Supersizing: It can happen here

Many longtime residents of Loudoun County post signs in their yards that proclaim "Don’t Supersize Loudoun!" and The Campaign for Loudoun’s Future is trying to prevent precisely that.

It may be too late. What was once a rural county an hour’s drive from Washington, DC, is now a sprawling urban community overwhelmed by traffic, crime and all the other problems that come from urbanization.

When Amy and I moved to the Washington area in 1981 Loudoun County reminded me of Floyd — a haven of country quiet just an hour’s drive from the city. But the quiet was short lived. Land speculators had already moved in, gobbling up family farms and laying out plans for lavish developments of country homes.

Some say the boom started when America On-Line decided to move its headquarters from Vienna to Loudoun County and spurred creation of a "technology corridor" along U.S. 50. Leesburg, the sleepy county seat, became just another suburban monument to urban sprawl — an endless collection of chain restaurants and shopping malls. In a few years Loudoun went from reminding me of Floyd to become a supersized clone of the Christiansburg-to-Blacksburg strip of shopping malls, car dealerships and neon signs.