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Supervisors prepare for vote on controversial Purcellville development

The Board of Supervisors during its Jan. 2 meeting will decide whether to accept a controversial boundary line adjustment agreement with the Town of Purcellville.

The property in question, the Autumn Hill/Mayfair development, has been a decades-running question mark and the subject of litigation for the town and county.

The board in December agreed by a 6-2-1 vote to send the item to the Jan. 2 meeting, with the apparent votes to ensure the boundary shift's passage.

Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), who represents Purcellville, opposed the measure, but not before becoming the target of sharp criticism during the Dec. 11 public hearing. Also opposing was Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg). Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) was absent for the meeting.

The boundary line adjustment is one bullet point in a proposed settlement to end Brookfield's lawsuit, clearing the way for a toned-down development of the property.

During the public hearing, Clarke was called corrupt and asked to resign by two of her constituents. The Purcellville residents accused her of intentionally going against the wishes of her community.

But Clarke, who shook off tears in the county board room, said she believed she approached the issue in a prudent fashion. She unfortunately is only one vote on the nine-member board, she said.

“The community has stood here, they've sent emails, they want this thing to go through the court process,” Clarke said. “I think that should be supported.”

The risk of going to court, however, is that the county could wind up being forced to deal with nearly 500 residential units, as opposed to approximately 250 spelled out in the settlement.

In 1991 the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved 492 residential units on 52 acres of what was then known as Autumn Hill, according to a county report. The Autumn Hill rezoning included a proffer requiring that the development be served by Town of Purcellville utilities. Around the time of the rezoning, the report states, the town entered into a water and sewer agreement with the developer, but that agreement is now expired.

The property was never incorporated into the town under the provisions of the annexation agreement.

The current owner, Brookfield Autumn Hill LLC, proposed to develop quadruplex units with an on-site sewage disposal system located on a portion of its property not included as part of the Autumn Hill rezoning. In 2011 Brookfield requested a zoning determination that it could proceed with the project using on-site water supply and sewage disposal systems. The county zoning administrator determined that the proffers require town utilities, and that decision was upheld on appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

Brookfield then filed action in the local Circuit Court, in an attempt to require the county to approve its development with the on-site systems. That legal action is ongoing.

Clarke and several of her colleagues – many of whom defended the Purcellville supervisor against the public attacks – said they can't comprehend why the 1991 Board of Supervisors allowed such a large development plan to be approved in rural western Loudoun.

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This story explains that our BOS can just agree to allow 250 instead of the 500 that the developer might squeeze in.  What we don’t hear is how small that number might be if the court case is won…or how long it can be dragged out (either outcome means NO houses right away).

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