On November 8, the Purcellville Town Council voted to deny the Kline/Purcellville Crossroads Annexation application 6-0-1, with Council Member Chris Bledsoe absent. This was one of the new Council’s significant actions to date.
Pleasants Kline, along with three other property owners, had requested the annexation of approximately 50.4 acres. Currently zoned JLMA-3 (one house per three acres), the property is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Berlin Turnpike (Rt. 287) and Harry Byrd Highway (Rt. 7) and along St. Francis Court.
The proposal called for approximately 70 residential units, 75,000 square feet of commercial space, an 80-room hotel, and Tilley’s Entertainment Center, including indoor and outdoor commercial recreational facilities.
Council Member Nedim Ogelman said it was very fortunate for the future of Purcellville to bring back this proposal back for a vote, because he felt that during the election citizens were expressing their opinions on this issue. “There have been 59 emails submitted for the record tonight relevant to the Kline Annexations in general – one email in support of Kline. We should act, because citizens expressed their views – they have the information they need – and we act on the expressed will of what they want,” said Ogelman.
Council Member Kelli Grim said, “It’s long, long overdue. There is a plan for the JLMA [Joint Land Management Area], it’s clear – staff at the County level has said it in the memo sent March of 2013 – the Purcellville JLMA is no longer planned as a Town growth area, but instead will protect the existing residential development pattern, and serve as a County transition area between the Town and the rural policy area.” Grim continued, “Further, the CPAM [Comp Plan Amendment] that was passed retains existing planned policies which recognize the existing JLMA as a district planned land use area, and maintains the current County zoning designation for the area.”
“In 2012, recognizing that the Town did not desire any increased density and growth outside the current incorporated Town boundaries, and to the JLMA – the Purcellville Joint Policies Review Committee and the Town Council called for the repeal of PUGAMP [Purcellville Urban Growth Area Management Plan],” said Grim. She pointed out that the JLMA will develop in accordance with the underlying County zoning ascribed to the area, which is one house per three acres. The growth area outside the Town limits does not exist unless the Town Council takes it up, Grim pointed out.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser said, “I was told years ago, hope is not a strategy and hope is not a plan. Annexation for the sake of annexation in the hope that in the future that we can control it – we need to put that into the right context. This Town has seen many annexations that took over 20 years for someone to develop it. We need to see what the plan would be, and do we have the infrastructure to support it. Net net, we need to be careful what we plan for.”
The Town Council voted against the annexation, and voted to return 75 percent of the application fee, which is in accordance with state law. The annexation would not be compatible with the Town’s existing scale and Comprehensive Plan.
Comp Plan Resolution
Council Member Nedim Ogelman also asked Council to amend resolution 15-01-12, which initiated the Comprehensive Plan Review and Amendment Process. He said, “The first and fundamental reason I am asking to bring this back is that the original resolution has an assumption that reads ‘Whereas the Town has been asked by land owners in Loudoun County to consider further expansion into the Town’s jurisdictional limits’ – so it’s essentially saying one of the reasons we are doing this is because landowners in Loudoun County asked the Town to consider expanding the borders to consider annexing, and there is no similar language about the citizens of the Town. So, there is no language that citizens of the Town want this.”
Ogelman said this “struck me as inconsistent with the Town’s representative government, and in addition to that, this land that is zoned by the County already exists in the County … and the Town, with the absolution of PUGAMP, has said they don’t want to grow anymore.”
This was something that was significant in the election – referring to growing the Town. “There is no requirement to consider areas outside of Town when reviewing the Comprehensive Plan,” he said. “The idea of expanding the Town’s jurisdictional limits, or considering to expand them, because landowners in the County asked us to do that, with no consideration to what the citizens in Purcellville want, didn’t ring true to me, and what I myself committed to in the election; and that’s why I wanted to bring it back.”
Council Member Doug McCollum disagreed, saying, “I think it is unwise to oppose this issue.” He continued, “We need to have a supply of land – mixed use, industrial and commercial have received support during the Comp Plan review.”
Developers have attended the review process and expressed their desire for expanding the Town.
Council Member Kelli Grim said the wording is flawed when “we are going to do something with our Comp Plan based on landowners, and not addressing our citizens and residents.” Grim pointed out that the Town has doubled in size in 10 years. “We are finding as we break this onion open, talking to our consultants, that there’s a lot of other policies that we can put in place, because if growth paid for itself we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. Developers have gotten carte blanche, and the citizens get stuck with the bill.” She noted that previous politicians have approved development that has not complied with the current Comp Plan.
“If growth paid the bills then we would have an excess of money,’’ said Council Member Karen Jimmerson. “Fairfax County has no more boundary. They have nowhere to go, so they are doing infill, and are facing a political cliff.” Jimmerson continued, “They don’t have any more land. For us, we have Mayfair, Catoctin Corner, Purcellville Gateway, and Purcellville Green – and all of those things did nothing to make a dent in our debt. They haven’t lowered our water bill, they haven’t lowered our taxes. And so, I can’t find any rational argument that I have to go expand my tentacles. Any resolution we have has to involve the current residents.” She also said that the previous resolution excluded the residents of Purcellville.
Mayor Fraser said that he supported the proposal to amend the language of the resolution. He said it does not “put a stop on saying that we will never consider annexation.” We need to be able to look at the entire landscape, and determine whether we have the infrastructure to support whatever decision we need to make.”
“Where in this resolution does it say we will never consider annexation? It doesn’t say it. It puts the citizens first, and I fully support it,” said Council Member Ryan Cool.
Town staff went back and forth on whether or not to delay the vote one month to notify the applicant – since staff had not done so. The Town attorney told Council numerous times that the Town would not be in legal jeopardy if they voted on the resolution.
Said Council Member Cool, “We are here to take action. We are not here to pontificate and talk all night. So people want the government to take action to do things.” Cool continued, “If we are not in fear of legal action, let’s do what the people put us here to do and take action. And I am happy to make the motion.” The motion passed 5-1-1 with Council Member Doug McCollum voting no and Chris Bledsoe absent for the vote.