This page is an archive of past "What's New" items.   Scroll down to learn more.  See also our SCN history page and read media accounts of Crow's Nest in our newsroom.

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!

In Memoriam

Mariel Berrios-Riebe, 1973-2010

October 19, 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 extended family.

Mariel was always the first to stand up in defense of Crow's Nest, and speak for "the people." Not only that, she was willing to do the hard work--picking up trash on the roads through Crow's Nest as part of SCN's volunteer effort to keep Crow's Nest clean, writing letters to the editor, and attending Board meetings to speak up. We are all better for the sweetness, optimism and belief in democracy that she shared with us.

Mariel was also an activist in several cancer research organizations. Memorial contributions may be made to the Tiger Lily Foundation

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 savecrowsnest@savecrowsnest.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

The 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!

The 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.



Accepting 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.

Read more about the purchase of Phase 2. Read the news story.

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. 


Supervisors Bob Woodson (D-Griffis-Widewater), George Schwartz (D-Falmouth), Harry Crisp (D-George Washington) and Joe Brito (I-Hartwood) voted in favor of the legislation. 

Supervisors Paul Milde (R-Aquia), Mark Dudenhefer (R-Garrisonville) and Cord Sterling (R-Rockhill) opposed the legislation.


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

  • Parcel “A” is in two parts and covers 1720 acres (tinted green on the map below)

  • Parcel “B” covers 1167 acres (yellow on the map)

  • Crow’s Nest Harbour and the area just west covers about 1,120 acres (red on the map).

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

Tuesday, May 20th, @ 7:00 pm.
Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, Stafford County Administration Building.

            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.

You can read the staff report on the legislation, including a copy of the ordinance and of the map depicting the overlay district. You can also view the staff presentation to the Planning Commission.

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 4-phase Courthouse Road project plan includes building an entirely new road that dead-ends at Stafford County ’s largest track of undeveloped land, Crow’s Nest.  That road would facilitate development and dramatically increase traffic in the area. (Map is from the Free Lance-Star, modified to show the property owned by Stafford Lakes LP.)


            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. 




Board Agrees to Deal; Most of Crow’s Nest Still Unprotected

 As 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.
          It is not clear if all the Supervisors even knew what they were voting for since the agreement was not made available to them in advance of the meeting.  Supervisor Joe Brito (I-Hartwood) abstained from the vote saying he did not have enough time to read the purchase agreement.  Supervisor Pete Fields (D-George Washington) voted against the deal. In our discussions with Mr. Fields, he stated he voted against the proposal because the price was too high, and it did not guarantee that all of Crow's Nest would be permanently protected against development. The remaining five supervisors--Milde (R-Aquia), Dudenhefer (R-Garrisonville), Gibbons (R-Rock Hill), Cavalier (I-Griffis-Widewater) and Schwartz (D-Falmouth)--voted in favor.

What we know
             To understand the deal, you must first understand that there are three different portions of the Crow’s Nest peninsula to be considered

  • Parcel “A” is in two parts and covers 1720 acres (tinted green on the map below)

  • Parcel “B” covers 1167 acres (yellow on the map)

  • Crow’s Nest Harbour and the area just west covers about 1,120 acres (red on the map)

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). 

Is this good or bad?
     Saving at least a portion of Crow’s Nest may seem like a step in the right direction.  Unfortunately, in this case the Board has approved a bad deal that:

  • spends too many taxpayer dollars

  • to save too little of the peninsula

  • while virtually guaranteeing development will occur on the remainder of Crow’s Nest

Real estate prices are dropping in Stafford County .  Developers and land speculators like the principle owners of Crow’s Nest, Stafford Lakes LP (a.k.a. K&M Properties) are facing a difficult time.  Now, the Board has agreed to pay what appears to be above-market value for the land least likely to be developed because of marshes and steep slopes, while leaving the remainder of the peninsula unprotected from development.  The landowners walk away with a sweet deal, while taxpayers are left paying an inflated price.
          The Board could have used the lull in the real estate market to end its long-stalled eminent domain effort, initiate new “quick-take” eminent domain proceedings, and purchase the entire peninsula at current fair market prices.  This would have been fiscally responsible and environmentally sound.
          Instead, the Board’s actions, paradoxically, almost guarantee development will now occur.  One of the most sought-after amenities for new developments in this region is open space and walking trails.  By purchasing only a portion of Crow’s Nest, the Board has made it all the more attractive to develop the remaining acreage.  Indeed, development plans already exist for the Crow’s Nest Harbour lots and adjacent areas.  If they proceed with by-right development, taxpayers will again pay by footing the bill for the necessary additional roads and services, while developers will again reap the profits.
          Save Crow’s Nest wrote to the Department of Conservation and Recreation to outline these and other concerns about the deal to purchase only part of Crow’s Nest.

