Environment

Published — October 22, 2008 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

The $19 million land purchase that wasn’t

Introduction

In the end, it simply wasn’t worth it. Officials in Loudoun County, Virginia, rejected a $19 million land purchase on Tuesday, following publication by the Center last week of an article revealing that the owner of the land claimed it was only worth about $3.5 million for tax purposes.

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted 5-4 to reject the county school system’s plan to build a new high school and middle school on 99.3 acres of land owned by developer Greenvest L.C. A Greenvest accountant said the sale was contingent upon winning the board’s approval.

While concerns were raised about the $19 million purchase price for the site, the board’s stated reasons for denial were based on a belief that the school location did not conform to the county’s vision for development.

The school system has the option to sue the county if it believes the denial was arbitrary and capricious, but school board member J. Warren Geurin said he was unsure how the school board would respond in light of the vote. He said it appeared possible that some of the supervisors who voted against the schools based their decisions on concerns about Greenvest.

Some background: Shortly before entering into a purchase contract with the school system for roughly $200,000 an acre, Greenvest had asked a court-appointed panel to reduce the assessed value of that same land to about $35,000 an acre in an attempt to lower its tax burden. The contract price was reduced from $20.1 million to about $19 million days before the Board of Supervisors’ vote to help cover the cost of a section of road needed near the school on property not owned by Greenvest.

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