Aldie Firehouse Denial Appealed; County Still Looking Elsewhere

The county Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure has appealed a decision not to allow the demolition of an historic building in Aldie to make room for a new firehouse. But at the same time, supervisors are still looking for other options.

Controversial plans to knock over historic buildings known as the Dry Goods Store and the Smokehouse to make room for a new fire station were dealt a setback on Feb. 11, when the county’s Historic District Review Committee denied that application. The county had applied for permission to demolish a non-historic garage and a cellar house that is deemed historically significant in the village’s historic district as part of its plans to build a 18,900-square-foot fire and rescue station on the south side of Rt. 50 in the center of the village.

Originally, a third building called the Tavern had also been slated for demolition, but the site plan was redesigned.

On March 6, the county Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure appealed the committee’s decision. Appeals of Historic District Review Committee decisions are heard by the Board of Supervisors. The board has 90 days from the date of the appeal to hold a public hearing, after which supervisors could vote to overturn the committee’s decision. A public hearing is scheduled May 15, with a vote expected on June 4.

According to the department’s appeal, the county has looked at eight different sites for the new firehouse, but only the tavern location was suitable. The current firehouse is too small, outdated, and prone to flooding. Personnel and equipment have been evacuated more than 20 times in the building’s lifetime because of flooding. But after 10 years of evaluating alternative sites—and even buying a property east of the village before neighbor opposition and a lawsuit derailed the project there—fire department leaders and county staffers say there’s no better option.

The proposal has faced sustained opposition from Aldie residents and drawn the attention of history and preservation organizations like the Mosby Heritage Area Association, the Civil War Trust, the Aldie Heritage Association and the Lovettsville Historical Society. The historic district committee’s public hearing drew 10 speakers, all opposed.

Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said he is “supportive” of the appeal, but indicated he is still looking for other sites.

“I’m working with my colleagues in hopes of identifying a suitable alternate location outside the village that would allow the fire department to meet all federally-mandated response times for the station’s first due area,” Buffington wrote. “Unfortunately, but for good reason, the county’s land purchasing discussions are held in closed session; therefore, I’m unable to provide details at this time. However; as soon as possible to do so, I will provide a public update.”

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act allows, but does not require, elected officials to hold real estate transaction discussions in secret. Most exemptions to Virginia’s government transparency laws are voluntary.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

4 thoughts on “Aldie Firehouse Denial Appealed; County Still Looking Elsewhere

  • 2019-05-07 at 5:48 pm
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    The saga of a new house for Company 7 defies belief. Is there a plan to restore the tavern? No? Thus it will continue to deteriorate, until it’s condemned and torn down.

    The new fire house plan was typical Loudoun; a remarkable (and expensive) design that would be a vast improvement over the current house, and the unsightly lawn chair lot (very historical you know).

    Yet again, if the folks in Aldie don’t want a front line, 24/7, fire station, then we’ll gladly take it here in the Leesburg South area. My insurance rate is higher solely because I’m not within 8 minutes of a fire station. From first hand experience — when your house is on fire, and you’re standing with your family in the yard on a freezing February night with just the clothes on your back, you will pray for every fire truck in the county to have arrived 10 minutes ago.

    A world class fire/rescue station staffed by professionals, superbly outfitted, or looking at a boarded up building falling apart next to a cinder block lawn chair sales lot. It defies belief.

    • 2019-05-08 at 11:58 am
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      Well said and exactly on point. If I recall, there are plans for a Leesburg South station off of Evergreen Rd by the dump. Think the county bought back land from the school there for the station.

      I know some guys who have worked in that fire station and have endured horrible working conditions over the years: lack of sleeping/workspace, flooding, mold, asbestos, snakes in gear, exhaust exposures and so on. The new station is 10 years long overdue. The townspeople of Aldie didn’t seem too upset when the current station was built in historic Aldie 60 years ago. I’m sure they didn’t have a bunch of NIMBY’s and people who don’t even live there, let alone in the county, come and speak against it. Moving it a few hundred feet away and tearing down a dilapidated building isn’t going to ruin Aldie.

  • 2019-05-08 at 11:29 am
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    Aldie doesn’t want a fire station. Put Station 7 south of Leesburg where it will be welcomed. How about the Oatlands area?

  • 2019-05-15 at 6:20 am
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    When the county wants to demo something, or ignore a historic designation, no problem. The county ignores the entire street and alley network in Waterford, a character defining feature of a colonial village, as if it doesn’t matter, so Higgins’ developer buddy’s lawyer, R. Minchew, can work magic for his “client”, Loudoun Mutual Insurance. Higgins ignores the JTHG designation to widen portions of Rte 15 and to re-zone land along the way for a mega gas station. The building is “unsafe” and is excluded from historic designation/protection. Take it down, or have a good citizen, pony up the money and rehabilitate it on their own dime. How about applying the rules the same to all regardless of campaign contributions and popularity?

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