The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has ruled that there is no evidence of material contamination at the Gable Farm “personal recreation field” east of Hamilton in Loudoun County.
In the meantime, the county is seeking a corrective plan from the property owner to address the stockpile for top dirt and asphalt millings, which are considered for commercial use and violate the approved plan.
The inquiry comes after the 18-acre property originally approved as “personal recreation field," or a polo field, turned into a stockpile, according to the county officials.
Yet, DEQ Land Protection and Revitalization Program Manager Richard Doucette said, “Based on what we saw, we didn’t see anything that would be considered a violation.”
DEQ officials said the fill at the property contains soil, bricks, asphalt, concrete and rocks. Additionally, a nominal amount of woody vegetation, silt fence fabric and a lightweight plastic called polyvinyl chloride was found. Staff did not observe any evidence of contamination such as an oily sheen or chemical odor.
DEQ’s assessment follows a video published at LoudounRuralLandfills.com that was released in late February. The video describes the site as "intrusive, potentially harmful and potentially very lucrative." The creators questioned the land use approval and whether there could be similar issues at other sites if the county doesn't adopt stronger regulations.
Residents in the area have questioned the height, volume and contents dumped on the “personal recreational field.” They have also voiced concerns about the surface and ground water quality at the farm.
“I’m not particularly pleased with what DEQ said, but it’s not my call,” Town of Hamilton Mayor David Simpson said, adding that one of the areas he and his citizens are concerned with is the amount of asphalt and the water leaking from the site.
County officials sent the property owner at least two violation notices in 2017 and 2018 and told him to discontinue all activities until corrections were addressed.
Catoctin District Supervisor Geary Higgins (R), who represents the area, said at Tuesday’s board meeting he had not seen the DEQ memo, but the case “has not gone unnoticed.”
Higgins said he and board colleagues attempted to address similar cases in previous years by revising county regulations.
Gable Farm filed its recreation field application in October 2015.
“If this application had been in after the regulations were changed this would not have happened, and this is why we changed the regulations,” Higgins said.
Loudoun County Public Affairs and Communications Officer Glen Barbour said the county is still waiting on a revised plan from the property owner, James Gable, to address the stockpile. The plan is to include high and low spots that will be cut or filled; total amount of dirt to be taken from the site; narrative stating where the fill will be taken; and seal and signature of a licensed professional engineer.
County officials said failure to conform with permit approvals will result in additional actions, including potential legal action.
Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D) said the Board of Supervisors needs "to commit to updating our zoning ordinances" to address concerns.