [email protected]