The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 19 approved a rezoning request for several acres of Leesburg land to add additional housing units.
The board voted 8-1, with only Leesburg Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D) opposing.
“What’s been zoned for this property, they have the right to build that without coming to us for anything, and so what they’ve asked for in exchange for some affordable housing is some minor changes to what can be developed on this property as it stands right now, and they’ve agreed to some conditional restrictions on that,” Catoctin Supervisor Geary Higgins (R) said during the Sept. 11 public hearing.
In its development plan, Tuscarora Crossing is proposing to convert approximately 6.2 acres from approved retail use to residential use in order to build 234 affordable dwelling units, according to county documents. The applicant also wants to increase the amount of non-residential development to build up to 1.4 million square feet of data center uses on an approved industrial or office land bay and relocate an approved 3.5 acres of civic use to a different land bay.
The 233-acre development is made up of four parcels in the Leesburg Joint Land Management Area. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail bisects the site, and the only access to the property is through a private access easement that extends from Samuels Mills Court to the east that connects to Cochran Mill Road.
Since the Loudoun County Planning Commission’s public hearing in July, the applicant has revised its proffers and development plan, committing to build the center to specific guidelines and adding 1.75 acres for tree cover.
The applicant has also updated its proffers to reflect the expected capital facility contributions of $14.7 million associated with the development of 730 residential units, 234 of which would be considered affordable dwelling units, according to county officials. The proffers include the applicant's intention to construct or reimburse the costs for the four-lane Crosstrail Boulevard Connection that intersects through the site.
Traffic congestion, light pollution, and preserving the tree line ridge were concerns shared by a few residents from Village Walk. Current residents pinned the blame on housing developers and realtors for not knowing what could be built around their community.
“With our townhouse we still manage to get a slice of greenery as promised by our developer, but it appears we could be greatly compromised if the tree buffer adjacent to Land Bay 7 is reduced,” Nancy Chamberlin said at the public hearing.
Attracted by the setting, the Los Angeles transplant encouraged the applicant and county staff to maintain as much of the tree buffer as possible between Tuscarora Creek and the ridge line.
Lily Wong added, “I also want to make sure all the things going forward are going to preserve the Chesapeake Bay Preservation restrictions and retain as much of our tree line as possible. I ask all of you: If this were your home, what would you do?”
Supervisors in 2015 approved the rezoning that gave the developers the right to build 496 residential units, 85,000 square feet of retail space and 909,000 square feet of flex and industrial uses on the 233 acres, according to county staff.
Umstattd said she’s concerned with how the school system will serve the area and those from Village Walk.
“It’s unfortunate that, on behalf of the residents in Village Walk, that a developer-controlled HOA did not see fit to alert the residents who bought into that community ... to inform them that these applications were coming forward,” Umstattd said.
Before casting a vote, five supervisors indicated that they did or may have received campaign contributions in the past 12 months in excess of $100 from the applicant, Michael Larkin. Those supervisors included Higgins, Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles), Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), Koran Saines (D-Sterling) and Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).