An effort to create a new vision for Leesburg’s largest section of undeveloped land is going to need to take a small step back before it moves forward.
The Eastern Gateway District small area plan has been in the works for several years, following a need underscored by both town staff and the town’s elected leaders to focus on development in the East Market Street area. The planning area, which includes land along Market Street between River Creek Parkway and the Leesburg Bypass, is proposed to be dominated by employment uses responsive to the whims of the market. It’s an area that had long been eyed for regional office development, a market that has seen dramatic changes over the past decade.
Concerns expressed by the council in recent meetings have focused largely on architectural standards, and project manager Rich Klusek said new photographs of appropriate architecture for the plan area have been included in the latest draft. In the past several months staff members have been waiting for the Virginia Department of Transportation to complete its analysis of the plan area, which it recently did. Klusek said the study shows that development in the area could increase traffic on area roadways, though a staff report cautions that assessment.
“While the traffic analysis and letter from VDOT confirm an increase in traffic, it should be noted the analysis is based on the assumption of full buildout in the Eastern Gateway District and it assumes a ‘worst case scenario’ where development potential is maximized. In reality, there will likely be less traffic than was conservatively estimated for the analysis,” the staff report read.
The analysis from VDOT took longer than expected to come back to town staff and caused the town to miss a state code deadline to take action on a comprehensive plan within 90 days of a Planning Commission recommendation. To that end, Klusek said the plan must now be sent back to the commission for recertification before returning to the council for a final vote.
The council was expected Tuesday, after this paper’s deadline, to endorse the recent plan changes made by the staff and vote to send the document back to the Planning Commission for recertification. A draft copy of the Eastern Gateway District plan can be found atleesburgva.gov/government/departments/planning-zoning/eastern-gateway-district.