After several long days holed up in a temporary “design studio” in an Ida Lee Park Recreation Center conference room, consultants and town staff members emerged with a fresh look at Leesburg’s comprehensive plan.
Matt Noonkester, of City Explained, which, along with Stantec, is one of two consultant teams working with the town staff to update the Town Plan, on Tuesday delivered to the Town Council a wrap-up briefing following six days of work in a design charrette that kicked off last week. About 13 team members worked 12-hour-plus days during the design charrette, equating to 1,000 hours of work in a short period of time.
Public input has been an important tenet of the comprehensive plan update, and the past six days were no different, he said. Thirty-six members of the public stopped in during the charrette, but team members also took to the streets for pop-up interviews over the weekend, which brought in another 75 opinions. Facebook Live has also been an important tool since the Legacy Leesburg Town Plan update project kicked off in earnest over the summer, with more than 2,600 views. There has also been more than 2,000 visits to the Legacy Leesburg website and 28 respondents to a still active online survey soliciting feedback about the project.
“Everybody who came and provided comment has become a mutual author of the plan,” Noonkester said.
Noonkester emphasized that the consultants and staff members working on revisions to the plan are merely “stewards of the process” and that the final product truly belongs to Leesburg residents.
Major takeaways from the charrette included a need to focus on Leesburg’s character; the trajectory of Leesburg’s development and growth; an emphasis on a diversified economy, less of a bedroom community and more of an employment center; increasing the home choice portfolio; more transportation options; and an acknowledgement that the market is ripe.
Over the winter months those working on the plan will be in a document-writing stage, Noonkester said. He expects that in early 2020 Town Plan policy concepts, maps and ideas will be submitted to the staff for a quick check-in with both the Planning Commission and Town Council on the progress. The next formal community workshop is anticipated for April, and hopes are to have a draft plan by the summer.
More information about the Town Plan update can be found atlegacy.leesburgva.gov.