2019 Friend of the Mountain Award presented at Annual Member Celebration
Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains presented their annual Friend of the Mountain Award to the “SWAT Team” of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition (LCPCC) at their annual meeting on November 24, 2019 at Bluemont Vineyard, Bluemont, Virginia.
The award reflected efforts beginning in February, 2018, during the Loudoun County 2040 Comprehensive Plan Stakeholder’s Review process, which would determine much of the fate of western Loudoun and the portion of the Blue Ridge located there. A group within the LCPCC was created to immediately review each chapter of the plan and publish a “Citizen’s Response” on the LCPCC website and sent directly to Staff and Stakeholders, BOS, and newspapers, in preparation for the May, 2018, public input sessions. Many responses of “count me in” immediately followed, resulting in the establishment of the ten member New Comprehensive Plan Review Committee of the LCPCC, known as the SWAT Team. Representing the LCPCC’s 50 organizations, the SWAT Team membership consisted of expertise ranging from Urban Planning, Finance, Land use and Appraisals, human resources, environmental studies, management consulting, and much more. At the June, 2019 Plan final adoption several Board members acknowledged the vital information and assistance provided by the Coalition, with the result that the Coalition has been asked to be a reviewer for the next phase: the 2021 Zoning Ordinance Overhaul. Al Van Huyck, who initially proposed the creation of the SWAT team, accepted the Friend of the Mountain Award on behalf of the group, a certificate which reads: “In recognition of your collaborative work and significant contributions as a member of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition New Comprehensive Plan Review Committee (a.k.a. “SWAT” Team) to engage and influence the Loudoun County 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the sake of safeguarding emblems of our heritage and conserving the natural features of our landscape”
With representatives of many conservation groups in attendance, FBRM President, Peter Weeks, summarized the work accomplished during the past year, stressing the need to continue and expand efforts in the Friends‘ Conservation Corridor (Loudoun, Fauquier, Clarke, Rappahannock, and Jefferson Counties). He also paid tribute to former Board Member, Jed Shilling, who recently passed away. James Remuzzi, Chair of the Stewardship Committee and developer of the land management plan for the Sleeter Lake Park Project in Round Hill, VA, discussed Friends‘ continuing partnership with the town to develop the park with Phase 2 to begin in 2020. Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington, with the help of a large map, discussed his efforts to secure properties that will allow expanding the trail system in western Loudoun County, including a trail linking Sleeter Lake Park in Round Hill with Franklin Park in Purcellville. Buffington, who was instrumental in passing conservation easement legislation in Loudoun, also updated the audience regarding the work he is doing to expand eligibility for that program. Original art work by award-winning local artist Jill Perla was raffled to assist in fund raising for Sleeter Park. The eclectic gathering of individuals all interested and working to protect the Blue Ridge Mountains along Friends‘ Conservation Corridor enjoyed delicious refreshments, donated by Joanie Wolford of Savoir Fare, and Bluemont Vineyard’s excellent wine, while the Bluemont Balladeers provided delightful musical accompaniment.
From left to right front row:
Owen Snyder (Unison Preservation Society), Gem Bingol (PEC), Maura Walsh-Copeland (LCPCC), Cheri Conca (LWC), Norman Myers (FBRM)
Back row from left to right:
Evan McCarthy (PEC), Jim Hanna (LCPCC), Al Van Huyck (LCPCC), Jeff Freedman (Mosby Heritage)