A delegation of residents last week appeared before the Middleburg Town Council to object to the town’s handling of prospective requests for annexations through boundary line adjustments.
The group, led by 2018 mayoral candidate Vincent Bataoel, charges that Mayor Bridge Littleton and the council has been too secretive and too accommodating to landowners eyeing significant developments.
Two potential BLA requests—by the Windy Hill Foundation on the west side of town and the Homewood property on the east side with a combined potential of 126 homes—were publicly unveiled during an April 20 community meeting led by Littleton at the Hill School.
Since then, the council has been collecting public input on the concepts and hired a consultant to identify concerns that will have to be addressed by the developers if their projects advance. To date, no applications have been submitted to the town.
Bataoel obtained more than 1,000 pages of town records related to the BLAs through a Freedom of Information Act request. He said the information, which has been posted online at preservemiddleburg.com, shows that the annexation talks had been ongoing long before they were publicly disclosed and that at least two other landowners had considered BLA requests. He objected to the council discussing the requests in closed sessions or in private one-on-one meetings with the landowners.
“This culture of secrecy in this town has to come to an end,” Bataoel said.
Other speakers questioned the merits of considering the developments and refuting the one claim that the projects would provide needed affordable or workforce housing.
Attorney Patricia Thomas said the Town Plan doesn’t place a high priority on affordable housing, but champions efforts to preserve the character of the town.
“Nowhere does the comp plan suggest that two developments on each side of town, flanking this town, destroying this town is a great idea,” she said.
Littleton said that the council’s focus has been on collecting community input to provide the landowners with a list of items they would be expected to address if they advance their development plans. Clearly, one of those is the strong opposition to high-density development, he said.
The mayor and other council members said the town was going above and beyond the requirements to consider boundary line adjustments—the state code only requires public hearings by the Town Council and Board of Supervisors—with the goal of keeping the community informed and involved.
No applications have been filed. The town has posted information about the proposed annexations at middleburgva.gov/386/Proposed-AnnexationsBLAs.