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Planning Commission Hearing for Catoctin Creek Town Center Draws Overflowing Crowd

March 11, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Development, News 15 Comments
town of purcellville sign

By Valerie Cury

Update: Town Council Meeting March 11: Developer Representative withdrew application for Catoctin Creek Town Center. There will be no public hearing March 12.

“I hate to be the one to break the bad news to some people, but Purcellville is not a small town. It’s not a quaint town anymore,” said Mark Fontaine, who spoke at the Purcellville Planning Commission public hearing in late February for the Catoctin Creek Town Center development. Fontaine, who represents the buyers and the sellers for the town center development, was one of nearly a dozen supporters who came forward to support the project.

The developers of the Catoctin Creek Town Center, in separate applications, seek to rezone approximately 33 acres along Hirst Road and Maple Avenue. The proposal includes a 176-unit apartment complex (Catoctin Creek Apartments) on 13.72 acres and an entertainment complex on 18.71 acres with outdoor space for concerts and events. The proposal includes bumper boats, mimiature golf, go-karts and bumper cars. The approximately 30,000 square foot two story main building will include a sports bar, a restaurant, laser tag, and a game arcade, to name a few.

Former Purcellville Mayor Eric Zimmerman who represents the seller of the property said that Catoctin Creek Apartments is not “low income housing.” However, the proposed apartment complex is for a 176 “Qualified Low-Income Housing Project,” according to the Extended Use Agreement filled out by the developer. The application fits under a “Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.”

A tax credit project is a privately owned apartment complex that is financed through federal guaranteed mortgage funds. In exchange for these low interest loans, the property owner must furnish apartments for those who are considered low income, either through some programs of the USDA, the section 8 voucher program, or any other program administered by the property owner. The rental units are meant to serve households with incomes at or below 60 percent of median incomes in the local community. More than 40 percent of low-income housing tax credit occupants earn 30 percent or less of the area median income.

Other supporters of the Catoctin Creek Town Center were either land owners and their extended families or friends of various representatives of the project.

Purcellville town resident and candidate for mayor, Kwasi Fraser said, “Well, I have had the opportunity to review the proposal and presentation of this development in great detail, and it seems to be missing a key element and that is the voice of the citizens of Purcellville. In addition, I have several questions about the size and scope of this project and how it conflicts with the character of the Town of Purcellville and the surrounding area.”

Fraser continued, “First to the voice of the citizens of Purcellville, over the past six weeks I have knocked on over 150 doors and the vast majority of our citizens oppose this development.” He said he has heard comments that this is like “Coney Island Astroland Park comes to Purcellville without Brighton Beach.” Another resident asked Fraser “why not place a mini data center or technology job incubator at the location to bring some high paying jobs to Purcellville.” “Here we go again being sold a dream to live a nightmare,” said another resident to Fraser. His comments received the loudest ovation of the evening.

Citizen Jennifer Alvarez said, “I love Purcellville and I want to keep it a small town and keep the values we have now and the environment we have now. How many more visitors do we need?” Another speaker said that the [current] business park is a good neighbor and urged the commission to keep the current zoning. Judith Theiman said there would be traffic in town late into the night with the proposed entertainment complex. “A lot of residents moved here for the quiet and beauty of western Loudoun. I moved here for Purcellville. This is not right for Purcellville.”

Purcellville resident Karen Jimmerson, who is running for the Purcellville Town Council, said she chose to live in Purcellville not Leesburg or Ashburn. “You have 168 tax credit apartments in South Riding [117 children] and there are 24,000 people living in South Riding. Do the math. “We have 194 tax credit apartments in Purcellville and we have 8,000 residents.” Jimmerson also pointed out that Bowman did the traffic study, and that the company is also hired by the developers. “We need an independent traffic study done,” said Jimmerson.

Maura Walsh Copeland said that she has read 15 planning documents on the town website – all 625 pages. “I did not find any citizen requests for any entertainment venues. I did find a request for Purcellville to maintain a small town feel.” Kelli Grim said that she is opposed to poor planning. “I don’t hear the voice of the people being heard. Residents inside the town matter, we matter.”

