A new group of Round Hill-area residents this week learned more details about a town initiative to expand, potentially growing its population by 50 percent.
About 20 residents from the 67-home Brentwood Springs neighborhood spent their Wednesday evenings in the town office hearing from Mayor Scott Ramsey about an idea to initially bring 120 homes—including theirs, the 45-home Fallswood neighborhood and the eight homes along Mystic Lane—into the corporate limits as early as next year. That short-term expansion would grow the town’s population to about 900 residents. At a later date, the town might consider bringing another 1,300 properties into the town in phases.
Ramsey said the town is considering an expansion for several reasons, but primarily because it would increase the residential population and grow candidate pools for positions on the Town Council, Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.
Since 2002, there has not been more than three candidates on a Town Council ballot and 40 percent of council members have been elected via write-in votes.
Ramsey said the town’s 600 residents also can’t continue managing utility services for the 3,400 users outside the corporate limits.
“We’re out of shape right now,” he said about the 15-to-85-percent utility user imbalance. “It’s a people thing. … I spend most of my time helping out of town residents who can’t even vote for me—you don’t have a vote and that’s not fair.”
Although incoming property owners would be required to pay town real estate and property taxes on top of county taxes, their water and sewer rates would decrease by $3.48 and $5.22 per 1,000 gallons, respectively.
Incoming households would also switch from their individual HOA to the town’s trash contract. On average, given those tax additions, utility rate drops and trash contract transfers, they would save $100 each year, according to the town’s estimates.
When asked about dropping utility rates for 120 users all at once, Ramsey said the town’s utility system would take a hit, but it will be minimal and will be secured by the $6 million in Utility Fund reserves. He added that the town also would rebalance rates in the next few years.
Ramsey said that, while bringing in more residents would provide the town with more revenue to pay for projects like sidewalk improvements and town park additions, the town doesn’t need more revenue. He noted that town finances are healthy, with a combined $8 million in reserves across the General and Utility funds.
The idea of bringing Fallswood, Brentwood Springs and Mystic Lane into the town limits is part of a larger plan that could see the town bring all 1,400 homes in the Joint Land Management Area—an area around the town where the county allows the town to provide utility service—into the town limits in the coming years.
That would be done in phases and, by the time it’s complete, would increase the town’s household size to close to 1,900 and its population to about 5,000.
“Our vision is that we’re all going to be one community,” Ramsey said.
If that happened, the town would be required to maintain its own roads. VDOT maintains the roads of Virginia towns with fewer than 3,500 residents.
“I think we can manage the road maintenance if we had to,” Ramsey said. “It doesn’t scare me.”
Ramsey stressed that the town isn’t looking to expand to encourage more development, since nearly all the planned homes in the town and JLMA are already built.
“The town’s pretty much built out,” he said. “Most of the people who are going to live in Round Hill are already here.”
Ramsey said the town plans to move “very slowly” with the expansion process and, if it and area residents make a decision by summer, the town would then request the county to consider allowing the expansion. Once it’s agreed to, the town and county would petition the Circuit Court to approve the adjustment.
“We’re really going to be talking through this for a while,” Ramsey said. “If this becomes controversial, it’s not going to happen.”
Ramsey will hold a third meeting on the expansion sometime in February for area residents who missed the first two sessions.