What Now?
          Crow’s Nest faces new development dangers in the coming months.  This current deal can be salvaged only if the new Board of Supervisors acts to protect taxpayers and the environment, rather than bailing out developers.
          Specifically, the new Board should:

  1. pass the Water Resource Overlay ordinance and designate the Crow’s Nest peninsula a sensitive water resource;

  2. designate the Crow’s Nest peninsula an historical district, which will facilitate protection of cultural and historical resources on the peninsula;

  3. right-zone the properties on Crow’s Nest from A-2 to A-1 to be consistent with surrounding properties.  This would mean one house per 3-acres instead of one house per 1-acre;

  4. purchase and preserve the entire peninsula.

We will be contacting you in January to let you know how you can help make this happen.

A note on the problem of secrecy
          A key problem plaguing the entire process leading up to this deal has been the secrecy of the Board of Supervisors.  They have met behind closed doors, not only to discuss price, but to negotiate a deal with the landowners in secret without public scrutiny or input.  Even now, we can only base our analysis of this deal on what has been made public.  We do not know if other secret deals were made.   We certainly hope the new Board of Supervisors taking office in January will bring a spirit of openness to this process.

Links to media reports


Crow's Nest Supporters Win Supervisor Elections! 


On Tuesday, November 6th, three new people were elected to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. Two of these, Harry Crisp (D-George Washington) and Bob Woodson (D-Griffis-Widewater) received perfect "blue heron" scores on the Save Crow's Nest  "Voter's Guide," (A positive blue heron indicates an overall position consistent with preserving Crow's Nest.  A negative black bulldozer indicates an overall position consistent with action that could facilitate development on the peninsula.) The third winner, Cord Sterling (R-Rock Hill), did not respond to the Save Crow's Nest survey.

On election day, volunteers from Save Crow's Nest distributed over 2,000 copies of the Voter's Guide to voters at the polls in the George Washington, Griffis-Widewater and Rock Hill precincts. In addition to informing voters of where candidates stood on Crow's Nest, this provided an opportunity to educate Stafford residents and voters about Crow's Nest and important legislation that could impact it.

We look forward to working with the new Board of Supervisors in 2008.

George Washington






Rock Hill



Harry Crisp (D)

Bob Woodson (D)

Cord Sterling (R)


Save Crow's Nest Voter Guide, 2007 Stafford Supervisor Elections 


Where Do the Candidates Stand on Crow's Nest?

On November 6th, three of the seven seats for the Stafford Board of Supervisors are up for election. Save Crow's Nest surveyed the candidates for Supervisor on where they stood on legislation that could either facilitate development on Crow's Nest, or promote preservation of it. 

Read the "Voter's Guide," including candidate responses. And be sure to take a look at our Report Card to view incumbent Jack Cavalier's voting record on Crow's Nest issues.

(A positive blue heron indicates an overall position consistent with preserving Crow's Nest.  A negative black bulldozer indicates an overall position consistent with action that could facilitate development on the peninsula.)

George Washington






Rock Hill



Tom Coen (R)

Jack Cavalier (I), Incumbent

Jerry Kirven (D)

Harry Crisp (D)

Bob Woodson (D)

Cord Sterling (R)


