Oktoberfest!

Middleburg hosted its first Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, September 21, with friends and families in numbers more often associated with the Christmas season enjoying perfect weather, good food, beer, fine art, and artists in Middleburg at its early fall best.

Town Administrator Danny Davis called it “a fantastic day,” and a resounding success.”  Indeed, he noted, it “exceeded all of our expectations.”

“We heard,” he said, such excitement and enjoyment from the attendees, and the vendors were extremely pleased with the turnout and activity.”

Davis noted that “huge thanks” were due to: the Town’s Cultural and Community Events Committee for recommending the celebration; to the Middleburg Arts Council for seeing the vision and agreeing to blend Art in the Burg with Oktoberfest; to Town Council for approving and pushing this forward; to Old Ox Brewery for their investment in the community; to the Lions Club for bringing their Oktoberfest experience to our event, and to JP Events and Town staff for their organizational and logistical implementation of the event.”

“It truly takes a village, Davis continued, “and shouldn’t we thank God for the great weather?”

Council Member Peter Leonard-Morgan, who attended replete with Lederhosen, posted:

“It’s been 24 years since my last Oktoberfest and today’s event in @townofmiddleburg with @alilmorgan and @oldoxmiddleburg and @southerly_house and @kingstreetoyster and so many more was phenomenal.

The inaugural Oktoberfest keg arrived by horse-drawn wagon and was formally “tapped” by none other than Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton.

“Could not have been happier,” he told the Eccentric. “Middleburg’s inaugural Oktoberfest was an absolute success: Perfect weather, outstanding food, awesome beer, and great art brought out a truly unique experience for residents and visitors alike.”

Littleton noted that “special thanks” were due to: Chief A.J. Panebianco and the Police who kept us all safe; Town Administrator Danny Davis and his team at the Town office for all the hard work; the Middleburg Events Committee who planned and supported it; all the participants in the event and especially Old Ox Brewery without who this would have never happened. We look forward to seeing everyone next year!!”

Travellers Rest/Banbury Cross Reserve Subdivision

On Monday, September 23, following a standing-room-only public hearing, the Middleburg Planning Commission rejected advice from both the Town staff and legal counsel and voted to deny its approval of current plans for the proposed Travellers Rest/Banbury Cross Reserve Development just outside of Middleburg. 

The developers had sought approval of plans for development on 31 cluster lots and 7 rural economy lots on ca. 570 acres east of Sam Fred Road and west of Carter’s Farm Lane. 

The proposed “cluster” subdivision is permitted by right under Loudoun’s current zoning ordinance for development options in the agricultural zoning district. However, part of the development falls within Middleburg’s “extraterritorial jurisdiction area, ” thus allowing the Town to provide comments and recommendations for the County’s final consideration and review.

Citizens and friends of Middleburg packed Town Hall on September 23 to provide just such “comments and recommendations.” Fourteen spoke against the project, with Mayor Bridge Littleton first among them. No one spoke in favor.

At the meeting, both the Planning Commission and Town Staff found themselves somewhat “boxed in” by jurisdictional and other legal requirements, including one that meant a decision had to be made by Middleburg’s Commissioners no later than September 26. 

The lack of time to fully digest public input before making a decision, and what both the Commission and the public on hand felt were serious problems with the developer’s application greatly troubled the Commission.

Deputy Town Administrator and Town Planner Will Moore advised the Commission that, on strictly legal and technical grounds, they had little formal cause to deny their approval. Instead of voting for “full approval,” however, Moore advised that they grant only “limited” or “conditional” approval. By doing so the Commission could ask the applicant to re-submit their application and respond to the Commissions and Citizen concerns.

That posed a problem for the Planning Commission, however, because once even “conditional approval” was granted, any such re-submission by the applicant would not be made to the Commission itself, but to staff and relevant County authorities.

The Commission members, troubled, clearly believed and openly stated that they lacked both the time and enough critical information to approve the developer’s application as it stood.

