Future Development in Loudoun Must Align with Our Values

Dear Editor:

Loudoun’s Future PAC is thrilled that the Board of Supervisors rejected the proposed Belmont Innovation Campus data center project this month. This decision represents a triumph for residents who have long voiced concerns about the unchecked expansion of data centers in our area and the associated strain on our electrical infrastructure and environment.

We set out to stop the proposed 4.8M sq ft. data center because the developer was seeking approval for 4.8 million square feet, far exceeding the permitted by-right size of around 1.3 million square feet. Loudoun’s Future worked diligently to review the development applications, and when we found problems or errors, we met with individual supervisors to explain those mistakes and suggest ways to correct them.

We’ve maintained throughout our campaign that while we were opposed to the Belmont Campus, we weren’t opposed to well-planned data centers in our County. Loudoun’s Future sees the benefits data centers bring to our County such as increased tax revenue and job creation.

What we have consistently opposed is the haphazard approach to data center development, the overwhelming size of hyperscale centers and the rubberstamping of requests for Special Exceptions that enable developers to build far larger projects that zoning and the General Plan envision. That has gotten us into the overdevelopment we’re experiencing today.

While data centers bring benefits, they also come with many potential problems: increased noise, environmental impacts, rezoning, strains to our electrical grids, and new transmission lines.

The Board’s disapproval of the Belmont scheme not only represents a crucial win for our community’s well-being, it also signifies a commitment to preserving our landscape and heritage.

Those in the eastern part of the county have taken the brunt of new data center development. We see them popping up within a few hundred feet of residential neighborhoods, taking away forests, greenery, and parks for our children. Loudoun’s Future’s goal is county-wide, opposing objectionable data centers in the east, and helping fight sprawl in the west.

We believe that Supervisors heard the objections to Belmont and were impressed that they represented a countywide unity. In fact, the number of citizens at the Belmont hearing is what flipped the decisive vote.

Let us all work together – along with the Board of Supervisors – to ensure that development across our county is well planned with the future in mind.

As we celebrate the rejection of the Belmont proposal, we must remain vigilant in ensuring that future development in Loudoun County aligns with our values and respects the needs of our community.

John Lovegrove, Loudoun’s Future Chairman


Just Say No to the Second Largest Data Center in the Country

When you think about Loudoun County and why you settled here, what comes to mind? Is it the Western Loudoun countryside filled with horses, rich Fall foliage and sweeping views? Is it the vibrant economy of Eastern Loudoun, the state-of-the-art schools, or the beautiful suburbs and mixed-use communities? For members of our Political Action Committee, Loudoun’s Future, our mission is to protect all of these advantages that make our county such a wonderful place to live.

But what happens when overdevelopment encroaches on our way of life, East and West? This is exactly what’s happening as the Board of Supervisors debates rezoning parts of our County for a data center at the Belmont Campus on the west side of Belmont Ridge Road south of Route 7.

The zoning of the property’s 111 acres is as follows: 41.5 acres zoned PD-IP for Industrial Park, 15 acres zoned PD-GI for General Industry, and 54.5 acres zoned A3 for Agricutural or Residential use.

Data Centers are allowed on the PD-GI and PD-IP parcels. That means 56.5 acres are available, by right, for data centers. The developer can build a 1,344,150 sq. ft. data center on this land and is within his rights to do so. We have no argument with that, if we have the power capacity for the facility. But the applicant, through a requested zoning change and special exception, asks for more than three times the size of what he is allowed.

At the next Board meeting on March 13, our elected officials can rezone part of this parcel for a nearly-five million sq. ft. data center, or they can refuse to bend to the pressure from big development and disapprove the rezoning. It’s that simple. But what’s at stake is critically important to the future of Loudoun County.

Loudoun’s Future isn’t opposed to thoughtful development that pushes our County forward while paying tribute to our rich history. Similarly, we aren’t opposed to the data centers that are here today or new ones in the future. These centers provide help funding County initiatives, schools, and needed services through the taxes they pay. They employ our residents and have become a critical part of our county’s budget. We have welcomed them previously and have no plans to stop moving into the future.

