"WHAT'S NEW?" ARCHIVE
NOTE: Descriptions here were accurate at the time they first appeared, but may no longer be current.
Spring trash pick-up yields bumper crop
|Save Crow's Nest held it's annual spring trash pick-up, as part of our participation in VDOT's adopt-a-highway program. Eighteen bags of garbage, along with large trash items such as tires, were collected from the right of way along Raven Road (which runs through Crow's Nest). Special thanks to our super volunteer that coordinated this effort!|
Mariel Berrios-Riebe, 1973-2010
Mariel Berrios-Riebe, at age 37 and after a fearsome fight, died of
complications related to cancer. Surviving her are her husband and three young children, and
Mariel (far left) and others enjoy a lighter moment after the 2006 Board of Supervisor meeting where they announced the start of the Crow’s Nest “Report Card,” featuring blue herons (for votes that protect Crow’s Nest) and bulldozers (for votes that facilitate development).
Mariel and son Joseph present Governor Tim Kaine with a "Save Crow's Nest" t-shirt at the 2008 dedication of Crow's Nest park.
2005: Mariel opposes building new road to Crow's Nest.
2007: Mariel speaks out against legislation to allow dense, urban development in Stafford.
2008: Mariel urges Aquia Supervisor Milde to act to preserve of all of Crow's Nest.
2009: Mariel describes Supervisor Milde as the "great pretender" for his sweetheart deal with developers for Crow's Nest. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to read her letter to the editor.)
Crow's Nest trash pick-up, November 15th
Save Crow's Nest will hold its Fall trash pick-up on Sunday, November 15th, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Please join us in making this positive contribution to our community. All you need is a pair of work gloves, and it makes for a great family activity for families with children ages six and up. To join us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Field day on Crow's Nest, November 7th
The Department of Conservation and Recreation will hold a field day on Crow's Nest on Saturday, November 7, from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, with hiking trips leaving at 9:30 am and 1 pm. Reserve a spot by calling (804) 786-7951. The Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve has not yet been opened to the public, so this is your chance to see the rewards of all your hard work to protect the Crow's Nest peninsula from development!DCR now also has a web page on Crow's Nest. We hope to see you on November 7th.
Crow's Nest Preservation Receives Award
Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve was chosen to receive the 2009 Scenic
Viewshed Preservation Award from Scenic
Virginia, given to showcase projects that help maintain Virginia’s
scenic beauty. The award was presented in Richmond on Wednesday,
October 21. The award recognizes the wide range of individuals and
groups that helped to make the preservation of Crow’s Nest possible,
including you—supporters of Save Crow’s Nest! Congratulations!
award’s text reads: “Scenic Virginia presents the 2009 Scenic Viewshed
Preservation Award to The Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve, the
culmination of 10+ years of work by Federal, state and local officials,
dedicated community members, and environmental agencies to transform the
nearly 3,000 acres of the beautiful five-mile-long Crow’s Nest peninsula
in Stafford County into the Commonwealth’s 54th natural area
preserve, in the process preserving 750 acres of tidal and non-tidal
wetlands; 21 miles of stream, riparian, and wetland buffers; 2,200 acres
of hardwood forest; and substantial wildlife habitat for birds and fish,
on a property that played an important role in Native American, Colonial
and Civil War histories in Virginia.
the award on behalf of the countless number of people, organizations, and
agencies that helped to make a difference with Crow’s Nest were, (left
to right) Joe Maroon, VA Department of Conservation and Recreation; Aquia
Supervisor Paul Milde; Cessie Howell, Scenic Virginia; (unidentified);
Bill Beck, Scenic Virginia; George Schwartz; Chair, Stafford Board of
Supervisors; Cecelia Kirkman, Save Crow’s Nest volunteer; Anthony
Romanello, Stafford County Administrator; Hal Wiggins, advocate; Harry Crisp, Vice-Chair,
Stafford Board of Supervisors; John Mitchell, Trust for Crow’s Nest.
Purchase of Phase 2 celebrated.
On September 14th, citizens, government officials and conservation organizations gather to commemorate the purchase of "Phase 2" of Crow's Nest.
George Schwartz, Chair, Stafford County Board of Supervisors, thanked Save Crow's Nest for our efforts, and urged citizens to always stand up and fight for what is right. Other speakers also acknowledged the critical role that citizens played in creating the political will to protect Crow's Nest from development.
At the same time that participants celebrated, they also spoke of the need to continue their efforts. Over a thousand acres on Crow's Nest (most of which is known as Crow's Nest Harbour) remains unprotected and vulnerable to development.
A view of part of the area covered by the Phase 2 purchase.
Stafford Board of Supervisors Chair George Schwartz (D-Falmouth) and John Mitchell, Trust for Crow's Nest.
Some of the many people who worked to protect Crow's Nest from development gathered to celebrate the progress made.
|Phase 2 purchase of Crow's Nest completed.|
Under the leadership of Governor Tim Kaine, the funds for the purchase of additional land on Crow's Nest have been assembled, and on July 29, 2009, an additional 1,100 acres on Crow's Nest was purchased. While this is an important step forward, more than 1,000 acres remain unprotected, and now will be subject to tremendous development pressures. (Read the news story and a letter to the editor.)
Beginning in 2003, the organizing efforts of supporters of Save Crow’s Nest helped to stop proposed development on the 4,000-acre peninsula and served as a catalyst for renewed efforts to purchase and preserve the land.
