Loudoun County Planning Commissioners have voted in favor of a slightly downsized version of what county planners previously said would have been the largest gas station in Loudoun County. The project is proposed along Rt. 15 just south of the Point of Rocks Bridge.
Originally proposed as a 5,600-square-foot convenience store accompanied by 12 gas pumps with 24 refueling stations, the property’s owners revised that application down to 20 fueling stations to be built on a 4.4-acre parcel across Rt. 15 from Cigarette Outlet.
Visit Loudoun has partnered with the owners to promote Loudoun County businesses and products at the station. At a public hearing on the proposal, Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh PC Managing Shareholder Randy Minchew said the store would have 100 square feet set aside to showcase products from Loudoun County, along with a pollinator garden, two electric vehicle charging stations, solar panels on the fuel pump canopy, a small dog park, and a tree conservation area.
The owners of the property have also made an agreement with Visit Loudoun to donate $25,000 to create an app to map out and tie together rural businesses in western Loudoun.
County planners expressed concern about the scale of the project because it’s situated in the county’s Rural Policy Area. The project requires expanding the tract’s Rural Commercial zoning, which conflicts a county general plan policy not to expand that zoning outside of towns and villages.
The application has also faced public opposition, including a petition with more than 100 signatures. That petition pointed to the heavy congestion on Rt. 15 and the proximity to the Potomac River.
But planning commissioners argued the proposal was better than a county-approved plan from 1988 that would allow up to 8,000 square feet of retail space. The owner’s representatives have said that would be built as a pre-fabricated metal cigarette outlet.
“How is a smaller building in the same zone less appropriate?” asked Commissioner Tom Priscilla (Blue Ridge). Some commissioners argued the concerns cited in the petition—such as environmental impact—do not fall within their purview. The commission nonetheless stated the proposal “adequately protects environmental resources” in its approval.
“The county is growing, and we just need to accept the fact that it’s growing and make the change that we need to do for that growth,” said Commissioner Dan Lloyd (Sterling).
Only Commissioner Eugene Scheel (Catoctin) voted against the application.
“I don’t think a commercial venture of this type is appropriate in a rural, historic district,” Scheel said. “It does not agree with the comprehensive plan.”
The commission voted 8-1 to recommend the Board of Supervisors approve the application.