A major rezoning application indeed did not get a second airing at Tuesday’s Leesburg Town Council meeting, and council members will now wait to see if a Circuit Court appeal is in their future.
Leading up to this week’s meeting there was rampant speculation that a member of the council would put forward a motion to reconsider, or rescind, the July 26 decision that denied a rezoning for the Crescent Parke project.
The 53-acre parcel from Gateway Drive to Davis Drive along the Leesburg Bypass was proposed to include 198 townhouses, 96 stacked townhouses and 96 multifamily dwelling units. Nonresidential uses would have included a maximum of 110,550 square feet of office space, 137,175 square feet of retail, an area for a future hotel, and a 2,000-square-foot community room. This land includes the existing Olde Izaak Walton Park, which the applicant was proposing to purchase for the town.
July 26, a motion to approve the project failed on a 3-4 vote, with Vice Mayor Kelly Burk and council members Marty Martinez, Tom Dunn and Bruce Gemmill dissenting. Gemmill’s name was the one attached to the rumors that a motion could be brought forward this week. But following Monday night’s council work session, he confirmed that he would not be bringing up such a motion.
Mayor David Butler told members of the audience toward the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting that there would not be any motions to rescind or reconsider “or anything else” brought forward by any council member that night.
“There’s no question we would’ve held a public hearing if we were going to do that,” he said.
The applicant, Lansdowne Development Group, had proposed some changes to its project and proffers leading up to this week’s meeting, but it was not enough to sway any council member to revisit the project. Developer Hobie Mitchel even spoke before the council during its petitioner’s section Tuesday, asking the council to consider having another public hearing in the coming months.
“We’ve tried very hard in this process and we think we are very close,” he said. “There are so many positive things that can happen out of this.”
Russell and Victoria Yergin, of the nearby Virginia Knolls community, made their displeasure with the council’s decision clear.
“What we saved was nothing and we gave up millions of dollars in proffers,” Russell Yergin said. “What could have been done to protect the neighborhood is gone.”
Attorney Andrew Painter of Walsh Colucci, the firm that represented the applicant, also spoke as a petitioner and said there was debate as to whether the council’s failure to approve the application July 26 represented final action. Some have posited that not putting forward a motion to deny after the motion to approve failed means the application could still be on the table for final action.
“We hope this would allow us to keep the door open for further discussions,” Painter said.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, Dunn asked Town Attorney Barbara Notar whether it would be prudent to put forward a motion to deny the application. Notar said she did not believe there was an issue with a motion to deny not being made, but said the council could certainly choose to do so “in an abundance of caution.”
“Roberts Rules [of order} are just rules of procedure, not rules of procedure under the state code,” she said. “The prevailing view was a second motion and was not needed.”
Notar said if a motion to deny was put forward, and approved, it would set the 30-day window the applicant has to file an appeal to the Circuit Court back by two weeks.
Dunn made a motion to suspend the rules to consider such a motion. A motion to suspend must be unanimous, but both Gemmill and Martinez voted against suspending the rules, so any further motions could not be considered.