The effort to assemble funds to save Crow’s Nest was propelled forward when Governor Tim Kaine launched his “Renew Virginia” initiative, which included the goal of protecting 400,000 acres in the state by the end of 2010. The purchase of Crow’s Nest became a part of this initiative.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine at the dedication ceremony for a portion of Crow’s Nest.
In December of 2007, the Stafford Board of Supervisors reached a deal to purchase much of the Crow’s Nest peninsula in two phases. The first phase involved the purchase of 1,770 acres for $19 million, which was completed in 2008. That purchase was made possible by state funds, including a $9.5 million loan from the Department of Environmental Quality that will be repaid by Stafford County.
Parcel "A" (green) is the first purchase completed in 2008. Parcel "B" (yellow) is the Phase 2 purchase. The areas in red, totaling more than 1,000 acres, remain unprotected.
We have come a long way from protesting to prevent the destruction of Crow’s Nest to discussing its imminent preservation. Everyone involved with Save Crow’s Nest and the broader effort to preserve the peninsula should be proud of their work.
However, we at Save Crow’s Nest have always insisted on two principles:
1. The entire Crow’s Nest peninsula should be saved; and
2. Preservation should be done in a fiscally responsible manner.
Unfortunately, while the current deal represents another milestone in the effort to save Crow’s Nest, it falls short on both these counts.
First, the deal does not include properties in the area known as “Crow’s Nest Harbour” (the red areas on the map above), so a significant portion of the peninsula remains unprotected and the work of preserving Crow’s Nest remains unfinished. These “Harbour” properties have a variety of owners but Stafford Lakes LP, the developers with whom the main deal has been made, is among the owners and their property might have been included in the revised phase 2 purchase. It was not, and a golden opportunity was missed to strike a deal that might have helped lead to the eventual preservation of the entire peninsula.
Second, once again, taxpayers are paying higher than fair market value for the land, making this is a sweetheart deal for developers. Even the reduced purchase price for Phase 2 is a higher per acre cost than the per acre appraised value of the land in 2006--near the height of the real estate bubble! A purchase based on today’s fair-market value would have left additional funds available to apply towards the purchase of the remaining Crow’s Nest properties.
But, on balance, this deal is an important step forward and it makes clear that where there is a political will, there is a way. Assuming this Phase 2 purchase is completed, we can now focus on making sure the remaining parcels of land on Crow’s Nest are preserved.
Again, thanks for everything you have done over the years to permanently protect all of Crow's Nest. Let your elected leaders—from Governor Kaine down to the Board of Supervisors—know of your support for the preservation of the entire peninsula.
Planning Commission denies subdivision plan for Crow's Nest.
On Wednesday, December 17, the Stafford County Planning Commission voted 4-2 to deny approval of the Sycamore Hills subdivision plan to build 30 houses on 186 acres of Crow's Nest (the site area in blue).
Planning Commissioner Ken Mitchell (appointed by Supervisor Paul Milde, R-Aquia) made a motion to defer action on the plan. Commissioner Cecelia Kirkman (appointed by Supervisor Bob Woodson, D-Griffis-Widewater) made a substitute motion to deny approval, citing the plan's lack of compliance with subdivision and zoning ordinances. Commissioners Kirkman, Ruth Carlone (Hartwood), Archer DiPeppe (Falmouth) and Peter Fields (George Washington) voted in favor of the motion to deny the plan. Commissioners Mitchell and Michael Rhodes (Rockhill) voted against the motion.
Sycamore Hills subdivision site
The property owners may now submit a new application for the Sycamore Hills development, and currently have an application (called "Hickory Hills") for additional acreage under review. The continuing efforts to develop parts of Crow's Nest are possible only because the deal that was brokered for the first portion of Crow’s Nest was a sweetheart deal for developers. It paid them a higher-than-market-value price in a rapidly declining housing market, while leaving them free to pursue development on other portions of the peninsula.
County receives Fish and Wildlife grant for Crow's Nest.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Stafford County an $855,465 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant. These funds will be applied towards the $16.2 million dollar purchase price of a second portion of Crow's Nest. (Read the news story.) Many thanks go to the folks at Fish and Wildlife, who have long supported preservation of Crow's Nest.
Development plan advances.
As we feared, the deal with developers for the purchase of a part of Crow's Nest has made the remaining areas on the Crow's Nest peninsula much more desirable for, and vulnerable to, development.
On Wednesday, October 1, the Stafford County Planning Commission began review of a subdivision plan to build 30 houses on 186 acres of Crow's Nest (the site area in blue). This area lies west of the part of Crow's Nest that might be included in the second purchase.
As can be seen in the above map, the site area includes many sensitive water features (in dotted blue). The development site also has steep slopes. Three proposed lots (lots 7, 8, and 9) will destroy the site of a civil war encampment site. The small whorled pogonia, a federally endangered and state threatened plant found on the development site, will be protected only because it lies in close proximity to a required creek and wetlands buffer. (View the plan application and staff report; may load slowly.)
On October 1, Planning Commissioner Ken Mitchell, appointed by Aquia Supervisor Paul Milde, made a motion to approve the subdivision plan. That motion was defeated by a 6-1 vote when Commissioner Cecelia Kirkman, appointed by Griffis-Widewater Supervisor Bob Woodson, made a motion to defer the application to the November 6th 5:30 pm work session of the Planning Commission, citing concerns about a missing traffic impact analysis, safety concerns regarding the road to the subdivision, and technical details regarding the subdivision process.