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 


  Supervisors Effectively Kill Legislation that Could Have Helped Protect Crow’s Nest
     In a 4-3 vote, the Board of Supervisors voted on June 5th against sending the Water Resource Overlay ordinance to a public hearing before the Board. Instead, after sitting on it for more than a year, they sent it back to the Planning Commission for a third time. That move effectively kills the legislation by burying it in the County’s bureaucratic process.
     The Water Resource Overlay would have expanded the protective buffers around creeks to include steep slopes and highly erodible soils, in areas designated by the Board of Supervisors as being sensitive water resources. Such an ordinance would have gone a long way to protecting the water and other natural resources on the Crow’s Nest peninsula.
      “Save Crow’s Nest” has long advocated this legislation as one of the key things the Board could do to protect the peninsula.  As an added advantage, the legislation would come at no cost to the County.
     While this legislation has been bogged down, the property owners have continued to advance their by-right plans for building on the Crow’s Nest peninsula.  Supervisors Schwartz, Brito and Fields supported a motion to send the legislation to a public hearing, while Supervisors Cavalier, Dudenheffer, Gibbons, and Milde voted to effectively kill the legislation. 
     Board members have sometimes complained that they do not have adequate tools to curb growth and protect the County’s natural resources.  This is a case where a majority of the Board has chosen not use a tool they do have.
     Instead, plans to develop Crow’s Nest continue to move forward.  The County’s move to condemn a portion of the property—which does not commit the County to an actual purchase—is moving slowly through the court process.
     We encourage you to let the Supervisors know what you think about their respective votes on this issue.

  “No” votes effectively killing the legislation

  • Jack Cavalier (Griffis-Widewater), 659-7651  jcavalier2000@aol.com

  • Mark Dudenhefer (Garrisonville) 659-5055    mdudenhefer@co.stafford.va.us

  • Bob Gibbons (Rockhill), 752-7276   rgibbons@mindspring.com

  • Paul Milde (Aquia)      720-2195    pmilde@co.stafford.va.us

“Yes” votes supporting Crow’s Nest

  • Joe Brito (Hartwood), 752-9373 jbrito@co.stafford.va.us
  • George Schwartz ( Falmouth )273-8056  falmouthsupervisor@hotmail.com
  • Pete Fields (George Washington), 371-4274  pfields@co.stafford.va.us 

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. 



Supervisors Initiate Eminent Domain Proceedings
     On Friday, November 17, 2006 Stafford County announced it filed a petition for eminent domain proceedings to acquire 2800 acres of the Crow’s Nest peninsula for a “public park for passive recreational purposes.”  (Read the local news story and the state news story.)  This action follows through on a unanimous vote taken nearly five months ago authorizing such a move.  In the interim, the County has been updating appraisals and attempting to negotiate with the landowners to reach a settlement.  The initiation of eminent domain means that such a settlement was not achieved. 
     Details of this process will emerge in the coming days.  Right now, here is what we know:

What does this action mean?
     If it is deemed in the public interest, governments have the right of “eminent domain” to purchase property from landowners—even if they object.  County governments do this routinely when they put in new roads or build other infrastructure, sometimes leading to the displacement of homeowners.  If a deal cannot be reached, landowners are paid a fair market value for their property, as determined by the courts.
     The Board’s actions formally initiate the legal process to acquire a part of the Crow’s Nest property.  Eminent domain is especially appropriate in this case since no one lives on the property and, thus, no one will be displaced.

Is this a meaningful step forward?
     Yes.  This moves the County towards purchasing and preserving a significant portion of the peninsula.  We have always advocated eminent domain as a last resort.  However, given the lack of progress in negotiations during the past years, coupled with the repeated damage done to the natural and historical resources on Crow’s Nest, this step became necessary.  In initiating this action, for the first time the County has moved from talking about saving Crow’s Nest, to doing something necessary to protect this treasure.

Does this mean Crow’s Nest is finally saved?
     No.  There are a variety of hurdles still to be overcome.
     There is still a lengthy legal process involved.  The Board did not file a “quick take” petition, in which the County immediately obtains possession of the property—and later pays the fair market price as determined by the Court. Instead the County filed a petition that could take a year or longer to process.  At any point in the process, the County can change its mind and abandon the proceedings.
     In addition, the landowners could marshal their multitude of lawyers to challenge this every step of the way.  Or a negotiated deal could still be reached.

If successful, will this action protect all of Crow’s Nest?
No.  The County’s actions cover only 2800 of the roughly 4,000 acres on the Crow’s Nest peninsula.   While this is significant, further actions will need to be taken to protect the remaining portion of the peninsula.  Otherwise, the unique habitat created by the continuous acreage on Crow’s Nest will be lost.  The pressure to develop the remaining acreage will be intense.

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. The Board also voted to initiate condemnation proceedings if Stafford Lakes, LP refuses the offer.  

     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.” 



