Editor: Operating on half the facts, no facts at all, or the omission of facts is not the way to approach development in Leesburg.
Olde Izaak Walton Park was never in jeopardy with the Crescent Parke rezoning application. The town would have finally owned that park under this developer’s proffers. Instead, the town will continue to lease the park at a cost of more than $150K annually which includes paying the owner’s taxes and also appropriating $600K and more to replace the bridge leading into a park they do not own.
The properties in question are privately owned. The council didn’t save one single tree with this vote, nor did they save a single tree when Battlefield Parkway and Rt. 7 was clear-cut for the Lowe’s installation. No tree saving on the Belmont Ridge Road exchange either.
Additionally, nobody defeated a high density development. The area is already zoned “residential high.” The development was below the town requirement in density and contained the amount of green space required by ordinance. You want less density? Spend your time petitioning the town to change its plan and ordinances. Don’t encourage them to vote down compliant projects.
What did this vote do for residents? Nothing. Absolutely nothing except put them in harm’s way in the future. The Dulles Greenway Extension on the town plan for years may be removed by a vote, however the $75K funding for the associated traffic study to remove the Greenway was to be funded by the developer of Crescent Parke. Storm water management far beyond the state, county and town requirements with an associated $100K study was funded by the developer of Crescent Parke. Funds for traffic signaling where there are none at Gateway Drive and Sycolin Road and more was part of the transportation proffer by the developer of Crescent Parke.
Take a good long hard look at the Crescent Design District map. It excludes all the existing residents, which makes one wonder if anyone living in the area from Cactoctin Circle to Gateway Drive was ever on the minds of the town. Look at the “Future Streets Policy Map” of the town’s Crescent Design Plan. The roadway from South King Street to Gateway Drive is and always has been a mandatory element of any development on those privately held parcels and it is specifically designed to move traffic right straight through the existing communities. This (or any other developer) has to shell out about $10 million for that road and then dedicate it to the town.
Nobody was “saved” by this vote. All the residents got was the very real probability of a pure nightmare by-right developer which has no requirement for Town Council approval or any regard for the safety and security of the surrounding community at all. How about a huge gas station with repair bays in that area? That can be built without involving a vote of the council. A gas station in there will result in traffic through that roadway like you’ve never seen before.
The council vote completely disregarded the success of this developer at Crescent Place on Harrison Street. Sold out townhomes and store fronts that aren’t leased at all. Those stores were purchased, indicating a great deal of confidence in shop owners’ success, unlike the huge problems the town has attempting to generate interest in shops downtown or gain the interest in the town’s approximately 1 million square feet of unoccupied commercial space.
Thank you to Mayor Butler, Councilwoman Hammler and Councilwoman Fox for coming to the area for a “boots on the ground” tour of the entire area and for taking back the most important information that made you all thoughtful and responsive to the communities most affected by any development in this area, your efforts will be remembered at election time. Thank you to Hobie Mitchell for exemplary community outreach and for your clear understanding that good neighbors make for great communities.
Russell Yergin, President
Victoria Yergin, Secretary/Treasurer
Virginia Knolls Community Association