Could the commonwealth’s largest town be getting even larger?
That’s top of mind for members of the Leesburg Town Council, who are eying a boundary line adjustment with Loudoun County that they believe could be an economic development boon to the municipality.
During their Monday night work session, council members were briefed on areas outside of the town that have long been eyed by both town and county planners as potential sites of boundary line adjustments or annexation into Leesburg. The land is located in the Joint Land Management Area, where town and county leaders try to cooperate on planning issues.
A 2013 fiscal impact study identified two key areas in the JLMA as the locations of a majority of new nonresidential development. Included within those two areas is what is referred to as Area 1A at Leesburg’s southern boundary. That property includes the under-construction Compass Creek development off Miller Drive near the Leesburg Executive Airport. Plans for that project include a new Super Walmart and the ION International Training Center.
“Area 1A will provide the needed foundation to assist in meeting the town’s economic development goals,” Economic Development Director Russell Seymour told the council.
Seymour said the addition of the nonresidential land could also provide the opportunity for larger office and flex developments. Although the office market has been weak since the start of the economic recession a decade ago, Seymour said a recent meeting between the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Loudoun County economic development staff revealed that there’s not enough flex office space in the county to accommodate the type of commercial development that is picking up statewide.
“Leesburg could be a significant part of that effort,” he said. “Sixty percent of the jobs coming in are in a flex office space-type environment. In our other areas [of town] we are currently retail development heavy. This area gives us a chance which we currently do not have in other parts of the town.”
The land in Area 1A is under the county’s Industrial Park zoning. Town Planning and Zoning Director Susan Berry-Hill said the Town Council could choose to adopt the Industrial Park zoning designation out of the county’s zoning ordinance.
Town Attorney Barbara Notar is recommending that the council use a boundary line adjustment process through the Circuit Court, rather than the more costly and time-consuming annexation process, to acquire the land from the county.
“It’s the simplest, friendliest way … to acquire the land,” she said.
Council members voiced excitement at the possibility of adding to the town’s commercial tax base.
“I think this gives us a great economic leg to stand on and a great way to grow,” Councilman Josh Thiel said.
Tuesday night, the council unanimously supported a resolution to initiate a boundary line adjustment process with Loudoun County for Area 1A. There was also support for studying two other areas in the JLMA for potential inclusion into the town in future years—the area including the county’s Philip A. Bolen Park and the planned DC United Stadium, as well as vacant land along Crosstrail Boulevard near the Village at Leesburg, and residential areas including River Creek and parts of Lansdowne.
Both the Town Council and county Board of Supervisors would need to approve a BLA, in a process that includes public hearings at both entities, and ultimately petitioning the Loudoun County Circuit Court to approve the agreement.