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Grief and Greed

February 3, 2016 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Editorial, Opinion No Comments

By Matthew Parse

What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town of Purcellville to do the same? The answer is simple and most likely you already know the answer; however, please keep reading.

The purpose of this editorial is to draw attention to proposed, multiple large-scale developments on the northern border of Purcellville; specifically, Purcellville Crossroads and Warner Brook. The need to draw attention to these developments is critical, as they will have a negative impact on the entire Northern Virginia region and beyond. The Town of Purcellville is making decisions that are irreversible – with no analysis of the impacts, positive or negative. The only report on the impacts is one based upon the developer’s analysis … the developer’s point of view.

Negative Impacts – Financial Burden
Existing Town businesses will be negatively impacted due to the limited number of potential customers in our geographic region. History has repeatedly shown, throughout the world, that development outside of a Central Business District has dire financial consequences to the original town. As a local example, downtown Leesburg businesses regularly struggle to keep pace with the surrounding developments.

Homes directly adjacent to these developments have and will lose substantial value. A good example of the impacts can be found within the town itself. The homes next to Chick-fil-A once looked out at a beautiful farm, now experience the loud speaker of a two lane drive-thru. Property values are difficult to calculate, but a quick check of assessments shows an almost 30 percent decrease in value from when the project changed to a drive through fast food restaurant.

Home values in the Town of Purcellville will also be negatively impacted because of the additional traffic. Wise potential buyers will quickly realize how bad the traffic is getting into town, which can exceed 15 minutes.

Quality of life. Purcellville is still a small town. Purcellville is still rural. Purcellville is still unique. We don’t need another strip center like the ones we already have in the town’s CBDs.

Negative Impacts – Traffic
Purcellville Crossroads’ proposed plan has 74 homes, and 75,000 square feet of retail, entertainment, hotel space and more. There has been no traffic study, but the estimate that was provided is over 6,000 additional trips per day on St. Francis Court, which intersects with Rt. 287 directly across from the John Deere tractor facility. This intersection is already well beyond capacity with no land to expand the road. An additional constraint in this area is the W&OD trail, which has proven to have a powerful voice when the trail’s route has needed to be modified.

No VDOT consultation. The Town of Purcellville has not consulted with VDOT about the impacts of these projects. I have personally worked with VDOT and can state with experience that VDOT has a lengthy and rigorous process for any road changes. Even the possibility of the developments is in question because of the road configuration at the aforementioned intersection might not meet VDOT standards.

Negative Impacts – School enrollment 
Loudoun Valley High School and Woodgrove High School are nearing maximum capacity. The Town has not even factored in the repercussions of the Mayfair development, which consists of 262 homes that range from 3-7 bedrooms.   Parents that have children in middle and elementary school should be very concerned.  

Negative Impacts – Increased Taxes
Statistics show that residential development and the taxes that are generated from new homes do not pay for the services needed. The demographic profile of families moving to Loudoun County/Purcellville is typically young, and the average cost to send one child through school is over $12,000 per year. As an example, I have 5 children. The cost to Loudoun County is approximately $60,000 per year, yet I pay less than $7,000 in taxes.

Infrastructure needs. There has been no study analyzing the Town’s ability to provide utilities to existing consumers, newly processed developments (Mayfair and Catoctin Corner), the undeveloped land within the current Town’s boundary, and the additional ones out of town now being contemplated. The cost of building the infrastructure to support these developments will be shared by all citizens of Purcellville.

Positive Impacts
The potential positive impacts of the developments have only been defined by the developers. The Town of Purcellville has absolutely no idea if there are any positive impacts to the citizenry because there has been no detailed financial analysis. This will grow the town – we all know, but will it benefit current residents? Do the current residents of the Town and Western Loudoun County want more development?
The answer to the questions … Greed! Greed of several individuals and the Town. Why is it acceptable for several individuals and the Town to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden? Fortunately, I do not have an answer because I do not understand the complete lack of caring, research, planning, and common sense. I encourage the residents of Purcellville and beyond to ask this question to the Town Council of Purcellville and Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors.

Matthew Parse is a long-term resident of Loudoun County. He holds 2 degrees in Geography with Urban Planning and is a former member of the Hillsboro Town Council.

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