The Environmental Council of Piedmont, a regional nonprofit conservation organization, offered the county $600,000 to purchase the Aldie Assemblage which has been at the center of an ongoing debate over construction in the historic village.
The purchase would also include part of the current Aldie Volunteer Fire Department – the property line includes outbuildings and runs through the main building. The volunteer fire department is to be replaced and the council would lease to the volunteer fire department for $1 a year until the new fire station near Gilberts Corner is ready.
PEC has been involved in many environmental and preservation projects in Loudoun, including acquiring 239 acres near Gilberts Corner and working with NOVA Parks to create the 150-acre Gilberts Corner Regional Park. The council has also participated in planning exercises in Loudoun such as Envision Loudoun and the ongoing rewrite of the zoning ordinance, and was a founding member of the Route 50 Corridor Coalition, which ultimately led to Rt. 50 roundabouts and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground partnership.
In a letter to the county attorney, council chairman Christopher Miller said the organization seeks to become “the steward of the property’s diverse natural, historic and scenic resources.” The council, he writes, recognizes that “the vitality of the cities and towns of our region and the health of our environment are closely linked”.
“This is especially true in the case of Aldie, which sits at the intersection of many longstanding PEC conservation initiatives, including the protection of the Bull Run Mountains and the [sic] preserve the integrity of the Highway 50 traffic calming project,” he wrote.
The terms of the proposed contract would commit the Environmental Council of Piedmont to bring the structures into compliance with the National Building Code and the County Ordinance on Building Maintenance in Historic Districts. The building has deteriorated over the years the county has owned it, while county supervisors have battled with Aldie residents who opposed their plans for a larger, modern fire station on the property.
The proposal marks the second time well-recognized local conservatives have attempted to purchase the property from the county. Aldie resident and Aldie Heritage Association member Guy Gerachis had offered to buy the six-acre property for the same price, offering to restore the so-called Aldie Tavern and nearby Satterfield Cottage as residences and renovate the 19and century cellar house, plus other renovations. It was an offer that had the support of many people and organizations in the region; after initially accepting the offer and protracted negotiations, county supervisors backed out of the deal.
The county government purchased the property with the intention of using it to replace the outdated and cramped Aldie Volunteer Fire Station. The community rallied around these plans, and eventually prevailed.
Environmental Council of Piedmont conservation director Mike Kane did not return requests for comment. District Supervisors Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) declined to comment.
Loudoun Now requested information on any other offers received by the county for the property.