The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors wants the Leesburg Town Council to make up its mind about how and when it wants the town to grow.
The prospect of Leesburg's expansion dominated a joint meeting Monday of the two boards at the Ida Lee Recreational Center.
The Town Council adopted a resolution May 24 asking the county to protect Leesburg Executive Airport from residential development on county land southeast of town. The request represented a consensus among Town Council members who are divided about whether to annex the land to give the town control over zoning.
After years of debate over whether the town should annex land near the airport or leave it in the county's jurisdiction, neither side has a clear majority. On Monday, several Town Council members appeared to favor incorporating land adjacent to the airport where the proposed Crosstrails development would be built. The Crosstrails proposal includes plans for offices, retail space, a hotel and 1,380 homes. But other council members, including Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd, were opposed, a conflict that frustrated supervisors.
"The county is not asking them to do anything other than make a decision on their future," Supervisor Jim E. Clem (R-Leesburg), a former Leesburg mayor, said after the meeting.
"We should have had a discussion prior to this meeting with the supervisors," said Town Council member Robert J. "Bob" Zoldos, who said he supports annexing only land whose owners want to join the town. "The council had no position on annexation, whether they wanted to or not, or how much it would cost."
The land could be incorporated by outright annexation, which allows the county to impose conditions, or through a boundary adjustment. The latter process could be more streamlined because it would not require the approval of a three-judge panel, as annexation would, and town officials would not necessarily have to appear before the Virginia Commission on Local Government, the agency that reviews boundary adjustments and annexations.
"I don't think it's in the best interests of Leesburg to keep expanding its land mass," Umstattd said after the meeting. "It becomes more difficult to maintain what we try to create in Leesburg -- a small-town atmosphere -- if it keeps growing."
Umstattd said she thinks that more homes will be built near the airport and that it would be best if they remained under the county's jurisdiction. Otherwise, she said, residents objecting to airplane noise might try to lobby the town to close the airport.
The Town Council's ambivalence was apparent to supervisors, who repeatedly warned council members that if they wanted to annex land near the airport, they should do it before it is developed.
"I'm not sure where they are on and annexation and why and when," Supervisor Jim G. Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said after the meeting. "They've got to come to some sort of conclusion."
Other supervisors expressed frustration with Leesburg's slow going on the issue. Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) urged the town to settle on the land it wants. "Put it on the table, and let's have that discussion," Tulloch said.
On other issues, the Town Council said it was willing to extend water and sewer service to the proposed site of Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park, a decision the supervisors welcomed. The park would have ball fields, restrooms and a concession stand, and there are plans for a yet unfunded recreation center. The council had been leery of providing water and sewer service for fear that the land would be not used for a park.
Umstattd said the Town Council would like to meet with the county twice a year, a suggestion received favorably by several supervisors.
"It forces us to deal with issues we would probably put on the back burner if we didn't have to meet with you," Burton said.