Land Use Problems in Northern Virginia
The land use problems currently facing Northern Virginia would seem to be a topic somewhat removed from the work we are engaged in. Granted, a number of our assignments address legal land use issues, real estate sales, and land development. The land use problems facing Northern Virginia are not problems easily solved, nor can the finger of blame be pointed at land developers, some of which are or have been clients of ours.
Land Use Planning and Northern Virginia’s Problem
Land use planning has evolved over the years, with some types of planning producing better results than others. In the 1960s, most planning was focused on urban development, and this planning was usually done by experts. Later, the general citizenry began to play an increasing role and social issues were interjected into the mix. More recently, environmental issues have come to play an increasing role, some would say a dominant role, in how land should be used.
The problem, as seen by many of the residents in this area is the fact that historic features and the comfortable lifestyle associated with this part of the country is slowly disappearing, as the area has over the past three decades or so become an economic powerhouse. In addition, the population in Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties, as well as in Alexandria has more than doubled since the 1980s. Highways and interstates have become more numerous and have taken up more and more land (and at the same time have become more and more congested) while farmland is gradually disappearing. What happened is that regional planning in the latter part of the 20th century gave way to urban sprawl in the 21st. Urban sprawl is something that can be extremely difficult to contain and control.
If you look at a map of Northern Virginia, you will see that the eastern part of the region, that part that borders D.C. and the Potomac, has become densely populated and heavily urbanized. The ongoing construction activities, involving not only buildings but highways has been good business for companies such as ours. While we may profit from the growth, we are also in a position to assist in the area of improved land use planning and development.
Aerial Photography and Videography Have a Definite Role to Play
Our equipment and staff are ideally suited for the type of aerial photographic and videographic work that is increasingly being used in land use planning, and we welcome the opportunities as they arise that enable us to give back something to the area that has helped us to prosper.
Geographic information systems (GIS) often play a key role in major land use planning activities. To effectively use GIS systems, heavy reliance is placed on aerial photography and videography which clearly indicate topography, land parcels and road systems that are not always easy to visualize at ground level. Images, such as those we can provide, can be processed and entered into databases from which composite maps of areas of interest can be constructed.
Supporting a land planning initiative is exciting work by any measure. We can’t resolve all the land use problems facing Northern Virginia on our own. A plan has to be in place first, but we are in an excellent position to do out share as our experience has not been limited to collecting images of construction properties or real estate properties. We have extensive experience in collecting data needed to support both land use planning and land development.