The Town of Leesburg is advancing its growth plans, recently approving a series of actions that move it closer to completing a boundary line adjustment with Loudoun County.
It’s a process the Town Council kicked off last year in an effort to grow its commercial tax base. The area eyed for inclusion in the town falls within the Joint Land Management Area and includes the 500-plus-acre Compass Creek development, which includes current businesses ION International Training Center and Walmart. AtHome, a home decor store, has also purchased property in the development. But the biggest landowner is now Microsoft Corporation, which last year purchased 300 acres of the property from developer Peterson Companies.
Monday night, the council went into closed session to discuss several aspects of the BLA, including a financial analysis of both the area included in the BLA and other potential JLMA properties that could be brought into town in the future; the town’s utility capacity to serve development in those areas; and next steps. Councilman Tom Dunn objected to the council discussing those issues in private. He voted against the motion to hold a closed meeting and did not go into the room where the session was held.
Town Attorney Barbara Notar explained Tuesday that the Virginia State Code allows localities to discuss boundary line adjustments and annexations in closed sessions.
“Discussions that include financial impacts to properties and financial analysis that benefits the town are preliminary and to disclose these preliminary numbers to the public may cause unnecessary angst to the property owners and the community,” she explained.
The Town Council recently adopted the BLA and approved a series of zoning changes in the area to meet with approval of the Peterson Companies and Loudoun County. That included creating new zoning districts, and remapping certain parcels of Area 1A (Compass Creek) of the JLMA to enable property owners to carry over earlier county development approvals and/or obtain similar town commercial zoning districts, according to a staff report.
The Board of Supervisors still must hold a public hearing and vote on the BLA. The county also requires written property owner consent in agreeing to be brought into the town. Most of the property owners have given that consent, with the exception of Walmart, according to a staff report. Notar said the retail giant’s attorney informed her that they desired to get the new store up and running before considering incorporation into the town. The Walmart store opened in late May.
Next on the to-do list for the town will be the consideration of a rezoning and four special exception applications for the Compass Creek property that could allow construction of four drive-through eating establishments on land located just south of the Battlefield Parkway/Compass Creek Parkway intersection. The application, first planned for a Dec.19 stop at the Planning Commission, seeks a rezoning of 4.6 acres from I-1 (Industrial) to B-3 (Community Retail/Commercial) to accommodate a total of 10,500 square feet of drive-through restaurants. Although that portion of Compass Creek already falls within town, the approval of the rezoning and special exception applications was spelled out in one of the conditions Peterson set forth before agreeing to the BLA. The Town Council is expected to hold its public hearing on the application in January.
As the BLA process has been winding its way through both the council chambers and county boardroom, a legal challenge to a Board of Supervisors action from the summer remains on the table. A lawsuit against the county was filed by the town over the summer, challenging decision to make Loudoun Water the preferred utility provider in the JLMA, a status previously held by the town. While the lawsuit was filed in the summer, it has still not been served, Notar said this week.
The final step for approval of the BLA rests with the Loudoun County Circuit Court.