The Piedmont Environmental Council, a regional conservation nonprofit, has offered the county $600,000 to purchase the Aldie Assemblage that has been at the center of an ongoing debate around construction in the historic village.
The purchase also would include part of the current Aldie Volunteer Fire Department—the property line includes outbuildings and passes through the main building. The volunteer fire department is slated for replacement, and the council would lease to the volunteer fire department for $1 a year until the new station near Gilberts Corner is ready.
The PEC has been part of many environmental and preservation projects in Loudoun, including acquiring 239 acres at nearby Gilberts Corner and working with NOVA Parks to create the 150-acre Gilberts Corner Regional Park. The council has also been a part of planning exercises in Loudoun such as Envision Loudoun and the ongoing zoning ordinance rewrite, and was a founding member of the Route 50 Corridor Coalition—which eventually led to the Rt. 50 roundabouts—and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.
In a letter to the county attorney, council President Christopher Miller said the organization seeks to become “steward of the property’s diverse natural, historic and scenic resources.” The council, he wrote, recognizes that “the vitality of our region’s towns and villages and the health of our environment are closely linked.”
“This is particularly true in the case of Aldie, which stands at the intersection of many of PEC’s long standing conservation initiatives, including protection of the Bull Run Mountains and the [sic] preserving the integrity of the Route 50 Traffic Calming project,” he wrote.
The terms of the proposed contract would commit the Piedmont Environmental Council to bringing the structures into compliance with state building code and the county’s ordinance on maintenance of buildings in historic districts. The building has deteriorated in the years the county has owned it, while county supervisors battled with the residents of Aldie who opposed their plans to put a larger modern fire station on the property.
The proposal marks the second time well-recognized local preservationists have attempted to buy the property from the county. Aldie resident and Aldie Heritage Association member Guy Gerachis had offered to buy the six-acre property for the same price, proposing to restore the so-called Aldie Tavern and nearby Satterfield Cottage as residences and refurbish the 19th century cellar house, along with other renovations. It was an offer that enjoyed support from many people and organizations in the area; after initially accepting the offer and prolonged negotiations, county supervisors backed out of the deal.
The county government bought the property with plans to use it to replace the outdated and cramped Aldie Volunteer Fire Station. The community rallied against those plans, eventually prevailing.
Piedmont Environmental Council Director of Conservation Mike Kane did not return requests for comment. District Supervisors Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) declined to comment.
Loudoun Now has requested information on any other offers the county has received for the property.