Stafford Lakes LP Continues Activities on Crow's Nest
     Even though the Stafford County Board of Supervisors has filed to purchase a portion of Crow’s Nest through eminent domain, Stafford Lakes LP (the property owner) is continuing activities on Crow's Nest. Following a recent Stafford Circuit Court ruling that allows Stafford Lakes LP to clear and grade land on Crow’s Nest to conduct percolation tests in anticipation of development (read more), heavy machinery has reappeared on the property. Additionally, the owners of Crow’s Nest have leased exclusive hunting rights to a private club, barring the public and local hunters from accessing the property.


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 Rules Against County and the Protection of Crow's Nest

     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.


  CN damage 2 9-06.jpg (111237 bytes)  CN damage 3 9-06.jpg (44050 bytes)  CN damage 4 9-06.jpg (84594 bytes)

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. 
SCN member Yamini Singh (far right, in photos on left and center) presents to students.   Middle school students speak out (right photo).


Citizen Action Helps Bring Relic Hunt to a Halt


     Once again, the Stafford Board of Supervisor’s lack of action to protect Crow’s Nest has left the resources on the peninsula vulnerable to irreparable damage. (Read the SCN press statement.) On Friday morning October 27, Save Crow’s Nest (SCN) confirmed that over 150 relic hunters in more than 40 vehicles had converged on the historically-significant and environmentally-sensitive Crow’s Nest peninsula for the Grand National Relic Shootout (GNRS), a three-day contest that pits relic hunting teams against each other.  A flurry of activity by citizens followed, and by the end of the day, the property owners requested that the Stafford County Sheriff intervene to evict the trespassing relic hunters.   (Read more and see photos….)

Many questions remain unanswered at this writing:

  • Is the caretaker responsible for this incident or did K&M know of the hunt and later back away in the face of public criticism?

  • If K&M knew nothing of this event, how did their lawyer so quickly determine that an unauthorized contract had been signed?

  • Did hunt organizers know they were dealing with an unauthorized event?

  • Where is the contract that was supposedly signed?  And who signed it?  And where is the cancelled check that paid the lease for the hunt?

  • Were hunt participants told they were going into an area that was slated for preservation by the local government?  Were they told they had permission from the property owners?

  • Will the property owners press charges against the rogue caretaker, who they say was responsible for the incident?  Will they press charges against the hunt organizers?  Will participants get a refund?

  • Why did Aquia District Supervisor, Paul Milde, do nothing about the relic hunt, even though he knew about it at least two days before it started?

  • Most importantly, in the wake of these disturbing events, Why has the Stafford County Board of Supervisors failed to act decisively to permanently protect Crow’s Nest?   How long will they wait? 

Effort to Save Crow's Nest Inspires Award-Winning Art

60 acres a day.jpg (86608 bytes) (Click on image to enlarge.)

     Inspired by the ongoing effort to preserve the Crow's Nest peninsula, Scarlett Pons-Suhy, a member of "Save Crow's Nest" produced a photographic collage piece entitled "60 Acres a Day."   Her artwork was recently awarded first prize in the mixed media category as part of "Uniquely Fredericksburg," a juried art exhibit.

     As she says in her artist statement for the piece, "Sixty Acres a Day was inspired by all the development that is happening in our area. Therefore, I wanted to create a piece where the traditional contrasted the new. The layout of Sixty Acres a Day is a traditional pinwheel quilt pattern that is constructed out of photographs taken of local construction sites."  In assembling the images for the piece, Pons-Suhy notes, "The most surprising realization that I made […] is the amount of destruction that occurs to create this new semi-urban landscape that Fredericksburg is quickly becoming.   The amount of dump trucks and 18 wheelers carrying freshly cut trees and construction equipment is astounding. The progress of leveling our hills for a new fast food restaurant or super store that already exists twice over in a 20 mile radius is overwhelming. It's the pace really that is hard to grasp. I have to ask, 'Is it worth it?' Replacing our dogwoods and cedars, our wildflowers and cardinals for another pharmacy? According to my research if we continue developing the way we have been we will be destroying an average of sixty acres a day in the Commonwealth."

            You can learn more about the work of Scarlett Pons-Suhy and her husband, Gabriel, at their website, ponshopstudio.com.

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.   Based on the documentation Save Crow’s Nest submitted, the County immediately sent out inspectors to the site. As a result of their inspection, the County determined that unauthorized “land disturbing activities” (clearing and grading with a front-loader) had taken place without the required permit. 

     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.



