It’s been three years since the Purcellville Town Council received a request to annex the 131-acre Warner Brook property along the town’s northern boundary and so far, not much has happened. That could all be changing, though, as the Warner family is now actively engaged with the community in discussing the details their development plans.
In April, the family launched a website—warnerbrook.info—with in-depth information on the proposed development of the land, which sits just north of Rt. 7, on the east side of Purcellville Road across from the 52-acre Mayfair development. The website includes information on the project’s concept plan, reports and studies, challenges, history and potential benefits to the town. Scott Warner said he hopes the site will inform residents and the town about the proposed development.
“This was the best way we thought possible,” he said. “It’s just another way of getting this out.
Jim Herbert, the Realtor representing the Warner family, said that when he sent an email to Town Council members to inform them about the website, only two responded—Ted Greenly and Chris Bledsoe. Realizing that the Town Council ultimately has control over the annexation, Bledsoe said that soliciting resident feedback was important.
“I’m always open to seeing what their plans are,” he said. “The number one thing I look for… is input form the community.”
It was in October 2015 that the Warner family initially submitted to the town its annexation application, with plans to develop 160 single-family homes on 65 acres, and use 24 acres for light industrial use that would include 15,000-square-feet of office space, 22 acres for an outdoor recreational area with a soccer field and trails, 11 acres for a mixed commercial village with a small town center and 70,000-square-feet of retail space and nine acres devoted to indoor recreation with a 120,000-square-foot soccer field.
Under its current county zoning, development on the property is limited to a maximum density of one house per every three acres.
If the Town Council approves an annexation the land, it could benefit financially in the form of $10.9 million in one-time permit and tap fees and nearly $1 million in net annual tax revenues, according to estimates by RCLO Real Estate Advisors.
The town could also benefit from increased tourism from visitors to the property’s sportsplex. According to a study performed by Visit Loudoun, nearly 21,000 people traveled 50 miles or more to Loudoun in 2016 to watch or participate in 19 major sports tournaments, which contributed $20.5 million to the local economy and generated $1.2 million in tax revenue. Of those visitors, 96 percent stayed in hotels.
“Additional fields will provide new opportunities for Loudoun to host sports events and tournaments that will ultimately bring revenue into the county,” said Visit Loudoun President & CEO Beth Erickson.
Since 2015, the Warner family has been discussing the plans with residents at HOA meetings. The family has already met with six neighborhoods, including the Hirst Farm, Locust Hill, Village Case, Branburg Glen, Main Street Village and Kingsbridge HOAs. Warner said those meetings have proved successful.
“There’s been no negative reception,” he said. “It’s been good responses and good feedback.”
Herbert said that although a discussion item about the annexation was originally on the Jan. 9 Town Council meeting agenda, he opted to remove it because the Town Council at the time didn’t have enough information on the proposal and because Community Development Director Patrick Sullivan was on vacation and several other staff members were on paid administrative leave.
“We were completely in a catch 22,” he said. “It was an abysmal situation.”
Herbert said the family is now waiting until July 1 for the new Town Council members to take their seats before again moving the process forward with the town.
Until then, the family plans to continue meeting with residents and updating the website.
So far, one of the most common concerns among residents relates to the proposed development’s impact on traffic. To this end, the Warner family has conducted two traffic studies to determine if the surrounding roads can accommodate a higher volume of traffic.
The most recent traffic study was performed last fall and showed that Purcellville Road had a daily volume of 4,227 vehicles, the portion of North Hatcher Avenue south of Hirst Road had a daily volume of 5,443 and the portion of Hirst Road east of Hatcher had a daily volume of 10,545. After being entered into a program to compare the numbers with the Transportation Research Board’s Highway Capacity Manual, the family found that the roads had more than enough capacity to accommodate additional traffic—with a limit of about 1,700 vehicles per hour in each direction.
Using software from the Institute of Traffic Engineers, the family also determined that there would be about 6,458 vehicle trips going in and out of the development each day once the development is fully built and occupied a decade from now. They estimate that the surrounding roads would be handling traffic volume at about 50 percent of their current capacity.
Although the Rt. 7/Hirst Road intersection is already close to its maximum capacity, the county has plans to improve 1.19 miles of road here in the town’s Capital Improvement Program. Additionally, the Rt. 7/690 interchange, which the county is planning to construct toward the end of 2021, could help to alleviate congestion before the property is fully developed.
Herbert said that the Warner family is looking to meet with the town’s Planning Commission within the next two weeks and to get the item on the panel’s meeting agenda by August.
“We want to hear informed opinions,” he said. “We want people to know the facts.”