Members of the Leesburg Town Council looked to the work ahead on the new town plan, currently in the hand of the town Planning Commission, during a strategic planning retreat Saturday.
Town Manager Kaj Dentler said the council expects to get an update on the new town plan at its meeting June 7, and begin its own work on the draft plan in September. Council members intend to adopt the plan by the end of the year.
But it’s not too soon for them to start looking at the Planning Commission’s work or thinking about what will need to be in the plan, advised retreat facilitator Kimball Payne during the April 24 session.
Councilmember Zach Cummings said the plan should be clear for people looking to invest in the town.
“There are some developers who are not unscrupulous, and they try to do the right thing,” Cummings said. “And we want to make sure that they at least understand what we’re trying to do.”
And Councilmember Suzanne Fox said the most feedback she gets is asking if the plan could be shortened.
But Payne advised the council to worry first about what should be in the plan.
“My first response to, ‘the public doesn’t understand,’ is, educate them. Don’t change what you’re doing,” Payne said. “[…]They have a responsibility at some level to understand how their local government works. You have a responsibility to help them understand.”
“The biggest concern may end up being about affordable dwellings,” said Councilmember Neil Steinberg. Council members also said environmental sustainability—including encouraging a Property Assessed Clean Energy program, reviewing open space standards, reviewing site plans for environmental impact, and a plastic bag ordinance that will be discussed in April—should feature in the plan.
The hours-long forum also touched on the vision and identify for Leesburg going forward, including honoring its history, arts, culture, and diversity, with an eye toward a community that is inclusive, welcoming, and family-oriented.
Council members also discussed holding joint meetings with the Board of Supervisors—something that has been done in the past, but rarely. That is hoped for in the fall.