What we are opposed to is rezoning current land set aside for other uses into more land for data centers.  We are wrestling with issues such as the power for these centers and the impact on nearby communities; the noise and sheer size of some of these buildings.

We should not approve rezoning requests when we cannot accommodate the developments that are already approved.  We call on the Supervisors and the Planning Commission to pause these applications until the newly formed Zoning Ordinance Amendment group creates the regulations necessary to accommodate the needs of the industry without the destructive consequences we have seen so far.

The Belmont project’s proposed 4.8 million additional sq.ft. of data center bring with it a tremendous amount of problems that must be considered. For starters, the nearly-five million sq. ft. would make Belmont the second largest data center in the country. Regardless of any buffers or setbacks, a project this size would negatively impact many residents. There’s no denying its size and the impossible task of blending it into our community – by comparison, the largest office building in the world, the Pentagon, at six million square feet, is not much bigger than the Belmont deal.

Are the residents of Belmont ok with 150 diesel generators—the backup power for this data center—starting up at any time of the day or night, and at least once a week for testing purposes?

With a project this big comes a massive need for power. Imagine the power needed for 600,000 homes – roughly 600 megawatts – that’s what would be needed for this project. Our area is already strained for power thanks to the energy needed to power our existing data centers in Loudoun County.

The County and state don’t have the power available for a center this big, which means the additional power will need to come from across state lines, through new transmission lines.

Hoover Dam, which powers the city of Las Vegas, would have to be 30% larger just to power this one data center!

Data centers pay a lot of taxes, but they bring problems like this: The Belmont project and others like it could wind up doubling Loudoun citizens’ electric bills.  We would be on the hook for paying for the controversial transmission lines that would be needed to ship in new power.  The cost of these new lines will be included in our electric bills.

All these negatives notwithstanding, at the crux of our opposition to the Belmont plan is the request by the developer to turn all 111 acres, about twice the area of The Vatican, into a data center that’s far larger than zoning allows.

The County can simply say no to this proposal.  No justification or legal reason is required.  Zoning exists to balance the uses of the land so that all parties, not just developers, are well served.

The land was zoned this way to create that balance.  Almost 56 acres of this woodland on the banks of Goose Creek are zoned A-3 by the intent of the people of Loudoun.

It is in everyone’s best interest to pause this project until the Board of Supervisors has more time to develop a comprehensive approach to data centers. We encourage a pause on approving this center until a new data center plan is officially approved by the County. The Board can just say ‘no.’

Show up at the Board Meeting on March 13.

Y​ou can sign up to speak at the following website  www.loudoun.gov/4853/About-​Board-of-Supervisors-Meetings. You can ​
contact ​your Supervisor here:  www.loudoun.​gov/86/Board-of-Supervisors.

Now is the time to Stop the Madness!

John Lovegrove is the President of Loudoun’s Future, a Political Action Committee dedicated to preserving our way of life in Loudoun County.  He lives on a farm outside Hillsboro with his wife Judith and six horses, three dogs, one bird, and five goldfish. Go to Loudouns-future.org.


Loudoun’s Future Urges Zoning Re-Write on Cluster Developments

Non-partisan Political Action Committee says Cluster Developments are threatening premium farmland and agricultural soils, and Loudoun’s scenic beauty

Loudoun County, VALoudoun’s Future, a non-partisan Political Action Committee (PAC) working to preserve the history and bucolic charm of Loudoun County, has launched a new campaign to highlight the overwhelming problems of cluster developments, arguing that these dense subdivisions encroach on Loudoun’s farmland and degrade its scenic beauty and quality of life.

Loudoun’s Future urges the Board of Supervisors to pass a zoning rewrite this year but defer new zoning regulations regarding clusters and intense uses, among other sensitive things, until next year when there is time for thoughtful and meaningful discussions between the Board and the citizens of Loudoun County.  

A cluster development is an option that can be used by a developer as he decides where to put the houses on a property.  In exchange for grouping the houses together to preserve open space and farmable lots the developer is given a higher lot yield, i.e., he can build more houses then allowed under the base density of the area.  For example, in the northern part of Loudoun the base density is one house per twenty acres.  If clustered, however, the developer is allowed to build four times as many houses!  This incentive is much higher than any other county in Virginia.

