Public Hearing September 12 To Restore Historic Protections

Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the Purcellville Town Council have initiated text amendments to the height standards in Purcellville’s C-4 commercial zoning district. The proposal seeks to undo a controversial 2008 change that increased allowable building heights in historic downtown. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall. All interested parties are invited to attend.

The building heights in this district – which includes the historic Nichols Hardware streetscape – were raised as a special accommodation for the mixed use residential/commercial development known as Vineyard Square. The change was resisted by Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review as incompatible with the integrity of historic downtown, but overruled by the Mayor and Town Council in office at the time.

Under these changes, basic building heights were set at 35 to 45 feet, but went up from there, allowing for the construction of buildings as high as 60, 65 and even 75 feet. Special rules allowed for the maximum height level as long as 50 percent of a building’s facade was lower. These rules gave the zoning administrator the power to grant “an administrative modification” of the height limitations as well, if the developer, for example, was able to show this would “better accomplish the intent and purpose of the district.”

The proposed text amendments would retain a basic building height of 35 to 45 feet. Public or semi-public buildings (a school, a church, a library, for example) can go up to 60 feet. No 65, 75 or higher buildings. No “administrative modifications.”

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