Long-Term Crescent District Fixes Will Wait

As the Town Council looks toward regulatory changes in Leesburg’s Crescent Design District, it appears a long-term solution may be a year or more away.

As plans to spur redevelopment in an area bordering the town’s historic district continue to be met with lukewarm interest from developers, the council last summer launched a multi-step process to address frustrations with the Crescent District regulations. The district, adopted as part of the 2003 Business Development Strategy, encompasses 428 acres and 215 lots in an area generally along East Market Street, Catoctin Circle and South King Street north and west of the Leesburg Bypass

On Monday night, the Town Council received an update from Planning and Zoning Department Director Susan Berry-Hill. At the staff’s suggestion, the town solicited estimates for hiring a consultant to look at implementing comprehensive changes to the district recommended by a consultant team from the Form-Based Codes Institute, including the adoption of a plan to identify priority areas within the district; a reorganization of current regulations; and a move toward more urban-style development standards.

Only one response was received by the deadline and the estimate for the project was pegged at $60,000, Berry-Hill said. There is money available in fiscal year 2020 to make a supplemental appropriation to hire a consultant in that price range, she noted.

The council was expected to vote Tuesday night on the supplemental appropriation and initiation of the project, which would include issuing a Request for Proposals for a consultant. Berry-Hill said the bulk of the work may occur later in 2020, rather than earlier.

This is because the town is kicking off in earnest its comprehensive plan review, a time-intensive venture for staff, she said. Additionally, the consultants from FBCI recommended both a strong public engagement process and a market study for the Crescent Design District, both of which would occur early in the Town Plan review process and are already included in that project’s funding. That project will formally begin in August.

Although a long-term solution may wait, the council recently approved some temporary Zoning Ordinance modifications that it hopes will spur some redevelopment in the meantime. Those regulations deal primarily with building setbacks, parking standards, and review and approval standards.
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