This unfolding development of Crow's Nest is possible only because the deal that was brokered for the first portion of Crow’s Nest was a weak one that developers could readily embrace. It paid them a higher-than-market-value price in a rapidly declining housing market, while leaving them free to pursue development on other portions of the peninsula. By failing to use its power of eminent domain to ensure the best deal for taxpayers, and by failing to enact legislation to protect land like Crow’s Nest from irresponsible development, the County accommodated developers once again.
Board passes legislation to provide additional protections to creeks.
On Tuesday, October 7, the Stafford Board of Supervisors passed the Potomac River Resource Protection Overlay ordinance.
The Potomac River Resource Protection Overlay provides additional protections to ensure that development does not dump mud into creeks that feed into the Potomac River. These creeks surround four state and county parks, including Crow's Nest. The Board voted 4-3 to approve this legislation. The vote to approve took place after the legislation had been deferred for a five month period, and follows a multi-year history of attempts to pass meaningful legislation to protect sensitive environmental features.
This legislation is just one of several measures that will not cost taxpayers money that the Board can take to prevent inappropriate development on the Crow's Nest peninsula. View our Report Card on actions taken to date by the Board of Supervisors.
Gov. Kaine dedicates portion of Crow’s Nest but its future remains uncertain.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine at the dedication ceremony for a portion of Crow’s Nest.
On May 1, 2008, public officials and guests gathered at a sight overlooking Crow’s Nest to celebrate the acquisition and preservation of 1770 acres of the Crow’s Nest peninsula. This is a first step towards protecting the 4,000-acre peninsula. But nearly 60% of Crow’s Nest remains unprotected.
To understand the future of Crow's Nest, you must first understand that there are three different portions of the Crow’s Nest peninsula to be considered
The dedication ceremony was for parcel “A” (green)--about 40% of the peninsula--for $19 million. The County has an option, but no funding, to purchase of Parcel “B” (yellow), for $16 million. There are not any plans to purchase the Crow’s Nest Harbour and nearby lots (red). A development plan has been submitted for the area in red labeled "outparcel."
Crow's Nest double header On May 20th
May 20th, @ 7:00 pm.
On Tuesday, May 20th, at 7 pm the Stafford County Board of Supervisors will hold two public hearings on matters important to Crow's Nest. One hearing is on the Potomac River Resource Protection overlay district, which will create additional protection for creeks and steep slopes in environmentally sensitive areas on and surrounding Crow's Nest and three other parks. The second public hearing will be on the secondary road plan, which for the first time will remove a planned new road to Crow's Nest.
Supervisors Joe Brito (I-Hartwood), George Schwartz (D-Falmouth), Bob Woodson (D-Griffis-Widewater) and Harry Crisp (D-George Washington) all pledged support for both of these efforts. Please contact them now to thank them in advance for voting to approve the Potomac River Resource Protection Overlay ordinance, and for removing the "new" Andrew Chapel Road project from the secondary road plan.
1) Potomac River Resource Protection overlay district
The Potomac River Resource Protection Overlay district will increase protection of the Aquia, Accoceek and Potomac Creeks and the Potomac River by expanding buffers around creeks and limiting building on steep slopes next to creeks. The legislation focuses on the most sensitive areas surrounding four public parks: Crow's Nest, Widewater State Park, Aquia Landing and Governor's Island.
2) Removal of the "new" Andrew Chapel Road
That same night the Board of Supervisors will also be holding a public
hearing on the six year secondary road plan. Several years ago, the
previous Board added a "new" Andrew Chapel Road This
road will facilitate development of the peninsula and nearby properties.
The cost of this project has ballooned to $11 million, yet this section of road serves only 3,300 vehicles per day and has a low accident rate. For that reason, a majority on the Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to the Board on transportation issues, recommended to the Board that this road project be removed, and a request be made to reallocate the fund for it to improving the Falmouth intersection.
SCN volunteers of all ages work and have fun at the annual Spring trash pick-up.
Volunteers from Save Crow's Nest spent a Saturday morning in May picking up trash and cleaning debris from a recent flood on Raven Road, one of the two roads through and around Crow's Nest that Save Crow's Nest has adopted.
we predicted might happen, on Tuesday
December 18, 2007, at their very last meeting and during a closed
afternoon session, the lame-duck Stafford Board of Supervisors agreed to a
deal to purchase a portion of the Crow’s Nest peninsula. However,
most of the peninsula remains unprotected.
This deal guarantees purchase only of parcel “A” (green)--about 40% of the peninsula--for $19 million. It has an option, but does not guarantee, purchase of Parcel “B” (yellow), for $16 million. It does NOT cover the Crow’s Nest Harbour and nearby lots (red).
this good or bad?
estate prices are dropping in
We will be contacting you in January to let you know how you can help make this happen.
note on the problem of secrecy
Links to media reports
Crow's Nest Supporters Win Supervisor Elections!
Save Crow's Nest Voter Guide, 2007 Stafford Supervisor Elections
Not in the name of Crow's Nest.
Currently, the Stafford County Planning Commission is considering a proposed comprehensive plan amendment and a rezoning application for Stafford Town Station that will allow between 1,740 and 2,250 housing units on land currently approved for 145 homes. Because some supporters of this development project have said that the project is linked to saving Crow's Nest, Save Crow's Nest has written to the Planning Commission to make it clear that a vote in favor of the project is NOT a vote to save Crow's Nest, and that the project is a bad deal for taxpayer. The proffers made as a part of the project are not adequate to protect Crow's Nest.
