Following an almost three-year process, Leesburg has a new comprehensive plan.
The Town Council unanimously adopted the Legacy Leesburg Town Plan Tuesday night. The adoption comes after almost three years of work, a timetable elongated considerably by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work began in earnest in 2019 when a series of public input meetings brought forward feedback from town residents and stakeholders, and staff and consultants got to work on an initial draft. That draft was handed over to the Planning Commission in early 2021, and the commission handed its recommendations to the council in December. The council then spent a series of work sessions debating certain elements of the plan, with affordable housing and how to handle the Crescent District two of the major areas of need emerging. As recently as this week both council members and staff acknowledged that another look at the Crescent District master plan was needed, but staff had previously urged the council to adopt the new Town Plan before pursuing that avenue.
In other action Tuesday, the council also unanimously authorized a rewrite of the town’s Zoning Ordinance to take into account changes made in the new Town Plan. A new staff position has been added to oversee both that process and the implementation of capital intensity factors in the land development process.
The adopted Town Plan takes a different approach to comprehensive planning in the town as it is not as prescriptive as some of its plan predecessors, and is more flexible to unanticipated market changes by using a playbook approach. Under that structure some items, including planning context, guiding principles, community character assessment and goals, stay unchanged. However, the playbook concept allows the town to pivot or evolve as market conditions change through new strategies, focus area recommendations and the growth and conservation maps.
But what remains constant, and is the true spine of the plan, is a focus on the town’s character. The plan breaks down different sections of the town, called “opportunity areas”, from those ripe for redevelopment like the Crescent District and Virginia Village, to evolving business corridors like the area surrounding Compass Creek and the Leesburg Executive Airport. The vision and approach for each area is outlined within the document.
The adopted Town Plan is expected to be available online in the coming days at legacy.leesburgva.gov.