Leesburg will pursue an option to annex the Joint Land Management Area it shares with Loudoun County after the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted to make Loudoun Water – not Leesburg’s facilities – the presumed utility service for JLMA residents.
After a closed session of more than an hour on Tuesday, Leesburg Town Council voted unanimously to direct Town Attorney Barbara Notar to add the item to a future agenda.
“[Loudoun is] looking to change a 20-year policy without having any conversation with the town,” said Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk. “It should be looking at the towns as cash cows because we pay the same amount of taxes that someone who’s not in the town pays, and the town provides services [to citizens] for an additional cost ... Should Leesburg go on to become a city, [the county] stands to lose an awful lot.”
The JLMA is land bordering Leesburg that is managed jointly by the town and county. Leesburg has the choice to annex the land as it grows. The area exists to help Leesburg plan for the future, and the town considers any potential utility funds a vital part of future revenue.
On June 5, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-2-2 to make Loudoun Water the default provider for developers after a few builders who want to develop in the JLMA complained about Leesburg’s management over their expected applications.
Burk responded that the town always notifies potential developers that JLMA land could be annexed to the town so no one is taken by surprise.
Should no further changes be made to the 2019 draft Comprehensive Plan, the utility shift would be finalized when the board adopts the plan June 20.
On Tuesday night, council members agreed the matter was urgent, but some questioned the need for a closed session and said that the town needs to talk with the county more before making a decision.
“I did not feel there was enough information on the table,” said Councilman Ron Campbell. “We need more answers – not direction, not solutions.”
Council voted 5-2, with council members Fernando “Marty” Martinez and Tom Dunn opposed, to go into the closed session.
Burk said annexing the land, a move that's technically a lawsuit, is Leesburg’s way of ensuring that the town will have utility rights over the land in the future.
“If they’re going to try to take that area away, why not try to take it now?” she said.