Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Development, Annexations and the Northern Collector Road

On Friday May 1, 2015, Joe Bane and J. Roncaglione hosted a meeting to discuss the proposed annexation of two properties. One is a 67 acre property north of town off Berlin Pike bordering Route 7 and the other is 84 acres located west of town off Business 7.  Several members of the Purcellville Town Council, Purcellville Planning Director Patrick Sullivan, Blue Ridge Supervisor Janet Clarke, Hamilton Town Council Member Craig Green, as well as other elected officials attended both meetings from Loudoun County. 

Both proposals included data centers. The landowners talked about how data centers would bring in significant tax revenue into the Town and County and could be used to relieve the Town’s large debt without raising taxes.

Residents voiced their concerns over the developments and countered many of the points raised by the landowners.
  While there was no consensus or general agreement regarding these projects, it is good to see developers coming to the public and involving them in the process and starting a dialogue.   

“In a negotiation, we must find a solution that pleases everyone, because no one accepts that they must lose and that the other must win... Both must win!”   ~ Nabil n. Jamal

A few days later, on May 5, 2015, there was a Purcellville Area Northern Collector Road Follow-Up Meeting hosted by Board of Supervisors Janet Clarke and Geary Higgins. Residents of the Wright Farm community are concerned about the impact of the annexation proposals and the Northern Collector Road on their neighborhood.

Proposed alignments for the Northern Collector Road

Even though the Northern Collector road was added to the County Transportation Plan in 1995, the homes in Wright Farm were allowed to be built starting in 2003 in close proximity to the easement for the road and in some instances the road would eliminate a home, traverse a homeowner's septic field, wells, and comes within a short distance of multiple homes.  Many of the homeowners were not provided any information about the road when they purchased their homes or not until their closing and they weren't made aware of the size and nature of the road. The Loudoun County study to determine the need for the road will include projections with and without the completion of the Route7/690 Interchange.   

Knowing that there was an easement for a road, the county and town (since PUGAMP was in effect when Wright Farm was built) should have mitigated these issues during the zoning and site plan review for this community and should have required the homes be built such that any future road’s impact would be low. 

The Northern Collector road is being pushed to the forefront now that the Mayfair development has commenced construction and a section of the Northern Collector Rd was proffered.  In addition, several property owners along the proposed road (pictured above in yellow) are actively seeking annexation into the Town of Purcellville so they can develop their land with higher density uses since town utilities are needed to allow for such development.  

This area was changed during the 2003 Countywide Remapping and Rural Remapping in 2006 which remapped properties on the north side of the Town of Purcellville from A-3 (agricultural residential) to JLMA-3 (Join Land Management- 1 house per 3 acres).  

I believe that all residents inside and outside of Purcellville should be involved in determining the growth pattern and development around Purcellville.  Zoning is a social contract and it has become all too common to constantly up-zone property and change the landscape and nature of an area to the will of developers and the detriment of area residents.  I don't purport to stall progress or growth and nobody thinks these parcels will sit vacant forever. I do believe that any growth conversation must involve public dialogue because the decisions that get made must represent the values and preferences of those who live here, not just those who wish to develop here and live well outside of our town.  

Changing demographics and the nature of how people shop online have contributed to a shift in how development will occur going forward.  What worked for another town may not be appropriate for Purcellville.  

Catoctin Circle (in red) was the first collector road in Leesburg.