Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved

Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains was named for him, and why the rural character of historic Williams Gap Road should be preserved are all significant to our heritage, particularly to those living in Western Loudoun.

In the early 1700s, settlers moving west sought farmland along the old Indian trail roads. In 1731, Robert “King” Carter took out a land patent for his 13-year-old son George.

In it, the “Indian Thoroughfare” (now Snickersville Turnpike) was described as running from “Williams Cabbin in the Blew Ridge” to the Little River, at now Aldie. The fact that there was a squatter’s cabin at the Gap means that it was there before 1731. In 1743, George Carter owned 2,941 acres as part of the Manor of Leeds “at the lower thoroughfare of the Blue Ridge known by the name of Williams Gap, alias the Indian Thoroughfare of the Blue Ridge, including the same and the top of the ridge.”

In 1748, 16-year-old George Washington accompanied George William Fairfax to survey Lord Fairfax’s properties in the Shenandoah Valley. On his return trip in April, he wrote “Tuesday 12th. We set out of from Capt. Hites in order to go over Wms. Gap.”

A connecting road from Williams Gap to Leesburg was established in 1764. Known as the Williams Gap Road, it later was called the Leesburg Turnpike. After the Revolutionary War, Edward Snickers’ Shenandoah River ferry was reestablished by the Legislature in October 1786 on “the land of Edward Snickers at Williams Gap.” Later that year Williams Gap became Snickers Gap.

With this extensive history of Williams Gap Road, it is of the utmost importance that it not be paved. Please e-mail the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (bos@loudoun.gov), and tell them to remove the paving of historic Williams Gap Road from the 2018 Six Year Plan.

Henry G. Plaster
Chairman of the Snickersville Turnpike Association

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You all seemed genuinely surprised that the 60 some Catesby opponents in attendance at the October hearing would rather have a bed and breakfast, as opposed to a banquet and events venue at Catesby.

There are a number of reasons why:

  • Granting the exception does not limit their ability to exercise their by-rights ability to open a bed and breakfast in addition to the banquet events venue, so your action would actually enable the potential for more events, not fewer.
  • A bed and breakfast at Catesby is an acceptable use of their property, and in keeping with both the spirit of the comprehensive plan for Western Loudoun and with the nature of the historic, agricultural, and residential area it resides. A B&B would allow them to do what they want to do without needing to grant them a special exception.
  • If you approve this action, you will send a message that this is appropriate anywhere, and will set a dangerous precedent for other such inappropriate uses of property in fragile areas. Once this precedent is set, it will be difficult to deny any others.
  • The applicants have a right to try to make money from their property, but the surrounding properties have rights too. Having an events venue as opposed to a B&B will reduce property values dramatically. Studies have cited a 35 percent decrease for adjoining properties. Should the County approve the action, is it really fair that one landowner can directly cause the diminution in value for so many others?
  • Even if modified, the proposed commercial use will initiate a variety of actions that are intrinsically at odds with the local area and possibly in violation of state or federal regulations or statutes: Unpaved rural roads, an important feature and asset to the rural historic neighborhood are described in a study of record in the county application documents as inadequate to safely accommodate projected traffic loads and service vehicles without disruption to residential and agricultural patterns of use.
  • The impacts on the environment, including incursion or run off into flood plains and downstream impacts are as yet unknown. Late night operations will degrade the “dark skies” and amplified music will cross property lines at levels above the stated maximums allowed under county regulations.

We hope the board will consider that a large number of your constituents oppose this action (as evidenced by the turnout at the hearing, and how many times we rose when asked) and we implore you to vote no on the exception.

Citizens Opposed to the Catesby Project

It’s Our Right

On December 6, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a “Minor Special Exception” proposal we submitted earlier this year concerning our Catesby Farm property.

Unfortunately, our limited proposal has been met with an undue and unwarranted level of misinformation and mischaracterization by many opponents, especially those who seek to use this vote to make a broader and more complex point about growth in western Loudoun, rather than focus on the true and just merits of our minor and straightforward request.

In short, we are simply pursuing an option afforded us under the County’s existing Comprehensive Plan and its Rural Economic Development guidelines – that is, to host up to 20 limited events of less than 200 guests on our 200 acre-plus property over a 365-day period.

