Leesburg Town Hall

A view of Town Hall from the building’s entrance.

Responding to council and citizen concerns about the future of the Crescent Design District, Leesburg Town Council asked staff Monday night to prepare a briefing about potential changes to the Crescent Design District master plan.

In the briefing, staff will outline a way to update the master plan and tell the town how much further analysis might cost.

For the most part, the intentions for the Crescent Design District will remain the same, senior planner Richard Klusek said. The area will still serve as a transition area from downtown Leesburg, with a mixture of uses and more walkable feel mixed with green space.

“The plan never envisioned that the entire Crescent Design District would be filled with developments like Virginia Village,” Klusek said.

For Klusek, tweaks to the plan will begin with looking at mass and appearance rather than density, which only measures the number of dwelling units per acre. For instance, one multi-unit apartment building with a built-in parking garage would look much more urban than a development of townhouses with limited parking, but the exact same density, Klusek said.

Any changes to the Crescent Design District master plan would need to balance traffic, density, appearance, economic development and affordable housing, Klusek said.

Council largely agreed with staff’s proposal.

Mayor Kelly Burk said that any updates to the master plan would need to address appearance, as that was a major concern with Virginia Village, approved late last year.

“While density is an issue that people were really blown away by…massing was also a huge aspect of [Virginia Village],” Burk said. “It was an extreme change that caught everybody’s attention.”

Councilwoman Suzanne Fox said, “I don’t want to see things turn into Tyson’s Corner here.”

However, Councilman Zach Cummings said that reconsidering the entire master plan could be expensive and unnecessary, especially since the county is expected to grow significantly in the next few decades, he said.

“I think if we open up the entire master plan, we’re going to spend a lot more than $60,000 to rehash…what we already planned in 2016,” Cummings said. “I look at the Crescent Design District as the economic engine of our town… With coming growth, the Crescent Design District will need to be the place for higher density.”

Burk said that council brought up such a variety of issues that only tweaking a few aspects of the master plan wouldn’t be feasible, however.

Council has set aside $60,000 to pay for consultants to study the Crescent Design District, but Town Manager Kaj Dentler told council that this may not be enough.

Klusek said that after the briefing and with council’s approval, he will enlist public and stakeholder outreach, then seek feasibility and fiscal analyses before updating the master plan and zoning ordinance.

The briefing is expected at either the next council meeting or the following one, Klusek said.

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