Purcellville Planning Commission Chair Nan Forbes

Purcellville Planning Commission Chair Nan Forbes leads the commission meeting March 23, 2023. 

The Purcellville Planning Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to recommend the Town Council deny the county’s proposed Rt. 7/690 interchange project, or condition an approval on the county fully addressing the commission’s concerns.

The decision comes after months of review by the Planning Commission following a decision by Town Council to send the county applications back to the commission in December.

An accompanying resolution lists six findings of fact that led to their decision, and much of the conversation by commission members revolved around the project’s impact on the nearby floodplain. County consultants from Dewberry attended several commission meetings in addition to the public info session held by the county to answer questions and receive feedback from residents.

Dewberry Consultant Kelsey Brandt explained at a Jan. 25 info session that the Rt. 7/690 project and related construction should not affect the floodplains.

“The project does encroach into the floodplain, and we’re saying that we’re not impacting it,” she said. “And that’s because today where it’s encroaching, that area is heavily wooded and that changes what’s called the ‘N factor,’ which is basically the amount of friction and the amount of resistance that the water sees. So today the floodplain has a lot of resistance because of all the woods that are there. … Clearing that area actually gives the water less resistance, so it moves through faster. And so we don’t have an increase because the water will move faster through the floodplain.”

But members of the Planning Commission were concerned about the increased flow rate.

“The increase in the affected FEMA floodplain mapping of the south fork of the Catoctin creek through Purcellville is a matter of great concern,” Commission Nedim Ogleman wrote in a comment read at a March 16 meeting from which he was absent. “… Despite our inquiries, we have received no assurances from Loudoun County officials that the construction of the Rt. 7/690 interchange will not contribute to further intensification of land use upstream from Purcellville, potentially exacerbating the floodplain flow and putting our community at risk of disastrous consequences.”

The resolution adopted at the March 23 meeting states, “the Purcellville Planning Commission strongly advises the Town Council to not agree to vacate the easement agreement with Catoctin Meadows HOA and reject any support for the construction of the Rt. 7/690 interchange unless and until the floodplain flow issue is addressed by Loudoun County officials and significantly mitigated.”

The commission’s six findings of fact are:

-        That the requested right-of-way will decrease the parcel of land belonging to the Catoctin Meadows neighborhood to less than the current open space requirements, although because of the timing, this does not violate the town’s open space requirements.

-       The project construction encroaches into the streamside buffer in certain locations but does not violate the permitted uses of the buffer.

-       Requirements for the steep slope zoning ordinance appear to have been met.

-       While the project does not cause a rise in the base flood elevation, there is concern about the apparent large increase in the flow rate.

-       The structure on the lot is not historically insignificant and therefore does not need to be reviewed by the Board of Architectural Review.

-       The dedications from Catoctin Meadows Homeowners Association to Loudoun County regarding the floodplain easements are to be negotiated privately.

Some county officials have indicated that they will proceed with the project with or without the town’s sign-off. At the county Board of Supervisors meeting March 22, Purcellville resident and Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said if the town will not approve the county’s plans, the county will simply not build the eastbound exit ramp from Rt. 7, which would be in the southwest quadrant of the interchange near the floodplain and Catoctin Meadows HOA. Without that offramp, he said, the county would also cancel parts of the project aimed at mitigating impacts to the floodplain and wetlands.

“If we have to move forward without that offramp because they’re opposed to it, then they will not get those improvements that will fix the problem that they’re concerned about,” Buffington said. “…So my thought is that they should work with us so they’ll get those improvements.”

The county is hosting a community meeting on the project at the Purcellville Train Station March 24, at 6 p.m.

The Purcellville Town Council is expected to hold its vote on the project in April.

(4) comments

mr purcell

The individual in the photo is the Chair of the dysfunctional Planning Commission. They did not even know there were 2 high schools in town at a recent meeting during a discussion about the Zoning Ordinance. And some wonder why Purcellville is such a mess?


The Planning Commission is just a sideshow to this Circus. How many on the Planning Commission have a conflict of interest? How many are voting out of fear of Stan the Dictator? Purcellville Town Government needs a significant overhaul. They are going to ruin a lot of good things that could happen for this town. I highly suggest abolishing the Town charter and just becoming part of the County. I believe it would be so much better for the taxpayers than this Circus.


Liberals working hard to slow traffic down even more.


More myopic dysfunction from Purcellville government that negatively impacts many area residents - increasing drive times, gas expenses and further contributing to global warming. All to perpetuate a nonsensical power squabble with the county? Time to stop patronizing local businesses that support the perpetuators of this silliness.


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