Judge rules in favor of the public’s interest in Crow’s Nest 
On July 31, 2006, in the Stafford Circuit Court, Judge Braxton granted the County’s motion to extend the time for the County to respond to a lawsuit by Stafford Lakes Limited Partnership. Stafford Lakes LP sued the Stafford County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors after the Planning Commission denied Stafford Lakes’ preliminary subdivision plan to develop Crow’s Nest. That denial occurred in a unanimous vote of the Planning Commission in January 2006. Amazingly, the County Attorney’s office missed the deadline to respond to the lawsuit, which meant that by default the plaintiff (Stafford Lakes LP) would win the case—unless the Judge exercised his discretion that there is good cause to allow the case to proceed. In this case, Judge Braxton did find such good cause. The lawsuit will now continue to move forward, but it will be decided on its merits, rather than on a technicality. The next court hearing in the matter is scheduled for September 25th at 1:00 pm. (Read the news story.)

  Save Crow’s Nest is pleased that Judge Braxton recognized the importance of Crow’s Nest to the people of Stafford County, and did not allow the errors by the County Attorney to penalize the public good. We look forward to the Board of Supervisors now moving forward with their decision to acquire and preserve this remarkable property. As the legal wrangling over Crow's Nest continues, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC. The Defense Fund was created to protect the cultural and natural resources on the Crow's Nest peninsula. To accomplish this mission, the Defense Fund has retained Mr. David Bailey, a noted environmental attorney. 

Newspaper story highlights Crow's Nest resources 
The Free Lance-Star highlighted the beauty, history, and exceptional resources found on Crow's Nest in a feature article on July 30th.

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 Stafford County to file a petition for condemnation in Stafford Circuit Court. The property owner then has 21 days to respond. If the experience of the Department of Transportation, which has filed numerous petitions for condemnation in Stafford Circuit Court, is a good indicator, it can take a year or longer for the petition to be settled.

  It’s regrettable that this step was necessary. Stafford County made a fair offer, based on an appraisal, and apparently the property owner was unwilling to negotiate in good faith. By taking this step, the Board of Supervisors demonstrates that it is serious about protecting at least a part of Crow’s Nest, and is willing to protect taxpayers by not paying an exorbitant price for the property.

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. Unfortunately, the offer does not include the "Crow's Nest Harbor" section of the peninsula, which is about one-quarter of the peninsula and is closest to the heron rookery. (See map below.) It also does not include about 400 other acres that are part of the large parcel owned by Stafford Lakes LP. This leaves the rest of property open for development. 


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 channel3news@adelphia.net.


Crow's Nest Information Meeting

Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer (left) and 'Save Crow's Nest" volunteer Antoinette Franke (right) were among those speaking at the information meeting.

     On March 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. 
     The meeting also featured Jim Hazzard President of the Crow’s Nest Defense Fund, as well as volunteers from “Save Crow’s Nest,” Ranjit Singh, Antoinette Franke, and Cecelia Kirkman.


Court to Hear Legal Challenge of Planning Commission
   On March 20th the Stafford Circuit Court will hear a legal challenge by Stafford Lakes LP (a.k.a. K&M Properties) to the Planning Commission's decision to deny the proposal to develop Crow's Nest. At the hearing, attorney David Bailey will represent citizens whose properties would be adversely affected by improper development on Crow's Nest. Read the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star news story on the developer's legal action.

   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, Brooke, VA 22430


 Board of Supervisors to Hold Public Hearing on Drainfield Ordinance
   On March 21st, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on an ordinance to change the timing of the requirement for subdivision plans to obtain certification that proposed on-site sewage disposal systems are viable. This legislation is one of the items currently being tracked as part of the Save Crow's Nest report card. Read more.      


Planning 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 County Planning staff which, earlier in the day, reversed its original recommendation and, upon closer study of the plan, recommended rejection of the application.

    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 County codes.

    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.

    Read the Free Lance-Star report on the decision and the developer's legal challenge.


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, Brooke, VA 22430

New Board Meets, Save Crow’s Nest Unveils Report Card
     The newly constituted Board of Supervisors met for the first time on January 3, 2006. Representatives from Save Crow’s Nest spoke to welcome the new Board and to alert them to the new Crow’s Nest "Report Card" that will summarize the status of legislation related to Crow’s Nest and record the votes by the Supervisors.

