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DEVELOPING: Leesburg council votes to keep Loudoun government center and courts downtown

Update: 11:29 p.m.

It wasn't even close.

Leesburg Town Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to reverse a May decision from the town's Board of Architectural Review and allow Loudoun County to expand the courthouse complex downtown while also keeping the government center in the historic district.

Only Councilman Tom Dunn voted to uphold the BAR's ruling, which prohibited the demolition of four historic buildings planted on the path of the county's expansion plans.


Update: 11:09 p.m.

The final vote hasn't been taken, but it appears Leesburg Town Council will overturn the Board of Architectural Review's decision and allow demolition of four historic buildings downtown. The anticipated move, which would come after months of tense dialogue between town and county leaders, is expected to keep the county courts system and the government center in central Leesburg.

By 11 p.m., council members had not yet taken a vote on the marquee item on the agenda -- whether to demolish four structures to open up space for the long-planned, 90,000-square-foot Loudoun County courthouse complex expansion. But at least four of the seven members had indicated they would vote to reverse the BAR's ruling.

Whether the buildings at 106, 108, 110 and 112 Edwards Ferry Road are historically significant -- for months the prime roadblock for the next courthouse expansion phase -- is debatable for several concerned local residents.

“Are you really willing to risk all we’ve worked for in this town?” said Sharon Babbin, a member of the town’s Planning Commission who urged council to approve demolition. “ … These houses are old, not historic … the buildings will continue to deteriorate, and become unsafe and unsightly.”

An unscientific Times-Mirror survey on the issue found 65 percent of respondents said keep the government operations downtown at all costs, 24 percent said the historic buildings should remain in place and the county should adjust their plans and 11 percent provided other explanations. The survey received nearly 200 responses.

Gwen Pangle, president of the Leesburg Downtown Business Association, supported the demolition of the circa-1800s buildings.

“Very frequently what we have to decide is not what we want to decide," Pangle said. "Not only do we see the county as a stabilizing force for downtown Leesburg, but also as a catalyst for other businesses that are making decisions to invest in Leesburg."

Pangle continued, "It won't be just about the 500 or so jobs that we will lose if they relocate. It will be about the potential loss of jobs, tax revenue and the entertainment dollars lost if other businesses decide downtown is not good investment."


Original post: 10:49 p.m.

The final vote hasn't been taken, but it appears Leesburg Town Council will overturn the Board of Architectural Review's decision and allow demolition of four historic buildings in historic downtown. The anticipated move, which would come after months of tense dialogue between town and county leaders, is expected to keep the county courts system and the government center in central Leesburg.


This is a developing story.
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