De Francis clears hurdle for Va. track's zoning

April 21, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

The Loudoun County (Va.) Board of Supervisors -- in a controversial move -- voted 5 to 4 yesterday to amend a zoning ordinance, allowing the Maryland Jockey Club to build a racetrack near Leesburg, Va.

Pimlico/Laurel owner Joe De Francis must now win licensing approval over five other applicants who are vying to build Virginia's first pari-mutuel horse-racing track.

The Virginia Racing Commission is to award the license by September.

Opposition from residents in the nearby Ashburn Village and Ashburn Farms communities to De Francis' proposed Loudoun track "blew up fiercely and quickly," said George Barton, chairman of the board of supervisors.

"But we had no concrete evidence that building a racetrack in the area was going to cause the community to deteriorate."

Barton said De Francis' facility is compatible with other planned development in the area, which is zoned for industrial use. The site is about a mile from Dulles Airport and approximately seven miles from Leesburg.

"Opposition was fairly localized to the Ashburn area. Once you get out of those communities, then it's not an issue," Barton said.

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