The Leesburg Town Council is asking its county counterparts to consider the impacts of a vote planned for tonight that could open up some rural land to residential development.
Tuesday night, at their council’s bimonthly business meeting, council members voted to direct Mayor Kelly Burk to write a letter to the Board of Supervisors asking them to delay voting on a proposal to move land just outside the town’s southern limits from the Rural Policy Area to the Transition Policy Area as part of the county’s comprehensive plan review. The land is located west of the Dulles Greenway, east of Evergreen Mills Road and south of the town corporate limits.
Proponents of the change in land designation have noted that the land is already surrounded by residential development. The county staff is recommending allowing residential development areas—designated as zones P1 and P2—at three to five units per acre.
Several advocates of preserving rural land spoke during the council during the petitioner’s section last night, prompting the council to vote to suspend the rules and bring the motion up under new business.
Al Van Huyck, a former chairman of the county’s Planning Commission, said a vote to move that 1.3 square miles and 1,300 homes into the Transition Policy Area could be precedent-setting. It could in the future open up land on the west side of Evergreen Mills to Rt. 15 to further development, he said.
Mom’s Apple Pie owner Avis Renshaw, who also operates a farm with her family in Lucketts, said that further depletion of rural land, particularly farmland, is something the county and town need to take seriously. She noted that the farmland in Loudoun County is among the top rated farmland in the nation for its productivity, versatility and resilience.
“When we lose farmland we’re losing the best of the farmland in the nation,” she said.
Councilman Tom Dunn initially introduced a motion that would have directed Burk to write a letter asking the board to delay their planned Wednesday vote. However, he withdrew his motion after Councilman Neil Steinberg found support for his motion that the board not change the two land bays’ designations, allowing both the town and county more time to consider the ramifications of changing planning designations in those areas. Steinberg’s motion passed by a 5-2 vote, with Dunn and Councilman Josh Thiel opposed.
Tonight’s comprehensive plan work session begins at 6 p.m. in the boardroom of the Loudoun County Government Center.