The Loudoun County School Board on Dec. 3 ended difficult negotiations with the landowners of the Lim and Park property that would have allowed for the construction of an elementary school in Ashburn.
The action stopped all activities relating to the pending condemnation of the property.
The School Board had voted June 25 to use eminent domain to acquire the 17-acre site off Belmont Ridge Road where ES-27 was slated to be build.
According to a Times-Mirror report in June, the property owners had received an undisclosed offer of $4.5 million at that time. The School Board had offered $1.5 million, and the county assessor had valued the land and the single-family home on the property at $2.18 million. The Lim and Park trustees made a counteroffer of $3.75 million to the School Board.
School Board member Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) explained the reasoning behind dropping the property from consideration.
“I am sure constituents have questions as far as why we are backing out of this process now. Effectively what you have is landowners are trying to get the highest price and we are trying to get a reasonable and fair price,” Kuesters said. “We used the tool that we had in the form of eminent domain which is afforded to government both local and state to try and do our job which is site schools and get land.”
While the School Board was trying to use eminent domain, the landowner has other ideas, instead entering into a contract with a developer.
Kuesters added the landowner was asking for an unreasonable price for the property, and there seems to be a misperception among property owners.
“People seem to think that the School Board seems to have these deep pockets because taxpayers are willing to pay more than land is worth and essentially the land owner overplayed their hand so we have decided as a board that it is not worth pursuing anymore,” Kuesters said.
The property is currently zoned for one-acre lots, but is by-right for schools, meaning no special exception would have been needed for school construction.
“It is a great location. I certainly hope the contract they signed comes through, although it is contingent on some rezoning that will have to be done by the Board of Supervisors that, quite frankly, I think it's dead on arrival,” Kuesters said. “I think the landowner may know that and if they don't, then well, now you lost out on selling to a potential buyer. So that said I will say this is the right thing to do at this time for the taxpayers of Loudoun, and we will move on.”
Staff Writer Alanna Dvorak contributed to this report.