This involves no permanent construction, no impactful changes to the property or scenery, and no use of certain roads in proximity to the farm. It involves some temporary tents, temporary lighting and music, and parking – all located in the middle of our expansive property and away from others.

Importantly, we have made – during the course of this process – no less than 10 substantial concessions in an effort to address concerns, mitigate any potential impact, and demonstrate genuine good faith and understanding.

While we could have easily pursued an option to turn Catesby into a B&B enterprise, we deliberately chose not to – even though doing so would have afforded us the ability to host even more events and on a larger scale than what we currently seek.

Those who are opposing our efforts fail to recognize that, already across western Loudoun, dozens of enterprises already function as event centers – holding events almost every weekend, seeking to generate revenue in the same way we are. These include a multitude of local B&Bs, wineries, breweries, and others.

Which raises the question: why should our proposal be held to a higher, unfair and unequal standard?

Concerns have in the past similarly been expressed about venues in their nascent stages – such as Salamander Resort, Middleburg Film Festival, and Shadow Creek Weddings & Events – all of which bring in hundreds of people dozens and dozens of times annually. Yet all these venues have taken root in Loudoun to widely-acclaimed success and heralded as generators of jobs, needed revenue, tourism, and business pioneers for the area.

Our family has been a good neighbor and resident of western Loudoun for many years. We cherish the lifestyle and traditions of our special community. We want to open the doors of Catesby and share its beauty and heritage with others.

We have earned the right to pursue the same dream and mission others have pursued in Loudoun. We deserve the ability to carefully, smartly and prudently host visitors on our property to generate much-needed revenue to survive financially and reinvest in our farm to preserve it in its pristine state for our children and future generations to enjoy.

Loudoun County staff has recommended approval for our request. The Virginia Outdoor Foundation has indicated our proposal is fully in compliance with existing easements.

We hope others will see the many benefits of our request, and support us on December 6.

Michelle LaRose
Scott LaRose

Thank You All for Making the Halloween Block Party a Huge Success

Another successful Halloween Block party is now history. We must thank Mother Nature for absolutely perfect weather. Thousands upon thousands ascended on 21st street in Old town Purcellville in costume or to check out the costumes. We awarded over $2000 in cash and trophies to the best costumes in 6 categories. The Judges had some tough decisions to make this year. Let us give a Big Thank you to County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard, Purcellville Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson, Councilman Ryan Cool and Magnolias owner Shawn Malone. Great job Judges! For the 3rd year now Dave Wright was the MC who conducted all the festivities and also kicked off this year’s Block Party with a performance by Last Ham Standing, the crowd loved them.

The most important part of this event is the generosity of the sponsors; without them there would be no Purcellville Halloween Block Party. A big thank you goes to Mr. Ken Nichols, thank you so much for the use of your parking lot, where all the action takes place. Our Monster sponsors are Matt Bowe Build Design, Purcellville Pediatric Dentistry, Mountain View Medical Associates, House Paws Animal Hospital of Round Hill, Dominion Tea and La Dolce Vita Gelato. Also, Nichols Hardware, Catoctin Creek Distillery, Casa Tequila Bar & Grille, Western Loudoun Chiropractic, Bank of Clarke County, Long & Foster Lydia Clark, Nichols, It’s Bazaar on 21st Street, Hunt Country Jewelers, Atoka Properties, John Chapman Family, Town Council Member Doug McCollum, Magnolias at the Mill, and Middleburg Bank.

Thank you to the Friends of the Block Party for your donations, Dilzer Eye Care, Sarah Huntington Photography, Joy’s Dream Bakery, My Deli and Café, Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson, Town Council Member Ryan Cool, Town Council Member Kelli Grim, Town Council Member Nedim Ogelman, Town Council Member Chris Bledsoe and Raven’s Revenge.

A special thank you to the Town of Purcellville for the use of the Purcellville Police Department and the Public Works Department; Melanie Scoggins Manager Parks and Recreation and to our Town Manager Rob Lohr, your staff is awesome, we even saw you out there on the street lending a helping hand, Thank You.

Pictures from this year’s event are being posted on Facebook and www.PurcellvilleHalloween.com. Be sure to visit our webpage to see all the creative costumes.

