LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC HEARING TO APPEAL SPRAWLING PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT CAMPUS IN AGRICULTURAL-RURAL ZONED NEIGHBORHOOD
Loudoun Board of Zoning Appeals Has Second Chance to Act on Residents' Claims of Zoning Misuse and Deceptive Practices by Canadian Private Equity-Owned Chain of Rehab Facilities
LEESBURG, Va., Jan. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Loudoun County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) has another bite at the apple this Thursday to act on a controversial zoning application from Newport Academy/Institute, a national chain of mental and behavioral treatment facilities. Primarily owned by Canadian private equity group, ONEX, the company was not permitted to operate from three adjacent McLean homes in 2019 and has now purchased three adjacent Loudoun residences.
The BZA hearing this Thursday, January 26, at 6pm in the Government Center at 1 Harrison Street, is the second public hearing. After 4 hours of testimony in April, the evening ended with a ruling that neighbors lacked standing and that their appeal should not have been allowed. After establishing standing in Circuit Court, the Judge agreed to halt proceedings in response to Loudoun Attorney Nicholas Lawrence insisting that the recent issuance of a "by-right" permit requires another hearing.
Public opposition is spearheaded by Protect Loudoun, a nonprofit organization formed by residents and property owners who have waged a 13-month battle to protect AR-1 zones, A Farm Less Ordinary, and their agricultural community from this precedent.
"Newport's plan is inconsistent with the zoning designation for this area, it's outrageous that residents have to wage a costly legal battle to object when Loudoun Zoning never even did a site visit," said Leesburg resident, Bob Lentz. Like the Fairfax attempt, the three Loudoun homes share a common pipestem driveway, fencing, and function as a unified property. Newport also purchased an undeveloped 10-acre lot, bringing their neighborhood acquisition up to 25-acres.
"With our growing fields next door, it puts us in real jeopardy", said Greg Masucci, Founder of A Farm Less Ordinary, a non-profit farm that provides employment in a safe setting for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He continued, "Some people have tried to paint this as a NIMBY issue, but these neighbors approached me and gave me the opportunity to operate here."
Fairfax's Zoning Determination listed Newport's incompatible claims. The homes were denied "by-right" status due to unifying elements that designated it as "congregate", requiring a special permit. In Loudoun, there is no special permit for congregate use of the homes, it is fully prohibited in AR-1.
Newport has reports of local opposition from across the country, including in Orange Acres, CA where they began with two homes and recently acquired their thirteenth, according to residents. There, laws require 500 feet between facilities, Virginia has no such protections.
For context on how the same objection played out in Fairfax County, news coverage is here: WUSA9 Report and on www.ProtectLoudoun.com.
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SOURCE Protect Loudoun