This perverse incentive, inserted at the last minute in a previous zoning ordinance update, has allowed thousands of houses and overcrowding in Western Loudoun. These developments overwhelm Loudoun’s roads, schools and landscapes as thousands of newcomers move here.  The time is now to eliminate this giveaway to developers, and stop paying the extra costs of sprawl; higher taxes, increased congestion, crowded schools, and loss of farms and scenery.

To continue allowing cluster developments while also preserving Loudoun’s beauty and rural charm, Loudoun’s Future argues that clusters should be allowed equal to the base density of 20 acres per lot in the north of the county (AR-1 area) and 40 acres per lot in the south of the county (AR-2). State code requires zoning ordinances to provide for clusters, but it does not mandate density bonuses. Removing those density bonuses would still allow clusters, but at densities that preserve open countryside and prime farmland, and would drastically reduce the number of homes and limit growth to a manageable level.

By advocating to protect natural resources and Loudoun’s rural landscape, Loudoun’s Future seeks to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the distinct beauty and charm for which Loudoun is known. That requires much better cluster zoning.

For further information about Loudoun’s Future and the campaign to save what’s good about Loudoun, please visit www.loudouns-future.org.



Loudoun’s Future is actively engaged in campaigns to safeguard our County’s natural resources, farms, villages, and communities. Please check here for the latest news and activities surrounding Loudoun’s Future’s initiatives.

Letter to the Editor: Read Chairman John Lovegrove’s latest letter to the editor on protecting our rural roads.

Preserving Our Rural Roads: A Call to Action

Dear Editor:

The gravel road network of Loudoun County is today’s reminder of the long history of our region.  George Washington rode these paths as a young surveyor for Lord Fairfax.  The armies of Lee and Hooker tracked each other as they maneuvered for their faithful showdown at Gettysburg.  You can almost hear the creak of wagons and the yells of the teamsters as they maneuvered the cutbacks and fords that still exist today, unchanged for hundreds of years.  Hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers and residents still use these roads, as do the limited numbers of cars that carefully maneuver their way on the gravel surfaces and narrow paths.

As our communities continue to evolve, it is imperative that we do not lose sight of the intrinsic value held by the roads that wind through our rural landscapes. These roads are not just pathways for transportation; they are threads that connect us to our past, represent the essence of our heritage, and offer a window into the serene beauty of our countryside. The “Protect Rural Roads Campaign,” recently unveiled by Loudoun’s Future, a Political Action Committee (PAC) established to counter the forces of development, is a timely and vital initiative that calls for our collective efforts in safeguarding these irreplaceable treasures.

In an era marked by rapid urbanization and development, our rural roads face unprecedented challenges and threats. The desire of some people to pave our rural roads highlights the growing threat of increasing traffic, inadequate maintenance, and encroaching development. The consequences of altering these roads could be profound, stripping our communities of the historic charm that sets them apart and diminishing the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

The “Protect Rural Roads Campaign” aims to emerge as a beacon of hope and unity, rallying community members, local authorities, and stakeholders under a common cause. This campaign stands as a testament to our commitment to strike a harmonious balance between progress and preservation. By advocating for these roads’ maintenance, restoration, and protection we acknowledge their significance in shaping our identity and nurturing our environment.

At the heart of this campaign is a call to action for all of us. As residents of these communities, we possess the power to advocate for change, influence decisions, and create a lasting impact. It is our responsibility to engage in meaningful conversations about the future of our rural roads, urging our leaders to prioritize their preservation in their policies and planning.

September 13th is an important day for us to stand as a community and say “Enough.”  That is the evening that the Board of Supervisors will vote on the six-year plan for improvement of Loudoun roads.  There are two important gravel roads that we must protect: Old Wheatland and Canby Road.  Both roads have been moved up in priority without proper public input. Show up at the meeting.  Sign up for public comment.  Your voices matter.  Let the Supervisors know that we need to explore alternatives to paving away our heritage.

Preserving rural roads isn’t just a nostalgic endeavor; it’s a pragmatic choice for sustainable development. We’ve seen previously that gravel roads can be treated to reduce dust but keep their historic nature intact. Paving our historic gravel roads will only lead to more traffic, higher speeds and a reduction of trails for equestrians, bikers, and residents.

