The Middleburg Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on July 27, 2020 for the Banbury Cross residential development application, which had its first public hearing in September 2019.
The application is for 28 clustered lots that are between 1 and 4 acres in size and 10 Rural Economy lots that are a minimum of 25 acres each. The entire development is on 570 acres that lay partially within the One Mile Subdivision Control Limits of the Town of Middleburg. It has been in a holding pattern since the Middleburg Planning Commission denied the application in September. In its rejection, the Commission required the applicant to fix many deficient and missing details that the Commission had noted.
Since then, Banbury Cross developers have made multiple changes to the plans and additions to the file, causing a significant delay that has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has also delayed Town meetings for a time.
As of June 26, a fourth version of the Banbury Cross application has been reviewed by Loudoun County. The overall nature of the proposal has not changed, nor have the site-specific concerns raised by the community. In its comment letter on the latest proposal, County staff outline three conditions that must be met, related to technical details on the site plans and compliance with the County Archaeologist’s memo. That letter says that once County staff have proof these conditions have been met, they will forward a conditional approval to the Town of Middleburg.
In a work session on June 29, the Middleburg Planning Commission repeatedly raised concerns over the potential impacts to its water resources. The question of how the Banbury Cross development will impact the Town’s water and sewer facilities and the viability of water resources on surrounding farms has not been adequately answered. Furthermore, not only will the Banbury Cross development have its own direct impact on these resources, the cumulative impacts from multiple users and new commercial proposals will increase drawdown on the local aquifer, putting the Town and neighboring farms further at risk.
As The Piedmont Environmental Council has reviewed the development and applicable ordinances, we have come to realize that county ordinances, as written, do not adequately implement the vision and goals of the Comprehensive Plan. Specifically, they do not adequately protect and preserve the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources that everyone in the rural area needs, and they do not protect the prime soils necessary for highly productive farming.
In addition to the water resource concerns for the Banbury Cross application, more than one-third of the prime agricultural soils in the development are under the clustered lots and open space area, rather than on the Rural Economy lots where the soils can actually be used for farming.
PEC continues to support a conservation solution that would avoid the negative impacts on the Middleburg area, including on the water resources, prime soils and scenery of the area. We are, and will continue to advocate for stronger local and state regulations that protect the county’s vision for the rural area.
The public hearing details have yet to be determined. We will post an update once that has occurred.