The Leesburg Town Council appears poised to debate a controversial rezoning application yet again.
Exactly two months after the July 26 motion to approve the Crescent Parke application failed, Councilman Bruce Gemmill at last night’s work session said he would be bringing forward a motion at tonight’s meeting to rescind that action, and reconsider the rezoning.
Gemmill said his reason for bringing forward the action goes toward his diligence as a council member to weigh the best options for the town. He said the applicant, Hobie Mitchel of Lansdowne Development Group, has made “significant” changes to the proffers put forward for the application, in a positive way.
“I am a businessman. In my world, as long as doors are open between two parties, the opportunity to find mutually-beneficial terms remains possible,” he wrote in a letter shared with Loudoun Now. “I am not asking for anything more than to step back and allow adequate time for public review and input of new post-July 26 proffers which Town staff, the public and Council have not had a chance to do. I have read the proffers and think it would be a disservice to the public good not to allow all stakeholders the same opportunity.”
Despite council action, or inaction as the applicant has argued, two months ago, the Crescent Parke application has stayed in the news. Mitchel has been a frequent participant at council meetings since, urging council members to take another look at the application since changes have been made.
The applicant tried to submit revised changes to the Planning and Zoning Department, but was turned away since the town staff deemed that the application has been denied. That has been contested by the applicant, who filed an appeal of the council’s action to the Circuit Court, arguing that the lack of a motion to deny meant the application was still active.
Other residents from nearby communities have also asked the council to take a second look, stating that the proffers contributed by the applicant would be a net positive for the town, and that nearby residential uses would be less adversely affected by the proposed development than the by-right uses on the current land, including industrial development.
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 end of Gateway Drive to Davis Drive along the edge of the Leesburg Bypass. It also includes the Olde Izaak Walton Park, land currently leased by the town but which the developers offered to donate to the town.
Councilman Tom Dunn was the first to bring up Crescent Parke at Monday night’s meeting, stating his preference for the council to re-look at the application during a work session, taking into account the changes that had been made. This set off a debate among council members as to whether such a discussion was advisable, even legal, since there had not been a motion to rescind the action and the application was not active.
After Mayor David Butler declared Dunn to be out of order, a motion to overrule the chair failed. That is when Gemmill said he would be putting forward the motion to rescind. Along with Gemmill and Butler, council members Suzanne Fox and Katie Sheldon Hammler supported placing the action on tonight’s agenda.