The Leesburg Town Council voted tonight to rescind a controversial decision that failed to approve the Crescent Parke rezoning application.
By a 4-3 vote, the council approved a motion by Councilman Bruce Gemmill to rescind the July 26 decision. That night, a vote to approve the 53-acre mixed-use community failed on a 3-4 vote, with only council members Suzanne Fox and Katie Sheldon Hammler and Mayor David Butler in favor. On Tuesday night, Gemmill joined the three who had supported approval of the project in deciding to revisit the application.
During Monday night’s work session, when Gemmill publicly announced his desire to add a motion to rescind to Tuesday’s agenda, he cited positive, “significant” changes made by developer Hobie Mitchel of Lansdowne Development Group to the project. Gemmill said he believed it was part of his due diligence as a council member to bring the project back for another look.
The application sought approval for 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. The land stretches from the terminus of Gateway Drive to Davis Drive along the edge of the Leesburg Bypass. The land assemblage also includes the Olde Izaak Walton Park, land currently leased by the town but which the developers offered to donate to the town.
Vice Mayor Kelly Burk, who along with council members Marty Martinez, Tom Dunn and Gemmill, had supported denial of the project in July, did not mince words in her displeasure for the evening’s action.
“When this council voted not to accept the application it sent a message to the development community that if you don’t bring us the best don’t bother because we’re not going to accept it,” she said.
Tuesday’s action instead sent the message to “bring what’s best for you the developer because we can always vote on it again and again and again,” Burk said.
In a separate motion, the council also directed the own staff to accepted the revised proffer and project changes from the developer, and to advertise for a new public hearing at the Town Council. That motion passed 4-2-1, with Burk and Martinez dissenting and Dunn abstaining. Burk and Martinez said they believed the application should first go back to the Planning Commission for review. Dunn said he is “all for public input,” but did not agree with some of the provisions in the resolution, including the suggestion that, in lieu of a hearing at the Planning Commission, commissioners could come speak at the council public hearing as petitioners.