Debate Rages Over One Loudoun Ballpark - Leesburg Today Online—Daily News Coverage of Loudoun County, Leesburg, Ashburn: News

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Debate Rages Over One Loudoun Ballpark

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Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:23 pm

It was standing room only in the county boardroom last night as more than 50 people spoke about plans to build a professional baseball and soccer stadium at Ashburn’s One Loudoun and even more came to show their support for both sides of the debate.

VIP Baseball announced in October it abandoned plans to build a stadium for its professional Loudoun Hounds franchise in the Kincora development along Rt. 28 and instead wanted to build it at One Loudoun near the intersection of Rt. 7 and Loudoun County Parkway.

Residents of nearby Potomac Green and Ashbrook have raised concerns about the impacts the stadium would have on their quality of life. Just as passionate have been the supporters of the stadium, who say the One Loudoun location is prime for a regional attraction and that the ballpark will bring tax revenue and associated commercial development to the county.

Those same arguments were repeated last night before the county Planning Commission—the first body to publicly hear the applications that, if approved, would allow the stadium to be built. The speakers were split almost evenly between the two sides, with a few more supporters than detractors. The commission sent the dual applications to a future work session to address a series of outstanding issues identified by the county’s planning staff.

One Loudoun, which was approved by the 2007 Board of Supervisors, needs a variety of changes to its development plan to make the construction of the stadium possible.

In the project’s report, project manager Ginny Rowen pointed out several concerns with the proposal, including questions of design guidelines, event attendance limitations, a transit plan and traffic operation plan.

In addition, Rowen’s report raises questions about changes to the original One Loudoun plan, which was approved for 3.12 million square feet of office space, 702,000 square feet of retail uses and two hotels, as well as civic space and open space/recreational uses. The new proposal would reduce the amount of office development in the first two phases of development to a total of 400,000 square feet. Overall the office development would be reduced to about 2.8 million square feet. The developer also is seeking changes to its town green, including eliminating a currently preserved wetland and designated tree conservation area.

During her presentation, attorney Colleen Gillis Snow, who represented One Loudoun, indicated there are several solutions to the staff’s concerns already prepared for county review. Among those are a recently finished design for the stadium, an updated traffic operations plan and an agreement for four bus stops, including one directly across from the stadium, and a fifth pick up point during the games.

When it comes to attendance, there will be 5,500 fixed seats and 27 luxury boxes at the stadium, but it remains unclear whether additional attendance—and how much—will be possible if the field itself is used for events like concerts. County staff members recommend limiting attendance to 8,000 people per event.

But the biggest concerns remain the ones at the top of nearby residents’ lists: the impact of noise, light and traffic on their neighborhoods.

“The whole thing feels like you’re trying to fit a round peg into a square hole,” Potomac Green resident Margaret Keating said. “It just doesn’t seem to fit. The traffic, the noise, it just doesn’t fit here.”

Ashbrook HOA president Marla Regan said residents in her neighborhood were not happy with the plans to relocate the stadium to One Loudoun. “We feel like we have been a little bullied by past boards,” she said. “Ashbrook is this little itty bitty community that keeps getting stepped on. We’ve been squeezed at our front entrance. We no longer have ability to get out of our neighborhood.”

Proponents of the stadium and representatives of both One Loudoun and the Hounds said they believed that the outstanding concerns could be addressed to an extent that would make nearby residents happy. But that work, they said, still needs to be completed.

“We need to give One Loudoun and [VIP Baseball CEO] Bob Farren an opportunity to make things right,” resident Beth Mackes said. “We have a lot of issues. But I agree we can get over these issues. [Farren] is willing to work with the people of Loudoun County.”

Many speakers expressed confidence in One Loudoun and the Loudoun Hounds organization.

“The main reason we moved there is we liked what we heard about One Loudoun coming to the area,” Jay Moran said. “We liked the idea of a strong art, movie theater, nearby shopping. I was thrilled when I heard a ballpark would be coming to the landscape. There are always some bumps along that road. The Hounds organization is taking very reasonable steps to make sure everything is addressed…they seem to be doing things the right way while building a sports and entertainment complex that we can be proud of.”

Some Potomac Green residents said they supported the stadium and were excited about the vitality it would bring to the area. Supporters said that it was appropriate that the stadium be placed near the population that will use it—to help address some of the traffic issues.

