The Leesburg Planning Commission has given its approval to allow gas pumps with convenience stores as a by-right use in the zoning district that includes the Compass Creek development.
The move is part of ongoing negotiations between the town and Loudoun County regarding a boundary line adjustment that would bring Compass Creek into town limits. One stipulation the county has placed on negotiations is the need to obtain consent from all property owners to be annexed, and many desire to retain development rights and approvals obtained from Loudoun County, according to a staff report. This zoning change aims to placate Walmart.
“Walmart is a large footprint retailer whose business practices include accessory gas pumps, much like Costco. To assist in securing Walmart’ s consent, this Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment proposes to create a new use limited to the PD-CC-SC District called Accessory Fueling Stations with Convenience Store,” the staff report read.
Initially, Walmart had only requested the ability to have a fueling station, but added the desire for the accompanying convenience store. In turn, the council amended its initial September initiation of the text amendment in January to include the convenience store use.
The changes unanimously endorsed by the commission limit the number of gas pumps at the fueling station to eight; allow a maximum canopy height of 22’; establish a maximum square footage for the convenience store of 1,500 square feet; and create a parking ratio of four spaces per 1,000 gross square feet. The latter guideline means the convenience store will need to provide at least six parking spaces, and can apply for a special exception for more spaces. Commissioners questioned whether this was enough, considering the need to provide parking for convenience store staff, but Zoning Administrator Michael Watkins said town staff did not want to set a higher standard to create the need for more impervious surfaces. A car wash will not be permitted with the use.
While the changes received commission endorsement, Chairwoman Gigi Robinson questioned the need for a convenience store next to a retailer like Walmart, and also near several planned drive-through restaurants.
“I’m not sure we need it,” she said.
The proposed changes will now head to the Town Council for final action.
Commissioner Brian McAfee was absent for the meeting.