Purcellville Commission Proposes Expansion of Historic District

The Purcellville Planning Commission tonight will hold a public hearing on a controversial proposal to expand the town’s historic overlay zoning district to include all buildings deemed to qualify as historic resources.

The proposal is rooted in new Town Plan policies aimed at preserving the town’s character. However, early public feedback in letters submitted to the town have expressed opposition, with writers raising concerns about lower property values and too much governmental control.

Planning Commission Chairman Nedim Ogelman addressed the Town Council on Tuesday night to object that the letter sent by town staff to the affected landowners was misleading and stirred up unnecessary worry. He said the proposed ordinance revisions were intended to protect the character of the town with the lightest touch possible by the government. While the new rules would discourage the demolition of the town’s older buildings, most modifications made by homeowners would not be subject to increased regulation or review.

The current historic district generally covers properties on the town’s main thoroughfares, including Main Street, 21st Street, 23rd Street, Silcott Springs Road, and Berlin Turnpike.

Approximately 300 additional lots in other neighborhoods are proposed to be added.

The new overlay would not be contiguous but would include lots or groups of lots with buildings deemed to have historic value. Those properties include buildings listed or eligible for listing on the national or state historic registers or deemed a “local landmark as designated by resolution of the Purcellville town council upon a determination that the resource is at least 50 years old and meets the evaluation and designation criteria contained in National Register Bulletin 15. Such local landmark may be either an individual resource or a district.”

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 15 at the Town Office.

A town graphic shows the existing Purcellville Historic District Overlay in hatched lines and proposed additions in the dark shade. [Town of Purcellville]

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