Paul VI Catholic High School can move forward with building a Loudoun campus on Braddock Road after a stamp of approval by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington originally secured rezoning approval for the project in 2005, but did not move forward with those plans. The Planning Commission recommended approval of Paul VI’s new application, which includes less than the original application. The 2005 plans also included a middle and high school.
The application faced an 11th-hour challenge in the form of a letter from Venable LLP attorney Nicholas DePalma, delivered the same day as the board’s vote. DePalma told the county that an acre of Paul VI’s land has been maintained by DePalma’s client and Paul VI’s neighbor Peter R.Q. Knop long enough to establish “adverse possession”—in essence, squatter’s rights. Knop’s fence lines cross the eastern border of the Catholic Diocese’s property.
Knop’s 5-acre lot is not part of the larger Ticonderoga Farms environmental tourism complex that largely surrounds the high school site. That land is owned by his father Peter J. Knop, who has endorsed the project.
County Attorney Leo Rogers said that letter isn’t enough to stop the county from approving the application.
“That’s a legal determination of fact in law that has to be proven by substantial evidence,” Rogers said. “There’s absolutely no way we can make a judgment on that based on this last-minute claim.”
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said previous concerns about a traffic management plan have been alleviated, and that the school would help bring relief to Loudoun’s public schools.
“At least a significant percentage of them [Paul VI’s students] will come from Loudoun County, and those are students who quite likely are in our public school system today,” Letourneau said.
The most recent plans for the site show a school for up to 2,000 students, 850 parking spaces, along with athletic fields including a football field, soccer field, baseball diamond, and tennis courts.