“I already have a list of family and friends who want to go with me to opening day. And we plan to walk,” Potomac Green resident Dan Wallen said. “You’ve heard that you rob banks because that’s where the money is. Well, you need to put the ballpark where the people are.”

Opponents said they were not opposed to baseball and soccer in Loudoun, or even a stadium, just not at One Loudoun. Instead, they said, they would like to see the stadium back at Kincora or near one of the planned Metro stations. But that would require a willing landowner in those areas and representatives of the Hounds said that if the county wanted to see the major league sports teams in Loudoun at all, One Loudoun presented the best—really, the only opportunity. VIP Baseball representatives say they plan to open the Hounds’ season in Loudoun by summer 2014.

To make that possible the Board of Supervisors has approved a “fast-tracked” review of the One Loudoun applications. That means the proposal went to the top of the pile for the county’s planning staff, but it still received the same reviews any other applications would. But that did not rest the concerns of some residents.

“I am not a NIMBY. I have no problem with having a [baseball] team in this area. I am just concerned,” Potomac Green resident Bruce DeNormandie said. “What I am saying is, do your homework. Do what is right for the constituents and the people of Loudoun County.”

Welcome to the discussion.

13 comments:

  • Mschafe posted at 4:33 pm on Sun, Mar 3, 2013.

    Mschafe Posts: 1

    Bring baseball and soccer to Loudoun! It will be a great thing for our community and I will be the first in line for tickets!

     
  • Frank Reynolds posted at 7:05 pm on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    Frank Reynolds Posts: 641

    I agree with Buff. I think the Hounds are nothing but a trojan horse to get past opposition to projects like Kincora and revisions to One Loudoun. Too bad it is already a done deal, no matter what the local residents say.

     
  • jsmathiot posted at 6:14 pm on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    jsmathiot Posts: 2

    @Buffacuse - it doesnt matter in the Atlantic League if there are an odd amount of teams. The league, on at least 4 occassions, have used a team called the Road Warriors to fill in when there are an odd amount (new team, team leaving). It has happened as recently as 2010. They are a team that plays all games on the road (hence the name).

    We went through all of things up here that you guys are experiencing now (supporters, detractors, etc.) Our team (Lancaster Barnstormers), and the stadium which eventually passed through has been a postive contributor to our community, fwiw. It is thriving today.

     
  • coco posted at 6:06 pm on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    coco Posts: 2

    BUFF in all due respect sir I do not work for the hounds or have any intrest in in their corporation. I do however have a knowledge of minor league baseball. I am a first time poster because people like yourself may not be aware how a franchise starts from the ground up. Judging by your earlier comments I did decide to post to enlighten everyone as to how this would start up. Not just in Loudoun but any new location. I have been following the situation in Loudoun. I think it would be a great place for baseball. That being said I do not live there, and the concerns of the location of the ballpark may be valid ones. I am in no position to judge that. I can tell you that if there is a shovel in the ground by June July they will have no problem being on track to open the doors in 2014. That would be for a triple A facility. Look at what the facility in Sugar Land Texas has done for the community down there. I think it is wonderful. Again not to compare it to the location issues in Loudoun I think once settled having a ballpark somewhere in Loudoun county would be a home run so to say. In all honestly 2014 is far from a pipe dream as it stands today. If you start getting to mid July and there is no construction at that time it may become a pipe dream

     
  • Buffacuse posted at 2:47 pm on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    Buffacuse Posts: 555

    coco--Ballparks for the Atlantic League have to be built to Triple A standards--it's in their bylaws. I can't help but notice you're a first-time poster--are you a Hounds rep (just curious) because I've been posting on this for nearly a year.

    Again, a vague, unsubstantiated promise about expansion and a vague notion that a stadium can be finished in 10 months that, in terms of amenities, needs to be one step below a major league ballpark.

    Sorry, I'm not buying...I think they (you?) are dangling 2014 in order to get the stadium pushed through when you're fully aware that 2014 is a pipedream. Tell you what though--if it is finished it time and the Hounds wind up playing in the Atlantic League next year--I will be there opening day as a season ticket holder.

