Local developer Leonard "Hobie" Mitchel announced last week that he will leave his post on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, effective March 31.
Mitchel had been under fire for maintaining his seat on the governor-appointed body, which decides where state transportation funds are spent. Since Mitchel is a developer responsible for huge subdivisions like South Riding and Lansdowne, critics claimed his position on the powerful board was a conflict of interest due to his day job, where he stands to make a large profit if the county cooperates with his development plans.
In recent months, the pressure for Mitchel to step down has intensified as he prepared a large new subdivision proposal called Creekside just south of Leesburg.
The proposition was highly unusual in that Mitchel requested the county turn over the land set aside for a regional park for his development. In exchange, Mitchel would build Philip A. Bolen Regional Park on a different site.
FOUR WEEKS ago, as Mitchel made his Creekside presentation to the Board of Supervisors, he appeared to be handling the attention well.
"Sometimes being a lightning rod is how you get a public debate," he said at the time. "I take my public service very seriously."
Now, with plans to end his volunteer tenure on the Commonwealth Transportation Board at the end of the month, Mitchel said he's still committed to resolving transportation issues.
"My commitment to transportation will not change," he said. "It will simply continue from my private-sector involvement."
Vice Chairman Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac) applauded Mitchel’s work on the board.
"Mr. Mitchel is to be applauded for all the time, energy and money he’s brought to Northern Virginia for transportation issues," he said.
Tulloch added that he believed politics played a role in Mitchel’s decision. "Mr. Mitchel was the last standing Republican in a Democratic world [on the board]," Tulloch said. "It will be interesting to see how the governor handles it."
Mitchel was originally appointed to the Commonwealth Transportation Board under Gov. James Gilmore.
Chairman Scott York (I-At Large), however, said Mitchel’s decision was the right one despite the loss of a spokesman for Loudoun on the statewide board.
"Hobie has without a doubt done good work in the community and during his time on the CTB," York said. Still, the development proposals Mitchel had in the pipeline compromised himself. "This was the right decision to make."