Banbury Cross Project

A map of the Banbury Cross project’s area in Middleburg.

The Middleburg Planning Commission voted 5-1 on Monday to conditionally approve the preliminary plat to bring 38 homes to the largely rural area.

Planning Commissioner Edward Fleischman voted against the motion for the proposed cluster development. He said he was concerned with the potential adverse effects on the town’s water supply.

“We should be wary of moving ahead here quickly without realizing that this sets a precedent for other developments that might occur within the subdivision area, one mile between the town boundaries,” Fleischman said.

His motion to oppose the project failed 1-4-1. Vice Chairman Don Woodruff abstained.

Two weeks ago, the commission cited concerns with the Banbury Cross application, including the project’s impact to the area’s water supply, potential litigation and ownership issues, and the possibility lots would be converted for commercial use.

The Banbury Cross application covers a 570-acre site north of Route 50 and southeast of Sam Fred Road, about two miles east of downtown Middleburg. The proposal includes 28 clustered lots with homes — up to four acres in size — and 10 rural economy lots with homes at a minimum of 25 acres each.

The Planning Commission rejected the proposal last year. The application, led by Andrew Hertneky, managing partner of Middleburg Land 1 LLC, was rejected by commission on Sept. 23, 2019, because it was deficient on a number of technical requirements, according to Middleburg Deputy Town Administrator William Moore.

The applicant was pressed on providing a list of commercial uses if the lots were to be converted.

As part of the conditional approval Monday, the applicant “shall comply with all requirements with Loudoun County Planning and Zoning staff, record the offsite Ingress/Egress Easement identified as Highland Estate Lane, and comply with county’s Facilities Standards Manual by providing the required fire tanks,” according to town documents.

Town staff said these conditions will be examined with county government during the construction plans and profiles stage.

Should the next-step plans ultimately be approved, the final plat will be brought before the Middleburg Planning Commission and county for approval.

The project is situated in the Rural South (AR-2) district, one of the Rural Policy Areas under consideration for preservation by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

In July, the Board of Supervisors directed county staff to prepare amendments to the county’s Zoning Ordinance and regulations related to cluster developments and prime soils in the Rural North (AR-1) and Rural South (AR-2) districts.

Prime agricultural soils, or prime farmland, has “the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The county identifies cluster developments as a “grouping of building units on smaller lots within a portion or portions of the site, with the intention of retaining a significant area of the land as a contiguous tract of unbuilt open land.”

(15) comments

CountryLife

There’s such a misconception as to what the commissioners remit was which was not to opine in a discretionary manner, whether they liked it or not, but sadly to judge whether all the legal requirements had been met, which after they sent them back to fix deficiencies a couple of times, they did, so they had no alternative but to approve. The system is messed up, but it’s the system, and needs fixing if we can limit future versions of this.

ABee

I agree that the system is a little messy CL, but the commissioners work for US and not the developers. The Supervisors work for US and not the developers. Money gets into the system and certainly messed everything up. We have to hold these members accountable. Who is protecting what is left of Middleburg?

The commissioners should all resign and be replaced with Loudoun citizens that will protect Loudoun.

RoundHillRes

I don't know the campaign history of the Middleburg board, but can someone call out who ran on a slow-growth platform yet voted for this development? They need to be called out if they reneged on campaign promises. Seems like we keep voting for "slow-growth" officials yet the pavement keeps spreading west.

ABee

And so it begins. The slow destruction of Middleburg.

Kudos to Mr Fleischman! One honest and brave commission member.

Mr Cooke should resign. He is praising the merits of this application. Why doesn't the commission talk about the merits of protecting Middleburg?

"Still, Fleischman on Monday night argued Hertneky could not prove that the subdivision would have no adverse effects on the town’s water supply and cautioned the commission not to move ahead too quickly with the vote. His motion to deny the application was seconded by Commissioner Don Woodruff but received no further support.

Cooke said that there was no legitimate basis to deny approval of the application and that speculation as to what could happen years down the road did not provide legitimate grounds to vote to deny the application.

“This application has to be considered on its own merits,” he said.

Skyprince

Shame on the Middleburg officials. They live there and know how special the area is and yet they let another greedy slimy developer run over them. Shameful behavior vote them out!!!

countyresident

Wherever you are sitting right now was once a green field or a forest. It’s called progress and it will forever spread further and further.

Voltaire

Countyresident--your description also meets the standard definition of urban sprawl.

Loudounest

Surprised? I'm not. Apparently this has been a longtime family investment. As with any investment sooner or later you need to sell to recover your costs and maybe a profit. If you think you can just own property and cut hay to pay the taxes, no way. Loudoun taxes are high because people willingly pay high prices for housing and bring their kids to attend Loudoun schools. They are the ones who have added value to the property. Open private land makes a good background picture for a Facebook page but doesn't make business sense considering sunk cost of equipment, labor (if you can find it) maintenance and yes taxes. The county and town could have bought it for a fair market price and turned it into a commuter parking lot and soccer field for the public. Good news it will remain private and still offer some nice Facebook pics for those who drive by on their weekend trips to the country.

ace10

"Loudoun taxes are high because people willingly pay high prices for housing and bring their kids to attend Loudoun schools."

You got the part about high taxes right. But LCPS is failing to deliver on their end of the bargain.

RoundHillGuy

Loudoun never says no to developers. All the right palms get greased. sweatheart deals are made, Everyone makes out expect the residents of wherever they are going to build.

Voltaire

RHG--excellent comment. I agree 100%.

LoCo Bob

Because of By-Right homes can be built on the property without County or Town approval.

Chad Davis

Am I too late to say "Don't Fairfax Loudoun?"

Voltaire

I think that it is a little late. I know people who live in Clarke County used to have bumper stickers that said "Don't Loudoun Clarke" That statement is probably true/current.

countyresident

Round hill guy- I‘m guessIng you thought you would be the last person to want to live in Round Hill and you don’t like that you aren’t. SMH

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.