We wanted to share with you this letter of support. We are proud and happy to have this letter go out in our defense. Please spread the word and we would love to see you on Sunday, July 17 at 10:00AM for the response of the Purcellville Town Council Mayor and/or members of the Council.
Today with no notification, the Town has begun to construct the fencing around the entire condemned 7 acres, which completely cuts off all access to my back 45 acres where we have our Peach Orchard, beans, hay, and pumpkins. Surely there is a law against what they are doing to us, and if there is not, there should be. This is wrong, and it comes at our busy harvest, and picking seasons. As senior citizens, and business owners we are appalled at how we are being treated, and certainly would not wish this on anyone.
Thank you for your support, and we welcome your responses and input anytime.
Sam and Uta Brown
Crooked Run Orchard
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 5:28 PM
Subject: Notaviva Vineyards Alliance With Crooked Run Orchard
July 11, 2011Mayor Lazaro, Purcellville Town Council Members:
I am writing to inform you of our alliance with Sam and Uta Brown, owners of Crooked Run Orchard in their efforts to preserve their farm.
For some time now, we have followed with mounting disappointment and ire the news reports of their ongoing battle with the Town of Purcellville. Perhaps, like many others in the community, we held high hopes the issue would somehow “sort itself out” and that the Browns would prevail in their campaign. And perhaps, like many others in the community, we also held high hopes that their rights as citizens, rural business owners, and landowners would be preserved.
We reacted with shock as we learned of the Town’s aggressive tactics in removing the injunction preventing the seizure of the Brown’s property, and your subsequent acquisition of their land. In our opinion, you have violated a sacred American right, and we find it unconscionable that the Town of Purcellville has engaged in such actions.
Your quick-take was our tipping point, and we have committed ourselves to assisting the Browns in any way possible. In the short time we have known Sam and Uta, we have found them to be intelligent, passionate, honest and wise – stewards of the land with agricultural knowledge far surpassing our own. Such wisdom should be treasured, nurtured and preserved for Loudoun’s future generations, not abused like some inconsequential aggravation. It is a grave sign of Purcellville’s societal and political priorities that this situation has deteriorated to this point.
Through business collaboration, awareness campaigns, social media, and professional networking, we shall bring every resource at our disposal to their aid. To that end, we have established a Virginia ABC remote license at Crooked Run Orchard and have begun conducting tasting of Notaviva wines on their property each weekend. Our license allows visitors the legal right to enjoy open bottles and glasses of wine as they sit under the trees enjoying the rural vistas, though inevitably the question arises “what are those stakes over there…?” We have very much enjoyed the passionate response from customers as we advise them of the situation, the Town’s actions, and the many ways in which they can help. This collaboration has brought Crooked Run into the DC’s Wine Country family, and we have begun advertising Crooked Run as a remote Notaviva Vineyards wine tasting facility.
In addition to our remote tasting operation, we will be producing our first fruit wine this month with fresh produce harvested from Crooked Run. We find it hypocritical that the same Town who created the Loudoun Grown Expo is now endangering not one, but two rural small businesses. Our ability to source high quality local produce is paramount to our winery production capabilities and our continued success. Loudoun wineries depend on a reliable network of dedicated suppliers, as our industry growth has far outpaced our ability to quickly establish our own crops to meet demand. Not only will Notaviva Vineyards products be available at Crooked Run, we will begin offering many of their Loudoun grown products, such as fresh produce and Christmas wreaths, in our tasting room. These interdependencies between rural enterprises are critical to the sustainable goals of our Western Loudoun economy, as well as the preservation of our open spaces.
