At a time when several western Loudoun subdivisions are spurring neighborhood uproar, one landowner is finding smoother sailing for his Round Hill area project.
Paul McMichael has subdivided 25 acres just outside Round Hill’s corporate limits that abuts the 45-home Fallswood neighborhood. He plans to sell the property to a developer to build an 11-single-family home subdivision called Poplar Hill, which would be an extension of Fallswood. McMichael said development could begin next year. To do that, construction crews would demolish the cul-de-sac at the end of Sweetgum Place and extend the street to accommodate the new homes. Although residents enjoy the seclusion of that cul-de-sac, the project is not stirring controversy.
Tom McMahon, who lives in the last house on the Sweetgum Place cul-de-sac, said that when he moved into the neighborhood in 2007, he knew that the adjacent 25 acres would be developed at some point.
McMahon said the burden of knowing that sort of information is always on the homebuyer, noting that a few of his neighbors were surprised to hear there was a possibility that the 11-home subdivision would be built next door.
That same situation played out on the other end of town early last year, when some Lakepoint Village residents claimed they were unaware ofthe town’s plans to open Sleeter Lake Park—plans that some claimed gave them second thoughts about paying thousands of dollars on premiums for their lots.
McMahon said that while he’d rather see the land that abuts his backyard remain an untouched wooded area, he understands that property owners have the right to develop land, as long as it’s done in a way that conforms with existing county zoning regulations. He said that understanding and keeping up with the project are keys when grappling with the notion that he and many of his neighbors’ backyards might soon touch the backyards of a few dozen new neighbors. “I think it’s the only thing you can do,” he said.
McMahon said it’s also important to understand the history of land in western Loudoun before accusing developers of altering the rural countryside, pointing out that Fallswood used to be a cow farm before it was purchased and developed in the late 1990s.
Overall, McMahon said he and his neighbors hope that whoever develops the property would do so in a way that reflects Fallswood designs and ensures the safety of the existing residents as construction equipment travels down Sweetgum Place.
“Hopefully everything goes forward amicably,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
McMichael said the property purchaser that he has lined up has the same mindset as he does on the project—that the new homes and street extension should be carried out in a way that benefits Fallswood.
“What they’re going to do there is only going to do a credit to the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a plus for everybody.”
Aside from the communication he’s had with Fallswood residents, McMichael also has been sorting parts of the project out with county planners and the Town of Round Hill.
Provisions in the county zoning ordinance require developers seeking to build in the Joint Land Management Area—an area surrounding the town where county policies allow the town to provide water and sewer service—to install sidewalks or trailsalong one side of the proposed development to provide pedestrian access to the town or neighborhood center, public buildings, schools, parks and other destinations.
McMichael sought and was granted a variance to that requirement because installing a close-to-900-foot-long path along the side of the unpaved Yatton Road would not have provided a complete connection to town.
Building the trail also would have impacted steep slopes and wetlands in the property. The county Board of Zoning Appeals approved the variance Nov. 21. Instead of installing that path, McMichael said the developer would work with theTown of Round Hill to contribute $25,000 to help connect properties south of the town limits with the downtown area. That Greenway South Project is expected to begin in 3 to 5 years, according to Town Administrator Melissa Hynes.
Recently, though, the town heard from some Fallswood residents who said they likedwalking along the rustic and rural Yatton Road and did not support the construction of a path there.The residents did, however, indicate support for the construction of a sidewalk along Airmont and New Cut Road, since that stretch of road is more heavily traveled and more dangerous to walk and bike on.