The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will continue discussing the future of the Aldie Assemblage proposal at Tuesday's finance committee meeting.
On Jan. 13, the board spent two hours on the item that involves a proposed plan to transfer the property rights of the 16.3-acre Middleburg Preserve II for the 6.31-acre Aldie Assemblage in the village of Aldie.
In December, the board directed staff to begin acquiring 16.3 acres of land in the village of St. Louis for $1.5 million. The land is commonly known as Middleburg Preserve II. The move was made in conjunction with the board's decision to transfer land around the abandoned Aldie Tavern to a developer. Part of the deal is placing the 16-acre property in St. Louis under conservation.
Plans for the Aldie Assemblage include development and revitalization the Historic Town of Aldie. As part of the proposal, developers would restore the Historic Monroe/Woodburn Tavern, The Thrasher House and The Satterfield House.
Additionally, the plans include $600,000 being placed in escrow to provide a match for restoring the Aldie Tavern, and developers would install an entrance road from Route 50 to land behind the tavern that is under a conservation easement.
County Attorney Leo Rogers said the 6.31 acres are split zoning -- agricultural (A-3) and rural commercial. He said the developer will be required to provide a concept plan before any development is allowed on the property. The plan will not include any residential development.
The board previously moved away from using the Aldie site for a new fire station. The county’s Historic District Review Committee denied the county's application to demolish two structures in order to build the new fire station.
Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), who represents the area but was absent for a recent vote on the matter, urged the board in an email not to take any further action out of concern with the developer’s list of violations, including illegal and unpermitted land disturbances.
Buffington said many of his constituents, local organizations and towns have contacted him expressing their distrust with the developer, Jack Andrews, and their opposition to coupling the Aldie Assemblage to any deal related to the Saint Louis property.
“The information provided from staff shows a long record of negative experiences between the county and Mr. Andrews. That coupled with the fact that Mr. Andrews recently backed out of the deal we thought we had with him regarding the Saint Louis property has led me to conclude that the county should not allow Mr. Andrews to purchase the Aldie Assemblage property,” Buffington said in an email.
In terms of the environmental issues against Mojax LLC, owned by Andrews, for the work at the Middleburg Preserve property, the board was assured by development’s legal team that they are making amends, according to Andrews' attorneys.
Matthew Clark, an attorney representing Mojax LLC, said documents, including a map from Army Corps of Engineers, did not show any land in question was considered wetlands. He said Mojax LLC’s action was not intentional.
“This was not some flagrant intentional violation of the environment or the destruction of wetlands. It was entirely unintended, and they are making amends for it,” Clark said. Clark said the criticisms against Andrews are unfair and largely unfounded.
James Campbell, an attorney representing Andrews, said his client is eager to get the project underway and is committed to the concept plan.
"[Jack] believes there is some force at play that does not want this part of Aldie, and that area where the Indian Spring Trail is, to be preserved so that the public can visit it and enjoy it. And the center piece of his proposal is to create a destination where people can come, have good meals, visit the arts and walk the land to enjoy those natural resources,” Campbell said.