Loudoun residents: keep an eye on location for proposed Hounds baseball stadium

December 5, 2012 — Are you as surprised as I about plans by developers to re-locate a planned minor league baseball stadium to the southwest corner of Leesburg Pike and the Loudoun County Parkway?

It would be a defining feature of the “One Loudoun” town center development that once envisioned something similar to the Reston Town Center. To some some of my clients, it just about destroys the very concept of a town center. Others say ‘bring it on!’

What do you think?

This is where One Loudoun developers want to locate a minor league baseball park at the southwest corner of Leesburg Pike and the Loudoun CountyParkway. CREDIT: One Loudoun

This is where One Loudoun developers want to locate a minor league baseball park at the southwest corner of Leesburg Pike and the Loudoun County Parkway. CREDIT: One Loudoun

Residents of the nearby Potomac Green neighborhood have organized “No Stadium on 7”  to take on the project which may include a soccer stadium. At the same time, several area residents are looking forward to that location hosting a minor league team, the Hounds.

According to this report Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 in The Washington Post the stadium would replace an office building and move from its originally-planned location as the centerpiece of the Kincora Village Center on Route 28. that is where the Loudoun Board of Supervisors first approved the stadium in 2009.

The would-be owner and operator of the stadium, VIP Sports and Entertainment, says its committed to being a good community neighbor. We’ll see.

At the center of the emerging debate is Supervisor Shawn Williams, R-Broad Run. Based on the report in the Post, Williams seems poised to support it. If all questions about noise, traffic and lighting can’t be worked out, he said he’ll withdraw that support.

Look for traffic and environmental studies by Friday, Dec. 14. If officials approve, construction could begin very quickly.

Here’s a sample of how each side sees the problem, or the opportunity:

One commenter about the Post’s story, ‘Mammaof4,’ said this:

Won’t the stadium raise property values? Isnt’ the intersection already busy? It’s not like this is going in the middle of a quiet little neighborhood or a thriving forest. I don’t get the opposition. Celebrate it – Loudoun the land of single family house upon single family house is getting some real mixed-use to go with its metro. This is awesome for the community. Time to rally around this and be thankful. If you want quiet, you move out to western LoCo away from mass transit and major roads.

And then there was the opposite point-of-view from ‘Revo1’:

A stadium is a terrible idea. Where are all these people going to park? Oh, that’s right. In the places where people going to the Alamo Draft House and other more welcome businesses in One Loudoun would be expecting to park. The last thing Loudoun needs is professional sports. It is a joke of the worst sort to say with a straight face that a stadium that can hold 10,000 people (or even 5,500 seated) will cause less traffice than a 4-story office building.  STOP THE STADIUM NOW!!!

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Existing E-ZPass holders escape fee increase, until the battery dies

July 10, 2012 — One has to wonder if the E-ZPass “transponder” many of us use to navigate toll collections on the Dulles toll road / Rte. 267 in Northern Virginia and I-95 in Maryland on up to New York City isn’t becoming a means to increase tax revenue even though no such increase is justified by relevant costs.

The Virginia Department of Transportation July 9 announced its new policy on charging for E-ZPass accounts effective Sept. 1, 2012: Customers who have accounts as of Monday, July 9, 2012 won’t be charged a monthly fee until they replace transponders or add a new one.

Commuters who share rides on Virginia’s toll roads will need a “Flex” transponder starting Sept., 1, 2012. This is different from the standard transponder, pictured. CREDIT: Gothamist.com

Here are the highlights:

  • The current account holders are okay till they get a new transponder or add one to their accounts. At that point, they will be charged 50 cents a month per new standard transponder.
  • A driver who opens a new account with Virginia after today will be subject to the 50-cent monthly fee for each standard transponder.
  • The existing $25 deposit will no longer be required for new transponders. Account holders who already paid that deposit will have have it converted to prepaid tolls when they replace transponders. Or they can get a refund if they return a transponder and close their accounts.
  • New customers still be be required to make a pre-payment covering $35 in tolls when opening an E-ZPass account.
  • There is a new type of transponder: “Flex transponders”. You don’t need one of these specialized units if you don’t plan to carpool in the express lanes. People who plan to travel three to a car and get the free ride need to get one of the Flex transponders with a carpool setting.

You can read more at this report by The Washington Post. And here is a Q&A that some of my clients have inquired about; it should answer just about any question you have.

See my blog post here May 31, 2012 about making your views count.

Approval of Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line to Dulles Airport should boost property values

July 7, 2012 — It was oh sooooo close but the all-Republican Board of Supervisors in Loudoun County, Virginia approved the second phase of the Metro subway system’s extension into Loudoun County, including Washington-Dulles International Airport.

The vote all but ensures that the Washington Metropolitan area has one of, if not THE, most accessible and cleanest commuter train / subway systems in the world.

While the extension will come with costs to the county and construction inconveniences, one now can reach the region’s three airports using public transportation, without an expensive taxi ride.

With his decision to support the Silver Line after strongly opposing it, Supervisor Kenneth D. Reid (R-Leesburg) delivered the fifth and deciding vote for a project that supporters and at least a few of my clients predict will have a lasting impact.

“This is a huge investment in Loudoun’s future,” Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, told The Washington Post. The Chamber represents 1,200 businesses. “It’s important not just for our economy in the next quarter or the next year, but for a payoff that will be generational. . . . The chamber is absolutely elated.”

Read this assessment of the vote and what it means by The Washington Post here.

Phase 1 of the Silver Line to Wielhe Avenue near Reston is to be complete in late 2013. Phase 2 is supposed to be complete by 2018. CREDIT: Washington Post