Editor: Regarding the June 27, article “St. Louis Residents Plead for Protection from Developer,” the Board of Supervisors is the last bastion to save St. Louis from MOJAX developer Jack Andrews.
Andrew is violating state law and gaming the system to avoid the rules so he can build and flee, leaving the residents without water, an historic black cemetery decimated, an invaluable public heritage destroyed, and the county taxpayers to clean up the mess.
And County Attorney Leo Rogers is facilitating this mess. Why isn’t attorney Rogers insisting on compliance with state water resource law? Virginia State Board of Health regulations state the goal of ensuring, “…that all private wells are located, constructed and maintained in a manner which does not adversely affect ground water resources, or the public welfare, safety and health…” 12VAC5-630-30. It has been shown that the development will ruin already depleted water resources for the entire town.
Although Rogers states Virginia law permits localities to buy land “for any public use,” he claimed there was no identifiable public use of the St Louis property. Rogers is an attorney; as such his job is to find a way under the law to approve a public use to buy the land if that is what the BOS would like to do and inform of the legal consequences. His job is not to tell them they can’t do something with a vague “I don’t think that’s legal….” Isn’t saving the public the future tax expense to fix the easily foreseeable water resource problem a public use? Especially when, at this point, it’s a foreseeable problem?
And Rogers, who met with MOJAX representatives and helped work out the defunct Aldie Tavern deal to exchange that property for St Louis, now says he is concerned about the county’s legal authority to buy that St Louis land outright. Why was the exchange ok to use in the Aldie Tavern deal? Has the law changed?
And why isn’t saving a historic slave and black cemetery an essential public use? The property could become a shining example of the exercise of public trust with multiple benefits: protecting water resources, the wetlands, the environment, and preserving an historic slave and black cemetery for the constituents, residents, and visitors to appreciate and applaud in the future.
Prohibiting the development rights of that property, and even buying the property outright, has so many public benefits that Attorney Roger’s vague speculation that there “…was no public use we could identify…” is specious.
Attorney Rogers should be advising on how these goals can be accomplished, not expressing a personal opinion (unsupported by specific law) on why they can’t. He argues that buying a by-right property is a bad idea because it will just move the development elsewhere. Really? As a resident of Loudoun County who wants its history and environmental resources treasured and preserved, and wants to see sound fiscal management, it looks like a good idea to me.
Judith Lafleur-Lovegrove, Purcellville