     
  • coco posted at 2:03 pm on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    coco Posts: 2

    BUFF you could not be more wrong!! Stadiums for teams like this take about 10 months to complete start to finish. The Atlantic League has a bunch of expansion on the agenda for 2014 and beyond. as far as a manager if they were to start in 2014 a manager would be hired in around October-November of this year. Player signings are starting now for this season!!! The Hounds would not have any players till around Jan-Feb 14 as do all of the teams. These are facts ask any person with knowledge of minor league ball. This CAN be done for the 2014 time frame. Dont care if your for or against the project but at least get your facts straight and have some knowledge of your subject. A minor league team in Loudoun or any other venue for that matter has plenty of time still for a 2014 start

     
  • Buffacuse posted at 11:52 am on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    Buffacuse Posts: 555

    THERE IS NO TEAM! THEY HAVE NO LEAGUE TO PLAY IN! They just want to build the stadium. Yet again, the folks pushing this are trying to act like there is a Loudoun Hounds team and all they have to do is push a "start" button next year and they'll have a league to play in--it is a fraud! The Atlantic League has no room for them, hasn't even received an application from them, has eight teams and cannot schedule games in a single-division league with an odd number of teams, they haven't signed a single player, manager, coach, and there is no way they can build a stadium in time for 2014. The BOS knows this and doesn't care, VIP "Baseball" knows this and doesn't care, OneLoudoun knows this and doesn't care. They are using the figleaf of baseball, the all-American sports, to make the project more saleable. They are conning us and apparently getting away with it.

     
  • mas954 posted at 9:00 am on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    @Raymond Shaw - nice comment :)

    @jgiebel - Did you just fall off a truck? Developers do NOT "provide" anything to the county. LOL The process is the developer makes an offer, the BOS bends over, and the rest of us take it. Nothing is given. Taxpayers, in one form or other, pay, and pay and pay.

    In your developer's utopia, wouldn't you like to have a wetlands, a nature trail, a few trees - even if just to shade your car from the hot summer sun? Yes, Shrek seemed to love and need a good mud bath. Just like everyone needs oxygen - which comes from trees. Perhaps when you fell off that truck, you also banged your silly little head.

     
  • RaymondShaw posted at 4:38 am on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    RaymondShaw Posts: 1

    Jglebel, nice lifestyles are created by individuals, not wedged into some "Emerald City" designed by planners and architects.

    I am of an age when I can remember "Don't Fairfax Loudoun" bumper stickers on pick- up trucks in Leesburg.

    Perhaps change is inevitable; But it's not always for the good and it's not always needed.

     
  • Frank Reynolds posted at 7:26 pm on Wed, Feb 20, 2013.

    Frank Reynolds Posts: 641

    Looks like the developer sent a shill to check the local news.

    Filling wetlands requires a permit. I'd bet One Loudoun's permit would require a public comment period. Look for it in the paper. Write the Corps of Engineers.

    And of course the BoS will approve it. They feel like this shill does. Scott York referred to the stadium like he was part of the project team when they first proposed to move it. Screw the wetland save area and the tree save area. We need some semi-pro baseball with luxury boxes. Really? Luxury boxes? Is someone going to be closing deals while watching the semi-pro team?

     
  • norges55 posted at 7:18 pm on Wed, Feb 20, 2013.

    norges55 Posts: 1042

    Why did the BOS pay 661 thousand dollars a acre to Miller and Smith for 13 acres of land. HS-8 was 444 thousand per acre and that was outrageous. Then when the BOS sells prime property like the Saudi property it only goes for 265 thousand dollars per acre. easy to be first class when you are being funded by a out of spending control BOS.

     
  • jgiebel posted at 4:24 pm on Wed, Feb 20, 2013.

    jgiebel Posts: 1

    Don’t worry “mas954” the developer, Miller & Smith is first class and I am sure that One Loudoun will become a beautiful place to live, work and be entertained. Perhaps you haven’t noticed all the transportation links, school sites, parks and recreation fields that developers provide to the county? Feel free to live miles down some pot hole riddled gravel road to your oasis next to a swamp. I’ll choose to live in a vibrant community that provides a nice lifestyle.

     
  • mas954 posted at 1:45 pm on Wed, Feb 20, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    "The developer also is seeking changes to its town green, including eliminating a currently preserved wetland and designated tree conservation area."

    Typical. Just typical. And watch the BOS approve it. Because no one needs trees or a wetlands. Just pave over every natural thing. No wonder developers are so disliked. They are soul-less dirtbags.