See you next year,

Michael Oaks
Kim Patterson
Hillary Coley

Thank You from The Ladies Board of Inova

Thank you, Loudoun County and beyond, for making the 78th Annual Ladies Board Rummage Sale another record-setting success. With over $282,000 in gross sales, we are so grateful for the generosity of spirit and gifts from Loudoun County and throughout the region.

A volunteer described this event at Morven Park Equestrian Center as the “ultimate team effort.” A happy shopper wrote that this was “more fun than a day at Disney!” A single mother who spoke of living on a tight budget said, “I was in heaven in the children’s area. Not only does this help your charity, but it helps folks like me.” So how did we manage to raise this amount to support patient services at Inova Loudoun Hospital and our Nursing Scholarship fund?

Gently used (and often new) items were given in record quantity this year, from art and antiques to clothing and sports equipment. Four “Donation Days” at the Cornwall and Lansdowne trailers brought so many donors that volunteers were happily challenged to keep up with the steady flow.

Over 600 volunteers worked throughout the week at Morven Park, transforming the arena and adjacent buildings into the various Rummage Sale departments. They worked tirelessly to sort, price, and organize the donations, then warmly welcomed the thousands of shoppers to the sale. We were touched that so many students used their Columbus Day holiday from school to come and help with the setup. Special thanks to the Boy Scouts, Woodgrove High School football team, the Interact Clubs from Loudoun County and Heritage High Schools, and the Leesburg Daybreak Rotary Club for their assistance.

Local businesses and individuals contributed many gifts to the Silent Auction – Redskins tickets, a grandfather clock, golf certificates, and over 100 other items.

The items remaining late on Sunday afternoon were given to various nonprofit groups, such as Women Giving Back, Blue Ridge Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, and Blossom and Bloom. Loudoun County is blessed with so many worthy causes serving others.

Please mark your calendars for the 79th Annual Ladies Board Rummage Sale: Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, 2017. Again, our thanks!

The Ladies Board of Inova Loudoun Hospital

Bennett Will Move Congress Forward

Next January, a new President and a new Congress will be sworn into office. Over the last several years, the lack of cooperation between the President and the Congress has led to gridlock, with nothing getting done.

Whoever we elect to represent the 10th Congressional District must be able to help move Congress forward and take the necessary steps to make our government function again. Congress is facing issues, such as repair of the nation’s infrastructure, that are going to require bipartisan cooperation to resolve. What we need is fewer partisan warriors and more collaboration.

Our current Congressman, Barbara Comstock, is a well-known partisan, who walks in lock step with the Republican hierarchy. We cannot count on her to take any actions that might endanger her place in the party’s firmament.

We need a pragmatic newcomer. LuAnn Bennett has lived and worked in Northern Virginia for three decades. She understands our community’s values and priorities. She doesn’t think of compromise as a sign of weakness. We need LuAnn Bennett!

Sarah O’Neil

A New Location – But No Notification to the Neighborhood

It wasn’t until reading the latest issue of Loudoun Now that I found out Marty Dougherty has purchased 64 acres near my home with the intention of building his B Chord Brewery enterprise there. Unfortunately, I did not receive this information until after the hearing held on October 20. As I was not present at this hearing, my question is whether the “people living … near the property” who “have expressed support for his plans to build a farm brewery growing hops or grain on the property for use in the brewery” are aware that, at least as regards to his failed attempt to build his B Chord Brewery in Bluemont, Mr. Dougherty’s business plan also included daytime and nighttime festivals and outdoor concerts.

Perhaps Mr. Dougherty has now modified his ambitions for B Chord Brewery and truly does intend to build it as a ‘farm brewery’ this time – but there’s also the chance that, as with the Bluemont location, nothing is being said openly about the business plan including lighted, amplified, heavily-attended planned events. By omitting to openly mention this bit of information, perhaps Mr. Dougherty is hoping that the various applications and permits needed to proceed will go forth without neighborhood conflict – without the need for future hearings and proceedings regarding restrictions as to the accompanying heavy traffic, large crowds, loud music and annoying and intrusive nighttime lighting … perhaps.

There are still a great many individuals who believe in the honor of a handshake; with Mr. Dougherty and his ilk, I would strongly suggest bringing your salt shaker.

Sherrie Sidman
Round Hill

Comstock Supports School Choice

As a mother, I support school choice. I believe in unique educational opportunities for all children. No two children are the same, so they shouldn’t be forced into a one-size-fits-all education box. Parents should be given the opportunity to craft an approach to education that works for their child. For some, that may mean public schools with a specialized after school program. For others, that might mean a charter or parochial school. For other still, that might mean homeschooling.

