1. What are the top two issues/risks you believe must be addressed by the next mayor and council? What specific actions will you take to address them?
One of my top priorities is to minimize the current debt for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. I would seek solutions such as using current town assets to generate revenue. One possible solution is to sell effluent water - non-potable water - to construction sites.
In addition, I would continue efforts to bring communication companies to use the cell towers. We are currently working on bringing two new cell towers in town now.
I would work with the county on the new, the Park-n-Ride development and the Western Loudoun Recreation facility planned for the Mayfair community. Also, there are other funding possibilities, such as obtaining grants from local, state and federal programs to contribute to funding infrastructure projects.
Secondly, I would hold the line on growth-by means of annexation. For every dollar spent for a residential home, the cost to the taxpayer is approximately $1.62 in costs. The zoning ordinance is crucial for the town’s character and development. We are about to undertake a review of the current zoning ordinance, and it is important to have a strong council that will not allow inappropriate zoning that would eliminate our small-town feel. Also, we have to be careful for what is allowed along Hirst Road and the two undeveloped properties (O’Toole and DiPalma-Kipfer) on the southern part of town near Catoctin Circle.
2. Purcellville has a lot of empty commercial space and storefronts; what are your ideas for filling them?
Purcellville has a lot of new businesses in town and we welcome more new businesses that want to get established here. I would suggest that the Economic Development Advisory Committee collaborate with the property representatives, and pursue viable businesses to occupy the remaining empty spaces. The town should consider an ordinance against prolonged commercial vacancies. I will make sure we poll, or otherwise collect information from citizens, about businesses they would like to have in town. I would pursue creative strategies for attracting new businesses to Purcellville that would complement the character, interests and local shopping needs we have. Such businesses can enhance and reflect our small-town character.
3. What does Purcellville need commercially/industrially that it doesn’t have?
Purcellville could benefit by having more family oriented and teen focused businesses. Currently, there are few places for the teens to go to relax and have fun. Fortunately, the county is planning on building a Park-n-Ride and recreational center near Mayfair housing development which would possibly bring families and visitors to the Town.
A Solar Power company would be a nice industrial business for Purcellville. Local area high schools provide strong technical training programs and internships for such an industry.
4. What DOESN’T it need that people seem to suggest or want a lot (lookin’ at you, Costco and Trader Joe’s people!)?
We don’t need big box stores, Costco, Target, or Walmart, for example. Shops and businesses with a small footprint would fit into our small-town feel. We could always use additional mom and pop businesses. Many of my neighbors have expressed a desire to have Trader Joe’s come to Purcellville to fill one of the vacant spots. We may not get a Trader Joes but the Rite Aid building will be the home for Ace Hardware in the near future.
5. What are your ideas for reducing water rates?
Actually, it is not the water, it is the sewer that incurs the most cost due to the 2010 upgrade. The town could do a Request for Proposal to look at the possible benefits of outsourcing plant operations – like many other municipalities. Costs could be lowered by automating some of the operations, and selling town excess water capacity. We can also explore the idea of renewable energy to operate the plant. I supported many of the ideas brought forth by former Mayor Kwasi Fraser to monetize our assets, thus bringing in more revenue to the town. For example, the nutrient credit program brought in $920,000 dollars in revenue to the town.
6. Water plant debt is an important topic for residents; what are your thoughts on a Request for Proposal or study to look into numbers on privatizing the water plant to reduce costs and put more funds toward the water plant debt, and/or what are your other ideas toward reducing this?
A Request for Proposal (RFP) does not cost the town anything. It could really help us in determining plant efficiencies, and to see if this is something we would want to pursue. Middleburg and Hamilton, although much smaller than Purcellville, have hired the same company to take over their system. Middleburg has been using their current company for five years, at a savings of approximately 12 percent yearly compared with the previous company. Also, it seems these companies have experience working with local, state and federal agencies for grant opportunities. I do not think hiring a company to do a study on this issue is necessary.
Reducing water rates is possible by monetizing current town assets, and selling excess water capacity. As previously stated, if the RFP shows that outsourcing is beneficial to the town, then the savings earned value could be applied to the town’s debt as well.
7. Where do you stand on a block of the historic downtown being replaced with 5-6 story condos and a parking garage, and on similar applications for larger-scale development and buildings in town in the future?
I am against Vineyard Square even though it is a by-right development – in other words, approved zoning at this point. However, this would not have occurred if the current expired permits were not allowed to continue beyond their expiration date. I would not be interested in any similar type of development in the downtown area – or anywhere else in Purcellville. We are not One Loudoun.
8. Where do you stand on development of currently empty lots within the town limits?
Infill development would be based on citizen input. Development at existing vacant lots must benefit the community as a whole. This is the key to maintaining our small-town feel. In addition, we must be mindful of the zoning we give to these undeveloped lots, when we review the town’s zoning ordinance.
9. What are your thoughts on development and annexation of additional areas into Purcellville, whether residential or commercial, and your stance on increased revenues vs increased infrastructure stress (traffic, schools, emergency services, etc)?
Development is a two-edged sword. By that I mean there is property/land within the town limits that has not been utilized or converted for a beneficial purpose. This “infill” land can be developed with minimal impact on the current infrastructure, although additional resources may be required to support it. Zoning is essential to infill development. It is important that the zoning reflects the voice of the citizens. Smart development which benefits the community should always be an option, and not just for the personal gain of a chosen few.
Annexation would bring additional property into the town, thereby putting additional strain on an infrastructure already stretched to its limits. Annexation is not in accordance with the will of the citizens.
10. What does Purcellville need from the County that we’re not getting?
Purcellville needs to be included in the discussion for the development of Western Loudoun. With the 690 Interchange project ramping up, the proposed development of the Park-n-Ride and Recreation facility in the Mayfair community these projects will create additional traffic and other issues that require our input and addressing the concerns of the community would benefit all parties. In addition, we could access county resources by obtaining grants, infrastructure repairs, and a regional transportation study. The county should help with costs to maintain Fireman’s Field, including help with the upkeep of the Bush Tabernacle.
11. What is the County doing to us that we don’t need?
The county has given certain zoning uses in the Joint Land Management Area that adversely affects Purcellville – meaning some of the uses are too dense for county use and that is too close to our borders.
12. What specifically should Purcellville, the County, and/or COLT be working on together?
Purcellville, the County, and the Coalition of Loudoun Towns (COLT) should be working toward a solution to address the traffic issue of western Loudoun. At the present time there is one main throughway to the east or west and that is Rt. 7. It is a disaster waiting to happen. If there is a major need to evacuate this area all or most of the residents are stuck in place. So, we need to accelerate the Rt. 690/Rt. 7 interchange.
We should work together to have more county police presence in the town. Also, we should work towards finding more recreational opportunities for our youth.
13. This is your space to add whatever you wish about your platform: a specific topic you want to address, an issue you will strive to fix, or anything else you’d like to say.
Oftentimes candidates run on what is popular and convenient, and then once they are in office, they change this stance, and then execute their hidden agenda. I never could understand a person who could not stand by their word. I grew up in a time that emphasized that “Your word is your bond;” and that is what I live by to this day.
When I told residents “I will be your voice,” that is what I have done as a council member. Like so many residents, I moved here with my family because I love Purcellville, and its small-town feel. Each and every citizen is in my thoughts during this trying time for our community and the nation – with regards to the Coronavirus. I am supporting Carol Luke, Ron Rise and Mary F. "Boo" Bennett for Town Council. I ask for your vote in the November 8th town election.