The Middleburg Planning Commission conditionally approved the Banbury Cross Reserve project at their special meeting in August, citing the three conditions noted in Loudoun County staff’s final report. Per Middleburg regulations, the applicant has 90 days to fulfill the conditions. Local news media have reported a lawsuit challenging the title to the property, which would have an as-yet unknown impact on the project.
Here is a copy of the Town of Middleburg press release issued on August 11, 2020:
TOWN NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: William M. Moore, Deputy Town Manager
Planning Commission Approves By-Right Preliminary Subdivision Plat Application
MIDDLEBURG, Va., August 11, 2020 – The Town of Middleburg Planning Commission approved a by-right, ministerial preliminary plat application for a proposed subdivision located outside the Town’s corporate boundaries at its meeting on August 10, 2020. While no portion of this subdivision is within the limits of the Town of Middleburg, part of this subdivision, which is named Banbury Cross Reserve, is within one mile of the Town limits and falls under the regulations of the Town’s Subdivision Ordinance, which requires action by the Town’s Planning Commission.
Under Virginia law, a ministerial application is one that compels approval if all requirements of the applicable ordinances are met. In this particular case, the original application did not meet all the requirements, and the Planning Commission denied the application in September 2019. The property owner subsequently submitted a new application in January 2020, and the application was subject to review by the Town, the Town’s engineer, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Loudoun County. Each entity reviewed the application under their specific area of authority for compliance with their respective regulations.
The resubmitted application met all requirements of the applicable ordinances of each reviewing entity. As such, the Planning Commission voted to approve the Banbury Cross Reserve Preliminary Plat as mandated under Virginia law. The subdivision is being developed under Loudoun County’s AR-2 Zoning Ordinance regulations, which permit one lot per 15 acres when the cluster option is chosen. The Preliminary Plat shows 28 clustered single-family dwelling unit (residential) lots and 10 rural economy/residential lots, all in accord with Loudoun County’s Zoning Requirements.
The Town notes that this is not a discretionary land use decision, in which the Planning Commission could express preference for or against the proposal. As a ministerial subdivision application, the applicant merely had to demonstrate compliance will technical requirements. Specifically, the applicant provided a detailed analysis (in accordance with all County standards) that the water demands for the project will not negatively impact surrounding properties, including the Town’s municipal water supply. This hydrogeological study was reviewed and approved by the County – as the sole regulatory entity responsible for this portion of the application – and affirmed by third-party reviews.
The approval of a preliminary plat does not allow for development of the land. The applicant is next required to apply to Loudoun County with a Construction Plans and Profiles application, which involves more detailed engineering requirements. Upon approval of that application by Loudoun County, the applicant must apply for a final/record plat, which, upon approval, will formally establish each individual lot. The Town’s Planning Commission is also an approval authority for the final/record plat.
The Planning Commission is comprised of citizen volunteers who live within the Town of Middleburg. They represent a variety of backgrounds and disciplines and act on behalf of the Town in regard to Planning, Zoning, and Subdivision matters.
During the public review and public hearings on this project, it has become clear that aspects of the County’s Cluster Subdivision Regulations in AR-1 and AR-2 should be reviewed and amended. The Town Council has already identified this as one of its top 12 strategic initiatives, and the Planning Commission has emphasized its support of the County making amendments to the Cluster Subdivision Regulations. The Town calls on the Board of Supervisors to continue its expedited effort to review and amend the Loudoun County Zoning Ordinance as it relates to cluster developments in order to continue preservation of key, rural farmland and open space.
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About the Town of Middleburg
Located approximately 50 minutes west of Washington, D.C. in Virginia horse country, the Town of Middleburg has approximately 800 residents. Established in 1787 by Revolutionary War Lieutenant Colonel and Virginia statesman, Levin Powell, the Town was previously called “Chinn’s Crossroads.” Powell chose the name Middleburg because of the town’s location midway between Alexandria and Winchester on the Ashby Gap trading route (now Route 50). Middleburg remains a charming town frequented by visitors who flock to its luxury resort and historic inns, walkable tree-lined streets, signature shops, wineries, cidery/distillery and chef-driven restaurants. Middleburg was recognized in 2008 for its historic preservation efforts by being designated a Preserve America Community. For more information, visit www.MiddleburgVa.gov.