“Save Crow’s Nest” volunteers, Mariel Berrios-Riebe, Helen Stone, and Janette Mason enjoy a lighter moment after the 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).





2005 Year in Review.

    Read about highlights from the year and how your actions made a difference. 


Court Rejects Developer's Crow's Nest Appeal 
     On Thursday, December 29th, the Virginia State Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Stafford Lakes LP (a.k.a. K &M Properties) which, if successful, could have allowed more than double the housing units on Crow’s Nest permitted under the current A-2  zoning of 1 house per acre.  (This appeal was initiated by the developer in 2004.) Instead, the Court’s action confirms that the current zoning is the maximum allowable density on the property.  Since many fewer units of housing can be built than Stafford Lakes was contending, this ruling substantially limits the potential profit in developing Crow’s Nest.


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. 


Crow's Nest Plan in Legal Limbo; Citizens Point Out Many Flaws
     The Stafford County Planning Commission recessed on December 7, 2005 without hearing the plan to develop Crow’s Nest.   The plan is in legal limbo after an appeal was filed by an attorney retained by the Crow's Nest Defense Fund, LLC. 

      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.)

     Two important hearings related to Crow’s Nest will take place on Wednesday, December 7 at the Stafford County Administration Building.  We invite you to attend or contact your public officials to show your support for saving Crow’s Nest.

1. Plan to Develop Crow’s Nest Advances to Planning Commission (See editorial from the Free Lance-Star)
     Wednesday, December 7th, @ 7:30 pm.
Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, Stafford County Administration Building.
     The preliminary plan to develop the Crow’s Nest peninsula is on the Planning Commission’s agenda for Wednesday, December 7.  (The Planning Commission is the body that reviews and decides whether or not to approve plans for new developments.) 
     We understand that a 45 minute period will be set aside towards the beginning of the meeting to accommodate public comments on the plan.  Individual comments will be limited to 2 minutes. Learn more about the plan and view talking points for the Planning Commission.
     Crow’s Nest is the last item on the agenda for the evening.  The agenda is very long and, since the meeting typically recesses at 11:15, it is not clear if the Crow’s Nest plan will actually be heard that night.  If the Planning Commission does not finish the agenda, the remaining items, including the Crow’s Nest plan, will get bumped to a Planning Commission meeting on December 21.
     If you would like to express your opposition to the planned development of Crow’s Nest, you can contact Planning Commission members (see addresses below) or attend Wednesday’s meeting.  

2. Public Hearing on New Road to Crow’s Nest (See newspaper story on this)
     Wednesday, December 7th, @ 6:00 pm.
Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, Stafford County Administration Building.

     A public hearing on the first phase of a new road to Crow’s Nest will also be held this Wednesday, December 7th.  At that hearing, the elected leaders from Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Stafford will vote on funding for the “Route 630/Courthouse Rd” project (view a map of the project). 
     This project, which will cost over $5 million, is the first phase of an $18.2 million dollar road project to widen Courthouse Rd, replace a CSX (railroad) bridge, and build a new road from Courthouse Rd to Brooke Rd that will dead-end right in front of Crow's Nest and property owned by Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties).  This road will facilitate development of the peninsula and nearby properties.
     The stated purpose of the project is to “improve ridership” on VRE by improving the road to the Brooke VRE station. However, VRE is already operating at above capacity (view Brooke Station parking lot counts).
     According to VDOT, this section of Courthouse Rd has less than 3,500 vehicle trips per day (view the VDOT traffic counts), and has on average less than three traffic accidents per year. In a five year period, there were only 14 accidents, none of them fatal and only six led to injuries of any kind (view the VDOT accident report).
     If you think scarce taxpayer dollars should go to improving traffic congestion and road safety in areas like the Falmouth intersection, Plank Rd/Route 3, the Massaponax exit, Route 610/Garrisonville Rd or Fall Hill Ave, instead of building roads for developers, now is the time to speak out.
     Please plan on attending the public hearing! And be sure to contact elected leaders that will be voting on this project:

Bob Hagan:  bobhagan@spotsylvania.va.us
Hap Connors:  hapconnors@aol.com; hconnors@spotsylvania.va.us

Thomas J. Tomzak: thomas.tomzak@medicorp.org
Tom Fortune: tfortune@fredericksburgva.gov

Bob Gibbons: rgibbons@co.stafford.va.us; rgibbons@mindspring.com
Pete Fields: pfields@co.stafford.va.us  

Stafford Incumbents Swept from Office
     The voters spoke out clearly in the November 8th election as all four incumbents for the Stafford County Board of Supervisors were defeated.  The Board’s lack of decisive action in controlling growth and preserving the County’s remaining natural resources left many Stafford voters ready for change, regardless of party affiliation.  Citizens had enough of runaway growth, higher taxes, traffic congestion, and the destruction of the region’s rural character.
     Three of the four newly-elected Supervisors have made a commitment to the preservation of Crow’s Nest. 