A long-time dedicated servant of community and small business interests, I was recently elected to the Board of the Virginia Wine Council, a Richmond-based organization tasked with furthering the rights of the wine industry. I am President of the Loudoun Wineries Association, and through the LWA we have a direct and open dialogue with both Loudoun Department of Economic Development and Visit Loudoun. I also serve on the Loudoun Economic Development Commission and the Rural Economic Development Council, the EDC Marketing and Business Retention Committee, and we are members of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce. Though this correspondence does not endeavor to speak on behalf of any of these organizations nor imply their involvement in any way, I have copied each of them so they may be advised of our intentions and commitment to these matters. I will continue to seek their advice and support as we proceed down this path. In addition to the above organizations and legislators, I am also copying local media channels; the complete list of recipients appears below:
Senator Jill Vogel
Delegate Joe May
Loudoun Board of Supervisors
Matt Conrad, Deputy Chief of Staff, Governor McDonnell
Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry
Patrick Cushing, Director, Virginia Wine Council
Chris Blosser, VP Loudoun Wineries Association
Bree Moore, Secretary Loudoun Wineries Association
Colleen Berg, Treasurer Loudoun Wineries Association
Tony Howard, President & CEO Loudoun Chamber
John Wood, Chair EDC
Kurt Krause, Chair EDC MBRC
Doug Fabbioli, Chair REDC
Tom Flynn, Director Loudoun DED
Kellie Boles, ADO Loudoun DED
Patrick Kaler, CEO Visit Loudoun
Gem Bingol, Piedmont Environmental Council
Blue Ridge Leader
Six (6) Virginia Wine Blogs
I implore you to cease your malicious activities and your intent to destroy the Brown’s rights, property, crops and business. It is my understanding that the SCR is not funded, not engineered, and mired in lawsuits. Therefore any destruction of the Brown’s property under the mantle of quick-take eminent domain may be construed as nothing more than a thinly-veiled pro-development land grab; how could it be perceived otherwise? These activities are a scar on the history of Purcellville, of Loudoun, and of Virginia. It is our understanding you intend to construct a fence to bar the Browns from their property. Should you commence with this initiative, we will organize a benefit concert to raise funds for the Brown’s legal defense. This will be held adjacent to “town property” at Crooked Run and will engage a comprehensive social networking and media strategy.
If you feel there is no chance for further negotiations and that the Town’s position is firm, then our destiny is aligned with that of Sam and Uta’s. However, if there may be any possibility of the Town reconsidering its present course of action, we would gladly donate usage of our facility to bring all parties back to the table to re-establish a constructive dialogue. We do not believe the destruction of Crooked Run Orchards is a foregone conclusion, and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure its future.
I would welcome an opportunity to personally hear your responses to this correspondence; therefore I have a video crew standing by to meet us this Sunday, July 17th at 10 AM at Crooked Run. We are prepared to film you speaking in front of the 25-year old orchard, the 80-year old boxwood hedges, the previously working barn and the wide swath of private property you are intent on destroying. I would like to film you standing in front of the stakes you have placed delineating your unfunded roadway, as well as the stake you placed at the entrance to the Brown’s barn. Further, we would like to film you reading aloud the condescending letters and lease offer you have submitted to the Browns. I believe it is critical for the community and our future generations to bear witness to this debacle – if we do not study our history we are doomed to repeat it. Bear in mind every word of your response will be included for release to YouTube, agricultural, environmental and heritage association websites, and any other media channel interested in carrying the piece.
Please reply to all and let us know how many of you will attend the video shoot so we may plan accordingly. We look forward to filming you this Sunday at 10 AM.
Co-Founder, CEO and President
Notaviva Vineyards, LLC
13274 Sagle Road
Purcellville, VA 20132
“I move that we authorize the town attorney and staff to proceed with a TOWN INITIATED ANNEXATION of parcels located in the Purcellville Urban Growth Area in order to complete the SCR (Southern Collector Road) …”
On August 11th at 7 pm the Town Council of Purcellville, Virginia held a public hearing on the ANNEXATION FOR CONDEMNATION of land for a road to be built through part of Crooked Run Orchard, my husband’s family’s 250 year old farm.
Land owners to our east and the Town have arranged for the right-of-way for the majority of the road to fall on their property, in exchange for intensive commercial development. The Town wants all four corners of this area to be designated as a third Purcellville commercial district on the fringes of town to include a mall on the Cole Property (the lovely historic barn and farm setting on the right as you enter town), Catoctin Corner (new mixed-use development south of Patrick Henry College), and a 16-acre previously annexed portion of Crooked Run Orchard.
This is bad planning – development in the middle of the green buffer between Purcellville and Hamilton which will lower air quality, create more traffic, destroy hundreds of trees, and split our farm in two … all for a road that VDOT studies show will not improve Main Street traffic.
Please read on for the 5 MYTHS THE TOWN OF PURCELLVILLE IS using TO JUSTIFY its actions AGAINST CROOKED RUN ORCHARD. We are reaching out to our neighbors and customers for help in bringing some sanity to this debate, and need your help!
– Uta Brown
Myth #1: This is a routine annexation.
The Town of Purcellville has the power to annex land within its urban growth area. Sometimes property owners ask to be annexed so they can make more profit by selling to a builder/developer. In other situations, towns condemn land that owners refuse to sell because the public need is so compelling – for example, it’s the only land suitable for a fire station. But this Town action falls into neither category. Crooked Run Orchard has consistently opposed annexation, and per Myth #2 below, the Town has yet to show a compelling need for the road.
Myth #2: Our town needs the road.
