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.”