Wheatland Gothic

By Loudoun Insider

 

Thank God for concerned citizen activists.  There is a very committed group of people collecting information on the boneheaded over-priced purchase by LCPS of the developer-owned Cangiano Wheatland Farm site for a ridiculously extravagant three school mega-plex.  This deal may very well turn out to be the nail in the coffin of a good many political and administrative careers.  A guest post with some initial information follows.  I’ve been too busy to give this much attention lately, but will now be focusing on it more.  If this stupid deal infuriates you as much as it does most other people familiar with it, be sure to show up at the upcoming public hearing Wednesday at 6:30 at Lovettsville Elelmentary.

From reading this contract with Mr. Cangiano, the County appears to be COMMITTED to buy the Wheatland Farm property BEFORE a Special Exception or Commission permit (and associated public) process has even been scheduled.  Has the School Board ever entered a contract like this where school bonds are used to buy land that hasn’t been approved for schools?  Under what SPECIFIC conditions will the County be able to walk away from this contract?  What will happen to our bond ratings when investors hear the School Board is speculating on land without first obtaining permit approvals?
 
Vlad signed an engineering contract valued at $26,500 for engineering studies at the Danner site.  On 12/13/07 LCPS’ consultant prepared a preliminary design/cost for a new 2500′ roadway to take Morrisonville Rd south of the town to access the Danner property.  Of the Lovettsville sites included in the list of 15 sites LCPS alleges were considered that are posted here  http://cmsweb1.loudoun.k12.va.us/509759161361/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=542279&C=91051 , ONLY the Miller site was even remotely evaluated.   ALL other serious evaluations conducted since 2005 centered on the Wheatland area.  Lovettsville sites were NEVER serious contenders for these schools.  Here’s proof from LCPS’ vault that required spending over $1000 to obtain by FOIA:
 
The Miller’s agent sent two letters to LCPS dated 11/2/05 and 1/4/06 indicating their interest in selling, with the second offering it for $28,846/acre ($4.5 plus rollback taxes paid).  Dr. Adamo’s VERY FIRST letter to Mr.and Mrs. Miller dated 1/26/06 states, “As you know the School Board does have the authority to exercise the power of emminent domain to acquire the property for school purposes”  not once but TWICE in the 1-page letter.  Dr. Adamo’s last negotiation letter dated 6/28/06 stated that LCPS has determined that the market value for that 156-acre site was $4M ($25,641).  Mr. Miller’s agent responded back twice on 7/11/06 and 8/10/06, but LCPS never responded in writing.  By that time LCPS had already signed a contract with Mr. Grubb in March 2006 for his 101-acres in Wheatland for $40,000 per acre and on 2/13/06 sent a letter of intent to purchase to the Rackams’s 99-acre property on the west side of 287 for $5.6M ($56,000/acre).  The Miller/Park flip option would have provided one site for a middle and high school for $4.6M that would have been consistent with the County’s Plan to site facilities in or near Towns, afforded pedestrian access to hundreds of children, saved taxpayers bundles on land, allowed the schools to be on water and sewer instead of multi-million dollar LCPS-constructed water and wastewater treatment plants, helped small businesses in Town survive and allowed for co-location of elem, middle and high schools. 
 
Not only has LCPS NEVER been sincerely interested in Lovettsville sites, their records prove they have effectively squashed all possibilities for those or other now viable sites to be considered.  There is now 100 acres on the north edge of the Town that is raw.  The 70-acre Shoene site has a VERY willing seller and the contiguous 30-acre lot has a future planned industrial park.  That site would take ALL busses off the main road in Lovettsville, Broad Way because it offers access on the east as well as west sides of the Town.  That assemblage has NEVER been mentioned or remotely considered by LCPS.  Why?  Who knows, although Sam Adamo is working on a good excuse to give next Wednesday night April 29 at the 6:30pm LCPS’ presentation at Lovettsv Elem.  Perhaps the School Board likes having all their schools in the shadow of Purcellville, perhaps they like to work with developers like Sal Cangiano to speculate on land.  Others point to the fact that Sam Adamo lives next to Sally Kurtz’s Milltown Road home – a stone’s throw from the Miller and Shoene sites.  Although most believe longtime respected farmer and Lovettsville resident Evan Mohler, who recently retired from his position reporting directly to Dr. Hatrick, would never object to a school on the 70-acre Shoene property immediately next to his home – many are less sure about Kurtz and Adamo.  The evidence does make you wonder if Loudoun officials are the worst NIMBY’s of all.  One thing is for sure, they are hell bent to HURRY and spend spend spend when people are losing their jobs and glibly ensure the development of the last vestiages of rural Loudoun just so they don’t have to deal with this issue any longer.