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock understands the needs of parents because she is a mom. She’s watched her children grow up and she understands the difficult choices parents have to make when it comes to their child’s education.

In Congress, Comstock supported the “Every Student Achieves Act,” a landmark piece of legislation that expands school choice and supports high-quality charter schools. This legislation will empower local leaders to create the opportunities that their children need to succeed. 

Congresswoman Comstock understands that one-size-fits-all education solutions aren’t solutions at all. She’s been a strong support of choice for parents and students – and that’s why she’s my choice on November 8. 

Jamie Gahun

New Proposed Uses for Western Loudoun

If you live in the middle or western part of Loudoun where you enjoy a parcel of open space near your property (which probably was put into an open space easement as a condition of the approval for construction of the development), be on notice that those quiet natural or agricultural areas may cease to be so after a vote of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors this Thursday, October 20.

The Board will be voting again on permitting 18 new uses for these properties in open, adding noise, traffic, strains on water and septic systems, and activities inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the terms of many of the easements themselves. No outreach to affected property owners has been made. There are 290 such easements in 2,750 parcels covering 22,500 acres in Loudoun. Of these parcels, 694 are owned by homeowners’ associations and 2,056 are owned privately. Many residents will be affected.

The changes, proposed by the county’s appointed Zoning Ordinance Action Group (ZOAG, its members, mandate, and more can be seen at www.loudoun.gov/zoag , were rejected by the Planning Commission this summer after many citizens raised objections. But the group has once again pressed for these changes through the Transportation and Land Use Committee, which voted to send the changes to the full Board. There has been no analysis of the effects of these changes on neighborhoods—noise, traffic, etc., and no performance criteria for the new uses.

The new proposed uses for these farm fields and forested areas include restaurants, agricultural processing facilities, “agri-education,” “eco-tourism,” pet farms, tenant dwellings, and pick your own farms. To this list the ZOAG wishes to add breweries, wineries, private clubs, overnight camping for unlimited number of campers, outdoor amphitheaters, animal care businesses, antique shops, art galleries and more.
The preservation of these land parcels in open space or traditional agriculture as a condition of a developer’s permit to build is not only an amenity that those purchasing homes expected to be honored, it is consistent with the rural landscape as a vista to be enjoyed by all Loudoun’s citizens. Any changes to the permitted uses should continue to reflect the public interest.

To find out if your property is affected, go to lcpcc.downstreamnetwork.org/files/2016/10/Open-Space-Easements.jpg for a map of easements in the county. Then ask your supervisor vote against changes in permitted uses in these areas, and request that any future proposed changes engage affected citizens as a first step, and not after the deal is done.

Martha Polkey
Member, Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition

Bennett Knows How To Make Economy Work for All

In the election for the 10th District House seat, only one candidate has a more than three decades of success growing a local business. As the owner of a successful small business, LuAnn Bennett knows what is needed to improve northern Virginia’s economy and create good jobs.
Her family owned real estate and construction company has helped create job opportunities for more than 1,000 workers and generated millions of dollars in economic development throughout the local region. Her company has also been on the cutting edge of energy efficient and environmentally sustainable development projects.

On the other hand, her opponent has spent her entire life in partisan, Washington, D.C., politics. Congress could use more people from outside government who understand how decisions made – or not made – in Washington impact businesses and the economy.

LuAnn will fight for pro-growth policies to expand opportunity and make sure our economy works for everyone. She’ll roll up her sleeves to get Congress working again so that businesses have the certainty and stability they need to grow.

LuAnn supports:

  • Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, including creating a national infrastructure bank.
  • Increased strategic investments in science, technology, research and development that will spur innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Cutting the red tape that makes it difficult for small businesses to raise money and create jobs.
  • Grabbing hold of the economic opportunities that renewable energy sources and technologies bring.
  • Expanding access to high-speed internet in our rural communities

LuAnn Bennett knows how to build partnerships that contribute to a healthy business environment. She deserves your vote on November 8.

