Loudoun County, VA, with a long history of recognizing the need for broadband, has taken a vote to get things moving more quickly. As LoudonNow.com reports, a recent meeting of the County Board of Supervisors, in an 8-to-1 vote, acted in favor of measures to ease deployment of broadband services in the region.
Several measures were proposed and approved, including the elimination of fees for Special Exceptions to zoning. Instead, a single $6,990 fee will apply. The flat fee will remove the problem of additional assessments and fees based on the local topography. The single fee should be high enough to absorb the cost of the additional reviews, without being high enough to deter broadband development according to the Board.
“As my colleagues know, clearly, broadband is no longer a nice convenience, it’s a necessary necessity, and we shouldn’t have folks in one part of our county that don’t have it, especially at the times that we’re in today,” said State Supervisor Tony R. Buffington. “And so we can no longer wait for the private market to fix the problem for us, because they’re never going to get to a position where it looks lucrative for them to do so. Without our help, it’s not going to happen.”
Other changes include the appointment of an ombudsman to help guide applicants through the hoops of government approval, according to LoudonNow.com. Additionally, a fund will be set up to administer the Remote Site Connectivity Project. The $191,000 set aside for this fund begins with creating a Request for Proposals to find vendors best equipped to connect remote county facilities with fiber optic cable. Once connections are made, the supervisors speculate that it will be easier to link other areas to that network. Quarterly updates will keep the supervisor apprised of the plan’s progress.
“Every time we talked about broadband we get a lot of emails saying ‘Thank gosh we’ve finally got broadband coming,’ and then we get another significant number of emails, ‘Don’t ruin the viewscape and the view shed of Western Loudoun County.’ And so I’m an eastern Loudoun County Supervisor, I’m here to tell you, you can’t have it both ways,” said Supervisor Michael Turner. “If you actually want to connect to the 21st century, you’ve got to get over this aversion to monopoles, as effectively as we can screen them now. So those are coming. Just get over it. COVID has illustrated how important it is to be connected on the internet and those are coming.”
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