Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Qroe Preservation Development

Currier prefab at Bundoran Farm/ photo by Leigh Donohue, C'ville

Currier Farmhouse front elevation

In an article from the online Charlottesville magazine C'ville, writer Will Goldsmith gives props to Qroe Farm Preservation Development, the company developing Bundoran Farm, for sticking to what they promised. The company had vowed to maintain the working farm on the property, tuck the homesites away so they are not visible from the road, and, most importantly, keep 80% of the 2,300 acres undeveloped and in conservation easements. These principles are key to a growing movement called New Ruralism that is starting to gain ground. Qroe has been involved in this type of development for more than a decade, with four preservation developments completed in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, each with more than 80% of its acreage preserved in open space. Bundoran Farm is the first outside of New England.

Qroe has a terrific vision for preserving rural land. The company is committed to bringing together three diverse groups often locked in combat -- conservationists, farmers, and homeowners -- in innovative development projects that satisfy everyone's objectives.

We live in Loudoun County, Virginia, a once-rural area that has morphed in a short decade into a poster child for development run amok. Located an hour outside of Washington, DC, Loudoun was long-renowned for pastoral beauty, historic towns, and gracious farms -- all but destroyed in the 1990s when a high-speed freeway opened to connect farm and city. Suddenly, developers were everywhere. A huge chute opened, littering subdivisions, malls, SUVs and minivans all over Loudoun, rendering it for years running the nation's fastest-growing county. Loudoun quickly transformed from rural to "exurban," a term that sounds as hideous as what it describes. Build it and build it some more, and they will come. And they did.

That is, until lately. With rising gas prices and the "economic downturn," Loudoun is no longer looking so fetching as a place to either make money or live. If a long-distance commute becomes truly unaffordable, this bedroom community is going to be a landfill for empty bedrooms.

It's too late for Loudoun County. But perhaps in our new reality-checked America, more companies will emerge with a long-term vision like Qroe Farm's -- to conserve the land and nurture an area's rural heritage rather than simply get in, get rich, and get out.

Leesburg in Loudoun County, VA / photo by Tim Dillon, USA Today