A proposed 38-home subdivision just east of Middleburg has already been denied by the town planning commission and opposed by many area residents. Now, it’s coming back for reconsideration.
In September 2019, the Middleburg Planning Commission voted to deny Middleburg Land 1 LLC’s preliminary subdivision application outlining a proposed Banbury Cross Reserve development that would permit 38 homes on land about a mile east of the town limits. After resubmitting its application and receiving conditional approval from the county Department of Planning and Zoning, the developer’s application again will come before the town’s Planning Commission for a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 27.
Andrew Hertneky, the manager of Middleburg Land 1, has proposed to build 28 cluster lots ranging from 2 to 4 acres and 10 rural economy lots anywhere from 25 to 70 acres. He also proposed to set aside 67 acres for five open space lots. Although the 571-acre property sits outside the town limits, a majority of the proposed lots are within the town’s extraterritorial subdivision control area—land that falls under the purview of not only county regulations, but also the town’s subdivision ordinance if it’s located within a mile of town.
The Middleburg Planning Commission was essentially obligated to approve Hertneky’s application the first time around, since it was in general compliance with the town’s subdivision ordinance and the county’s zoning ordinance, according to Deputy Town Manager Will Moore. A majority of commissioners, however, voted to deny it because they said Hertneky had not provided enough information in his preliminary plans.
Since then, the county conditionally approved Hertneky’s resubmission. Now, he needs approval from the Middleburg Planning Commission.That’s likely to happen because the town staff is recommending the commission vote to approve it, since Hertneky successfully addressed all previous comments in his newest submission. Town Manager Danny Davis said the commission would probably take the vote on Monday.
Still, many residents will speak out against the project at that point.
The Piedmont Environmental Council is concerned that, according to its data, the proposed 38 home lots are located on 74 acres of “prime agricultural soil,” soil that can be used for farming.
Worries surrounding groundwater are a focus of the Concerned Citizens in Opposition toBanburyCross Reserve Development group. Member Daniel Haney said the neighbors found eight deficiencies in the 2019 hydrogeologic study performed by Emery and Garrett Groundwater Investigations.
Among other concerns, the group is worried that the proposed development’s wastewater discharge could contaminate the town’s water supply, and that its water usage could lower, or even dry out, neighbors’ water supplies.
“We’re worried that it could negatively impact these resources,” Haney said.
The Goose Creek Association and the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition are similarly concerned.
Haney also noted that Concerned Citizens group members feel the Middleburg Planning Commission doesn’t have enough information about the proposed development to approve Hertneky’s plan just yet, primarily because the town has yet to complete a groundwater recharge study.
But following a town-initiated review of Emery and Garrett Groundwater Investigation’s hydrogeologic study,the town staff found that the study showed clear evidence that there is more than enough water on the property to meet the needs of the proposed 38 home lots, in addition to evidence showing there would be no impacts to neighbors’ well water levels.
Haney said group members are also concerned about the eligibility of the Civil War battlefields of Aldie and Middleburg to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While there is no federal restriction that would inhibit those battlefields from being listed if they’re adjacent to a subdivision, Haney said the group feels that would make them “less attractive” for approval to the list.
And according to the Mosby Heritage Area Association, while the historic Nellie Church House, which is located on the Banbury Cross property, has also been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Hertneky did not include any provisions for its protection in his company’s application.
Another common concern among project opponents is that graves of enslaved people might be present on the property.
According to a June 3 report from Loudoun County Archaeologist Steve Thompson, the 1850 and 1860 federal slave censuses list three slave owners living on a portion of or near the present-day Banbury Cross property. Hugh Rogers enslaved 10 people, Robert T. Luckett enslaved 14 people and Elizabeth McVeigh enslaved 12 people. McVeigh also owned two slave houses that “must have been located within the current subject property,” according to Thompson’s report.
“It is possible that residences (and cemeteries) for enslaved persons belonging to [Rogers, Luckett and McVeigh] were located within the subject property, yet such sites remain wholly unidentified,” Thompson wrote.
To provide the town with input on the proposed subdivision, email Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to speak virtually or in-person at Monday’s public hearing by calling 540-687-5152. In-person speakers will line up outside the town office and will enter the building one at a time to speak. The meeting will be streamed for webcast viewing at middleburgva.gov.