Comments

  • Hillsboro says:

    To answer my own speculation about using the Danner property as a comp:

    146 Acres – Listed for sale at $ 1.2 mil
    Price / Acre: $ 8219.00
    Assessment: $ 2.2 mil

    http://matrix.mris.com/Matrix/Public/Email.aspx?ID=30455284570

    Cangiano Property:

    170 Acres – Under Contract – LCPS: $9.925 mil
    Price / Acre: $ 62031.00
    Assessment: $ 2.83 mil

    http://cmsweb1.loudoun.k12.va.us/509759161361/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=542279&C=91051

  • BlackOut says:

    Eric,

    I am not sure where you got the idea that I am against using the existing seat capacity. I’ve been a proponent of using what we have ever since Waters came up with the cockamamie idea to accelerate the construction of HS-6 when we have excess capacity already built. Same goes for elementary schools in my view.

  • Pissed in Wheatland says:

    Real easy to sit at the PC and write about something, takes real effort to come to the meeting tomorrow night, stand up, stick a finger in Adamo’s face and ask hard questions so everyone can see what a joke this disastor is. If you really care, you need to be there!

  • EMP says:

    How can the SB justify spending this kind of money on the wrong site, using bad student projections, WITHOUT EVEN getting the special exception permits first?

    If we don’t watch out, it’s going to be a done deal – imagine trying to stop this train once the $11 million are already spent! The BoS and Planning Commissions should be crying FOUL!

  • Good point – where in the hell is the Planning Commission on this??? I guess they’re only supposed to react to submitted applications, but since this is starting down the path, perhaps they should weigh in with their expected displeasure. There is no way this jives with the comp plan.

  • “I wonder what he’s paying per acre? Both of these parcels would make for interesting comps in an appraisal of Wheatland.”

    Hillsboro…that is an excellent point!
    I concur.

    Speaking to a couple of town folk this AM, it appears that the old fellow who owns the airstrip out here is looking to finance the rest of his existence back in Norway. How many acres are available at that airstrip?

    It’s a plus that it is definitely within a mile of Town limits.

  • “Thank goodness we have puppeteer BPM to be sure to keep Lovettsville pure from such a virus!”

    Address my specific points, or admit you’re a dumbass. Pick one.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    How about $1.2 million for 146 acres?

    http://franklymls.com/LO7026108

    While I did not major in math, that seems like a much better deal than $11. 4 million for 160 acres.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    Monk, airstrip guy only has 35 acres. And our friends park their planes there! Is that enough space for a high school? how about the Christmas tree farm folks, they have 182 acres. Perhaps they’re in the mood to sell. Not that I want a school there! But it would be convenient for Lovettsville students. The couple who owns it is around 60, they might be ready to move on to warmer climes.

    Overall, I’d prefer the Danner site on Morrisonville.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    LI, your post number 38 was on the money. We don’t even need these schools! So why are we over paying for this land that we don’t need? it’s absurd.

  • EMP says:

    I don’t see what the big rush is to get a site for schools that are WAY off in the future? It’s not as if they are getting firesale prices. What gives? How can Cangiano be the only person in the county that can make $20,000 profit per acre in two years just by holding the property – he hasn’t improved it in any way. He must have just the right friends.

  • Anonymous says:

    SB/BOS cronies are interestingly very quiet. Did they know what the well crafted contract means? Were they led to believe something different? Did they know about all the lies/half truths or whatever the lawyers want to call it? Surely SB/BOS members would never stand behind this if really knew the whole truth. They could absolve themselves of alot of grief if they come forward tonight and in the coming days and admit they were duped by the masters. Otherwise it looks like Custer’s (er Adamo’s) Last Stand. Once the bed of lies is made, its real hard to back out of that corner. Reputation and careers are on the line with this one, I hope they quit circling the wagons and just do the right thing for Loudouners – come clean and TELL THE THE WHOLE TRUTH and just TRY to comply with the Comp Plan instead of manipulate everything to keep a high school far from Lovettsv.

