At its November 9, 2022, public hearing, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will consider proposed changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance and zoning map that would amend the county’s policies and zoning regulations pertaining to land development in areas where airport noise impacts are known to occur. Loudoun County is mailing more than 47,000 letters (PDF) and informational flyers (PDF) to potentially impacted property owners to inform them of the upcoming public hearing. Residents who live in the vicinity of Dulles International Airport can expect to begin receiving the notices in their mailboxes in the coming days.
The Airport Impact Overlay District (AIOD) is a zoning designation that includes properties where airport noise at specified levels is anticipated. Properties within the AIOD are subject to certain land use regulations. The current overlay district was implemented by the Board of Supervisors in the early 1990s to prevent residential development in areas that would be affected by aircraft noise and to mitigate impacts to prospective homebuyers.
Why is the County Considering These Changes Now?
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) updated the noise exposure maps for Dulles International Airport in 2019. The update reflects changes in the aviation environment over the last 30 years and prepares for future changes in airport usage. As a result, the current Loudoun County AIOD is outdated. Based on the airport’s updated noise contours, Loudoun County is working to update the boundaries of the overlay district as well as updating the county’s related policies and zoning regulations related to the AIOD.
Changes the County is Considering
- Comprehensive Plan: The proposed changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan consist of changes to maps within the plan that show noise contours and policy changes that would require disclosure statements as part of all future sales of properties within the AIOD. The policy changes also would allow previously approved residential rezonings to develop in accordance with their earlier approvals.
- Zoning Ordinance: The zoning ordinance changes involve updated maps to display the new boundaries and text changes to amend the existing zoning regulations to reflect the policy changes.
Who is Impacted?
The proposed amendments to the AIOD potentially affect more than 47,000 Loudoun property owners around and near Dulles Airport. As required by law, those property owners are receiving a letter from the Loudoun County Department of Planning and Zoning notifying them that a new zoning designation is being proposed that could affect their property and notifying them of the upcoming Board of Supervisors public hearing concerning the proposed amendments. A similar letter was sent to property owners earlier this year prior to the Planning Commission’s June 28, 2022, public hearing on the proposed amendments.
Board of Supervisors Public Hearing November 9
The Planning Commission’s recommendations to the Board of Supervisors concerning the proposed changes to the AIOD will be included in the staff report prepared for the Board’s public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, November 9, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. The staff report will be posted at loudoun.gov/meetings at least three days prior to the public hearing.
The public hearing will be held in the Board Room of the Government Center, 1 Harrison St. SE, in Leesburg. The meeting can be viewed in person, on Comcast Government Channel 23, Verizon FiOS Channel 40 and via livestream at loudoun.gov/meetings.
Members of the public may provide their comments to the Board of Supervisors by mail, email, in person or virtually during the meeting. Instructions for providing input to the Board, including how to sign up to speak in advance, are posted at loudoun.gov/signuptospeak.
About the Airport Impact Overlay District
Loudoun County government cannot regulate airport noise or control flight paths; however, the county can update its policies that regulate the use of land around the airport. The AIOD is a zoning tool to plan appropriate land uses in the areas where airport noise is known to occur.
There are three Aircraft Noise Impact Area designations within the AIOD that the county uses to indicate the level of impact. The designations indicate an approximate level of noise residents may hear from airport traffic. The AIOD regulations stipulate specific land use rules for each designation, which are intended to mitigate the impact of noise. The county refers to these levels using the symbol “Ldn,” which stands for “yearly day-night average sound level.” The Ldn is calculated using a specific formula specified in the county’s zoning ordinance. The designations are:
- Ldn 65 or Higher: Properties located within this area are closest to the airport. New residential development is not permitted in this area.
- Ldn 60-65: Properties located within this area are closer to the airport. Any residential development in this area requires disclosures at the time of sale; acoustical treatments for new residential construction and new additions to existing residences; and an easement established prior to construction of a new residence granting the right of overflight in the airspace above the property.
- One-Mile Buffer: Properties located within this area are farthest from the airport while still being located within the AIOD. This designation requires a disclosure notice to be included with each sale of residential property.
Following the Board of Supervisors’ public hearing, the Board will consider any action it may take to update the county’s comprehensive plan policies and zoning regulations. The Board may choose to adopt or decline to adopt the proposed updates. The Board may also choose to forward the discussion on the proposed updates to a future meeting for additional work and discussion.
Members of the public who have questions about the letters they received or any part of the county’s current efforts should contact the Department of Planning and Zoning by email or by phone at 703-777-0246.
To learn more about the proposed changes to the Airport Impact Overlay District, including how to sign up for email and text updates on the project, visit loudoun.gov/airportdistrict.
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