35 Years of Struggle and Accomplishment
An Introduction to Citizens for Fauquier County from Its Founder
Fauquier County is not a recent discovery by the development industry. Thirty five years ago North Wales was poised to become a 3500 house subdivision. Then, as now, many people resigned themselves to the inevitability of “progress”. Others did not.
One of them was Hope Porter who established the Mid-Fauquier Association in 1968 to successfully resist the North Wales proposal. The subdivision soon was history, but the Mid-Fauquier Association endured. It evolved into Citizens for Fauquier County which for the past three decades has been the standard bearer for a new progress, one that refuses to yield Fauquier’s countryside to the ever widening reach of suburban sprawl.
Hope Porter – continuous Board member, past President, and a Fauquier Times-Democrat “Citizen of the Year” – authored the following Letter to the Editor published in the June 25, 2003 edition of the Times-Democrat. Her reflection on the historic accomplishments of CFFC is a testimony to its singular role in the future of Fauquier County.
Farsighted Leaders, Citizens Preserved Fauquier
The past 35 years have seen many changes in the landscape of Fauquier County – changes that many of us, both old-timers and newcomers, deplore. It might help us to accept these changes if we consider what Fauquier would look like today if farsighted members of the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, spurred on by an alert citizenry armed with petitions and sometimes expensive legal advice, had been unwilling to prevent or modify many proposals from developers and others that would have materially changed the face of this county as we know it today.
Until four years ago, most momentous decisions on both sides of the growth issue on the BOS and the Planning Commission were reached with a cliff-hanger 3-2 vote.
What Might Have Been
Picture the county with:
· 10,000 houses covering the landscape from Lees Ridge Road to the Opal-Springs Road.
· Billboards lining all the major highways – of which only four remain.
· The mining of uranium, a very real threat in the 1980s.
· A shopping center at Old Tavern on U.S. 17 and another one on the southern edge of Warrenton.
· A conference center and an airfield on the outskirts of Middleburg.
· A motel, restaurant, service station, 270 townhouse and apartment units, light manufacturing, and office buildings on the northeast quadrant of I-66 near Marshall.
· 122 townhouses between the commuter parking lot and Route 605.
· 390 houses at ‘Salem’ outside Marshall.
· A college for hundreds of Japanese secretaries at the 200-year-old Oakwood estate.
· 247 houses at Clover Hill at Carter’s Run Road.
· The Wiseman project that would have doubled the size of Warrenton.
· And picture the Town of Warrenton minus all the county office buildings, the jail and the courthouses, all relocated to the Corral farm.
And Also Those Saved
Consider these properties – all potential disasters – that, through individual efforts, have been saved:
· 450 acres of Salem outside Marshall without 390 houses.
· A race course at Great Meadow, instead of 300 houses.
· A 600-acre farm at the interchange of I-66 and Route 245 near The Plains that will never be developed.
· The same is true for the 1,500-acre Ovoka at Paris; the 800 acres of the Van Roijens’ St. Leonard’s Farm at the western entrance to Warrenton; the 900-acre Texas farm near Hume; and 1,200 acres of North Wales in the Springs Valley.
· To these should be added the 300 easements donated to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation by some 250 owners of 45,000 acres of farmland. That’s 45,000 acres, that will be protected forever, and the numbers are increasing every year.
· And let’s not forget the 1,500-acre gift of Sky Meadows and the 3,000-acre George Thompson Wildlife Preserve.
Moves to protect
And there are other good things that did happen, foremost among which was the gathering of 2,878 signatures on a petition in 1986 which forced a reluctant Board of Supervisors to do ” 17 years ago ” what Loudoun Supervisors have just done: down-zone the county. The Fauquier downzoning affected 95 percent of the county, while Loudoun only downzoned its western half.
Thirty-five years ago, many people expected this county to be paved over from border to border. Fortunately, there were enough who did not.
Today, there are many more people willing to put their shoulder to the wheel, which is just as well, for the job of saving this county gets harder as the surrounding counties fill up, and Fauquier becomes more and more enticing to more and more people.