  • I’m more convinced than ever that we don’t need this land. The existing elementary schools are under enrolled. We have yet to build a second high school. Maybe we need a middle school, and that could easily be placed on the 35 acre near-town site mentioned.

    The only reason we need these future sites is the half-assed rural zoning passed under the last BOS. Fix the base zoning to what it once was (and which was sustainable and affordable for the county) and this need disappears. Of course the developers like Cangiano and their groupies like DuPree would never want to see that happen. Having this extra school capacity makes it that much easier for them to battle any future down zoning.

  • EMP says:

    plus it actually invites further development in Wheatland – land that guess who owns? yep, Cangiano.

  • Anonymous says:

    BPM said in #23: Oh, I’d be speaking my opposition to it in the proper offices where the votes are generated to either pass or tell LCPS to take a flying leap. I HAD THE VOTES TO STOP IT BEFORE…”

    I don’t know you but the arrogance is dripping off your words. Since you are so well connected with the electorate, perhaps you were part of the plot that began in 2006 AND CONTINUES to this day to DISRESPECT the Miller family.

  • Anon says:

    # 63 and #64 – Bingo! LCPS is directly linked to developers with their plan to FAIRFAX Loudoun Co. LCPS even hired the developers’ lawyer in 2006 to help them write contracts that are FAR more beneficial to developers than us citizen/taxpayers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post LI- this situation needs to see the light of day as so many different facets are questionable.

    The cost is exorbitant. The location is asinine, but perhaps the most disturbing aspect is the connections between the seller and the buyer.

    If the LCSB is going to spend this kind of money buying property they need legal representation THAT HASN’T RECENTLY WORKED FOR THE SELLER, wouldn’t ya think?

  • AFF says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the meeting tonight…. the last post (#67) was me as well.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so fed up with school land purchases and school spending I can’t even care anymore. Is there no reason? Is there no common sense? OK, I do care, but it really pisses me off! Nothing ever seems to change. Screw it.

  • “Monk, airstrip guy only has 35 acres. And our friends park their planes there! Is that enough space for a high school? ”

    Unfortunately…I was under impressions from a second-hand conversation that it was a bigger plot.
    Can’t help it if you have friends that park their airplanes there. The man is nearing his later 80′s , and he wants to go back to Norway, as I hear it.

    The tree farm property was the Opeka property. I don’t know what happened, but I heard there was some sort of land use abuse on that property. Their reporting of acreage and useage was thought to be screwy. I do not know how this affected the SB’s view of the property.

    In addressing a different matter…
    Anonymous who said I’m disrespecting the Millers…I’ll be at that meeting tonite. You won’t be able to miss me. Why don’t you reiterate your little missive, then.

  • anonymous says:

    I guess what disturbs me the most is the contract–that is not even contingent on getting approval for a school–by going through the SE process. A thuggish move to cut off the opposition. Buy the land, then no one can complain, it is done, kind of like Woodgrove–even if it does not comport with the plan, or our laws, or if it makes no sense…

    They were wrong about Woodgrove, they could be wrong about this too…

    It looks like an abuse of their public trust to commit to or buy property not contingent on the property having a Special Exception approved. It appears to be an abuse of their fiduciary responsibility to spend this much per acre, when other sites are available for much much less…

    Someone should sue them for misuse of taxpayer funds,abuse of their positions as fiduciaries and try to overturn the contract as illegal, and beyond their reasonable authority, if they insist on going forward with it…

  • I’m just catching up on some of my voluminous email correspondence on this mess. There is a lot more damning information to come out on this stinky deal.

  • I can certainly understand buying today to avoid the inflationary costs of waiting. But buying today at a seriously inflated value simply defeats the purpose of trying to beat the inflation index of four years from now or the next year.
    Buying it for it’s “real” comparable value— I can support. As I’ve pointed out…who can say what Fields Farm would have cost two years ago in direct comparison with what we paid in the actual aquisition 10 years ago?

    And digging further, there is another large lot next to the airpark that is frothing to sell. There is enough out there to support a school that is also close enough for Lovettsville to have that town supply water and septic service.

  • Good to have you on board Monk!

    This Wheatland deal stinks to high heaven. it needs to go down. Hard. So that the school system and school board never go down this path again with insider deals. Open the process up to a real RFP type process with plenty of advance notice to all, not just the well connected.

