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October 3, 2017

Because of opposition, Marshall dealerships pulled

The proposal called for two dealerships on 8.1 acres at East Main Street and Old Stockyard Road.
The last thing we would ever do is build something people don’t want.
— Carl Leckner, dealership owner
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Because of mounting citizen opposition, Leckner Ford of Marshall’s owner Tuesday dropped plans to build a two-dealership auto sales and service park in the Northern Fauquier village.

Carl Leckner wanted special permit approval to build a 19,800-square-foot structure for the century-old business and a 14,300-square-foot structure for a new Nissan dealership at East Main Street and Old Stockyard Road.

“The last thing we would ever do is build something people don’t want,” Mr. Leckner said of his decision to abandon the estimated $15-million project.

The Ford dealership occupies a two-story, 4,800-square-foot stucco building at 8323 W. Main St. The business services vehicles in a separate building.

Fauquier’s board of zoning appeals on Aug. 3 held a public hearing on the proposal. Though no one spoke during the hearing, the BZA postponed action for further study.

The board planned to resume the hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5.

“I reviewed the comments from the BZA and letters from the community that it wasn’t a good fit” for the proposed site, Mr. Leckner said Tuesday afternoon.

Citing no specifics, he said the community apparently “wanted something different” than car dealerships on the 8.1-acre site.

“I never thought I would upset anyone, ever” with the proposal, he said. “If we upset one person, that would be one person too many.”

In emails to county zoning staff, Marshall-area residents expressed a range of objections.

“I feel that the proposal was out of scale with this area, and I think that a location near Warrenton or New Baltimore would be more appropriate” Paul Cronin wrote.

“The last thing we need to see on entering this tiny town is rows of cars lined up outside a new dealership,” Debbie Taylor stated. “Don’t let this go ahead. We don’t want our little town to give the impression of a huge parking lot when people arrive.”

The proposal called for a storage area for up to 515 vehicles and a carwash, with detailing bays, that would serve the two dealerships.

“The proposed siting for this dealership is completely out of line with the established plan for the future of Marshall,” Michael G. Motion wrote. “It belongs in the industrial area and only there.”

Mark Ohrstrom, who lives between The Plains and Marshall, described the proposal as inconsistent “with the town character” and inappropriate. “It will jeopardize investments that have been made to renew and restore Main Street in Marshall.”

Zoned commercial, the property lies in Marshall “Southern Gateway.”

The service district plan “clearly states that auto-oriented uses, including dealerships and repair facilities, should not be part of the Southern Gateway area,” according to the staff analysis of Mr. Leckner’s application.

But certain changes to the proposal “would result in greater conformance with the” the district plan, the staff suggested.

Some of those changes relate to:

• Building and parking location.

• Building design to “reflect the rural, small town character” of Marshall.

• Limited vehicle display space.

• Landscaping along East Main Street and Old Stockyard Road.

• More and smaller buildings to contain the proposed uses.

• A “small pocket park.”

• Providing or allowing a mix of uses to include other “office space, business services or complementary retail.”

• Providing street lights consistent with others in Marshall.

Had he known the application would be so divisive or complicated, Mr. Leckner said he never would have pursued the project.

“My only goal is to be good to our community and employees,” he said. “I want to be part of the community.”

He has no intentions of building a new dealership in Marshall any time soon, Mr. Leckner said.

However, if a site “comes up in 10, 20 years and it fits the right area” he would consider it for a new dealership. “But only if the town wanted us.”

“I can understand” Mr. Leckner’s decision to withdraw the application, Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall District) said. “I’ve been hearing significant opposition.”

Opponents’ concerns include more traffic, utilities in the water-challenged village and the “size” of the proposed dealership buildings, Ms. McDaniel said.

“Marshall has a small-town feel and car dealerships have an urbanized feeling,” she said.

Critics associate car dealerships with “what you’d see on I-66 in Prince William County, for example,” Ms. McDaniel added. “The town doesn’t want to look like the I-66 exit in Prince William County or the I-66 exit (at Route 522) in Warren County.”

He remains committed to Marshall and providing quality service to customers, Mr. Leckner said.

The Ford dealership has existed for more than century and will for another 100 years, the 46-year-old Oakton resident said.

“We want to do what’s best for the community. As a company, we’ll grow when it’s time to grow, and we’ll find a better fit.”

Founded in July 2015, Mr. Leckner’s company has six other dealerships in Ellicott City, Md., King George, Stafford and Woodstock.

StaffReport LecknerFord 10-5-17 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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