Save Crow's Nest has always supported financially responsible solutions to permanently protecting the peninsula. We have never said "Crow's Nest at any price," and do not want Crow's Nest to be used to justify such a bad deal for taxpayers. For these same reasons, Save Crow's Nest spoke at the public hearing on the Traditional Neighborhood Development, the new law that makes dense residential developments such as Stafford Town Station possible.
First trash pick-up a success.
Save Crow’s Nest held its first Crow's Nest trash pick-up on Saturday, July 21st. Braving the heat, bugs and weeds, volunteers from Save Crow's Nest were joined by Stafford candidates for Supervisor Harry Crisp (George Washington), Jerry Kirven (Rock Hill) and Bob Woodson (Griffis-Widewater), as well as Senate candidate Albert Pollard (28th District). A total of thirty-two bags of trash, about twenty feet of cable, a wood pallet, one tire, and auto parts were cleaned up from the roads through and surrounding Crow's Nest.
While the Stafford County Board of Supervisors has delayed taking legislative action to permanently protect the Crow’s Nest peninsula from inappropriate development (see story below), the property has been neglected, with trash accumulating along the roadside. By adopting Raven Rd. and a part of Brooke Rd., Save Crow's Nest is demonstrating with concrete action our commitment to preserving the beauty of Crow's Nest. Our next trash pick-up will be in the late Fall.
Clockwise from the top, left: Supervisor candidates Kirven, Crisp and Woodson joined the pick-up; some of the volunteers stop for a break by one of our signs, which you can find on Brooke and Raven roads; Senate candidate Pollard brought volunteers, bags and gloves for the pickup; the first shift started on Raven Rd, a second shift cleaned Brooke; the bags got heavy but were no match for this Marine; Raven Rd looked much better with the trash picked up
Effectively Kill Legislation
that Could Have Helped Protect Crow’s Nest
“Yes” votes supporting Crow’s Nest
See the complete Crow's Nest Report Card.Development on Crow's Nest Moves Forward
On Monday, April 2, Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties) submitted a plan for the development of nearly 300 acres on Crow's Nest. The proposed subdivisions and construction of more than sixty homes will be done on areas previously designated by the owners as "open space" in earlier development plans, and includes acreage not included in the Board of Supervisors' purchase offer. (Read the news story.)
These new development plans are possible because the Stafford Board of Supervisors has not acted to implement legislation that would prevent inappropriate development on the peninsula and protect the natural, historical and cultural resources on it. (View our "report card" on the Board of Supervisors' legislative action.)
We will post more details on the proposed development plans as they become available.
Heavy machinery is seen on an almost daily basis on Crow's Nest. This picture was taken in March 2007.
Initiate Eminent Domain Proceedings
does this action mean?
this a meaningful step forward?
this mean Crow’s Nest is finally saved?
successful, will this action protect all of Crow’s Nest?
Board votes to increase offer to purchase portion of Crow's Nest; affirms intent to condemn property if offer refused
On September 5th, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors voted to
increase by $2.7 million their offer to purchase a portion of Crow's Nest.
An offer will now be made to Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M
Properties) for $33.2 million. The increased offer was based on the market
value determined by a recently completed revised appraisal.
This is a positive first step, and goes a long way to demonstrate the Board's commitment to protect Crow's Nest from development. However, we remain concerned that the offer is for only a portion of the property, and does not include any of the property owned by Stafford Lakes, LP in the "Crow's Nest Harbour" subdivision platted out in the 1970's (see map below). That portion of the peninsula is directly adjacent to the heron rookery. In the past month, there have been increased signs of potential development. Heavy machinery, including a front loader, has been on the property. The right of way for roads in the Harbour have been marked. Aerial surveys have been taken, and extensive GPS-based surveying completed.
Offers by the Board of Supervisors to purchase property from Stafford Lakes LP, and the cash proffer for the Stafford Town Station project, do not address any of the property in “Crow’s Nest Harbor.”
Lakes LP Continues Activities on Crow's Nest
This front loader with a back hoe was photographed on Crow's Nest on November 24th. That same day, the vehicles of hunters lined Raven Road (the road through Crow's Nest). Many carried ATVs and hunting dogs.
Judge Braxton of the Stafford Circuit Court has prohibited the County from enforcing its soil and erosion control ordinance, allowing Stafford Lakes LP to move forward with clearing and grading in order to conduct drain field site tests on Crow's Nest. (Read the news story.) The Judge acted on lawsuits filed by both the County and Stafford Lakes LP. These lawsuits were the result of a stop work order issued by the County when, in response to a complaint filed by Save Crow's Nest, it determined that Stafford Lakes LP had engaged in unauthorized “land disturbing activities” (clearing and grading with a front-loader) without the required permit. (Read the court documents and related news stories.)
Unfortunately, this is just the sort of thing we have been expecting. With this latest ruling, the destruction of vegetation, habitat and historical sites on Crow's Nest can continue. Until the entire peninsula is permanently protect from development, we are likely to see more actions like this that advance development and disturb the environment.
Unless Judge Braxton's ruling is overturned by the Supreme Court of Virginia, this is the type of damage that will continue to occur on Crow's Nest as Stafford Lakes LP moves forward with development plans.
Save Crow's Nest at Middle School Environmental Summit
On Wednesday, November 9th, members of Save Crow's Nest presented a display and spoke on a panel at an environmental summit for middle school students held at Stafford County's Rodney Thompson Middle School. (Read the news story.) Middle school students from Rodney Thompson, King George Middle School, Spotsylvania Freedom Middle School and Mariner Middle School of Milton, Delaware participated in the annual event.
