The Stafford County Board of Supervisors is to be commended on taking two important steps at its March 21, 2006 meeting that have positive implications for the preservation of Crow’s Nest.  Both actions were approved unanimously.  (See our Report Card on the Board’s recent and pending action.)

First, the Board unanimously passed a resolution to make a bona fide offer for the purchase of a part of Crow’s Nest based on a recent appraisal of the property–said to be in the $27-$28 million range.  (See Free-Lance Star article on this offer.)  The purchase could be financed through a combination of State, County, and private funds.  The offer is reportedly for 3,200 acres. This would include K&M’s two major parcels (see map) but would not protect the area closest to the peninsula’s heron rookery, Crow’s Nest Harbor, a subdivision platted in the 1970s but never built.

If the owners accept the offer, they would receive fair market value for their land and the County could move towards permanently protecting this vital natural resource.  If the owners reject the offer, insisting on more than the appraised value of the property, the County could then move towards acquiring the land through eminent domain.  The purpose of eminent domain is to prevent landowners from extorting windfall profits from such deals.  In such situations, the County commits to a purchase and the court decides on the final price.

Second, the Board unanimously passed a drain field ordinance that will help ensure that adequate information is provided early in the planning stage to determine if areas with challenging terrains, such as Crow’s Nest, have adequate capacity to provide water and sewage disposal for the proposed number of lots.  This means that any future subdivision plans for Crow’s Nest will have to be based on a realistic assessment of on-site sewage disposal capacity.  (The previous development plan for Crow’s Nest was rejected unanimously in January 2006 by the Planning Commission, but the owners are appealing that decision in court.)

These first steps send a significant message about the Board’s intent to save Crow’s Nest.  But the preservation of the entire peninsula is far from being a done deal.  There is still a long way to go before a final deal is concluded and previous efforts to reach an agreement have collapsed in their final stages.  However, these actions are definitely two important steps in the right direction.