The following text was taken from an email alert sent out on January 15, 2021. Sign up for PEC email alerts >>
PEC and Partners Stand With Aldie and St. Louis As Loudoun Considers Land Purchase/Exchange Deal
As you may know, in December the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors announced a land purchase/exchange agreement that would help preserve the historic village of St. Louis, but puts the historic village of Aldie in jeopardy.
Under this agreement, the county would:
- Buy a threatened St. Louis property from developer Mojax LLC for $1.5 million in cash, plus;
- Give Mojax 6.31 acres of county-owned land in Aldie (purchased by the county for $1.57 million in 2015) located along Route 50, adjacent to the current fire station;
- Serve as a co-applicant with Mojax in rezoning part of the property and waive the associated application fee; and
- Put $600,000 into escrow to reimburse Mojax for property improvements, including restoration of Aldie tavern and creation of a road to access another Mojax-owned property behind the property in question.
For the 6.31 acres in Aldie, known currently as “Aldie Assemblage,” Mojax is proposing a large commercial center with multiple buildings, including the tavern, shops, a brewery, a country inn, and a huge parking lot. This proposed “Aldie Park,” at over 34,000 square feet of commercial space, is larger than all existing retail in the village combined and is concentrated in one spot.
The Piedmont Environmental Council and our partners have significant concerns about the proposed transactions, the developer’s history of violating local, state and federal regulations, and terms of the agreement that seem to limit the county’s oversight of the development project should it go forward.
We are closely following the situation and are committed to keeping community members informed and engaged along the way, so that together we can protect the historic character of both St. Louis and Aldie.
What Happened at the Jan 13 Board of Supervisors Hearing
During the public hearing about the proposed transaction, I spoke on behalf of the Piedmont Environmental Council. I urged the Board to separate the proposal into two separate actions:
First, complete the stand alone purchase of the St. Louis parcels as soon as possible, removing pressure from the Aldie land transaction. Combining these two deals positions Mojax to hold the county hostage and puts both historic communities at risk.
Second, begin a community planning effort in Aldie giving residents the opportunity to share what they would like to see for the site, in the context of the overall village. During the public hearing, the Board of Supervisors called upon the Aldie community to articulate what it wants to happen on the properties. Pausing the Aldie portion of the transaction would give the county the time needed to gather community input.
About 40 community members spoke during the public hearing (listen to the recording). They raised a wide range of issues, questioned the scale and character of the Aldie development proposals, and consistently asked the board to separate the purchase of the St. Louis parcels from the Aldie transaction. The six people who fully supported the proposal included three Mojax representatives.
Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors voted to send the entire land purchase/exchange agreement to the Finance, Government Operations and Economic Development committee. Our hope is that this committee will help clarify significant unanswered questions about Loudoun’s financial and legal responsibilities, Mojax’s appraisal for the properties in question, and other elements of the proposal that could be detrimental to the future of Aldie and its community members.
The Finance, Government Operations and Economic Development Committee generally meets on the second Tuesday of the month, which would be February 9. With budget deliberations starting in February, it’s possible that date will change. Once scheduled, this public meeting will appear on the county calendar.
County Attorney Leo Rogers said that he has previously met with residents concerned about the Aldie transaction and will meet with others next week to discuss additional questions and concerns.
The Board of Supervisors said it will explore a separate proposal from a long-time Aldie resident who is offering to purchase the Aldie property.
What You Can Do Now
Stay tuned for updates from PEC, and community partners like the Aldie Heritage Association, Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area Association and the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with local residents for a better outcome in both villages and help folks stay informed!
Loudoun Field Representative
The Piedmont Environmental Council