It’s back to the drawing board for the developer behind the Meadowbrook commercial application, following Tuesday night’s Leesburg Town Council denial.
By a 4-1-2 vote, council members voted to deny the rezoning application for the 24-acre parcel off Rt. 15 and Evergreen Mill Road in the Meadowbrook community. The applicant, Van Metre Homes, was seeking a rezoning from by right residential for the development of a commercial center, with a grocery store tenant as its key anchor. Six special exceptions—including for three drive-through restaurants—were also sought; however, since the rezoning was denied, votes were not taken on the special exceptions.
As it was two weeks ago at the application’s initial appearance, the Council Chambers Tuesday night were packed with both opponents and supporters of the application. The applicant, represented by Cooley LLP, senior urban planner Molly Novotny, had requested that the council defer a decision on the application so community meetings could be scheduled. One of the key criticisms levied by those against the project was that Van Metre had only reached out to the Meadowbrook community, not other nearby neighbors, to keep them abreast of the development plans.
Councilman Ron Campbell was the lone nay vote on the motion to deny, and both council members Vanessa Maddox and Marty Martinez abstained. All expressed their support for deferring a decision to allow the developer to proceed with plans to schedule more community meetings.
In explaining his support for denial, Councilman Tom Dunn said it appeared the applicant and the surrounding community were at an impasse. He noted that the uses the developer most needed for long-term cash flow benefits—the drive-through restaurants and gas station—were the items that the community was most opposed to.
“If we have a builder that must have it and residents that don’t want it, we are at a loggerheads,” he said.
Both Mayor Kelly Burk and Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox, who also supported the motion to deny along with Councilman Josh Thiel, said it came down to the incompatibility of the application with the surrounding area.
“My feeling is this is a gateway to our town and we have one chance to get this gateway right,” Fox said. “The magnitude of the proposed application doesn’t fit the vision of this gateway.”
Campbell sought a friendly amendment to the motion to deny to allow the applicant to come back in six months with a new application, as opposed to the Zoning Ordinance requirement of 12 months. That amendment was not accepted.