  • In his response to the Save Crow’s Nest candidate questionnaire (see below), newly-elected Supervisor George Schwartz (Falmouth) pledged “As a Supervisor, I will work to protect the entire peninsula from inappropriate residential development.” 

  • In his response to our questionnaire, the Hartwood Supervisor-elect, Joe Brito said, “The Board of Supervisors must take the lead in preserving Crow’s Nest because it is County taxpayers who will have to live with the consequences of development on Crow’s Nest.”  

  • Campaign literature for Aquia District Supervisor-elect, Paul Milde, criticized his opponent for “4 years of inaction on Crow’s Nest” and said Milde has “focused on making sure Crow’s Nest is secured by the county and protected from development.” 

  • Mark Dudenhefer (Garrisonville) has yet to make clear his position on Crow’s Nest.

“Save 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.
     The remaining three members of the Board are up for re-election in 2007.

Joe Brito (left) examines the "Save Crow's Nest" 
exhibit at Hartwood Days.  

George Schwartz (center) shows support for saving Crow's Nest at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting.


Where Do the Candidates Stand on Crow's Nest?
Only Brito and Schwartz Provide Specifics

     On November 8th, four of the seven members of the Stafford Board of Supervisors are up for re-election. With plans to develop Crow’s Nest moving forward and County efforts to save the peninsula apparently stalled, "Save Crow's Nest" sent incumbents and their challengers a questionnaire to clarify where they stand on the issue.  Here’s what we heard…or didn’t hear…in each of the four districts. (Click on any link to read all responses and notes.)

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.


Incumbent Challenger
Aquia Kandy Hilliard (D) did not respond
to our questions but she sent a note
Paul Milde (R) did not respond
Falmouth Mark Osborn (R) did not respond George Schwartz (D) responded
Garrisonville Gary Pash (D) did not respond Mark Dudenhefer (R) did not respond
Hartwood Gary Snellings (R) did not respond
to our questions but he sent a note
Joe Brito (I) responded


Around 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.  
Be sure to talk with your neighbors, extended family, co-workers, and members of your congregation or civic association about the importance of saving Crow’s Nest.

A new Crow's Nest supporter signs up at the Rotary Club's "Wings, Wheels, and Ducks" event.

A church volunteer, sporting a "Save Crow's Nest" button, serves food at the Andrew Chapel Fall Festival. 

Rally 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 building.  
     Despite a long wait due to Board actions and a full Board chambers, many people spoke during the public comment period of the meeting.  During her presentation, the representative from Save Crows Nest provided the four board members up for re-election--Kandy Hilliard, Mark Osbourn, Gary Pash, Gary Snellings--with a candidate questionnaire about Crow's Nest.  (See photos and details--numerous pictures, may load slowly.  See also, a Daniel family letter of support written for the occasion, a local media story about the evening, and a thank you letter from the rally organizer.) 
     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. 

Ten 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. 
     Read the original op-ed piece in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. And read a follow-up, In the interest of balance: Ten reasons to not save Crow's Nest!

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.)

At "Salute to Stafford Day," visitors watch a documentary 
about one of Stafford's most distinctive treasures: Crow's Nest. 

Recent Support in the Media for Saving Crow's Nest.  A series of excellent letters 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 editorial, "Tyrannis, Inc.," referring to unbridled development as the South's "Second Reconstruction."
     In stark contrast--and despite development plans moving forward--the editor of the Stafford County Sun recently wrote a weak column calling for more time to think about the issue!  This was followed the next week with a misleading unsigned editorial suggesting the County could save money by simply not buying Crow's Nest--failing to take into account the cost to taxpayers of development there.  Write a letter and let the Sun know what you think about this position.
Stafford County Sun poll finds overwhelming support for Crow's Nest.  In an unscientific on-line poll, the weekly newspaper, Stafford County Sun, asked "Should purchasing Crow's Nest be the county's top priority?"  Despite biased wording of the question ("top priority") that encouraged a negative response, a whopping 94% of respondents said "yes," purchasing Crow's Nest should be the county's top priority.  Only 5% said "no," and 1% were "not sure."  Several hundred votes were tabulated in the poll. SCS poll results.jpg (43143 bytes)
Click image for larger version

Crow'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 update 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!
     September's issue of Front Porch Fredericksburg features Archer DiPeppe's reflections on why he made the video, and has an accompanying editorial, Values.  

