Leesburg Council May Punt City Status Request

For the first time in years, the Town Council will likely drop its request for authority to become a city from its list of legislative priorities.

Council members were presented a draft of their legislative agenda Oct. 23 and will finalize its General Assembly wish list Nov. 14, before their annual dinner meeting with members of the Richmond delegation Nov. 27.

Mayor Kelly Burk questioned whether seeking city status, currently under moratorium in the state, should continue to linger on the town’s legislative agenda. As recently as this year, efforts in the General Assembly to provide an exemption to the moratorium, giving large towns like Leesburg a chance to become a city, were unsuccessful. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in January publicly opposed a bill put forward by Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) to create an exemption for towns with populations of at least 40,000.

Burk said it “seemed silly” to keep city status on the legislative agenda, when it appears there is no momentum at the state level for any change.

“It does seem like [it’s] a fight that isn’t going to happen,” Councilman Ron Campbell said.

That request related to city status was added to the town’s legislative agenda in 2012. It was removed in 2015 but added back the following year.

Other potential changes to the legislative agenda include requesting a state code amendment to allow for the county to move forward with a plan to take over the town’s tax collection and billing duties; and a requested code amendment to clarify localities’ right to regulate land use as it relates to the launching and retrieving of drones/unmanned aircraft. On the latter point, Deputy Town Manager Keith Markel said there have been recent challenges to allowing drone take-offs and landings at Ida Lee Park.

Another addition to the town’s legislative positions statement opposes to any effort to mandate that only licensed surveyors could perform GIS work for localities. The town’s current GIS staff members are not licensed surveyors, Markel noted.

A draft of the legislative agenda and positions statement can be found at leesburgva.gov under the Town Council meeting agenda for Oct. 23-24.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

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