State Approves Purcellville’s Request to Sell Nutrient Credits

The Town of Purcellville is poised to bring in close to $2 million from its Aberdeen Property.

Town Attorney Sally Hankins Tuesday night told the Town Council the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality had approved the town’s plan sell 77 nutrient credits on 94 acres of its 189-acre Aberdeen Property. Hankins said the credits are marketable at a rate anywhere between $18,000 and $25,000 a piece—allowing the town to generate upwards of $1.9 million from the initiative.

Nutrient credit banks are simply farmland that is forested in perpetuity. The actual credits are regulated by the state and are sold to developers to help protect the Chesapeake Bay from stormwater runoff of impermeable areas.

Hankins said there are three viable options to proceed. The town could continue to own the credit bank—which is the actual forested land—and contract an outside entity to develop, manage and maintain it. The town could sell the bank to a third party—perhaps to the county, which Hankins said is developing its own credit bank at the moment. Or the town could continue to own the land but lease some of the rights to a third party.

The town staff will again brief the Town Council at the Aug. 25 meeting, at which point the council should take action on the project.

The drive to sell nutrient credits on the Aberdeen Property arose late last year when Acre Investment Management proposed to help the town place portions of the property in conservation easement, plant additional trees and generate the credits to sell to developers. Acre team leaders told the town it could generate $6,000 to $8,000 per acre of land placed in easement.

Hankins said the town did not partner with Acre because it proposed the town enter into a five-year lease, which would have meant the town would have had to maintain the credit bank past December 2024.

Selling nutrient credits marks the sixth project the town has considered implementing on the Aberdeen Property in recent years. It has discussed implementing a federal drone program, bringing in steeplechase events, leasing some of the property to hop farmers, allowing residents to bow hunt and fish, and installing a trail system for equestrians, hikers and bicyclists.

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