Sarah O’Neil

Kirkpatrick West Decision Could Prove Costly

Thursday’s [September 22] 5-3-1 vote by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Kirkpatrick West Commercial Center had larger implications on whether the Board intends to retain its ability to hold developers accountable for the increase in intensity of their projects as development expands both west and south.

The vote was a strong indication that some are willing to relinquish most of the Boards rights over the future development of thousands of acres of land that is currently zoned for low-density. While housing densities have been allowed to increase, approval is subject to oversight and scrutiny by the Board and the public at hearings.

The justification for approving the Kirkpatrick West’s 30 percent increase was shocking. Several Board members indicated that after the Comprehensive Plan process, which has just begun, much of this area will be included in the higher density Suburban Policy Area which will allow by-right development. In this case, the developer was permitted to build a gas station 100 yards from residents in return for basic safeguards of increased screening, operation restrictions and lighting limitations.

The Kirkpatrick West decision also signaled that that the cost of road improvements needed to fully mitigate resulting traffic congestion will be subsidized by the residents. The 1.2-mile two-lane stretch of road that feeds the center currently handles approximately 5,000 cars per day. Centers of the size approved last Thursday require four-five times the traffic. A last minute attempt to make the developer shoulder more of the cost of widening the road to four lanes failed.

Furthermore, this area of the county has the top two most overcrowded schools. While the increased size and upscale nature of this center will be a plus for many of the nearby residents, it is of the caliber that will greatly ignite home sales in the surrounding area – The Wegman’s Effect – and will also significantly expand its original intended market.

Should a decision be made to limit board control and muzzle the voice of residents when approving an increase in housing density or commercial intensity for thousands of acres, you better start checking the cushions of your couch for a lot of spare cash to cover the need to increase taxes.

Giovanni Coratolo
Founder, Save Braddock Road Task Force

Thank You for Your Generosity

Music, laughter, and dancing were the theme of the day at the LoudounLIVE Music Festival on September 10, hosted by the United Way of the National Capital Area. At the heart of the event was hope for the people of Loudoun whose lives will be positively affected because of the UWNCA’s generous contributions.

As beneficiaries of the $100,000 in grants this year, we thank you on behalf of the men, women, and children who will have a warm bed, receive fresh clothing, begin a new chapter of life, and learn new skills from the nonprofits that serve them. Your $100,000 in grants has an enormous impact on the organizations that were selected as 2016 grantees: The Arc of Loudoun Paxton Campus, Friends of Loudoun County Mental Health, Good Shepherd Alliance, Help for Others, Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS), Loudoun Cares, Loudoun Interfaith Relief, Loudoun Literacy Council, and Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers.

We also thank the sponsors of the LoudounLIVE Music Festival for supporting the Community Impact Fund. You, along with many generous individuals and corporations, make it possible for the UWNCA to provide grant funding for Loudoun’s nonprofit organizations. LoudounLIVE was also a wonderful kick-off to the UWNCA annual campaign.

Finally, thank you to the members of the UWNCA Loudoun Regional Council for your service and hard work planning this inaugural event. The Loudoun community is all the better because of your generosity and we can’t wait to see what next year’s event has in store.

Susan Khalil, Executive Director, Loudoun Cares
On behalf of the 2016 United Way NCA grantee nonprofits

Comstock Understands National Security

On 9-11, I attended three ceremonies throughout Loudoun County honoring and remembering those 2,977 souls that we lost on that day of infamy. Our Congresswoman, Barbara Comstock was also there with us at ceremonies in Lovettsville, Purcellville and Leesburg. It reminded me that Barbara has been working on these issues regarding the terrorist threats we face, since that very day when a best friend of hers was on the plane that hit the Pentagon.

Barbara understands how important our national security and defense are and she has been a leader advocating for and voting for increasing our national security and defense assets. In her leadership as a Chairwoman of the Research and Technology Committee she has focused on the need for additional cybersecurity resources also. She understands that Northern Virginia – and Loudoun in particular – is uniquely situated to provide for the new cybersecurity assets and workers that will be needed in the battles we face today. She has brought in local experts on cybersecurity and her leadership will allow our leaders in this important industry to respond to increasing terrorist threats here and abroad. There is bipartisan agreement in that we cannot sustain more defense cuts and Barbara is working hard to make sure that we increase funding – not decrease. And it’s not only important for our national security – locally it is an issue impacting our economy.

Geary M. Higgins
Catoctin District Supervisor