Kincora vote scheduled for tomorrow, July 21st.

I received an e-mail from my Supervisor on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, Andrea McGimsey, asking for input on the upcoming vote regarding approval of the Kincora development CPAM. Here’s her note:

Dear Neighbors,

The developers of Kincora at the intersection of Rt. 7 and 28 have split their application into two pieces:  a special exception for a baseball stadium and office buildings which will be voted on by the Board on Tuesday; and a rezoning application that includes apartment buildings (not currently allowed under the county plan), office buildings, and retail.
 
I need your input before our vote on Tuesday.  Please read the staff report from the June 8 Public Hearing here.  You can also read the latest Conditions of Approval here.  Tell me what you think.

Do we want a baseball stadium at Rt. 7 and Rt. 28?  Are you concerned about the traffic that will occur?  Do you think building a piece of Pacific Blvd will be a good enough solution to deal with that traffic?  Do you think we should build a stadium in another location, such as near a metro stop?  Are you concerned about any other issues such as the environmental impacts, lack of clarity on financing, etc?  Does the goal of bringing minor league baseball to Loudoun override concerns I have heard from many of you about these issues?  Please be as specific as possible in your feedback.
 
This application has been a moving target and difficult to assess.  I was very concerned about the proposed financing for the stadium, which would have put the county’s AAA credit rating at risk.  In the last couple days, the developer decided that they will finance the stadium privately, with no further detail.
 
I hope to hear from you by Monday evening, before our vote on Tuesday.
 
Andrea McGimsey
Potomac District Supervisor

While it’s clear from both her concerns and the wording she chooses that she’s looking to bias any response toward the negative, it’s also the 1st time any Supervisor I’ve ever had has reached out so directly for constituent input. Kudos to Ms. McGimsey.

I’ve looked over the Kincora web site and considered the stuff they’re saying they want to do. My take: it’s a net positive for Loudoun and we should do it. Here’s my reply to Ms. McGimsey in its entirety:

Andrea,

Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. I’ve had some chance to review the Kincora proposal. Taken as a whole, I believe it should be approved.

We both use the roads in the area of Kincora extensively so traffic is a large concern. I am not convinced by Kincora’s assurances that, since events at the stadium will take place evenings and weekends, traffic impact will be minimal. Even assuming an evening ball game at 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm, traffic will begin to surge for that event 60-90 minutes ahead of time, putting that traffic in direct contact with the tail end of evening rush hour during the week.

However, any kind of business (or even residential units) built in that area will have such an impact. It is important to recall that this is not a zero-sum game; that if this development isn’t approved that the area will stay the wooded hillsides they are today. The area is already zoned to permit development and, should the owners of that land choose to do so, the development allowed will not be a collaborative effort seeking to maximize efficiency. There will be no roads built as part of a proffer and no assistance for necessary infrastructure like fire safety stations. The by-right development will create a demand for these services but offer no supply of them whatsoever.

The stadium’s primary use is baseball, yes, but that’s not the only event that will be enabled at that location. Other commercial events and community gatherings are also to be handled at that facility. We will be counting on the BoS to make it clear to the Kincora developers and to the minor league baseball franchise that this promise, made repeatedly and shown explicitly on their web site, is expected to be kept. I would hope the County makes sure that such assurances are in any contract that needs to be executed ahead of any approval from the Board.

The proposed roads to be built as a part of this development are, frankly, critical given the traffic situation that already exists. Putting the additional crossings over from the Kincora area to the Loudoun County Parkway and extending Pacific Blvd south to connect with other developments already in place will permit traffic from both our area in Countryside and Cascades (via Nokes) and from Ashburn to reach these businesses and the stadium without having to travel on Route 7 or 28. Working with VDOT, the stadium, and the baseball team we could advertise the best route to get to the stadium from points south and east as being the toll road/Greenway to the Loudoun County Parkway exit and then north to enter Kincora along the extended Nokes Blvd. (Forgive me, I’m unsure what they’re intending to call that road.) Any travelers from points west can come in via the Greenway and follow the same path or come in via Route 7 to the Loudoun County Parkway and come in via the Russel Branch Parkway once it’s completed to the north end of the Kincora development. If the area is developed as the by-right zoning permits it to be, none of those roads will be completed, not without additional taxpayer dollars.

Incidentally, a Metro stop would be ideal for the location, yes. However, Metro is a decade away from putting a stop in place past Dulles Airport, assuming they ever do. Given the difficulties encountered so far to put Metro stations in place along a path that’s been discussed for over 30 years, this falls squarely into the “don’t hold your breath” category. While it would be nice to have one, the low probability of Metro showing up in any timeframe that serves Loudoun’s interests makes it a non-issue. We’ll do the best we can with what we have.

The Kincora development would bring a number of features and services to Loudoun County that we can certainly use, to say nothing of attracting businesses, the jobs they’ll need to fill, and the tax revenue they’ll generate. The infrastructure additions and enhancements called for in their plan do much to mitigate any adverse impact in the area and they have offered to build those items first. See to it, please, that the offer is accepted and enforced. With the issue of financing taken off the table by recent decisions on Kincora’s part (they will handle the financing privately) the risk to Loudoun’s creditworthiness is no longer a concern. With that event, I feel the Board should vote to approve the development and work with Kincora to settle on the building schedule that sees to it they keep their word about the roads and infrastructure.

Thank you again for this opportunity to address the issue. I will look forward to hearing the decision of the Board.

Regards,

Ric James

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