Citizen Action Helps Bring Relic Hunt to a Halt
QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED;
PERMANENT PROTECTION FOR CROW’S NEST STILL NEEDED
Many questions remain unanswered at this writing:
Effort to Save Crow's Nest Inspires Award-Winning Art
Lawsuits Filed Regarding Illegal Clearing and Grading on Crow's Nest
In September, a "Save Crow's Nest" complaint led to county action to stop illegal clearing and grading on the Crow's Nest peninsula (see below). Stafford Lakes LP, the corporation cited in the County's stop work order, has filed a lawsuit in Stafford Circuit Court appealing the County's actions. (Read the Stafford Lakes' "Complaint for Declaratory Judgment"). The County has also filed a "Complaint for Declaratory Judgment" asking the court to prohibit any further "land disturbing" activity until Stafford Lakes complies with the zoning ordinance regarding clearing and grading. These cases will be heard together on November 7th.
Property Owners Ordered to Stop Illegal Work on Peninsula; "Save Crow's Nest" Complaint Leads to County Action
Stafford Lakes LP, the company that owns the bulk of the Crow's Nest
peninsula, has used heavy machinery to do illegal work there, including
clearing underbrush and uprooting trees. After observing some of
this damage, Save Crow’s Nest filed a complaint on September 11, 2006
with the Stafford County Code Administration Department regarding
suspected illegal clearing of land on Crow's Nest.
The County issued a "stop work" order to Stafford
Lakes LP (the property owners) to cease the work being done by Frazier
Consultants (the company contracted to conduct the work). The property owners must correct the
damage they have done by seeding and mulching, and cannot do any
additional work until they have obtained an approved erosion and sediment
control plan and a grading permit from the County.
The work being done involved "perc tests" to assess the soil's suitability for septic systems, one of the steps needed to prepare for development. The property owners have the right to conduct these tests, however, they did so in a way that the County has now determined illegally disturbed the land.
Unfortunately, this is just the sort of thing we have been expecting. Until the entire peninsula is permanently protect from development, we are likely to see more actions like this that advance development and disturb the environment.
Read the Free Lance-Star article on this issue. (Clarification on this story: the County's actions were not in response to the perc tests per se, but to the unnecessary and illegal land disturbance which occurred in the process of carrying out the tests. Such widespread land disturbance (greater than 2500 square feet) requires a permit, which the owners did not obtain.)
Discovering Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC, hosted a booth (pictured below) at Stafford's Discovery Days Festival in late August. The event the Godspeed, the Jamestown replica of the historic sailing ship, and brought thousands of people to Aquia Landing, adjacent to the Crow's Nest peninsula. While celebrating the County's rich cultural and historical heritage, visitors also learned about the County's natural heritage as embodied by its largest tract of undeveloped land, Crow's Nest. (Photos and details.)
The mission of the non-profit Defense Fund is to protect the natural and cultural resources on the Crow's Nest peninsula. The Defense Fund is selling commemorative photos of the Godspeed anchored off Aquia Landing as a fundraiser. To purchase a photo and support the Defense Fund, send a check ($10 for 8x10 color photo; $20 for 8x10 canvas print) to: Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC, PO Box 102, Brooke, VA 22430. A portion of the purchase price is tax-deductible.
On Saturday, September 9th, Save Crow's Nest was also at Hartwood Days, sponsored by Hartwood Presbyterian Church.
rules in favor of the public’s interest in Crow’s Nest
story highlights Crow's Nest resources
Proposed Development Offers Money for Potential Purchase of Crow's Nest
On May 19th, developer Rob Gollahon unveiled a plan for a major development, Stafford Town Station. The proposed plan calls for mixed office, commercial and residential use. Although the property is currently approved for 148 single family homes, the proposed plan calls for more than 1,600 residential units, including a mix of townhouses, single family and age-restricted housing.
The developer is offering several different proffers to mitigate the impact of the development. In addition to road improvements, the developer is offering $26 million that could be used for the purchase of Crow's Nest. (Read the news story.)
While this plan does not yet permanently protect the entire peninsula, it could be a step in the right direction towards saving Crow's Nest. The devil is in the details, of course, and we will post an analysis of the Stafford Town Station plan here as the details become known.
Supervisors vote 6-0 to go to court to get fair price for Crow’s Nest
On Tuesday, June 20th the Stafford County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to move forward with eminent domain proceedings to purchase Crow’s Nest. (Read the news story.) This follows the Board’s previous action of making a $30.5 million offer (see below under "Recent Developments") to Stafford Lakes LP (aka K&M Properties) for a portion of the property.
Eminent domain is a legal action governments can take when a property owner is not willing to sell at a fair price. The purpose of the legal proceeding is to get a “fair market value” for the property. A panel of commissioners, who are local landowners, is appointed by the circuit court to determine just compensation for the property owner. (Read an op-ed and a letter about eminent domain and Crow's Nest.)
The next step is for
The next step is for
It’s regrettable that this step was necessary.
County Makes Offer to Purchase PART of Crow's Nest
The County of Stafford has made an
offer to purchase a portion of Crow's Nest, about 2,900 acres. (Read the news
story and the editorial
calling upon the owners to accept the offer.) The Board is to be commended for this action. However,
saving the entire peninsula requires that all the property owned by
Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties) must be included in any preservation solution.