This campaign serves as a rallying call for all of us to step forward and play a role in preserving the essence of our rural roads. Let us embrace this opportunity to shape a future that respects our past, sustains our present, and creates a legacy we can all be proud of. Our rural roads are not just pathways; they are pathways to our shared future.


Loudoun’s Future Launches ‘Protect Rural Roads Campaign’ to Save Rural Gravel Roads

Non-partisan PAC concerned that paving County’s gravel roads will lead to increased traffic, congestion, and a decrease in overall safety of the roads

August 7, 2023 (Loudoun County, VA)Loudoun’s Future, a non-partisan Political Action Committee (PAC) with the objective of actively engaging in this year’s Loudoun County Board of Supervisors elections, has launched the Protect Rural Roads Campaign to keep Loudoun’s historic gravel roads unpaved, the PAC announced today. The campaign centers around possible plans to pave sections of Canby Road and Old Wheatland Road, two historic and bucolic roads within Loudoun County that serve the unique needs of bikers, equestrians, and residents.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is set to vote September 13 on whether to pave these roads.

With a comprehensive mission focused on preserving the county’s unique resources, including its picturesque mountainsides, charming rural landscapes, small country villages and vibrant suburban communities, Loudoun’s Future aims to elect a Board that will safeguard these invaluable assets, including preserving its gravel roads.

Stay up to date by following Loudoun’s Future on Facebook.

“We are thrilled to launch this critical campaign to save and protect our rural, gravel roads,” said John Lovegrove, Chairman of Loudoun’s Future and a 20-year resident of the County. “These roads serve as vital connectors for our communities, enabling residents to access essential services, supporting local businesses, and fostering a sense of togetherness. By preserving them, we are paying homage to our centuries-old heritage and ensuring they remain an asset for all Loudoun County residents, today and in the future.”

Loudoun’s Future realizes the importance of preserving and carefully maintaining these gravel roads, which are an integral component of the county’s identity. There are alternative maintenance methods which are a real improvement over what is in general use today.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) installed a test section of one such alternative on Old Waterford Road, which is an upgrade to the existing road conditions, but doesn’t go as far as paving. In place for several years, this section has performed extremely well: No potholes or washboarding, better drainage and less dust, while being a smooth driving surface.

These gravel roads are a testament to the county’s rich history and cultural heritage. Whether for its equestrian enthusiasts, bike riders, or even people walking their dog, this 243-mile network is a unique feature of Loudoun County.

As part of the new campaign, Loudoun’s Future will financially support specific candidates vying for seats on the Board of Supervisors, seeking their commitment to safeguarding the rural west. The PAC firmly believes that maintaining the rural gravel roads with methods other than asphalt will help preserve the county’s unique character while protecting its residents’ quality of life.

“If these county gravel roads are paved, it will lead to increased traffic and higher speeds,” Lovegrove said. “Higher speeds, especially in residential areas, pose extreme safety hazards for drivers, homeowners, and those using the roads for recreational activities. The unpaved portion of Old Wheatland Road has seven blind hills, so paving would make the higher-speed traffic especially dangerous.”

Through intensive engagement efforts, Loudoun’s Future aims to raise awareness about the significance of these gravel roads and encourages the broader community to actively support their preservation. Loudoun’s Future stands for populism – citizens, not special interests, should decide the future of the county, especially its land use and traffic issues.

As the Board of Supervisors elections draw near, Loudoun’s Future remains steadfast in its goal to elect candidates who share its vision for a sustainable and thriving Loudoun County. By advocating for the protection of natural resources, rural landscape, and gravel roads, the PAC seeks to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the distinct beauty and charm that Loudoun is known for.

For further information about Loudoun’s Future and the campaign to save rural, gravel roads, please visit www.loudouns-future.org.


About Loudoun’s Future

Loudoun’s Future is a non-partisan Political Action Committee (PAC) formed in late 2022 to endorse and elect candidates for the Board of Supervisors elections who are committed to protecting and preserving Loudoun County’s natural resources, rural landscape, suburban communities, rural villages, and gravel roads. The PAC aims to safeguard the county’s unique character and ensure a sustainable future for its residents. For more information, visit www.loudouns-future.org.