Loudoun County Planning Commissioner subverts commission operation? (Updated)

Thanks to Crystal Clear Conservative for letting me know about a potentially explosive situation in our local government, specifically in the Planning Commission. From her blog:

Right now, scandal is brewing in Loudoun County, and no doubt, FOIA requests are being filed into why a transportation planning board member from the Dulles District sent an e-mail asking other board members not to show up at a meeting to discuss countywide transportation. The Loudoun Times-Mirror was the first to report about this scandal on July 1st after a June 25th hearing was postponed due to not having the necessary amount of participants to call a quorum. The same thing happened on June 27th. This meeting was discussing a transportation plan that would have created new roads in Loudoun, and now, it has been delayed until next quarter. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Considering that the transportation planning board member in question was involved in an anti-growth environmental group.

It certainly does. The Planning Commission isn’t a body of elected representatives. That’s the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commissioners are appointed by the BoS. According to the Loudoun.gov web site:

The Loudoun County Planning Commission is a nine-member advisory body appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The Commission provides recommendations on issues concerning land development ordinances, comprehensive planning, future land use policies, and the Capital Improvements Program for the county. The Loudoun County Planning Department provides professional and support services to the Commission.

The Planning Commission is empowered by State law to prepare and recommend a Comprehensive Plan and a zoning map for the physical development of the land in the county. The Commission also reviews a variety of land development applications (e.g., rezonings and special exceptions) and makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for consideration in approving or denying the proposed projects.

The Planning Commission isn’t some honorary society and a position on that board isn’t just resume-fluff. The Commission is an integral part of the County’s operation and to deliberately incite other members of that Commission to purposely avoid a scheduled meeting when critical issues are on the table – issues that the County must now wait months to move on – is unprofessional and unethical. Deciding to skip a meeting oneself is one thing. Making such a effort to get others to do the same for the purpose of subverting the meeting by invoking a lack of quorum is something else entirely. Crystal Clear Conservative asks if it’s illegal. I don’t know but it’s certainly not the sign of a person committed to performing a serious task on behalf of the County and Loudoun’s residents.

For the record, the roster of people on this Commission are as follows: (Incorrect. See Update 2, below.)

  • Robert J. Klancher, Chair, Broad Run District
  • Teresa White Whitmore, Vice Chair, Potomac District
  • Kevin Ruedisueli, At-Large
  • Nancy Hsu, Blue Ridge District
  • Gladys Lewis, Catoctin District
  • Barbara Munsey, Dulles District
  • John H. Elgin, Leesburg District
  • Helena Syska, Sterling District
  • Suzanne M. Volpe, Sugarland Run District

I am calling upon the members of the Board of Supervisors to meet immediately in an emergency session to explicitly direct the Planning Commission to meet at the earliest possible time – and in no more than 2 weeks –  so as to take up the matters that were on the schedule for the meetings June 25th and 27th. I am further requesting in the strongest possible terms that an official investigation be initiated to find out 1) whether the reports of the e-mail are true, 2) whether the reported identity of the author of that e-mail is, in fact, Barbara Munsey Sandra Chaloux of the Dulles District, and 3) whether the other members of the Planning Commission who were not present avoided the meeting as a result of this e-mail that was sent. Illegal or not, if it is confirmed that any member of the Commission was involved in urging other members to miss the meeting rather than appear and engage in the business to which they were appointed then I would move with equal strength that those members be dismissed from their positions and replaced as quickly as possible with citizens of Loudoun County who are up to the professional and ethical standards such a position demands.

It is my understanding that FOIA requests are already in process to gain access to any and all e-mails dealing with the public business of the Commission. I would hope that the legal advisors to the BoS and the Planning Commssion would recognize that this is precisely what the Freedom of Information Act was devised to provide and move swiftly to respond to those requests with substantive data.

Thank you, Crystal Clear Conservative, for bringing this to my attention. I will pay close attention to how this progresses and I’ll post more when more is known.

Update: I’m getting conflicting information as to the identity of the author of the e-mail. It’s been suggested by 1 source that the person responsible isn’t even on the Commission. Again, more detail as I get more.

Update 2: The link I got in my search for the Planning Commission was an old one, presumably an old copy of the previous Loudoun.gov site. Here’s the current one:

  • Peggy Maio, Blue Ridge District, Chairman
  • Robert J. Klancher, Broad Run District, Vice-Chairman
  • J. Kevin Ruedisueli, At-Large
  • Erin Austin, Catoctin District
  • Sandra Chaloux, Dulles District
  • Gigi Robinson, Leesburg District
  • Chris Brodrick, Potomac District
  • Helena Syska, Sterling District
  • Michael Keeney, Sugarland Run District
  • e-mail: Michael.Keeney@loudoun.gov

The current Dulles District Commissioner is Sandra Chaloux. Apologies to Barbara Munsey for the misidentification.

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3 comments

  1. No apology necessary.

    For some reason, there is a link out there to the old commission, and you aren’t the first to come across it.

    This is a mulitlayer issue, in my opinion.

    Those absent on the 25th were:

    Kevin Ruedisueli, At Large, who just returned to the commission replacing Christeen Tolle. I have been told he had a scheduled absence. IMO, he is an excellent commissioner, and my experience with him on the previous commission was that he took his job seriously, was always well prepared, and would no more participate in such an alleged stunt than sprout wings and fly.

    Dr. Keeny of Sugarland Run, and Mr. Broderick of Potomac, both of whom have spotty attendance records (and I’m being generous with that description). For either of them to miss this particular meeting might be more of something potentially expected as the rule rather than an exception.

    Ms. Robinson of Leesburg, I do not know under what circumstances. She too may have been a scheduled absence.

    Ms. Chaloux of Dulles.

    I will be receiving my FOIA this week, and will be requesting other items too; apparently Ms. Chaloux left the meeting of July 2 after hearing the Board’s direction to stop work until a schedule could be committed to. Fortunately a quorum remained after her departure that evening.

  2. Thank you for covering this story, Mr. James.

    If this Planning Commission scandal had occurred in a district where there was a Republican Board member, the Post’s noted muckraker Mike Laris would have already written a scathing article and that article would have already been praised as brilliant journalism in a Post editorial.

    This is absolutely the most corrupt thing I have ever seen at the Planning Commission level and I applaude Chairman Scott York for submitting the FOIA request against Stevens Miller’s planning commissioner.

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