December 18, 2007

Joseph Maroon, Director

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

203 Governor Street

Richmond , VA 23219


Dear Mr. Maroon,


I am writing on behalf of the nearly 1,000 members of Save Crow’s Nest, a non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to the permanent preservation of the entire Crow’s Nest peninsula.


It is our position that tax dollars for land preservation are scarce and should be well spent. We urge you to insist that public purchase of Crow’s Nest must 1) include all of the parcels of land owned by Stafford Lakes LP and all the lots in Crow’s Nest Harbour, and 2) be based on a current appraisal of the fair market value.


For many years, Save Crow’s Nest has advocated for the public purchase of the major parcels of land on the Crow’s Nest peninsula. We have never advocated for saving Crow’s Nest “at any cost.” In fact, it is our fiscally conservative position that has helped us gain support in the community for preserving Crow’s Nest.


We were quite concerned to learn that the Department of Conservation and Recreation supports an offer to purchase only a portion of Crow’s Nest. This proposition is a bad deal for taxpayers and a bad deal for Crow’s Nest. Reportedly DCR is willing to subsidize this purchase with nearly $10 million in taxpayer dollars and an additional $10 million in a taxpayer subsidized low-interest loan. Although we are not privy to the details of the offer, please consider this:


1)                  Taxpayers should not be expected to pay inflated costs to purchase Crow’s Nest. Any offer to purchase Crow's Nest should be based on an updated appraisal that accurately reflects current market conditions.

·                    The Stafford County Capital Improvements Plan has listed purchase of Crow’s Nest (presumably the portion in the eminent domain law suit) at a cost of $35 million.

·                    At 2,920 acres, that is a cost of $11,986 per acre.

·                    In contrast, unimproved lots in Crow’s Nest Harbour have been selling for an average of $8,382 per acre (see attachment “CNH sales”). This should be viewed as a maximum threshold cost for acreage on Crow’s Nest. The lots in the Harbour are two acre lots. Acreage sold in large parcels cost much less per acre.

·                    An 80 acre assemblage of parcels directly adjacent to the west of the heron rookery is currently on the market at an asking price of $700,000—or $8,735 per acre (see attachment “Miller’s Place ad”). This asking price reflects the steep decline in the market value of land in the area. In 2006, these parcels sold for a total of $850,000, and in addition to the purchase price, the current owner has paid for the transaction costs of the purchase, engineering and legal fees for a preliminary subdivision plan and a lawsuit related to that submission, and ASOE certification of percolation sites.


2)                  Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for the purchase of property that does not have any viable means of public access.

·                    Parcel 48-1 has only one area of state road frontage, along SR 609 ( Raven Rd ) and SR 608 ( Brooke Rd ).

·                    This area of frontage is not suitable for building an access road.

·                    This entire frontage is located in a 100 year flood plan (see attachment “Flood plain on CN 48-1”).

·                    Nearly the entire frontage is located in swamps and wetlands (see attachment “Soils CN 48-1”).

·                    The entire frontage is located in a Critical Resource Protection Area.


3)                  Taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize amenities and infrastructure costs for developers.

·                    Any land located next to a park, offering the amenities of walking trails and a conservation area, is prime real estate for development.

·                    Any property not purchased for a park will be developed. The current negotiations regard only a portion of Crow’s Nest, practically guaranteeing residential development of the remaining portion.

·                    The only viable means of accessing parcel #48-1 is by building a road through the Crow’s Nest Harbour subdivision. By building this road, the State and Stafford County will be subsidizing the developer’s costs of developing the Harbour.


Save Crow’s Nest believes that purchase of the entire Crow’s Nest peninsula both protects environmental, cultural and historical resources and makes sound financial sense by preventing the by-right development of 1,000+ single family homes in an area ill suited for residential development. It is also consistent with Governor Kaine’s stated goal to preserve 400,000 acres of land in Virginia. Permanently protecting the entire Crow’s Nest peninsula (about 4,000 acres) will achieve 10% of that goal.




Cecelia Kirkman



CC:      Timothy Kaine, Governor

            Preston Bryant, Secretary of Natural Resources

            William Howell, Delegate

            Mark Cole, Delegate

            Stafford County Board of Supervisors