This left the members with three choices:

1. Full approval of the application, which no one favored.

2. Conditional approval, favored by both Town Staff and, according to Will Moore, the Town Attorney, but which would bring to an end all oversight of the application by Middleburg’s Planning Commission, and

3. Denial of the application, with a request to re-submit it addressing the Commissions concerns…

According to Will Moore, option 3, denial, might result in a re-submission by the applicant, but more likely, they are filing a lawsuit.

After long and serious discussion, the Commission voted to deny its approval and provide the Traveler’s Rest/Banbury Cross applicant with a detailed list of concerns and objections to serve as the basis for a re-submission.

School Safety Patrol Badge Ceremony

In formal ceremonies at Town Hall Middleburg Police Chief Panebianco and Ashley Sullivan of the Middleburg Community Charter School presented badges to the latest class of Safety Patrol officers serving Middleburg Community Charter School

Parents and friends of the new officers hear Chief Panebianco remind Council that all the students being honored had volunteered for the assignment and by doing so “showed their determination to be a part of the community.”

Safety Patrol officers receive rigorous training to prepare them for their role in “preventing danger to other students.”

Steven Robinson, Principal of the Middleburg Community Charter School, thanked the students and their parents, noting that they were leading by example and working to develop character.

Warrenton Valor Award to Officer Ryan Gray

On behalf of the Town of Warrenton Middleburg Police Chief Panebianco presented a Valor Award to Middleburg Police Officer Ryan Gray.

Middleburg, he noted, seeks to hire the best employees possible and, in his view, most certainly did so when it hired Officer Gray.

In 2017, before joining the Middleburg force, Gray and three fellow officers in Warrenton responded to a call about a man seen with a gun. The officers pursued and arrested the man with the gun in such “a calm, safe manner” that the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce awarded them the 2018 Meritorious Award for Valor. 

Water Systems

Stuart Will, of IES, the Town’s water and sewer utility contractor, reported that work continues on the Town’s ever-problematic Well 4.

He also showed Council one of some seventy-two flow diffusers at the treatment plant, that were all clogged with softener resin.

Will noted that he was replacing the filters with better ones and that while even the new ones would continue to clog, they would not do so as frequently. Will also noted that “they were also trying to flush as much of the resin out of the system as possible”.

Town Administrator Danny Davis noted that the softener resin was not harmful and stressed that the water was safe to drink.

Draft Comprehensive Plan– Chapters I-VI

Mayor Bridge Littleton participated electronically from Hague, Virginia in Council’s discussion of the first six chapters of Middleburg 2019 draft Comprehensive Plan at a marathon meeting of Council on September 12.

Deputy Town Administrator Will Moore led what amounted to yet another chapter-by-chapter, line by line review of the Plan, which, after months and even years of work is finally near completion and approval.

Revisions to the latest draft, viewable in its current form on the Town Website, for the most part, comprised minor corrections in spelling and grammar.

Even so, Council broke for a meal in the middle of its review.

The last and arguably the two most important two sections of the plan, covering the Town’s Land Use and Transportation goals and objectives are to be reviewed at the next meeting of Town Council, at Town Hall, on September 26. 

Request for CIP Funding from Loudoun County

Loudoun County accepts requests annually from towns for funding for key Capital Improvement Projects, provided they are limited to “facilities owned or operated by the County but located within a town.”

Town Administrator Danny Davis reported that, based on his conversations with County leaders, he believed there may be opportunities for the Town to submit a request for CIP funding.

The construction of the new Town Office might qualify, he noted, if space, such as a meeting room, was made available within the building for “County” use. Sidewalk repair and/or extension project might also qualify. And, Davis noted, a case might be made for investment in the construction of a storage building for the Police Department, that having a local police department “relieved pressure on the County the Sheriff’s Department.”

Process for Appointment of Interim Councilmember

A special election will be held in May of 2020 to fill retiring Council member Kevin Hazard’s seat on Town Council. In the meantime candidates to fill the seat on an interim basis are being sought for appointment by Council.

Town Administration Building Project

Town Clerk Rhonda North reported to Council that she had drafted an RFP for architectural/engineering services for Middleburg’s proposed new, $6 million, Town Hall. She was also, she said, “in the process” of drafting one for construction management services.

Under ideal conditions construction could begin as early as September