The Leesburg Town Council is less than enthusiastic about a rezoning application from developer Hobie Mitchel to build thousands of homes along Evergreen Mills Road south of town.
While Mitchel’s rezoning application will be before the Board of Supervisors for review, as it falls outside the town’s corporate limits, county staff sent a referral request to gauge Town Council feedback on the proposal.
The council was briefed on the plan Monday night.
The Village at Clear Springs development is proposed for land between the Dulles Greenway and Evergreen Mills Road, south of Heritage High School and west of Leesburg Executive Airport. Mitchel is requesting a rezoning from AR-1, which allows for one residential unit per 20 acres, to allow for 1,238 residential units on 245 acres. Twenty-nine parcels have been assembled for the development plan, according to Leesburg Planning and Zoning Department Director Susan Berry-Hill.
The proposal calls for 203 single-family detached homes; 585 townhomes; and 450 multi-family units. Of the multi-family units, 162 are proposed to be age-restricted; 180 are eyed for the Affordable Dwelling Unit program; and 108 are market-rate stacked units, Berry-Hill said. Within the entire development, across all housing types, a total of 519 units will be age-restricted, and 196 ADUs.
In additional to the residential units, the proposed development envisions a recreational area, in partnership with a tennis association, that includes tennis courts, and a tennis facility with offices, Berry-Hill said. Plans also take into account a church that exists on the property, though it was unclear if the specific location of the church would change within the application.
Berry-Hill said the planning staff requested comments from several town departments on the application, as well as the Airport Commission, given its proximity to the airport. Commissioners were adamantly opposed to the development, citing a longstanding desire to keep residential development away from the airport because of the potential for noise complaints. The commission also pointed out in its comments that the airport’s Runway 17 has heavy use for departures—most of which would fly right over the proposed development. Building residences close to the airport could also compromise its FAA grants, the commission added.
The development falls within the 1-mile buffer around the Leesburg airport’s Airport Impact Overlay District.
Councilman Neil Steinberg noted that during Saturday’s Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony at Freedom Park, noise from airplanes passing overhead often made it difficult to hear.
“Noise complaints [from residents] will certainly come and they’re not going to the county; they’re going to come here,” he said.
Mayor Kelly Burk recalled a previous controversy regarding the Crosstrail development application brought forward by the Peterson Companies. That application sought to build residential units on the west side of the airport, and many residents and elected officials spoke out against it. Burk also said many complaints could come from those in age-restricted units, who are more likely to be home during the day, not to mention the prevalence of people now working from home.
Vice Mayor Marty Martinez, however, said he supported Mitchel’s proposal. He said Mitchel’s plan to widen Evergreen Mill Road to Shreve Mill Road would be a boon for the area, and also applauded the inclusion of affordable housing units.
A council majority, however, indicated support for sending the county government a list of consolidated comments and a recommendation that supervisors deny the rezoning application.
Councilwoman Kari Nacy was absent for Monday’s work session.