There was no meeting of the minds between developer Bradford Kline and residents of Wright’s Farm during a March 3 design charrette on his plans to build a residential, retail and commercial complex on 50 acres along Purcellville’s northern boundary.
Kline and his Bowman Consulting team had hoped to gain audience support March 3 in exploring different options for the controversial Purcellville Crossroads development—but got nowhere with that approach, instead receiving denunciations of his plans.
Kline has modified his original design considerably, eliminating the townhouse component, reducing the single-family housing, eliminating a county park and ride lot, reducing the entertainment/recreation and re-locating the elements of the plan.
As it stands now, the plan features 73 single-family houses, 75,000 square feet of commercial and an entertainment center featuring indoor activities, including bowling, laser tag, a sports bar and possibly bumper carts. There will be no outdoor Go Karts or batting cages.
Kline is asking the town to annex the property, located along Rt. 287, and to provide utilities service.
The Purcellville Town Council earlier this year voted 4-3 to allow Kline’s annexation request to be considered by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors. The county has not formally responded to the request, but the town has heard that a number of supervisors are opposed to Kline’s plans and annexation. Among those opponents is Blue Ridge District Supervisor Tony Buffington (R).
“Basically, I’m adamantly against it,” Buffington said Monday. “Unless the majority of the surrounding community agrees [with Kline’s plans], I will not support the proposal.”
Buffington noted the area is zoned for by-right development of three-acre residential lots. “We’re getting ready to re-do the General Plan. I’ve made it clear to my colleagues that as we move forward on the rural and transition zones, I want to maintain protections for those areas through the plan,” he said.
A staffer in county Administrator Tim Hemstreet’s office confirmed Tuesday that the county had received the town’s request, but as yet, it has not been placed on any agenda.
More than 60 people—most from the Wright’s Farm subdivision that borders Kline’s property—attended the charrette, which was facilitated by Bowman Consulting engineer Mark Baker. From the beginning, the mood was hostile as Baker attempted to get participants to identify their top choices from among a list of permitted uses that could be developed on the land.
“No way,” appeared to be the message delivered by angry residents who opposed both annexation and Kline’s plans for the property. They said the proposed development would be out of character with the rural nature of their three-acre homes. While no longer an active dairy, corn and fruit trees operation, residents like the idea they are living in land that was historically a farm.
Although Kline continued to say anything could be on the table—including eliminating the outdoor entertainment segment or batting cages—critics were not mollified.
Traffic concerns, fear of the development being bisected by a future Northern Collector Road, water supply worries, and loss of open-space character of the area dominated residents’ concerns.
Baker said the purpose of the community meeting was to share ideas. “This is to see what will work and what won’t—it’s data collection,” Baker said. A second meeting could be held after input has been analyzed and the annexation request could be revised, Baker said.
When resident David Scruggs questioned why outdoor entertainment was needed, Kline said originally there seemed to be a market for it. “But, if there’s no support, it will be gone. We’ll start with a clean slate.”
But the time for a clean slate appeared to be over for many in the audience. They were asked to identify their favored development options on posters around the room. Overwhelmingly, attendees marked “residential three-acre lots” as their top choice, with a park, affordable senior housing, sit-down restaurant, a swimming center for high schools, a country inn and a senior center also finding some support.
Owen Brown, who has become an unofficial spokesman for Wright’s Farm, said he had taken an informal survey of residents following the meeting to find out where they live, how much equity they had in their homes, whether their minds were changed after the March 3 meeting, what they thought of the [revised] development proposal, and whether the town should annex Purcellville Crossroads.
Brown said the first step in evaluating development options is to see how the General Plan revisions turn out. Its vision of what should occur in rural western Loudoun, such as vineyards, breweries, or equines—and rezoning, should guide the development of Kline’s property, he said. The General Plan update is expected to take up to two years to complete.
Brown noted there was no support among residents to have the property annexed by the town. “People are unwilling to bend at all, because of complete lack of confidence in the town doing the right thing if Crossroads were to be annexed,” he said.
Town Councilman Doug McCollum, who chairs the Purcellville Planning Commission, said if the county and town were to agree on the principle of annexation, Kline’s rezoning request would come to the Town Council, not the Board of Supervisors.
As the property is not in the town’s comprehensive plan, and the town has no jurisdiction outside its borders, Kline would have to propose a land use for the property, McCollum said.
“We’re going to talk about land outside the town during the town’s comprehensive plan revisions—he may learn a lot,” McCollum said.
This week, Kline said he would not be open to A-3 development. “I’ll wait, or do something different,” he said, adding, “It’s a bad use for an interchange on Rt. 287.” But, he acknowledged, “We’ve done a poor job in presenting, not given good analysis.”
Kline noted affordable senior care got good support. A country inn and specialty stores also were cited, and he said the team will come up with a couple of new layouts to look at by right and some special exception uses.
“We’re exploring them very seriously,” he said of elder care facilities, and a country inn with a restaurant.