The Spring 2006 offer by the Board of Supervisors to purchase property from Stafford Lakes LP, and the cash proffer for the Stafford Town Station project, does not address any of the property in “Crow’s Nest Harbor.”
In Split Vote, Board Retains New Road to Crow's Nest in Transportation Plan
On April 18th, the Stafford Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 to approve a transportation plan that includes building a new road that dead-end's at Stafford Lakes LP's Crow's Nest property. The existing Andrew Chapel Road was not identified as a hazardous area or a priority for the County by the Youth Driver Task Force, but this new road could help facilitate development on the peninsula, and the cost of the total project will exceed $18 million. Consequently, Save Crow's Nest urged Supervisors to remove the "new Andrew Chapel road" from the plan.
Supervisor Schwartz made a motion, seconded by Supervisor Brito, to remove the road to Crow's Nest from the transportation plan. However, the motion was defeated in a 4-2 vote. The Board then approved the entire transportation plan in an identical 4-2 vote. Supervisors Milde, Fields, Dudenheffer, and Gibbons voted in favor of the plan to build a new road to Crow's Nest; Supervisors Schwartz and Brito were opposed; and Supervisor Cavalier was not present at the meeting. See the update to our Report Card for a summary of Board votes.
Board Acts: Two Steps Forward for Crow's Nest
The Stafford County Board of Supervisors is to be commended on taking two important steps at its March 21, 2006 meeting that have positive implications for the preservation of Crow's Nest. Both actions were approved unanimously. (See our Report Card on the Board's recent and pending action.)
First, the Board unanimously passed a resolution to make a bona fide offer for the purchase of a part of Crow's Nest based on a recent appraisal of the property--said to be in the $27-$28 million range. (See Free-Lance Star article on this offer.) The purchase could be financed through a combination of State, County, and private funds. The offer is reportedly for 3,200 acres. This would include K&M's two major parcels (see map) but would not protect the area closest to the peninsula's heron rookery, Crow's Nest Harbor, a subdivision platted in the 1970s but never built.
If the owners accept the offer, they would receive fair market value for their land and the County could move towards permanently protecting this vital natural resource. If the owners reject the offer, insisting on more than the appraised value of the property, the County could then move towards acquiring the land through eminent domain. The purpose of eminent domain is to prevent landowners from extorting windfall profits from such deals. In such situations, the County commits to a purchase and the court decides on the final price.
Second, the Board unanimously passed a drain field ordinance that will help ensure that adequate information is provided early in the planning stage to determine if areas with challenging terrains, such as Crow's Nest, have adequate capacity to provide water and sewage disposal for the proposed number of lots. This means that any future subdivision plans for Crow's Nest will have to be based on a realistic assessment of on-site sewage disposal capacity. (The previous development plan for Crow's Nest was rejected unanimously in January 2006 by the Planning Commission, but the owners are appealing that decision in court.)
These first steps send a significant message about the Board's intent to save Crow's Nest. But the preservation of the entire peninsula is far from being a done deal. There is still a long way to go before a final deal is concluded and previous efforts to reach an agreement have collapsed in their final stages. However, these actions are definitely two important steps in the right direction.
K&M Drops One Appeal, Files Another
Crow's Nest property owners, K&M Properties (a.k.a. Stafford Lakes LP) have dropped a challenge to a judge's ruling regarding Crow's Nest, but have filed a new appeal regarding their proposed development plan. The appeal that was dropped had challenged part of the judge's ruling in response to a citizen-initiated law suite about Crow's Nest. The new appeal challenges the Planning Commission's unanimous rejection of K&M's proposed development plan.
The Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC has retained Attorney David Bailey to represent citizens' interests in the legal actions regarding Crow's Nest. The Defense Fund is a non-profit organization, and needs your financial support to continue the legal effort to protect the natural and cultural resources on the Crow's Nest peninsula. Please send tax-deductible contributions to: Crow’s Nest Defense Fund, LLC, PO Box 102, Brooke, VA 22430.
Save Crow's Nest on TV
Adelphia Cable's Channel 3 program "Making a Difference" will feature Save Crow's Nest. The half hour episode will premiere on Friday, April 14th at 6:30 pm. The program will be re-broadcast on Monday, April 17th at 5:00 pm; Tuesday, April 18th at 6:00 and 11:00 pm; and Thursday, April 20th at 10:30 pm. Be sure to watch! You can let Adelphia Channel 3 know what you think of the program by emailing email@example.com.
12, Stafford Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer (R-Garrisonville) welcomed those
attending a Crow’s Nest informational meeting at the Porter Library in
his district. Mr. Dudenhefer
fielded questions from the audience and presented a generally optimistic
assessment of the campaign to save Crow’s Nest.
He said the Board was engaged in behind-the-scene efforts to
finally protect Crow’s Nest once and for all, noting that these efforts
would be public in the next couple of months.
He also pointed out that an independent real estate appraiser
retained by the County valued the Crow’s Nest property at $27 million, a
figure far below what the property owners have claimed it is worth.
to Hear Legal Challenge of Planning Commission
The Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC retained Attorney David Bailey to assist
with their efforts to protect the natural and cultural resources on the
Crow's Nest peninsula. The Defense Fund is a non-profit organization, and
needs your financial support to continue this critical legal effort. Please send tax-deductible contributions
to: Crow’s Nest
Defense Fund, LLC, PO Box 102,
of Supervisors to Hold Public Hearing on Drainfield Ordinance
Commission Rejects Proposed Crow’s Nest Development, 7-0
Supporters of Crow’s Nest have won a significant victory.
