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Round Hill Residents Retain Hope For Shopping Center

© Leesburg Today - 09/30/2015

About 70 Round Hill area residents have participated in a special community input session to help guide revisions to the town's comprehensive plan.

In post-event interviews Town Administrator Buster Nicholson and Zoning Administrator/Planner Melissa Hynes said they were encouraged by the response during the Sept. 15 meeting. The plan review is focused on expanding options for commercial enterprises in town, including the future of the planned 12-acre shopping center on the eastern edge and along Main Street.

""I was very pleased with the public interest shown as well as the 100 responses to our surveys,"" said Nicholson, who was unable to attend the meeting. ""That's what we and the council want to see-it's their town.""

Nicholson said he liked the fact the audience knew the community well and was prepared to wait until market conditions improved for development of the commercial center, rather than give up on the concept.

A concept plan has been submitted to build 84 townhomes on a portion of that property. Neither the Town Plan nor the Villages of Round Hill development plan permit residential development on the site.

""Are we going to say, 'turn it into 84 townhomes,' and unravel all that planning,"" Hynes said. ""The area is the gateway to town. We need the public to come out and speak.""

Among the major topics covered during the meeting was the possibility of establishing a 2-acre commuter parking lot on the west side of Evening Star Drive in the new Brentwood Springs subdivision. The town has long been considered for a county commuter parking lot, but the original proffer of 1 acre was deemed too small. But planners have agreed to pair it with the other proffered 1-acre lot, to come up with 140 spaces.

Residents also discussed opportunities for the 8-acre town park that is part of Brentwood Springs.

""Maybe on weekends, we could have a farmer's market there,"" Hynes suggested. And the town might want to have a stage for concerts at the park, also, she said.

A second big item for discussion concerned whether to expand the town limits to incorporate the surrounding neighborhoods. Hynes said the council may take up that issue in detail once the comprehensive plan revisions are finished next year.

More than 1,000 homes are located outside the town boundaries but are served by town utilities.

Public opinion was positive-in concept. ""Everyone likes the idea; more people can serve on town panels and get more involved,"" Hynes said. Both in the surveys and during the meeting, people liked the idea of being one community, which they saw as a unifier.

However, they also want to know what coming into town would mean in real dollars and cents. ""Will my water bills be higher?"" and ""Will my taxes go up or down"" were some of the questions raised.

Also under consideration was whether to allow residents to rent out basements, garage apartments, or rooms in their houses. Also, Hynes noted the town doesn't have senior housing opportunities and is looking to increase that housing component.

The biggest concept is the revitalization of the downtown area. ""Do you recommend future land use changes-more properties allowed to convert to commercial some day-do we change the commercial land use map, or remain with what we have,"" Hynes asked. So far, public opinion seems to support limited additional commercial options.

There will be a final input session Oct. 13 before the Planning Commission finishes its draft plan by the end of the year, with adoption by council hoped for in March.

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