Propose Zoning Change May Open Door to More Apartments in Leesburg

One matter that received considerable debate among town planning commissioners during their meeting last week is a proposed modification to the ratio of commercial to office uses in the PRC district.

The change had first been proposed by land use attorney Michael Banzhaf, who reached out to town staff on the matter early last year. One of Banzhaf’s clients, the Village at Leesburg development, is interested in pursuing such a change with the goal of building multifamily units on land planned for 55,400 square feet of additional office development. PRC zoning currently allows for a ratio of 2.5 to 1.0 commercial to office square footage, meaning that the remaining complex to be built on the Village property, Building X, would need to be entirely office space to fulfill the requirement. The developer has pointed to market conditions, and the difficult climate for office development, as a reason to request such a change to the ratio.

Planning Commissioners initially endorsed the change in the fall, but Banzhaf reached out to the town staff again because he later realized that the change did not take into account that the Village property is divided between two zoning districts—PRC and B4 (Business). The new proposal would allow the town consider the use mix in the entire project regardless of zoning district boundaries. In addition to the Village, Leegate and Oaklawn are two notable developments with PRC zoning that could request a change to allow more residential development.

The commission voted 6-1, with Vice Chair Gigi Robinson dissenting, to recommend approval to the Town Council.

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