On August 16 at the new Town Hall (7:00 p.m.) the Purcellville Planning Commission and Town Council will hold a joint meeting on a proposal to amend residential zoning to accommodate “Student Homes”. What is driving this proposed amendment? Patrick Henry College wants to rent available homes and put up to eight students and a Residential Assistant (and other employees) per home to resolve their obvious failure to properly plan for the needs of their expanding student population. Patrick Henry also appears to be in a bit of a time crunch; trying to gain approval using combined Planning Commission/Town Council meetings where minimal quorums for both can be gathered. Taking from a popular conservative broadcaster’s mantra, “Here is what you need to know”:
- The zoning amendment effects nearly every neighborhood in Purcellville.
- No analysis has been conducted to support their claim that the zoning amendment is “in the interest of public necessity, general welfare and good zoning practice”. (Give me a Break!)
- This is not good legislation as currently proposed. Its poorly written ordinance contains multiple pitfalls that could lower your home values and be further exploited if permanently enacted.
- The criteria under which the proposed amendment would be executed and/or constrained is woefully inadequate, and does not consider the infrastructure confines of many Purcellville neighborhoods.
- Residential areas with covenant restrictions will not be immune as those houses backing up to areas with no such restrictions may be more susceptible to having to put up with the fallout from this proposal.
Imagine the Used Car lot in the driveway next to you, the noise and the sudden increase in traffic. What kinds of economic and urban planning analysis has been conducted to warrant such as sweeping waiver of standing zoning ordinances (particulary to areas designated soley for single family dwellings). The answer is none.
Numerous reasonable alternatives to this amendment could provide Patrick Henry College an interim solution until such time as they can build adequate facilities on their recently expanded campus. For instance, the College could work with the Purcellville populace to establish cooperative student housing provisions for individual students (similar to hosting foreign students or when the town provides for the Little League Tournament’s needs). This could be of tremendous benefit to many upstanding local families (voters) in need of extra income during these hard economic times without stressing local neighborhoods. We have seen no such pursuit of an effort like this from Patrick Henry to overcome their self-imposed problems. Their approach instead, is to exert leverage on the Town Council and permanently burden the Purcellville populace. Make no mistake, this “Institution of Higher Learning” that specializes in the protection of individual freedom, is counting on your apathy towards your community to get what they want.
What do you think? Is this being done in the spirit of community partnership or does the need to house a few students, outweigh the needs of Purcellville residents? This amendment is simply not ready for prime time, nor is it good for our community. It solves Patrick Henry’s problem at our enduring expense.
Last Sunday, I spoke with several supportive local business owners and residents who all had very negative things to say about the Town Council’s lack of regard for their interests. Almost all expressed to me that my individual opinion wouldn’t matter. My response to this is simply that many voices are more likely heard than just one. If voters do not show up, we cannot hang this mistake on our Town Council’s shoulders. Please come to the Town Hall meeting on Thursday August 16 at 7:00 p.m. (be aware of sudden “changes” to the date/time of the meeting) to express your opposition to this amendment. We can find a better solution for all involved, if we get involved.