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Leesburg council signs off on Brickyard townhome development

Two new developments are cleared to go up in Leesburg after a Town Council vote Tuesday night: the Brickyard townhome development behind Giant and a new location for the ION International Training Center.

The Brickyard development will go up on eight acres in between the Leesburg Plaza shopping center and the Fields of Leesburg apartment complex. The neighborhood has been planned for 59 townhomes, 20 of which will have a space below for office or retail uses. The office space can or can’t be accessed from the townhome, depending on the owners’ wishes.

The development has two exits planned: one onto Catoctin Circle, and the other onto Plaza Street from an unused private road between the fire station and Leesburg Plaza shopping center. The unused private road currently belongs to Federal Realty, the owner of Leesburg Plaza, so in order to move forward on the development, the developer must buy it and dedicate it to the town. A footpath will connect the development with the shopping center, as well.

“I actually like the concept of this project as opposed to what we would have by right,” Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox said.

Initially the development was zoned for mixed-use, but while working on his application with town staff, developer Brad Durga decided that any use other than primarily residential would greatly increase traffic.

“That was our concern—how do we make the best project?” he said. “This is a project that wants to get built fairly quickly.”

However, council discussion about the development was anything but quick. Council members brought up a number of concerns, including the impact of traffic on Plaza Street and making sure that the developer contributes to Leesburg, instead of general Loudoun County, schools. The biggest beef was that the rezoning application went to town staff with unanswered questions.

“I don’t like the way this process was handled. I don’t like that it left the Planning Commission with so many things unresolved,” Mayor Kelly Burk said.

Council voted for the development 4-2, with Burk and Fox against.

The sports auditorium rezoning has come as a result of the new ION International Training Center coming to Compass Creek. Owners Luiz Taifas and Mitra Setayesh have decided to shift their facility rink so that it lies partly on Leesburg property and partly on Loudoun County property.

Leesburg needed to rezone the I-1 district to allow for this new usage.

As allowed in the town’s rezoning application, the new auditorium could seat up to 5,500 persons, must be 1,000 feet away from residences and must be fully enclosed to reduce noise. While ION will be used primarily as a skating rink and for other sports events, it could also be used on occasion for graduations, public assemblies, concerts and overflow gatherings for religious events.

“What an opportunity. I think the schools would be very grateful for that, to be used for a graduation,” Burk said.

Council gave the measure a unanimous vote.

Council also heard a report Tuesday about Leesburg’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities. While recent IT actions have made the town safer, staff recommends that with the fiscal 2019 budget, the town hire a dedicated cybersecurity manager.

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