Letter: Martha Polkey, Lucketts

Editor: There are many stories of how land speculators, developers, and land use lawyers, playing the long game, eventually get what they want in Loudoun County, despite citizens’ well-articulated desires for a different outcome. 

Here’s one, which provides a lesson and warning that voters in the Nov. 5 election should heed. Its cast includes: 

• former state delegate Chip Dicks, a speculator and land use lawyer in Richmond

• his friend and legal representative Randy Minchew, a Loudoun land use lawyer and former state delegate who is hoping to regain his seat in the legislature this November

• Loudoun supervisor Geary Higgins, who is running for state Senate. 

In July 2018 they wrangled a special exception to the county’s zoning laws to build what will be one of the largest new gas stations in Loudoun—right at the gateway to Loudoun’s historic and scenic Rt 15 National Scenic Byway, and right atop fragile geological features that normally would have barred ever putting large underground fuel tanks in a place where they could threaten the Potomac River and local groundwater supplies.

Dicks, as agent for applicant Leesburg Landing North LLC, claimed the owners were going to build a wonderful tourist welcome center with a tourism kiosk and ample space for locally made products. Dicks and Minchew showed citizens beautiful architectural drawings of a unique historically designed structure that blended into its surroundings. 

On Oct. 2, Lucketts-area residents learned the truth: approval in hand, the owners promptly flipped the property, at a nearly 1000% profit. The real plan for the site? A 7-11 chain store.

The new owner? The same owner that tried and failed 16 years ago to have the parcel rezoned before selling it to what is now clear was just a front company to steer the rezoning though the political process.

There’s outrage and disgust in Lucketts, but little surprise. 

Citizens knew that there was something fishy about a $24,000 “donation” made by Dicks to Visit Loudoun in the midst of the process.

They knew that something was wrong when Dicks refused to supply the Loudoun Zoning Administrator with a copy of the complete geological studies he claimed showed no geological issues on the site—despite ample evidence to the contrary that citizens tried vainly to raise with county officials.

They knew something was wrong when the Board of Supervisors rushed to approve the special exception on an 8–1 vote (Chair Randall the lone opponent), ignoring a pending appeal by citizens before the county Board of Zoning Appeals—which according to Virginia law must be heard before any such vote can take place.

They saw how Supervisor Higgins ignored a 400-signature petition from his Lucketts-area constituents against the gas station and instead enthusiastically backed Minchew’s and his client’s scheme. The politically well-connected Minchew subequently backed Higgins’s state Senate bid. 

This election, in Lucketts and across the county, is about electing officials who will put citizens and Loudoun’s threatened resources ahead of their own personal profit and political ambition.

Martha Polkey, Lucketts

2 thoughts on “Letter: Martha Polkey, Lucketts

  • 2019-10-28 at 2:28 pm
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    I could care less about a gas station on the upper portions of Route 15 North. But what I do care about is road safety. And having seen the outrageous misrepresentations and bully tactics of Ms. Polkey on road safety (as in her efforts to keep Route 15 North unchanged and on the list of one of the most dangerous roads in Loudoun County), I suspect that she is misrepresenting this situation as well. Funny what happens when one loses credibility, as Ms. Polkey has.

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