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EDITORIAL: Something is happening on Short Hill Mountain, and residents deserve answers

It’s been a year since we poked around Short Hill Mountain trying to explain something.

Residents who live near the ridge wondered what was happening there. It was hard to ignore the construction equipment that stripped trees from the ridge line, destroying the view, for the installation of something.


A data center? A communications relay station? A telephone transmission utility substation? Who knows?

Something. The double talk from AT&T, which is doing something up there, just keeps coming. County officials play along, complicit in the secret, redacting details from public records that disclose truth.

Bowing to public pressure, AT&T suspended visible construction on the ridge line. What AT&T didn’t disclose, at least publicly, was that it seems to have moved the project inside the mountain. A bunker.

All that AT&T -- or county officials, for that matter -- will now acknowledge is this: AT&T is renovating a Cold War facility with more modern and efficient technology. It contends the facility is a telephone transmission utility substation

A telephone substation inside a bunker? Really? In this county we’re too knowledgeable about communications systems, government installations and cyber scenarios to buy a cover story that insults our intelligence. What we do know is that something more is going on inside Short Hill Mountain, something with the code name “Project Aurelia."

“This is and has been a government site up there since 1963,” Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) told the Times-Mirror last year. Higgins, however, would not comment on the “Project Aurelia” documents filed with the county. Nor would Ricky Barker, the county’s planning and zoning director.

With cover from the county, AT&T is at it again, rattling nerves and fueling speculation about something inside Short Hill Mountain. The silence from our elected representatives is deafening.

In coming weeks, the county is expected to approve the final land-development application of the secret project, a document exempt from public disclosure. Accountability and explanations should come first. It’s the secret, not the knowing, that raises suspicions and fears.


If it is associated with a federal government facility, it still is required to do an environmental review—as did Mount Weather recently. So where is the review of the impacts to steep slopes, water quality and quantity (hard to come by in those parts)? There should be federal documents available to the public.

There are many underground facilities in the county housing circuits for Pentagon and White House. Has been for many years. Now, I will have to kill you all….bwahahaha…


I say BRAVO Loudoun Times mirror - if it was so secret there would not have been public meetings held last year with hundreds of people in attendance. 

Frustrating, as once again our county is selective with the truth it tells its tax payers.  All in the guise of economic development .

Western Loudoun will not benefit from this “communications centre” or whatever it is.  We have no decent internet out here and limited phone service.

I say there has indeed been something there for years but no need to build it 35 foot high and ruin the mountains and people’s view.  Go underground and be done / then all the attention would go away.

How in earth cannot be secret if it’s built like an eyesore for all yo see!

AT&T did not plannthis smartly nor honestly from the beginning and neither did our supervisors, surprise, surprise.

What is the matter with people in LC??  Especially
western LC where i live??  Its some sort of underground government facility that has been there for 1/2 a century.  Get over having to know every little detail every time you see a tree cut down. Be thankful that we have a thriving economy in LC and that the federal govt. contributes to that economy.  Everybody needs to mind there own lives and property and stop worrying about what everybody that you can see through high powered binoculars from your rooftop is doing.  There are laws and regulations out the ying yang in place to govern these projects.  Go enjoy our wonderful county in our wonderful country instead of worrying about what is going on inside Short Hill Mountain.

““This is and has been a government site up there since 1963,” Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) told the Times-Mirror last year. Higgins, however, would not comment on the “Project Aurelia” documents filed with the county. Nor would Ricky Barker, the county’s planning and zoning director.”

I imagine that a local Santa Fe, NM. newspaper might have published a similar story in the 1940s about something secret going on in the mountain top now known as Los Alamos, or some other local paper reporting on some other secret location.  Did your editor check with the Pentagon or CIA before publishing your story?

If this ‘is and has been a government site up there since 1963’, then the media should not be divulging possibly sensitive information about it to the general public.  The public’s safety trumps the public’s need to know everything about what our government is building/doing at any time.  Responsible reporting needs to resurface in our country.

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