By a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Stafford County Planning Commission rejected
the proposed development plan for Crow’s Nest at its January 25 meeting.
The plan, submitted by Crow’s Nest property owner, Stafford Lakes
LP (a.k.a. K&M Properties), proposed to build 688 houses on the rugged
terrain of the environmentally sensitive peninsula.
The Commission rejected the idea, citing numerous examples of where
the plan did not comply with County regulations. The
vote was consistent with the recommendation of the
The vote was the culmination of a year-long effort by citizens who have
insisted that the proposed plan to develop Crow’s Nest did not comply
with County and State regulations. Citizens
also argued that the plan would be an environmental disaster that would
destroy a unique regional natural resource, and would end up costing
taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to developers.
During a public comment period at the beginning of the Planning
Commission meeting, representatives from “Save Crow’s Nest,” the
Crow’s Nest Defense Fund, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, and
Attorney David Bailey summarized the many problems with the proposed
development plan. Bailey
represents local residents who had appealed the Planning Director’s
original certification of the Crow’s Nest plan as meeting all applicable
Despite the unanimous rejection of the plan, the developers have initiated a legal challenge to the Planning Commission decision. Assuming litigation fails, the owner’s could then re-start the entire process by submitting a new plan. Our hope is, however, that with the prospects of development diminishing, a deal to preserve the peninsula could be in place before that happens.
Judge issues precedent setting ruling in Crow's Nest suit; empowers Planning Commission to consider zoning issues
On January 10, Judge Harrison Braxton of the Stafford County Circuit Court issued his ruling on a suit filed by Stafford Lakes LP, the owners of Crow's Nest. Judge Braxton granted the developers' request to prohibit the Stafford County Board of Zoning Appeals from hearing an appeal regarding the compliance of the Crow's Nest development plan with the zoning ordinance.
More importantly, in an unexpected victory for the efforts to protect the natural resources on the peninsula, the judge concluded that the Planning Commission has the authority to determine the compliance of the plan with the zoning ordinance. The judge also found that it is the "duty" of the County Attorney to advise the Planning Commission about the "adequacy" (compliance) of the plan. Finally, the judge stated that the time spent in litigation does not count towards the 60-day time period in which the Planning Commission must act on the plan.
What does all this mean? It will take some time to fully understand the ruling, but it appears that this means that the Planning Commission should consider zoning ordinances when reviewing a plan; that the County Attorney has a new role in determining compliance; and that the Planning Commission will have until early March to make a decision about the Crow's Nest plan. The judge only addressed procedural issues. His ruling did not evaluate the content of the plan.
The developers' suit was in response to an appeal to the Stafford County Board of Zoning Appeals filed by Attorney David Bailey. That action appealed the Planning Director's decision that the Crow's Nest plan is in compliance with Stafford County's zoning ordinance. (Read the appeal, the developers' lawsuit, and Attorney Bailey's response to it.) The parties in the suit have 30 days to file a notice of intent to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.
The Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC retained Attorney David Bailey to assist
with their efforts to protect the natural and cultural resources on the
Crow's Nest peninsula. The Defense Fund is a non-profit organization, and
needs your financial support to continue this critical legal effort. Please send tax-deductible contributions
to: Crow’s Nest
Defense Fund, LLC, PO Box 102,
Board Meets, Save Crow’s Nest Unveils Report Card
2005 Year in Review.
Read about highlights from the year and how your actions made a difference.
Rejects Developer's Crow's Nest Appeal
Developers file suit
On December 15, 2005, Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties), filed suit in Stafford County Circuit Court. The suit seeks immediate injunctive relief against the stay (so that action on the plan will move forward), and a dismissal of the appeal filed with the Board of Zoning Appeals. The case will be heard by Judge Braxton on January 6, 2006. Unless the judge rules otherwise, no further action will be taken on the Crow's Nest plan until the Board of Zoning Appeals rules on the appeal.
All action on Crow's Nest plan stayed
On December 14, 2005, Daniel Schardein, Stafford County Director of Code Administration, notified the Deputy Zoning Administrator and interested parties that the appeal filed by Attorney David Bailey is to be forwarded to the Board of Zoning Appeals, and all action regarding the plan is to be stayed (view his memo). The appeal is scheduled to be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals on February 28, 2006.
Nest Plan in Legal Limbo; Citizens Point Out Many Flaws
During a 45-minute public hearing, citizens opposed the plan for its non-compliance with zoning regulations and for its negative impact on the community. (Read details.)
7, 2005: A CROW’S NEST DOUBLE-HEADER
1. Plan to Develop
Crow’s Nest Advances to Planning Commission
Incumbents Swept from Office
Crow’s Nest” congratulates the winners and looks forward to working
with the new Board of Supervisors in finally moving forward with the
preservation of the entire Crow’s Nest peninsula.
Did the person who wants to represent you make his or her position clear? If not, ask them about it. (Find out your district.) Democracy can only work if voters have real information on which to make a judgment. Citizens have a right to know where the candidates stand on the important issue of preserving Crow’s Nest.
Town with "Save Crow's Nest ."
