Meadowbrook rendering

A rendering of the proposed Meadowbrook shopping center in southern Leesburg.

Leesburg’s southern gateway slammed shut Tuesday night when Leesburg Town Council narrowly voted to deny an application for Meadowbrook’s proposed commercial center.

“This is the gateway to our community, and we want to make sure that the gateway is one that we want,” Mayor Kelly Burk said.

In the council chamber, opponents of the development applauded after council voted 4-1-2 against developer Van Metre’s plan to rezone about 24 acres in southeast Leesburg for a 16-pump gas station and three drive-thru restaurants, along with other retail buildings. Councilman Fernando Martinez and Councilwoman Vanessa Maddox abstained from the vote, and Councilman Ron Campbell voted nay.

At the beginning of the meeting, Van Metre representative Molly Novotny requested that council defer a vote until December so the developer could reach out to the community and make changes to the application.

A handful of residents also advocated for deferment during the public hearing. While proponents and opponents of the development have been the most vocal, a majority holds a middle view, two speakers said. They would support “upscale commercial” uses but are opposed to the traffic and potential crime a bustling convenience center might bring.

However, according to council members, Van Metre has said that for the shopping center to be viable, it needs to at least have the gas station and one drive-thru.

Seven of the 10 speakers Tuesday night opposed the development.

“I dream of building a house near a 16-pump gas station, a car wash, and three drive-thrus, said no homeowner ever,” said resident Kim Berkey.

When council closed the public hearing, it had several options. It could vote immediately for or against the development, defer the vote until December, or defer it to another date. Some council members supported the deferment because Van Metre has yet to finish holding community meetings—one was scheduled for the day after Tuesday’s council meeting.

“There is a huge population of people that we have not heard from. I am very, very eager to hear from those people,” Maddox said.

Councilman Tom Dunn proposed the motion to deny the development. “For me, it’s not about counting yes and no noses,” he said. “For me, it’s about bringing in commercial into a community that doesn’t want it … We are not able to support the commercial base we already have.”

By law, Van Metre will have to wait a year to present a new application to the town, though it can seek community support in the meantime.

(16) comments

Neil Steinberg

During the public hearing several weeks ago for the Meadowbrook commercial center, 14 residents spoke in favor of the application, 18 spoke against. Of the many emails Council received on this issue, the majority were against. The Council’s vote was not intended to ignore residents, but to render a decision that was certain not to please everyone. Regarding any past lawsuit, the original developer, Centex Homes, applied for (in 2004) and was denied by Council (not this Council) a proposal for more than 1000 residential units. Centex subsequently withdrew from the project; the current developer is building a little over 400 units in the residential portion of Meadowbrook. Many would consider this course of events as a win for the Town. In any event, the topic of this conversation has to do with Van Metre’s application for a commercial center. Their application requested a rezoning from a by-right 24 residential units to commercial use, and no fewer than 6 special exceptions, to allow for a project of over 200,000 square feet, the gas station and 3 fast food with drive-thru. The lawsuit of over a decade ago may not be relevant here. The new Walmart Supercenter, by the way, is in Loudoun County, not Leesburg, and would have been approved by the Board of Supervisors not the Leesburg Town Council.

GoodOlLoudoun

And your point is Neil???? Hope you bring more to Council then just doing your best impression of Captain Obvious.

Neil Steinberg

I was simply offering an alternative to your impression that Council caved to Centex, and pointing out that the Walmart was not a Town issue. I don't intend to be doing any impressions of anything other than that of effective Council member. I'll certainly do my best to control the overuse of question marks. I'm always impressed by those who choose to snipe at others from behind the opaque curtain of a screen name. I'm Neil Steinberg, I'm running for Town Council, and I'm available for an open conversation anytime. So, GoodOlLoudoun, who are you?

Neil Steinberg

At the Meadowbrook public hearing several weeks ago 18 residents spoke against the application, 14 spoke in favor. Of the emails received by Council, the majority spoke against the application. I don't believe Council ignored residents; a decision had made, and it was a certainty that it wouldn't please everyone. More than 10 years ago (2004) the original application (by Centex Homes) requested more than one thousand homes. Because the Council denied that application the current project is now developing just over 400 homes. I would call that a win for the Town. Nevertheless that application has nothing to do with this discussion which involves a rezoning request by Van Metre to change a by-right 24 residential units to a commercial center. The application also asked for no fewer than 6 special exceptions to allow for an increase to over 200,000 square feet of commercial use, three drive-through fast food sites, and the gas station.

InteliGrowth

Well at least it wasn't a data center. A convenience store with gas would be okay, like a Sheetz. But that's about it for this still rural looking part of town. Would like to keep it simple for at least a few more decades. Certainly did not want an extra traffic light to get into an out of a shopping complex.

Heels63

What a shame. Would have been nice to have some commercial development in this part of Leesburg. It is severely missing and would have provided some convenience for those living in South/Southwest Leesburg. Hopefully they will re-submit in the future.

Guardian

What an unfortunate outcome for a proposed community center that would serve this area of Leesburg. There were many, many residents who spoke in support for this, and it's too bad that the council chose to ignore them. The builder was completely flexible and even implemented changes to the original proposed plan several times after taking into consideration the concerns of those against it. Yes, the council voted no (yet, somehow, a Walmart is getting built right down the street). As a Leesburg resident, I will make sure to buy my gas in another town on the way home, and do my grocery shopping elsewhere as well. Most of all, election day is around the corner. Cheers.

LetsGoCaps

"a proposed community center that would serve this area of Leesburg"
-there was nothing proposed that can't be found elsewhere in

More Cowbell

Last time I checked, gas in Leesburg was about 20-30 cents cheaper than the rest of Loudoun, 40 cents cheaper in Fairfax.

More Cowbell

Loudoun BOS should listen to their constituents too, not their bank accounts from developers.

GoodOlLoudoun

Thank you Councilman Dunn for the leadership shown on this issue. He was very clear that this denial was because there was no commercial in this part of Town. The Town population is not able to fully support current commercial base. What the developer wants is what the citizens don't want and there does not seem to be movement on either side. That many more people in SE/SW do not want any commercial at all.
Burk looked like she didn't know how to say NO to the developer.

Buffacuse3

Kudos to the two on the council who bravely abstained, in full recognition of the likely impending lawsuit. I'm already getting ready to nominate them for a JFK "Profile in Courage" award. Such leadership!

LetsGoCaps

Sarcastic or not, this isn't the first time I've heard concern over a lawsuit. I'm curious - on what basis would the rezoning applicants (it was a joint application by owner and developer) have to sue the town?

GoodOlLoudoun

The owner threatened to sue the Town 10 years ago. That's how he got the rezoning he has now. That Council caved. BTW those Meadowbrook home owners who feel so slighted, you did not pay for school/parks and rec/or fire department. Your developer/owner Mr good guy Kaliris did not pay for any of proffers thus you buyers of Meadowbrook did not have that factored into your home prices

RoundHillGuy

Finally, politicians who are actually listening to their constituents. If only the Loudoun BOS would do the same.

LetsGoCaps

I wouldn't say necessarily say they listened - they just realized how many residents were paying attention to their votes during an election year.

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