Members of the Leesburg Planning Commission and Town Council will convene Thursday evening to formally kick off review of the Legacy Leesburg Town Plan update.
Last week, town staff and consultants hired to help guide the Legacy Leesburg project held two virtual public input sessions. Both drew low attendance, with only about half a dozen participants in each Feb. 24 event. Senior planner and project manager Rich Klusek pointed to the high amount of online impressions generated by postings about the Legacy Leesburg project and other media publicity ahead of the virtual sessions. Klusek and Senior Planning Projects Manager Scott Parker have also worked on a series of videos highlighting different themes and areas of focus of the Town Plan.
The low public participation, he said, “was not due to a lack of trying.”
Planning and Zoning Department Director Susan Berry-Hill said at the commission’s Feb. 25 meeting she was not sure why the public had not been more engaged since the draft Town Plan became available early this year. On the flip side, the pre-COVID, interactive public workshops at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center had been very well attended.
“You cannot say the effort has not been made to get public input,” she said. “Why haven’t we gotten more comments back? I’m not sure. Maybe people are happy with it. When you get to the public hearing you’re going to get some folks that come out of the woodwork and say they don’t like something about it.”
Berry-Hill added that the commission would likely hear from the development community, which usually waits until the public hearing stage to share its input.
While the public will still have its chance to share its feedback on the comprehensive plan update, this week attention turns to the Planning Commission as it begins its review. Joining commissioners this Thursday evening, albeit virtually, will be members of the Town Council.
The crux of the conversation during the March 4 joint meeting is expected to center on discussion of the character of Leesburg, Berry-Hill said, along with the tentative schedule for Town Plan review, which she acknowledged was “very aggressive.” The commission will add an additional meeting in the month of April to continue its review, and is tentatively set for an April 1 public hearing on the draft plan.
The commission is expected to complete its review of the document and pass the baton to council members this summer. Expectations are that the council will begin its review by September, and a new Town Plan approved by the end of the calendar year. The council will also host a public hearing on the Town Plan.
More information on the Legacy Leesburg project can be found at legacy.leesburg.gov.