."If you were at any of the Fall festivals in Stafford this year, you probably saw a "Save Crow’s Nest" table there. Volunteers from "Save Crow’s Nest" have been out talking to citizens about the importance of preserving Stafford’s largest tract of undeveloped land. (See photos below.) Wherever we go, the response is universal: residents are excited by the prospect of preserving a piece of Stafford’s natural history for future generations but are fed up with runaway development and the lack of action by the Board of Supervisors.
and Video at Board of Supervisors Meeting. On Tuesday, September 20, the
new video, "Crow's Nest: Stafford County's Last Refuge," was
shown during the Board of Supervisors meeting. Before the meeting, a
rally organized by a coalition of groups, the "Crow's
Nest Preservation Coalition," took place outside the County
things Stafford County supervisors can do to save Crow's Nest. There
are ten things that the Stafford County Board of Supervisors can do now,
immediately, to ensure that the best use is made of the land on Crow’s
Nest. Find out more. And it is imperative that the Board act now. The subdivision plan
for Crow's Nest will be heard by the Planning Commission soon.
Save Crow's Nest at "Salute to Stafford Day." Throughout September 17th's "Salute to Stafford Day" (above) a steady stream of viewers came by the Save Crow's Nest booth to watch the video about Crow's Nest, learn more about the issue, and sign up as members. (See photos from this event.)
Support in the Media for Saving Crow's Nest. A series of
to the editor have been written lately by supporters of the effort to
save Crow's Nest. (Have you written yours
yet?) The Free-Lance Star also ran a strong editorial
saying, "Stafford must save Crow's Nest--now," and a second
Inc.," referring to unbridled development as the South's
Nest Video Debuts. An overflow crowd of nearly 200 people gathered on August 30 to
watch the debut of "Crow's Nest: Stafford County's Last Refuge."
(See photos and read more details here.)
Read the Stafford County Sun's coverage
of this event. You can also read a Free Lance-Star
about the video. Additional showings have since occurred at the Porter Library, Hartwood Days
at the Hartwood
Presbyterian Church, the Falmouth
Flats Fly Fishers meeting, the Battlefields Sierra Club
"open house," "Salute to Stafford Day," the Friends
of the Rappahannock "Riverfest 2005" and more!
To schedule a showing of "Crow's Nest: Stafford County's Last Refuge" for your organization, homeowner's association, church, or other group, or to hold a house party featuring the video, contact Archer DiPeppe at (540) 373-9636.
Crow's Nest becomes issue in the election for Stafford County Supervisors. Paul Milde, who has said that he is in support of saving Crow's Nest, won the Republican nomination for the Aquia District seat. He will face Democratic incumbent Kandy Hilliard, who also says she supports saving Crow's Nest, in the November election. (Read the story.)
Crow's Nest Development Plan Advances. The plan to build hundreds of houses on the Crow's Nest is nearly complete from the planning perspective, and is likely to move to the Planning Commission within the next four to eight weeks. You can track the progress of the Crow's Nest plan and read plan reviewer comments on the Stafford County "IWR" website for the Department of Planning. Enter 241944 as the A/P number and then hit "submit." (View the tracking system.)
Save Crow's Nest hired an independent environmental consultant to review the plan and he identified numerous potentially serious problems that could pose a threat to the health, safety, and well-being of local residents. The plan also could have a significant negative impact on the environment, creating soil erosion and the pollution of nearby waterways. The consultant's findings were sent in writing to the Committee. Save Crow's Nest also submitted a letter to the Committee, outlining the concerns raised by this study. (The letter is available in a PDF file, which may take a moment to load. Newspaper story can be read here.)
Judge Rejects Effort by Crow's Nest Owners for More Density. Last year, the owners of Crow's Nest, Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties), went to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) claiming they had the right to slice up the peninsula into more than 8,000 lots. When the BZA ruled against them, Stafford Lakes LP went to court and appealed. In early June, a judge ruled against them. (Read the story.) The ruling does not affect Stafford Lakes' current plan to build about 680 houses on one-acre lots on the peninsula. (Read the ruling, a PDF file which may take a moment to load.) Stafford Lakes LP has appealed the circuit court ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court.
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words: View the proposed development plans for Crow's Nest.
More than 1,000 lots would cover all the Crow's Nest peninsula, if the proposed 680 lots are combined with the existing 345 lots in the Crow's Nest Harbour subdivision.
Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties) submitted a plan in December 2004, followed by four revised plans in 2005, to develop the Crow's Nest peninsula. The first plan view in December detailed the steep slopes and sensitive areas on the peninsula, and called for 646 houses on approximately one acre lots (view the December plan; may load slowly). A second revised plan view was submitted in January 2005. This plan eliminated some of the topography lines detailing the slopes, and sensitive areas on the peninsula, such as active bald eagle nests (view the January plan; may load slowly). The third revised plan view, submitted in April 2005, does not show any of the slopes or sensitive areas, reduced protected areas around creeks, and added additional streets and lots, bringing the total number of proposed homes to 680 (view the April plan).
war redoubt may have been destroyed. A citizen called us to report
that it appears that the developer of the sections of Crow’s Nest north
SCN Returns to Board of Supervisors. It has been a year since "Save Crow's Nest" first went before the Board to ask them to make certain Crow’s Nest is preserved. During that year, the property owner has moved forward with plans to develop Crow’s Nest, while the Board has taken little action to save it. In particular, the Board has not yet accepted a low-interest loan from the state to purchase Crow's Nest--an opportunity that will expire this Spring. SCN members attended the January 18, 2005 Board of Supervisors meeting and participated in the public comment period to remind Board members that we still expect them to act in the interest of the County and save the entire Crow's Nest peninsula. SCN members also wrote an op-ed piece explaining the current situation.
plan submitted for Crow's Nest
Approved for County to Purchase Crow's Nest