In the face of continuing opposition from neighbors, a divided Purcellville Town Council voted Tuesday to consider an annexation request by a developer planning a mixed-use entertain complex.
The 50-acre Purcellville Crossroads property on the west side of Rt. 287 on the town’s northern edge is planned by developer Bradford Kline’s Pleasants Kline-Loudoun LLC to become a mixed-use, residential-commercial complex with a hotel, 74 single-family homes, indoor/outdoor recreational venues, restaurants and retail space.
The council voted 4-3 to send the annexation request to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors for consideration. Councilmen Doug McCollum, Patrick McConville, Vice Mayor Ben Packard and Councilwoman Joan Lehr supported allowing the request to be evaluated in more detail. Mayor Kwasi Fraser, Councilwoman Karen Jimmerson and Councilman John Nave voted to stop the application.
Residents of the Wright Farm subdivision north of the property oppose the development plans and the annexation. They object to the scale of the project, utility concerns and the increased traffic it would bring.
After talks with residents, Kline earlier dropped plans for a county park-and-ride lot, moved the location planned for the recreational facilities and eliminated plans for townhouses.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, speakers opposed any move to proceed with the annexation process, noting from the beginning they have called on Kline to develop the parcel under its by-right residential zoning.
“Think about the impact on us,” said resident Christopher Braganza, who warned the traffic impacts of the project had been under reported.
Wright Farm resident Lydia Clarke said there were still too many unanswered questions. “This should give you pause. The impact to us will be huge,” she said. “You can’t grow your way out of debt.”
Matt Parse said he was concerned about the impact the project would have on existing town businesses and on surrounding home prices. “You’re financially impacting us, our properties’ values will decrease,” he said, calling the annexation “absurd.”
Councilwoman Lehr told the crowd that the development plans have a long way to go. All the council is doing at this stage is to “ask the county what their opinion is on this piece of land,” she said.
Councilman McConville was asked by Clarke to recuse himself from any deliberations. He worked for Bowman Consultants, Kline’s engineering consultant for the project. He repeated his position that he would not personally do any work for Bowman within the town or on the Crossroads annexation. He previously consulted with the Loudoun Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the county attorney’s office to review potential conflicts. “I am confident in my ability to participate fairly and objectively. I will participate in the discussion and decision,” he said, noting the huge impact of the development to the town itself.
Prior to the vote, Fraser assured the audience the decision “would not be made lightly—whatever the outcome.”
In opposing the annexation, Nave questioned the town staff’s estimates of projected revenues, saying too much was unknown about the development. “What if the taxes, fees and tap fees are not what we expect?” he said.
His most impassioned plea concerned Wright Farm residents.
“Look at the human costs, there will be dire impacts,” he said. “This would be the beginning of the end of Purcellville, as I see it.”
Nave also said, “I’m pro business. I’m not against annexation, but this is not the right fit for me.”
Lehr said without annexation, the development plans could be considered by the Board of Supervisors rather than the Town Council. “Then we get the traffic; we have no control, no remuneration. We’ve got to have some control,” she said.
Packard said his main responsibility was to the citizens of Purcellville, and to have an open discussion with county leaders—who might, or might not, support annexation.
“All it does is [let us] have a discussion with the county,” McCollum said, adding that he felt the town should control its borders and manage its growth.
Jimmerson said the council process was backward.
“Typically we say what we want. We should know what we want [there],” she said.
Jimmerson said the land would not see large-scale development without access to town utilities. “By not annexing, you do control,” she said.
She raised concerns that existing businesses could be hurt by the new development. Frazer painted a scenario of vacant storefronts and a dormant town. The majority of Purcellville residents “do not support growth that is not consistent with the character of the town,” Frazer said.
If both town and county agree to annex the property, the next step would be for Kline to file a rezoning application—at which point all the issues raised over the past year would be considered.
Contact Margaret Morton at email@example.com.