Loudoun Board Overrules AT&T Commission Permit on Short Hill

Loudoun Board Overrules AT&T Commission Permit on Short Hill

The notion of putting 160,000-square-foot telecommunications substation, or what some critics claimed was just a cover for a data center or top secret government facility, has been put to rest, at least for now.

Despite AT&T withdrawing a commission permit to construct a 35-foot structure along the ridgeline of Short Hill Mountain, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted 8-0-1 to overrule the permit previously approved by the Loudoun Planning Commission. Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) had left the meeting prior to the vote.

Numerous residents, many donning reds shirts, spoke in opposition of the proposal. Several questioned how the application suddenly changed from a special exception, which requires approval by the board of supervisors to a commission permit that only needs approval of the planning commission.

While many residents requested that supervisors overrule the permit based on noncompliance with the Comprehensive Plan, the board based its denial on AT&T’s withdrawal of the permit.

County Attorney Leo P. Rogers said, “This is the most defensible position the board could take.” However, he also pointed out that nothing prevented AT&T from reapplying in the future.

Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), said AT&T representatives assured them the company had no interest in reapplying.

“The answer I got was they want nothing to do with Loudoun County’s permitting process in the near future,” Buffington said.

Read more in next week’s paper edition of The Loudoun Tribune.