HOA Catoctin Meadows president Daniel Shaughnessy pointed out that the project is not consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan. He said the entertainment center was not an appropriate commercial activity and he doubted the project would be sustainable. He also said that he had not seen studies to verify the need for the facility.

Attorney and developer Mark Nelis said that the by right zoning (current zoning) would not be the highest and best use of the property – light industrial is not the best use of the property. “The town asked us to bring them something unique and I think we have met that goal.” He also pointed out that the property is zoned for light industrial and offices, and the millennium generation doesn’t seem to want offices. “We can’t grow commercially without providing work force housing.”
Bill Tilley of Tilley’s Entertainment said he is planning one two-story 30,000 square foot. building. He said, “You are looking to bring business here right now. You are fairly limited [now], it’s mostly food and drink. We have an opportunity here to pull in demographics to the area, families something we all want to see working with this. We had a chance to meet with several of the wineries in the last few weeks. One of the things we want to do is offer packages with the wineries where basically they can bring the kids here – drop them off. Let’s say they have a birthday party – we will supervise the kids, they could bring the kids here and the kids could stay here while their parents go visit the wineries. It will be easier for them [parents] to enjoy what they are doing.”

The Purcellville Planning Commission will vote on the proposed Catoctin Creek Town Center at their March 6 meeting, 7:00 p.m. at the town hall.

15 comments

  1. Concerned Loudoun resident says:

    It is difficult to imagine a worse “development” scenario for Purcellville. Although I am not a resident of the town, its measured approach to growth is a model of community involvement. Turning Purcellville into a babysitting center for kids whose parent go off to wineries borders on the inane, and reflects a desperate attempt to find reasons to push unwanted growth on the community. Instead of building Purcellville up, the proposed development will degrade it as a place in which to raise families in a safe and peaceful environment. Let’s not turn Purcellville into another Sterling.

  2. Edith Crockett says:

    Coney Island in Purcellville? A disproportionate allocation of subsidized housing compared to the current population size? What a nightmare prospect! What kind of developer could propose such a degradation of an amazingly prosperous and family-oriented community? Are they living in the Bedford Styvesant section of Brooklyn? Is Purcellvile to become a venue for babysitters who link up with adults wishing to go to wineries? The proposals put forth by the developers are nothing short of astonishing in their greed, shortsightedness, and utter disregard for the community that is Purcellville.
    Shame on you!

  3. David says:

    People don’t go to laser tag and then go to a winery. People aren’t going go to bumper boats and then go to the Mill for lunch-they are going to eat pizza and hot dogs at the park. People aren’t going to go to the batting cage and then go antiquing in town and buy a $17k 1700s dresser from the antique store next to Re Love It. Again what the Chapman folks are doing is KILLING downtown by duplicating services at the “new part of town.”

  4. Tom Christ says:

    ‘“I hate to be the one to break the bad news to some people, but Purcellville is not a small town. It’s not a quaint town anymore,” said Mark Fontaine, who spoke at the Purcellville Planning Commission public hearing in late February for the Catoctin Creek Town Center development.’

    And developers wonder why everybody hates them! They’re the worst curse that can befall a community–worse than drug dealers, worse than street gangs–the damage from which is substantial but doesn’t last forever. First the developers despoil a community . . . and then–per Mr. Fontaine–they tell you that, since your community is already spoiled, why should you object to some more despoiling?!

    • westLOUDOUNer says:

      Yet, if it wasn’t for the developer/builder, you’d have no house to live in, no grocery store for vittles, gas for your guzzler or anything else.

  5. Bob L. says:

    Says Keith Melton for Mayor: “I have launched my campaign for Purcellville Mayor to preserve our small town atmosphere”. According to Mark there is no small town, and thanks to a drive-by Council, nothing left to preserve.

