Letter: Rich and Katie Hammler, Leesburg 

Editor: Thank you to Kara Rodriguez for writing her article “Paxton Campus Vision Faces New Test.” (September 9, 2021).  We have been actively following the Paxton INMED application, and its potential significant impact on The Arc of Loudoun and our neighborhood, but we learned a few key things in Ms. Rodriguez’s article that greatly concern us. 

We are part of the active petitioners of 170 homeowners opposing the Special Exception submission to the Town of Leesburg for seven acres of Paxton, SPX TLSE-2020-0001 INMED at Paxton Campus for a massive 27,371 SF commercial-grade industrial greenhouse complex, with commercial-size fish farming, which is not appropriate for a residential zoning district, or the Leesburg Historic District. Conversely, The Arc’s operations, and strategic plan, provide a size and activity level that is right for the space and its surrounding residential community.  

We are surprised to learn that the Paxton Trust now has a new plan that involves “not just The Arc, not even just INMED. It won’t be one tenant any longer to maximize to the highest and best use of the value of the property across the board.”

Pursuant to the Last Will and Testament of Rachel A. Paxton, the Margaret Paxton Memorial for Convalescent Children was created for the purpose of supporting and maintaining a home for convalescent children. Home connotes one organization. 

This new aggressive growth plan has multiple negative potential consequences for adjacent homeowners. This would be too intensive for a residential zoning district, and has potential negative consequences due to traffic and other considerations. The pasture, and the habitat it supports, is what the Town Council intended to protect when it approved adding the parcel to the Leesburg Historic District. 

Established in 1967, The Arc of Loudoun was relocated to Paxton Campus to rectify the long lapse of compliance by the trustees of the Margaret Paxton Memorial Fund for Convalescent Children to achieve the 21st century interpretation of Mrs. Paxton’s Will.  This was further affirmed by the Trust in 2014 in their Loudoun County real estate tax exemption application, dated 4/1/14: 

Soon after ceasing operations of the Paxton Child Development Center, the Trustees of the Paxton Memorial Charitable Trust began working and negotiating with … the Arc of Loudoun with the end purpose and goal of ultimately leasing ALL of the Paxton Campus, and for the purpose of using all other building and open Paxton lands for ARC’s other charitable community outreach programs.  Those efforts…were successfully concluded by the signing of a long-term lease of ALL of the Paxton real estate to the ARC for the nominal annual rental of One Dollar ($1.00) per year.  The lease runs … with options to continue renewing…, in perpetuity.

Why doesn’t the Trust simply focus its limited resources on The Arc and let it thrive and grow?    

We have been frustrated by the misinformation, constantly changing information, and perceived conflicts-of-interest. For example the billboard standing on the Paxton property states: “What is Happening Here.”  There is no mention of the required special exception process inviting public input during the Leesburg Town Council legislative due process. The billboard also states: “The Paxton Trust is pleased to Partner with INMED…”  The INMED U.S. Director submitted the special exception as the Trust’s owner representative.  

We have been told that Trust intends to build and to operate INMED’s new proposed structures, requiring a capital campaign. Proposing additional new structures is another example of misaligned Trust priorities. A primary responsibility, as landowner, is to renovate the historic Carlheim mansion to avoid Demolition of Neglect. A capital campaign should focus on the historic mansion and the existing buildings supporting the Arc’s operations.

Mrs. Paxton is no longer here, but she is our neighbor in spirit. Our united community has made a difference in the past when the Trustees intended to sell to a homebuilder to get the “best and highest value” from Mrs. Paxton’s land. We ask that you please join us to support The Arc of Loudoun on Paxton. To stay informed, and to join the active effort, please email: PreservePaxton.StopInmed@gmail.com

Rich and Katie Hammler, Leesburg 

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