Debate Over Commercial Center Options Continues in Round Hill

As the year ends, the Round Hill Planning Commission is honing in on the final component of its proposed revisions to the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

In some ways it’s the most complicated, as it involves some soul searching as to whether the town should amend the town plan to include residential development in its largest commercial area at the eastern edge of town.

There has been no formal application, but Realtor Clinton Chapman, who is part of an investor group interested in developing the 13-acre parcel, has proposed that the town allow residential construction on a portion of the property.

In considering how the commercial parcel should be developed, the commissioners have had the help of the Loudoun Design Cabinet, which held a public charrette in early December.

“They explained various possible layouts for the commercial section that is planned to have some type of ‘shopping center,’” according to Zoning Administrator & Town Planner Melissa Hynes.

The planners, architects, landscapers, builders and developers who make up the design cabinet advised against the traditional shopping center that perhaps works better in larger towns, she said.

“They showed how we could have alternatives to a typical shopping center, most of which have a grocery store as the anchor. They were looking at different kinds of anchors—such as assisted living facilities for seniors, or day care—as we’re too small to attract a grocery, but senior living alternatives and day care are facilities we know we want,” Hynes said.

The Design Cabinet members suggested a design that would create a village atmosphere, rather than a typical shopping center appearance.

What the planning commissioners are looking for is a design that fits Round Hill and can grow organically, Hynes said, noting that most developers cannot afford to build at such a slow pace. The Design Cabinet may return with some developers to show commissioners how a slow build-out concept could evolve.

The thorny question of whether to amend the plan to allow residential development to be part of that mix is under consideration. To help with that discussion, the Design Cabinet was asked to examine various layouts. The team was not averse to adding residential, but wanted it to be integrated, such as having apartments above stores, rather than having the uses segregated on different areas of the property.

If the town wants to add residential to the mix, it would need to define what kind of mixed use would be permissible, Hynes said.

The commercial area, part of the Villages of Round Hill development that was rezoned in 1990 to allow 1,200 homes, was annexed in 2005. The town plan was amended to envision 100 percent commercial with prohibitions on gas stations and drive-through restaurants.

The Planning Commission plans work sessions on the topic on Jan. 5 and Jan. 19. Once a course of action is decided, a public hearing on the proposal would be held in February or early March. The Town Council also would be required to hold a public hearing before any changes are made. Hynes said she hoped the process could be completed by early May.


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