The SCR is a “bypass” looping around Purcellville to the south. The Town says the road is needed to solve Main Street traffic problems, making it easier for cars to get to Route 7. But projections show a completed SCR will reduce Main Street traffic by just 2.54%.* A second study** shows that Main Street traffic is not simply people coming from the south and trying to get through town, but people coming into town for grocery shopping, for a doctor’s appointment, to go to school, etc. (Purcellville routinely serves between 25,000 and 35,000 people for such activities).*** Developers fought to put and keep the SCR on the Town’s planning documents because they know it will make it easier and cheaper to develop the land around Crooked Run Orchard.
Purcellville is still promoting the road as “crucial to the mitigation of traffic impacts.”**** It is not.
Myth #3: The road won’t hurt the farm.
Crooked Run Orchard produces apples, berries, vegetables, herbs, holiday wreaths and decorations, flowers, and fall produce such as pumpkins – it attracts 20,000+ visitors per year. The Southern Collector Road will cut farm operations in two – leaving 45 acres on one side, and 51 acres on the other. It will also put pavement across the widest part of the wetland/floodplain and Crooked Run Creek. Customers using the back 45 acres for peach, wineberry and pumpkin pick-your-own produce will be required to cross a 40 MPH, two lane road that will carry traffic from nearby mixed-use commercial and residential development. Recent Southern Collector Plan Reviews note that required increases in road elevation “will result in additional fill … thereby potentially impacting additional stream channel or wetlands …”*, yet despite this, the Town still claims that “the alignment avoids direct impacts to the existing farming operations of Crooked Run Orchard,”** and, in addressing environmental concerns says simply that “The Town will comply with the State Environmental Review Process (SERP) under the direction of VDOT.”** (Well that certainly clarifies things!)
Myth #4: The road represents progress.
Purcellville is one of Loudoun County’s fastest-growing towns. But that doesn’t mean that citizens in Purcellville need to give up treasured places like Crooked Run Orchard in order to meet their transportation and growth needs. Nor does it mean it is wise to sacrifice productive portions of the rural economy for cookie-cutter, suburban-style development that requires massive infrastructure investments and higher taxes.
Yet town records show that lots of developers have their eye on this south eastern entrance to Purcellville and that the Town is pursuing their projects aggressively. One large mixed-use development would add up to 75,000 square feet of new commercial space,* and another possible “mixed-use condos and retail”** development – 45,000 square feet, multiple drive-through special exceptions and 300 parking spaces – is under consideration.***
Importantly, even after all “traffic improvements” and the new roads are in, the existing intersection levels of service (LOS) will still earn a “D-F” grade.**** That doesn’t represent “progress”. Not in a Town like Purcellville that prides itself on welcoming the new while preserving history and traditional, productive ways of life like family living.
Myth #5: It’s not personal.
When the Browns tried to put the 41 acres of their in-town land into conservation easement, Purcellville stripped the property of its residential zoning.* This zoning was put on Crooked Run Orchard in 1965, and no other Town Council has found it appropriate to touch it. It was only after the Browns began to pursue a conservation easement that the Town acted, cutting deeply into the orchard’s potential tax break, and making it more difficult to take advantage of Virginia law designed to help farmers. Sam and Uta put the land under easement anyway – forgoing millions of dollars in potential profits. The Town uses the words “preserve and protect” in reference to Crooked Run Orchard in its Comprehensive Plan – but its actions have served to cripple the farm. In Woodgrove High School lawsuit negotiations, Purcellville demanded that Loudoun County “Acquire, including through condemnation the right-of-way for improvements of the remaining two segments of the A Street (Southern Collector Road) …”** The County said no. BUT, PURCELLVILLE PERSISTS IN ITS EFFORT TO GET CROOKED RUN OUT OF THE WAY. If these actions aren’t personal … what are they?
FROM THEN CANDIDATE BOB LAZARO:
“Opposes annexation and boundary line adjustment schemes that would result in
increased density of residential development.”
WHY THE CHANGE, MR. MAYOR?
What you can do to help stop the Southern Collector Road:
1.) Send us an email at CrookedRunOrchard@gmail.com with your message of support and suggestions; email your opposition to Mayor Lazaro and the Town Council and copy us.
Emailing the Mayor/Town Council:
Mayor Bob Lazaro: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman Tom Priscilla: email@example.com
Councilman Kieth Melton: KMelton@purcellvilleva.gov
Councilman Greg Wagner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman C.J. Walker: email@example.com
Councilman Jim Wiley: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilwoman Joan Lehr: email@example.com
2.) Subscribe to this website in order to receive news and changes as they occur.
THEN TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATE C.J. WALKER, III:
“ … the Southern Collector Road, a $10 million developers dream, will make traffic worse and inevitably increase taxes. There are millions of dollars at stake. Theirs and yours. If we don’t have a Town Council willing to stand up to the developers to defend our small hometown, Purcellville will become another Ashburn … ”