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. 

Hartwood Days (left, with filmaker Archer DiPeppe seated) and the Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers' meeting (right, at the Gander Mountain store) are just two of the places Save Crows Nest has been recently, showing the new Crow's Nest video and answering questions about the effort to save the peninsula.  Audiences have been overwhelmingly supportive!

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).

Civil 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 of Brooke Road bulldozed a civil war redoubt (an earthen fortification) in February as the build out of the Poplar Hills subdivision continues. This was reportedly done despite pleas from citizens to hold off the destruction until at least some documentation of the site could be made. Is this a sign of things to come on the Crow’s Nest peninsula itself?

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.

On a frigid winter night, these "Save Crow's Nest" members (above) were among those who attended the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 18.  Members stood in support while a statement was read on behalf of the organization.  Some individual members then added their comments.  Members in attendance included three generations from one family (right).


Development plan submitted for Crow's Nest
     December 13th, Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties) submitted a by-right development plan for 646 houses on 2,536 acres on the Crow’s Nest peninsula. (By-right means that the developer is entitled to approval of the plan as long as the developer complies with every aspect of the subdivision, zoning and other County ordinances.)
     Each lot is a minimum of one acre, and all lots will be served by well and septic systems. Proposed houses have a 3,000 square foot footprint (with two floors the house size could equal 6,000 square feet), and will also have 1,100 square foot driveways. Each house will have a drainfield and reserve drainfield, a well site, and two "biorentention facilities" (rain gardens to handle stormwater run-off). Although the proposed plan calls for 20% of vegetation on each lot to be left undisturbed, it is difficult to imagine how the subdivision can be accomplished without clearcutting the ridges to make way for the lots.
     According to the proposed plan, the subdivision will generate an estimated 6,460 vehicle trips per day. All cars will make their way to the subdivision through one entry point onto Raven Road (a narrow gravel road that has a one lane bridge with weight restrictions), as it enters Brook Road across from Loblolly Lane.
     Since it is unable to find a buyer for Crow’s Nest, we’re not surprised that K&M is exploring its own ‘by-right’ development option.  But it’s unconscionable that the Board of Supervisors has let this get this far. 
     It will be terrible if this plan moves forward. One house on Crow’s Nest is one house too many.  This is land that should be preserved for public use.  The County has the money (the conservation loan from DEQ). The Board needs to act now to purchase and preserve all of Crow’s Nest.

Loan Approved for County to Purchase Crow's Nest
     On Thursday, December 2, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Water Control Board approved Stafford County's application for a low-interest conservation loan in the amount of $30 million to purchase all of the properties on the Crow's Nest peninsula owned by Stafford Lakes LP (also known as K&M Properties).
     Now it's up to the Board of Supervisors to negotiate the purchase of the property.
     According to a letter submitted by Stafford County Administrator Steve Crosby, the County would operate Crow's Nest as a nature preserve with public access for self-guided nature trails, wildlife observation posts, canoe launches, fishing and other related acitivities. Hunting for game or waterfowl would be allowed under managed conditions.
     According to DEQ, all of the letters and comments received during the public comment period were in favor of the application. A number of applicants also expressed their interest in providing financial support and/or volunteer time to help in operating and maintaining the property for public use.
     In summarizing the comments, DEQ noted that the enhancement of water quality in Accoceek and Potomac Creeks and the Potomac River was seen as a major advantage of preserving the 4,000 acre tract. Comments also noted the historic and archaelogical importance of the area, the mature hardwood forest, and the rare and endangered plant and animal species that inhabit Crow's Nest. DEQ also reported that preservation would provide public access for low-impact educational and recreational activities.

Read the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star story,  "State OKs Loan for Crow's Nest" and the related FLS editorial, "Crow's Nest's Hope."