Graydon Manor

A rendering of a renovated Graydon Manor, which includes housing, a winery, brewery and common areas.

As Leesburg grows, town government must balance the limits of current infrastructure with the opportunity to gain revenue.

This came to the forefront Monday night when Leesburg Town Council refused to hold a closed session about threatened litigation from the owners of Graydon Manor, a proposed brewery, winery and co-housing development outside town that wants additional sewer service from Leesburg.

The motion to hold a closed session died after council’s vote evenly split. Mayor Kelly Burk, Councilman Neil Steinberg and Councilman Ron Campbell voted to go into closed session to discuss the town’s response, while Councilman Josh Thiel, Councilman Tom Dunn and Councilwoman Suzanne Fox opposed. Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez was absent for the vote.

The current proposal for Graydon Manor first emerged in 2018, when developer David Gregory approached Loudoun County with an application. The county has responded that the co-housing aspect is not a correct use of the Rural Policy Area, where the property sits. Gregory, disagreeing, has filed five active lawsuits against the county. The status of the development is still unresolved.

Because it is west of Leesburg and in the Rural Policy Area, Graydon normally would not get sewer service from the town. However, Graydon Manor has a unique loophole: Leesburg provided sewer to the property in 1963 when it was a hospital and school for children with epilepsy.

For Leesburg staff, the main issue is sewage system capacity. According to a site plan that Leesburg staff rejected, saying it was submitted incorrectly, a fully developed Graydon would use about 111,000 gallons a day.

Gregory has claimed that Leesburg is purposefully blocking his development, saying in October that the pipes handled 13,000 gallons a day when it was a mental health facility in the early 2000s and could take tens of thousands more.

According to town staff and a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by the Times-Mirror, the property used an average of 4,200 gallons a day at that time.

While the developer would pay for any new sewage pipes, the town must also consider the capacity of its treatment plant. Currently, it can handle 7.5 million gallons a day.

Director of Utilities Amy Wyks said that with the potential addition of Joint Land Management Area properties and the Microsoft data center project at Compass Creek, the town would near full capacity—not counting Graydon.

Steinberg and Burk seemed to agree with staff, adding that the county’s policy about the RPA should govern the town’s decision.

“We have a fixed resource and a very expensive infrastructure,” Steinberg said. “Our obligation first and foremost is to serve within the town limits ... We are not obligated to serve the RPA, nor is the county particularly asking us to.”

Other council members said that getting additional revenue from a property that already has town sewer service could be beneficial.

Councilwoman Fox noted that council could approve an expansion of the sewer plant so it could handle 10 million gallons a day. Wyks agreed that this could be possible if the town got funding and went through a permit process with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

“I don’t see that we are right on the cusp of being at 7.5 million gallons per day,” Fox said. “This is a longstanding current customer that we are ostensibly denying service to.”

Gregory has given Fox more than $23,000 for her political campaigns, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

When it came time for the vote for a closed hearing, Councilman Dunn suggested that in lieu of a private meeting, staff arrange an additional work session to discuss the town’s sewer policy and give the developer time to submit an official application.

Leesburg Town Council can’t vote about Graydon Manor until the developer submits a sewer expansion application to the town manager’s office, staff said.

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Related coverage:

-"What becomes of Graydon Manor? Development plans for Leesburg estate met with mixed reviews"

(11) comments

Penguin

What a novel concept. Local developer contributes heavily to local campaign finance committees assuming he will get whatever he asks for. Developer doesn't get his way and like a little spoiled child, well you know what happens next. But in Loudoun, nothing nefarious ever happens.

Loudoun Farmer

The underlying issue remains that the property isn't in the Town, its in the County's rural policy area, and in order to have the intense residential development and commercial development the new owner is asking for, the property would have to be rezoned. The Farm Winery law requires that more than 50% of the grapes be produced on site or on vineyards that the owner manages within the state elsewhere. It seems unlikely that given the residential component that there would be enough land with soils suitable for grape production on the site to meet that requirement. If the grapes aren't being grown, then it becomes a commercial winery, which isn't permitted in AR-1. Likewise the limited/farm brewery law requires growing crops on site for the beer. As the previous commenter stated, this sure seems like buying a rural property zoned for agriculture and rural economy uses, and then trying to game the system to get it upzoned to more intense residential uses. If the rezoning were to be allowed, it certainly doesn't meet with the stated goals of the new comprehensive plan, and definitely doesn't support the continued growth of Loudoun's agricultural economy.

Concerned

The comp plan is meaningless. Ex-Sup Higgins "gave" Loudoun Mutual $42,000 to defray the rezoning fees for their property in Waterford from residential to industrial/commercial. It is inconsistent with the Waterford Management, the Comp Plan, common sense, and good government but who cares? (sarcasm). Imagine when they sell the property at a windfall and what would move in under the new industrial/commercial use scheme?

shadydeveloper

This developer brought this property with the knowledge it is in rural use area. He originally said he was going to use if for kennels. Which turns out to be not the real use he wanted. That is a dishonest bait and switch tactic. The address of a law firm is the property address. So he has his law team on the premises. He sues the town to try to get what he really wants, a development inappropriate for the property designations. He has made significant donations to key political figures. While he ties up town resources with multiple lawsuits, he continues to work on developing the property anyway. Drive by it. Look at how many trees have been removed, and the infrustructures recently put in place. Why this is all being allowed is hard to understand. I see a shady developer who has used dishonesty and bribery to try to get his way, and is trying to bully the town into getting what he wants. And is confident enough that he will win, that he is steamrolling ahead with his plans regardless of any town approvals. Shameful.

Chris McHale

Who has the developer donated to?

LoCoBornNRaised

@ChrisHale. The article states one if the developer’s supporters on the town council, Ms. Fox, has benefited from +$20k in campaign contributions.

dpsemsed1

How about we discuss how many other council members have received donations from the other various special interests. Try all of them. Let them all answer and lie. But for all your information, when the laws and practices of elections call for funding not part of the government costs, anyone and all will donate and fund an election. Look at the state election recently when the Democratic PACS of Soros and Bloomburg funded all the Democrats and the socialist practices of these people. So if you don't want a builder or property owner or anyone who has a special interest to not donate to a political campaign whether it be left or right, then come up with a process so it is funded without special interests. Additionally, remember that your own believes, are your own special interests also, that counts too.

Concerned

I am interested in knowing who their lawyer is and the influence he/she has over staff (another old boy favorite).

amerigirl

dpsemsed1, the difference is that Soros and Bloomburg liked what they saw and backed it whereas other are backed by people trying to buy influence.

LoCoBornNRaised

[thumbup]

Locojrt

And this surprises us how!? And the BOS BS continues and money is frivolously spent on lawsuits where only the lawyers make money...and we all know the developer will eventually win, despite all the excellents points made re grapes and % required...OY!

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