The newly elected Republican Board of Supervisors has been making some drastic changes to the way it conducts business in Loudoun County. After only four business meetings, the Board is working to rescind many of the decisions passed down by our previous supervisors, and it is doing so while placing limitations on input from the community.
In these meetings, the Board has voted to revisit or overturn at least four landmark decisions of the last Board. One of these is a vote to limit public input by eliminating the senior e-comment program that allowed those seniors physically unable to attend meetings to visit their local senior center and record a message to the Board to be played during the next Public Input session. This decision was made with no consultation with the Commission on Aging, and no comparable solution has been put in place.
The opportunity for the public to be involved in crucial decisions the Board is making does not exist when Supervisors do not tell their constituents (many of whom fought hard to get these policies in place) that they are being revisited until immediately before the meeting. There have been serious complaints by many Loudoun residents that their ideas and concerns are being lost in circulation somewhere in the government building, never reaching their Supervisors at all.
As the possibilities for public input and knowledge decline, more and more of the decisions passed down by the previous Board of Supervisors are being revisited and re-voted on. The volunteer sign program has been eliminated. This program, which cost the County virtually nothing, relied on volunteers to remove signs illegally placed in the VDOT right-of-way. Many of the Board members flagrantly disregarded county law during their campaigns by placing signs in these right-of-ways, and have now eliminated the only mechanism for removing this blight from our communities.
Similarly, the comprehensive plan amendment (CPAM) passed by the last Board to make Belmont Ridge Road 4 lanes instead of 6 was overturned without the knowledge of the communities it will affect. Loudoun residents along Belmont Ridge were very involved and dedicated to ensuring the road only be four lanes. And finally, the Large Retail Establishment ordinance, put in place by the previous Board, and which gave the County more opportunities to properly evaluate the suitability of retail establishments that exceeded 80,000 square feet, is being overturned. This ordinance protected local businesses and helped preserve economic diversity in the County.
These actions set a dangerous precedent, providing license for each newly elected Board to completely undo the work of the previous Board from the moment they assume office, thereby crippling Loudoun's ability to progress in any direction. Further, it allows for the Board to do so without the acknowledgement or backing of the community it represents.
The next Board of Supervisors Public Input meeting will occur on March 6th at 5pm. In order to preserve the principles of inclusive, democratic governance, please join the Loudoun County Young Democrats in calling for the new Board of Supervisors to be held accountable to the community it is supposed to represent and demand they stop excluding that community from the process of government. Contact us at: (703) 531-7909; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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