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Leesburg Town Council denies Crescent Parke rezoning

After months of public hearings and negotiations between Hobie Mitchel, the developer of the proposed mixed-used project Crescent Parke, and the town, council members voted to deny the rezoning application during the July 26 town council meeting.

Failing on a 3-4 vote, council members Katie Hammler, Suzanne Fox and Mayor David Butler were in favor while council members Bruce Gemmil, Tom Dunn, Marty Martinez and Vice Mayor Kelly Burk were opposed.

The 53-acre parcel along the Route 15 Bypass and adjacent to Olde Izaak Walton Park would have featured a mixed-use development of 45,000 square feet of retail and office space, 88,000 square feet of office or hotel space, 26,625 square feet of retail with 96 multi-family units located above it and a 2,000-square-foot community room, 196 townhomes and 88 "two over twos," or two-unit townhomes. 

Throughout the public hearing sections of past council meetings, council members and town residents voiced concerns about loss of open space, decreased property values in adjacent neighborhoods and an increase in traffic despite millions of proffers on the table.

Proffer negotiations continued up until this week with last minute edits bringing the number of revisions to over a dozen since the application was first put forth in 2013. Most recently, the applicant proffered a $75,000 cash contribution to finance a traffic study to remove the Dulles Greenway Extension. Open space and tree save areas would have been created upon the removal of that extension.

Council member Katie Hammler voiced her overall approval of the rezoning and commended the applicant in her closing statement saying, “they worked steadfastly to be extremely responsive and have conducted extensive outreach with the community and citizens.”

Council member Tom Dunn reiterated his view that using Olde Izaak Walton Park as a bargaining chip was undesirable and the application should “stand on its own merit”

Vice Mayor Kelly Burke believes the proposed development would “ensure Leesburg becomes a bedroom community” and completely missed the mark in creating a true walkable, mixed-use plan.

In closing, Mayor David Burke agreed that while the application was far from perfect, it was the best alternative to the by-right development the property allows of strictly commercial build out backing up to existing neighborhoods. He also drew to attention the rapid growth of the Northern Virginia area and the lack of success council will have in trying to stop development completely.

“With new jobs comes new people. More people want to move in than move out...Those houses will be built. Maybe not on this property but they will be built. Thousands and thousands of homes will be built in this area one way or the other,” he said. “The best way we can develop is urban infill. That is by far the best financially, the best economically and it has the least environmental impacts.”

Dozens of Leesburg residents attended the council meeting in anticipation of the final vote being cast. Those opposing the development wore red at the request of Scott Billimeier, who started an online petition against Crescent Parke on change.org. He accumulated 327 signatures.

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