The county plans to build a new fire station in Round Hill, and the Town Council has a chance to ensure it’s built to its liking.
The council Wednesday night discussed a proposal to annex three county-owned properties: the site of the Old Round Hill Elementary School; the 14-acre acre Western Loudoun Sheriff’s Office Substation site; and a 15-acre property next door to that substation, formerly owned by the Thomas family, where the county plans to build the new firehouse. The town could annex those properties with a boundary line adjustment.
Town Administrator Melissa Hynes said that it has “been a big dream” of the Round Hill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department to move from Main Street to land on or near the substation off West Loudoun Street, and that moving the department would open up the existing firehouse off Main Street for other uses.
Mayor Scott Ramsey said the county wants to be annexed because it wants an “easier site plan and zoning process.” He said the county would also benefit from in-town utility rates and trash service.
When Councilman Mike Hummel asked what the town would get from an annexation, Ramsey said the firehouse property could be developed in a way that fits the town better and is less “lot eating,” contrary to the way the Sheriff’s Office substation was designed with a 100-foot setback from West Loudoun Street. Ramsey said that if the town annexes the property, the Town Council would have a say on how the property is developed.
“What they did with the Sheriff’s Office [substation], you can tell that was a huge waste of land,” he said.
The extra space resulting from less of a setback would allow for more use of the property. Hummel said he heard from a Planning Commissioner that it would be important for the county to put in affordable housing.
Hynes said the county needs an answer from the Town Council on annexation by November.
If the Town Council were to move ahead with the annexation, it might also bring adjacent property owners into town, which would increase the candidate pool for town elections—a long-time goal among town leaders. In 2017, those town leaders met multiple times with out-of-town residents to discuss a boundary line adjustment to bring them into the town limits.
If the county’s proposed boundary line adjustment were to go through now, property owners seeking to be a part of the annexation would be required to file a formal request.
The town staff plans to send letters to those property owners informing them that they have a chance to make that request. Ramsey clarified that those letters would be “noncommittal,” “informal” and simply a way for town leaders to determine which property owners are interested in being a part of the boundary line adjustment.
Hynes is expected to bring more information to the Town Council at the April 1 meeting. Ramsey emphasized that the council will need to work closely with the Planning Commission on the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance aspects of the process.
Performing the boundary line adjustment would align with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which sets out to “strengthen the town and overall community” via bringing properties within the Urban Growth Line into the town’s corporate limits.
This isn’t the first time the Town Council has considered an annexation of the former Thomas family property.
In January 2019, Casey Chapman of the Mozzell commercial real estate firm proposed the town annex the property so his company could develop 43 townhome-style attached dwellings and four single-family homes. Chapman during his presentation to the Town Council said the community would be an “agrihood” by using the land’s green space for features like parks, trails and greenhouses.
A little more than a year after that proposal, in May 2020, the Thomas family sold the property to the county for $1.6 million, according to the county parcel database.