  • Purposely missed the meeting tonite. Got a head’s up this afternoon that the meeting was hot air. There’s absolutely no money in the budget for this…and if it goes out for referendum in the fall…with the current economic mess still upon us, the odds of a bond being approved by the same citizens who shot down a meals tax ain’t looking good.
    Pointing out that the bonds would be secured for a school that’s ten years off into the future should add several tons to the balloon.

  • EMP says:

    i’m afraid you might be wrong BPM, Adamo/Kurtz were pretty clear that they can and most probably will buy this by July 8, 2009. Aparently the BOS already gave them the bond money, so it’s just sitting there burning a hole in LCPS pocket.

    We’re going to have to scream like Hell to force the Supervisors to kill this deal. Then we can have a Wheatland Agricultural Park instead!

  • Hillsboro says:

    The site acquisition funds were approved in a bond referendum long ago, Monk. This purchase is a done deal.

    There’s a chance we could stop the special exception this fall or winter, but by then Sal and Al will have cashed their checks.

    If by chance we do stop the special exception, LCPS will be the proud owner of a chunk of land they can’t build on — worth a fraction of what they paid for it.

    This really is an incredibly sh!tty deal and every School Board member that knowingly voted to approve a contract without a SPEX contingency should be targeted in the next election.

  • New post coming. It was a travesty of a meeting.

  • Buck says:

    The Danner Farm……….
    Forget the Politics ……The counties growing, you may like it or not, it’s a fact! When Mr. Danner died, he wanted his land to be sold to the School Board……it was his “dream” for a school or two to be built, a football field to be contructed on his farm he was leaving behind. He was a football coach for years. His land is still available!
    There are contracts presently on his property, and it’s going to sell soon.
    The school board had it’s chance.
    Even with the cost of road ingress and egress it would have been less expensive in the long run for the school to be built on the Danner Farm.
    It made sense……..but people, perhaps those who don’t live in Western Loudoun made poor decisions. Those who live in Western Loudoun realize the need for a school out in the area, it’s not rocket science.
    Too much gossip, too much talking and not enough action, causes much loss. Now Western Loudoun students suffer.
    Look at a map of Loudoun County, again, it’s not rocket science as to “what makes sense”. Obviously the Danner Farm geographically speaking is in the right area. Some obstacles, sure, but that’s with any piece of land, and of course, when politicians are involved, it just makes it worse. No need to blame specific people.
    Western Loudoun NEEDS the schools. Where ever! The Danner Farm, made sense. The farm is on the market for 1.2 mil, as you can see the county is NOT jumping on it, so obviously they are willing to spend more of our money on a school in another location. The only issue with the Danner Farm, was Morrisonville Road, which a study was already completed, with the expense of build up. You all figure it out and go for it. But the county has overlooked it for some reason.
    “some have deeper pockets than other”

  • Mr. B says:

    The post above says much

    The Danner Farm is about 145 acres and was suppose to be purchased by the school board a while back. They walked away from the land. It’s got good soil and if I remember correctly I believe there’s a number of springs.

    The note above was signed “Buck”. Buck was Danny Danner’s nickname, God rest his soul. The school board was suppose to buy the land, it was in his Will, to the best of my knowledge.

    I don’t have children in school, I know this land, and you couldn’t ask for a better place for the kids to go to school in a good and safe area.

    This Danner Farm, it should have gone for a school …..it’s a real shame.

  • [...] Vea la fuente aqu?: Wheatland Gothic [...]

  • Buck says:

    There is no secret about the Danner Farm. The school has been looking at this property since 2006.

    It is true that there are natural springs on the Danner Farm.

    It is true that the area is safe and the area is wonderful, school or not.

    It is also true that the school would not be on top of 287 and 9, but close. Mountain Road and perhaps some of Purcellville Road may have been utilized for school buses. This isn’t new news for Mountain Road residents,they already have bus traffic.

    Everyone KNOWS there needs to be a school built. But for some reason, when it gets close to their yard, the gloves are on. Kind of funny how that works…………

    I’ll be watching……..Let’s see how much money the County will spend, knowing they could have, and if they submitted a contract TODAY could, purchase the Danner Farm. You all know the asking price.

    COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, WOULD HAVE

    I bet……………they continue on their path……..DO Y

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