Committees at a Glance is a new feature of the Blue Ridge Leader informing our readers about the inner working of local government and how actions and decisions impact our everyday lives – from our tax rates to that new development we see going in down the road. For this first edition we discuss recent actions and discussion by the Town Of Purcellville and several of its key committees for the month of May.
Town of Purcellville Ways and Means Committee Meeting, May 7, 2012
l Topic: Appointments To The Purcellville Planning Commission
Purcellville’s Ways and Means Committee went into a closed “executive session” on May 7, 2012, to interview candidates for various town committees, commissions and boards. (Note: Prior to 2011, all such interviews were conducted in public.)
Following the closed session, at the May 8, 2012, Town Council meeting the Town Council voted unanimously to appoint Ben Packard to the Planning Commission, and Gregory Lehr* and Daniella Harris to the Economic Development Committee.
– Topic: Possible New 70-Acre Development Known As “Valley Springs II” – Across From Blue Ridge Middle School On A Street & Maple Avenue/Lincoln Road
Now out of executive session, developer Joe Bane came before the Ways and Means Committee, along with Mike Flannagan (president of Virginia One Development) and Bruce A. Griffin of Blue Ridge Realty**. Mr. Bane stated in the meeting that he had been asked by the town to discuss constructing a senior citizen complex at the Valley Springs II location. (Note: Valley Springs II is currently outside the town’s boundaries and zoned for 26 homes. If this property is annexed by the Town [or the town decides to provide water and sewer to the property], the zoning is likely to change from residential to commercial, “I want you to think apartment complex,” said Mike Flannagan. In this case, they are considering a for-profit low income housing development in partnership “USDC” (taxpayer subsidized affordable housing). Purcellville qualifies because of population. In addition to an apartment complex, they would like to have assisted living, an Alzheimer’s care nursing home, and cottages. Councilman Wiley said that he would like to see all three as one big complex plus cottages. Bruce Griffin said that he had met with Valley Health and Inova*** and that “They are the operators.” He said he had met with the CEO of Inova and that Inova “wants to get into assisted living”.
l Topic: Tax Breaks For Developer Pushing Old Town Purcellville Tourism Zone Hotel
The Ways and Means Committee also discussed Purcellville’s” Old Town Tourism Zone,” indicating that they wanted to move forward with the zone and its special tax breaks, and a map with 17 identified parcels was handed out. Mayor Lazaro recommended that the Tourism district proposal go to the Economic Advisory Committee. At the Town Council Meeting the next day, on May 8, 2012, the Purcellville Town Council voted unanimously to pass the Tourism Zone, but selectively reduced the parcels that would be in the newly created zone to just five parcels. Full parcels belong to developers John Chapman and Mark Nelis, while other right-of-way parcels belong to Bob Lewis – according to tax map information. The Chapman/ Nelis parcels are intended to be developed into a hotel and parking garage. The newly created zone would provide tax incentives and regulatory flexibility. Waivers could be considered for the following taxes: BPOL?taxes, meals tax, permit fees and availability fees, and transient lodging tax. The waivers would last nine years and the businesses would pay the taxes and then be reimbursed with a grant from the town.
The Purcellville Economic Development Advisory Committee Workshop Meeting at the Train Station, May 16, 2012
l Topic: the Committee’s “10-Year Wish List” On Increased Commercial Development And Attendant Population Growth
The meeting was facilitated by Councilmember Greg Wagner – Town Council liasion to the Advisory Committee. This committee is comprised of in town residents and out of town residents.
This work session was held to discuss economic goals for the town. And, while the purpose of the committee is to stimulate business activity through growth, there are few actual parameters put on that business activity, including how big the town should get, where growth should take place and what kinds of businesses are most conducive to Purcellville’s essential character.
Committee member Lauten said that it’s about bringing money into town and that “jobs are not the whole story.” Another committee member, Daniel Abramson said that it is all about “creating community and a better quality of life” and that “Purcellville is short on services.” All members echoed that they wanted an emphasis on tourism, with specific and repeated references to the Chapman/Nelis hotel. Committee Member Ian Paterson would like to see all houses on Main Street go commercial as a goal for the future – with a possible name change to “Professional Road.” For the future, others said they would like to see the Big Box stores come to Purcellville – mentioning corporations such as Target and Walmart. Still others said they would like to see a processing plant for agricultural products.
They would like to see commercial traffic increase by 50 percent annually, and decrease people leaving town to shop by 20 percent. Budget wise, their goal would be to realize 40 percent of tax revenues from businesses – more than doubling Purcellville’s current business tax base.
Committee members would also like to see the town population increase by 9,000 residents over the next 10 years – more than doubling the size of Purcellville.
Purcellville Infrastructure Committee Meeting, May 30, 2012
Topic: 21st Street Construction
There was discussion from citizens as to why the town wanted to tear up 21st Street, including lowering the grade, making the sidewalks wider and narrowing the street. Developer John Chapman said that the town had already had several “charettes” and that the community wants it. (Note: The charettes were held ten years ago. The discussions were about making 21st Street a one way and putting in parallel parking, with no mention of lowering the grade and widening the sidewalks.) Purcellville resident Kelli Grim added that the town just created a tourism district for his properties on and behind 21st Street. Many belief these are the reasons for the 21st Street changes, which would seek to accommodate a C4 district a hotel. There was also discussion to prohibit trucks of over 53 ft to travel on 21st street. The Committee decided to talk to business owners before making the decision. Some delivery trucks are hitting the bailards at the corner of 21st and 23rd.
* Gregory Lehr is the husband of Purcellville Town Council member Joan Lehr, who recused herself for the discussion and the vote. * * Blue Ridge Realty was involved in the lease/purchase of the old church building (now the Town Hall) and received approximately $350,000 from the town for “unspecified improvements” to the building before the town bought it. * * * Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro is employed as a Community Affairs Executive at Inova.