Expansion Proposed at Catoctin Elementary

A Leesburg elementary school looks to get a bit bigger, both in its overall size and student population.

    Loudoun County Public Schools is seeking approval for an expansion to Catoctin Elementary School. The application began  its review before the Leesburg Planning Commission last week, and will ultimately need the Town Council’s stamp of approval on a special exception before moving dirt. 

    The application seeks approval for a one-story, 6,000-square-foot addition to the rear of the existing 76,800-square-foot school. The expansion would accomodate three new classrooms, a resource room, an office, and storage space. It would also allow an increase to the school’s base capacity from 697 to 743 students. According to a staff report, the school had an enrollment of 658 students last September. 

    Also included in the project is safety and security vestibule improvements at the entrance to the school. If the special exception is approved, school staff hopes to begin construction next spring, and have it wrapped up by fall 2021.

    Two residents who live nearby the school spoke during the June 18 meeting, and brought commissioners attention to flooding problems on their properties, which they said is caused by runoff from the school property. Valley View Avenue resident Tim Nichols said he has lived on the property for more than 30 years and said during rain storms the ponding in his yard can be up to one-and-a-half feet deep. He and neighbor Doug Fultz said they would like to see school construction plans include some type of remediation for the stormwater issue.

    “Every special exception that is done here, the stormwater is an afterthought,” Nichols said.

    When the school was constructed at 311 Catoctin Circle SW in 1966, the Zoning Ordinance did not require special exception approval for a public school use. That changed in 2003, when a revision to the ordinance dictated that public schools in residential zoning districts require special exception approval. Catoctin Elementary is located within the R-4 zoning district, which allows for low-density residential development. 

    The application will come back to the Planning Commission for a recommendation before moving on to the council. More information on the project can be found at leesburgva.gov, under the Leesburg Interactive Applications MAP (LIAM). 
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