There is no better time than now to speak up against Loudoun’s suburban sprawl. As housing developments encroach westward, the few remaining small towns and villages are facing pressure from real estate investors and lenient cluster zoning ordinances to approve such subdivisions. The decision on whether or not to trade prime farm land for residential communities is becoming a real, hard-pressed topic – especially for the many small farms trying to operate in the shadow of suburbia. It is time for the residents in and around Middleburg to actively participate in their prospective town hall meetings and/or city council discussions.
July 27th will be one of those opportunities when the Middleburg Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and vote on a proposed 38-home subdivision along Sam Fred Road called “Banbury Cross Development.” As the co-owner of a working farm located just across the road from this proposed subdivision and someone who believes strongly in preserving our rural lands, I feel obliged to encourage community engagement.
My family’s property is representative of the many hard-working local farms scattered throughout western Loudoun. Along with many others, we have been working diligently on more sustainable and efficient farming practices. I would like to elaborate on these improvements that way Loudoun’s residents can appreciate the hard work that goes into horticulture, raising livestock and the many other farming practices. My family’s income is based on agricultural activities, specifically raising/selling beef cattle and boarding /training racehorses and foxhunters. As of lately, we have been growing specialty crops such as garlic on a much larger scale than before. Please note that there are no ‘deep pockets’ supporting our activities. Rather, it is our own hard work alongside a few employees that maintains this treasured land. We are motivated by our love for the open space, nature and the culture of the area.
Along with dedicating our time to true farming practices, our family placed 1,075 acres of land in a VOF Easement, making a promise to the community that our farm would never be used for a cluster housing subdivision or commercial buildings. In addition, we have worked with the company RES to place 284 acres of Sunny Bank Farm into the Wancopin Creek Mitigation Bank, covering nearly nine miles of stream channels along Wancopin Creek and several tributaries. RES is also working with VDOT on a Wancopin Creek Stream Restoration Project to reduce nutrient and sediment discharge in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. My family is proud to say that the ‘multiple layers’ of land and water protection on our farm will make a permanent environmental contribution.
Our hydrogeologist, David Buss Ph.D., has raised serious questions regarding the effects the Banbury Cross development could have on nearby properties as well as on the Town of Middleburg. As the neighbor with the longest contiguous border with the proposed development, about one mile, we have a special interest in opposing this development.
In closing, I would like to remind the Middleburg Planning Commission that both the county and the town are charged with reviewing the Banbury Cross Development application and deciding whether or not to grant approval. Neither should delegate that responsibility to the other. The Middleburg Planning Commission should carefully review the application as they are obligated to do what is in the best interest of the town’s citizens. In particular, they should carefully review the developer’s hydrogeological report and consider the problems related to the water supply identified by our hydrologist that were brought to the County’s attention and not addressed.