Round Hill Mayor Scott Ramsey last week opened the formal debate about expansion plans that could double the town’s population. He addressed a crowd of more than 100 at the Round Hill Elementary School, the first of several such meetings planned to discuss the pros and cons of bringing about 200 homes—and eventually as many as 1,300—into the town limits.
Ramsey said there could be economic benefits for both current town residents and those who would be annexed. There also could be benefits for the town’s leaders—a larger pool of residents eligible to serve in government positions, including his own. Ramsey has served on the Town Council since 2004 and as mayor since 2010.
“The best thing I can offer you is to vote and take my job,” Ramsey said.
Round Hill is unique among Loudoun’s towns in that most of its residential development—and most of its utility customer base—is outside the town limits.
Today, the town has 236 households and 590 residents.
There are another 1,293 homes and 3,200 residents outside the town limits, but inside in the Joint Land Management Area, a zone where town and county leaders cooperate on development planning issues and where the town provides water and sewer service.
The recently adopted town plan calls for the council to “investigate a near-term expansion of town boundaries in order to: increase the town population, enlarge the pool of candidates for local offices, boards and commissions, improve contacts and connections within the Round Hill community, increase the town tax base, and promote the achievement of Comprehensive Plan goals.”
A new Growth Area Study analyzed the financial and other impacts several expansion options. In each, tax rates would likely decline for current town residents, but their utility fees could increase. For property owners who are brought into town, they’ll get new real estate and personal property tax bills, but they would no longer be assessed the out-of-town utility rate surcharge or have to pay for trash pickup.
So far, the council has focused on a short-term expansion area, including homes in the Hillwood Estates, West Loudoun Street, Fallswood, Brentwood Springs, Newberry Crossing, Falls Place, and Mystic Lane neighborhoods, as well as the sheriff’s station, the Round Hill Center, Sleeter Lake and the future site of Sleeter Lake Park. Those neighborhoods include 217 lots and approximately 550 residents.
The crowd at the Aug. 3 information session included residents from many of the neighborhoods surrounding the town, as well as Del. David LaRock and a representative of Supervisor Tony Buffington’s (R-Blue Ridge) office.
Questions centered on the impacts of paying additional town taxes and differences between county and town zoning rules and ordinances.
Ramsey stressed that expanding the town would give residents more local control. With a larger population, more sales tax money would come to Round Hill, rather than to the county government’s coffers in Leesburg, he noted. Also, business license taxes would come to the town instead of the county.
“More Round Hill money stays in Round Hill,” Ramsey said.
Several residents of the Villages at Round Hill neighborhoods questioned why the town wanted to incorporate Sleeter Lake in its first-phase expansion, but take in only about 70 of the development’s 1,100 homes. The 101-acre lake is owned by the development’s HOA and would remain so if annexed. Town leaders said bringing the lake into the town boundaries would include the property for the town’s lake front park and would allow the town to help with trails and security in the area.
According to the town’s study, if this entire short-term expansion area was incorporated, incoming households would pay an average of $626 per year in town property taxes, and would save $305 per year in reduced utility fees and $346 in garbage pick-up fees, resulting in a net financial benefit for the average incoming household. Current town residents likely would see reduced tax rates while the town’s General Fund budget would net more than $114,000 per year to help pay for sidewalks, trails and park development.
Ramsey said that no decision will be made until late in the year and that there will be numerous opportunities for residents to learn more and to share their views. Another community meeting is already planned, at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the elementary school. The mayor promised to keep gathering input “until everyone is sick of talking about it.”
After the public engagement process, the Town Council plans to select a final set of parcels and neighborhoods for inclusion. A formal request will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors in hopes the expansion can be completed with a cooperative boundary line adjustment.
In addition to the public meetings, the town is collecting feedback through online surveys at roundhillva.org/town-of-round-hill-expansion.