  6. Bob L. says:

    Lazaro created a ‘survey’ and distributed it to his Facebook friends and selected members of the community.
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1dZq0OfSouhe9ivyq917hYbp8sXlBd1c0H0YYCRNSYY4/viewform

  7. Alex Santana says:

    Lazaro is the stereotypical carpetbagger from New York who came to Purcellville, looked around, and decided to make it look scummy like the Long Island he is from. He is the worst example of a person in public office who imprints his own ideas for how a town should look and develop. His builder buddies had a run of the town while this despicable mayor ruined the town. I don’t live in P’ville, but if I did, I would be sure to vote out the entire council and get a mayor in place who reveres the town the way it is, not make it another stain on Loudoun’s landscape like Leesburg have become.

    • Mesdi says:

      Alex…I live in Loudoun, and my husband comes from Long Island. Your comment about Long Island is so offensive and disgusting. There are plenty beautiful places in Long Island. Have you ever been to any of them??
      It just illustrates how uneducated idiots who have never traveled outside of Loudoun County see the world.

      The truth is , this landscape of Loudoun small towns is changing.
      There is nothing you can do about. So before you start insulting other areas of the country, get your facts straight and visit other areas before you insult them.

      Not sure why you have such a strong opinion of the Purcellville mayor when you say you don’t even live there.

  8. WeLoCo Resident says:

    One specific point about these types of things. It would seem that the there are really understandable physical measures relating to traffic, travel times, density, revenue etc.. that are known, projected, committed to (road improvements that the developer probably was coerced into doing etc) that everyone would want to know.
    They seem to never be proactively revealed.
    Not anti-build necessarily, but in this case, the traffic effect is a fair question. What is the maximum cars per hour that the city management in its wildest dreams would tolerate? Now what is that measurement now…. what will be after this is built (BTW lets make sure the job growth that was forecasted is the same one driving revenue that necessarily tells you the traffic) …. anyway… how about that really basic statistic? Whether or not they ever build something… why doesn’t Pville go ahead and let the citizenry know “hey… traffic is only at about 60% of what we would consider high”.
    When you don’t have a town’s leadership parse out these things, you’re never going to know the real disposition and sensibilities of its leaders.
    Best Wishes for Whatever is Decided.

  9. Laura says:

    We wanted to move to Purcellville and buy an old home in town. We have to rethink b/c of this development – so sad! Tilly Entertainment is a “gaming” company – gambling. Is that what they’re bringing next? Gambling (ok “gaming”) next door to low-income housing? That is a model for towns all over the world in decline! And this mayor will be long gone by then. Please keep up the fight Purcellville and shut this down….

  10. Paul says:

    Personally, I wish the “growth” had stopped in ’88 when we had 1700 people and no real shopping centers but the old one (now revitalized and largely empty). Interestingly, many “come heres” who came here, bought a tract house on an old farm or field now feel empowered to say stop development, no more, I guess it was OK for their house to be built but no more.

    This entertainment center is a lot like Go-Karts Plus (Google it) in WIlliamsburg, a touristy town. From what I hear Pville is a touristy town (or aspires to be) so why the outcry when we get touristy things? This will bring jobs and revenue into the area and also a lot of traffic…especially traffic. Rather than bicker about how to bar the gates and man the barricades to keep it out I’d like some realistic answers on how traffic at Hirst and Maple and Hirst and 287 will be dealt with. A four way stop sign ain’t gonna cut it this time. Maybe a traffic circle will work at BOTH intersections as they sure have helped Gilbert’s Corner for those of you that recall the stoplight and endless columns of traffic gridlocked heading west.

    If we need a traffic circle or circles the developer should pay for 100% of the costs or no go. It is great to keep calling Pville a small town, it was once really small, but with each of the thousands of new houses and suburban subdivisions it became a lot less “smaller”. At this point, I hope for insightful “management” of growth that preserves what is left of the history, grows the local economy, eases transportation and enhances pedestrian access, etc. Anything else is wishful thinking and that will not build a traffic circle.

  11. Blue Ridge Leader says:

    Update: Developer Representative withdrew application for Catoctin Creek Town Center. There will be no public hearing March 12.

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