In only one more step, the Town of Lovettsville will grow by 15 acres and be on track to get a new fire station.
The Town Council on Thursday night voted unanimously to approve a boundary line agreement with the county government that will expand the town limits at the southwestern corner of the Rt. 287/Lutheran Church Road intersection to include the 15.38-acre volunteer fire and rescue station property, which is the future site of a county-planned $14.5 million fire station. The approval follows the Loudoun Board of Supervisors’ Sept. 12 vote to do the same. The final step in the now 16-month process will be for the town and county to get approval from the Circuit Court. Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens said that there is no specific timeline for the approval, noting that criminal cases take priority and that the court is currently down one judge.
Town Attorney Liz Whiting said that the process has been straightforward from beginning to end. “[The council’s vote] is simply to bless the statutory process.”
Once the court approves the boundary line adjustment, the town will expand from 0.9 to .911 square miles, something Mayor Nate Fontaine said was fitting because the town is annexing the fire station property.
The council also voted unanimously to approve a water and sewer agreement and a water tank construction and usage agreement. Those agreements will require the county to pay for the installation of and the availability fee for a 1.5-inch water meter at the new station and the subsequent water and sewer rates there, which could come out to be nearly $4,000 annually.
Lovettsville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company 12 will be required to install a new, 1-inch water meter at its current station and pay for the subsequent water and sewer rates for actual water usage. It will also convey a half-acre of land for a $1.6 million water tower to be owned and operated by the town—a project that’s scheduled to begin in the second half of 2022. The volunteers will additionally split any future wireless lease revenue with the town at a 50-50 rate once revenue exceeds $60,000.
According to Zoning Administrator Josh Bateman, the work that the town and county have put in to finalize these agreements in the past four months has been “a monumental, almost Herculean effort.”
“I feel confident that we’re very near the end of the process,” he said.
The votes come after three years of discussions and planning. The idea to annex the property was first brought up in 2015 by then-Mayor Bob Zoldos after learning that the county’s plans to build a new 18,000-square-foot firehouse just south of the current station would include amenities like OSHA-certified sleeping quarters, a gym and fire engine bays with better ventilation, but no assembly hall.
Without one, the volunteers would have needed to continue hosting Saturday night bingo, which is also the company’s main fundraiser, in the existing 17,000-square-foot station. If the building remained on county land, however, county zoning would have restricted the activity from occurring in a stand-alone building.
The annexation will also give the Lovettsville Cooperative Market a place to open its community grocery store, which it plans to do in the existing station’s 8,700-square-foot engine bay in summer 2021. Without the annexation, a county zoning ordinance that requires at least 25 percent of farmers’ market products to be grown on sitemay have restricted the cooperative from opening, since the market has no plans of growing its own produce.
Since the volunteers submitted an application for annexation in May 2017, the Town Council held a public hearing in January to solicit input from residents and voted unanimously in May to annex the property.
The volunteers also recently completed renovations to the 500-person assembly hall and resume bingo. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14.