Leesburg Council Takes JLMA Battle to Court

The Leesburg Town Council is looking forward to its day in court to challenge the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors over its controversial decision last month to exclude the town from its Joint Land Management Area.

Adopted on a 6-1 vote following a closed session Tuesday night, the resolution authorizes legal counsel for the town to bring a legal action challenging the June 20, 2019, county comprehensive plan amendments addressing the Town of Leesburg Joint Land Management Area and also authorizes the initiation of annexation studies.

The battle lines were drawn June 5 in a surprise vote by the Board of Supervisors to grant Loudoun Water, rather than the Town of Leesburg, the right to extend utility services to the JLMA. The action was prompted by Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) who said he had heard from developers who said they felt bullied by town representatives into agreeing to have their land annexed. He said those developers also objected to the town’s higher utility costs.

The 7,000-acre JLMA was established in the early 1990s as a designated urban growth area south and east of Leesburg’s corporate limits planned for future development that would be served by town utilities and, ultimately, be annexed into the town. The concept was that town and county leaders would work cooperatively on development plans for the zone, although the county retained control over land use approvals. Past town councils had declined to pursue annexations, as mostly residential developments were built in the JLMA, but the current council was in talks with the county over a boundary line adjustment that would bring the Compass Creek development into the town limits. That property includes the new Walmart Supercenter and land purchased by Microsoft to build data centers.

Shortly after the June 5 board action, the Town Council voted to begin exploration of annexing the entire growth area. The new comprehensive plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 20 included the amendments excluding Leesburg utilities from the JLMA.

Leesburg Joint Land Management Area

The resolution passed by the council Tuesday called the board’s decision “bad public policy” and noted that the amendments proposed and accepted June 5 were put forward “without study, or without prior notice, or without discussion with the Town or other stakeholders, and without public notice.” It called the board’s decision “a breach of the County’s obligations to the Town” and to both county and town land use policy and utility planning dating back almost 30 years.

Councilman Ron Campbell was the only one to vote against the resolution, stating he believed it was ill-timed and could pose negative consequences to the future of the town.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

4 thoughts on “Leesburg Council Takes JLMA Battle to Court

  • 2019-07-10 at 11:09 pm
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    Dear Leesburg,

    It’s unfortunate that the Town Council approved a motion to take legal action against the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

    This legal action is not in direct response to the changes in the county comprehensive plan that affect the Leesburg water rights in the JLMA but an action taken as retaliation for many years of personal disputes between the town and county.

    Leesburg has always deserved better in a long-term relationship with the County and I have long complained about the lack of a healthy business relationship with the county and the need for better communication for the benefit of our residents.

    Court battles are a good way to ensure that communications are further strained and that we waste time and hundreds of thousands of valuable tax payer financial resources to get nowhere.

    I shared with my town council colleagues that the JLMA and annexation plans were never on any strategic action plan that we put together as a council for this year. In fact, we as a council have not put together any strategic action plan for this year.

    The issues currently facing us have been brought forward by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors as surprises and not strategic plans. The Town of Leesburg has had its technology infrastructure on the Loudoun County servers for over 20 years and will no longer be supported by the County, the county emergency call system (911) is upgrading and we have been told by the county we must make a decision about making a new financial investment to keep pace or merge with the county which will cost jobs to our current employees, the county has supported a land management information system (LMIS) that the town has used and that system will no longer be offered for town use, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office have agreed to expand the School Safety Officer Program (SRO) and the town police department was not in the loop on the conversation and now the town has been told that we must finance this expansion or our program will be taken over by the county. Leesburg police SRO program is currently funded 70% by the county and 30% by the town. All of these new obligations will cost the town millions to finance and without an economic revenue strategy, look for the council to propose tax increases next year and for many years to come to cover these items.

    I fully agree that we need to resolve our differences with the County but a lawsuit will not solve years of partisan bickering and the failure to have written agreements. Comprehensive plans and policy statements are not agreements.

    We live side by side with the County and our mutual dependencies require that we put aside the old grudges and work together to solve our issues.

    I voted against this lawsuit action because there is more at stake than a token vote to make a false statement to the public that we as a town council are all unified on taking legal action. What we must do is face up to our own complicity in the bad relationship and commit to do the work to move forward.

    If I must stand alone as the only person who will continue to work on your behalf to achieve all that we deserve as a Town, then I stand alone.

  • 2019-07-11 at 9:21 am
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    So if the emergency services combine with the county you save 2 million dollars a year. Have you picked up the phone and asked how many of the 13 jobs you are talking about could be absorbed by the county systems, I doubt it you use it as a political football just like the police chief. Taxpayers come first
    not employees it is called bang for the buck and 2 million is a chuck of change you people on the council should not be in charge of much less the silly police chief.

  • 2019-07-11 at 10:05 am
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    For those voters paying attention this is just one more example of developers reaching for pro-development decisions at the end of a Supervisor term. The transition area promises were broken, traffic is getting much worse and only the former Mayor of Leesburg even seems aware of the reality that the BOS have stopped solving citizen problems and focuses of paving the runway for developers. Bot my opponents for chair of the BOS are well stocked with developer dollars so unless the voting public shows up to vote the entrenched (developer funded parties) will continue their rule which has given Loudoun higher taxes than most of the state, more traffic than most of the state, crowded classrooms, less support than needed for the locally homeless, working poor and near homeless and a severe backlog in needed school buildings. The Comprehensive Plan vote should have been delayed for the new board to decide in January and decisions to avoid positive/cooperative relationships with all the towns in Loudoun is just WRONG!

  • 2019-07-11 at 10:41 am
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    Don’t know about the other two commenters and what they had to say, but Ron Campbell we do know about. We in Leesburg watched his lies and distortions about Mayor Burk and Tuskies last year. An outrageous thing to have done, and this news source put it all out there, so readers only have to go back and search the articles. We have seen Tom Dunn pull an amazing number of stunts, but even he attacked Ron Campbell over that smear effort. So, I don’t think anyone in Leesburg has ever seen someone like Ron Campbell act that way – a truly inexcusable act. Actions speak louder than words, which is why Ron Campbell did so badly last year for his run for mayor. I would not be surprised that the voters show him the door next year should he decide to run again.

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