Months before Chuck Kuhn submitted his request to install a heliport on his 540-acre Purcellville-area farm, a neighbor fired off an email to Loudoun County slamming the idea.
But Sean Baker, operations manager with Camp Highroad, has since changed his tune, telling the county in a July 27 retraction letter that Kuhn, CEO of JK Moving Services, “has wonderful plans for his property and the utmost respect for the land owners surrounding him.”
Baker acknowledged that when he wrote the initial letter on April 30, he had not met with Kuhn or his family, assuming “that he would not have time to talk to me or feel the need to explain his plans.”
“I must now say that I could not have been more incorrect,” Baker wrote to county planners. “He explained their vision and what they wanted out of the property they purchased. I hope that Mr. Kuhn is able to speak with all those who oppose what he wants to do with the property he bought.”
“I wish in hindsight (again yes I know all about hindsight) I had contacted him directly before even drafting a complaint or opposition to something he wanted to do on property he purchased,” Baker continued.
Kuhn anticipates flying his Eurocopter EC130 to and from Egypt Farm, which he acquired in a foreclosure auction last December for $5.2 million, two to three times a week, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The flight time from Purcellville/Philomont to JK Moving Services' Gaithersburg facility is roughly 11 minutes, to clients in New York City, 80 minutes. He'll need a special exception from the county to convert an existing concrete pad into a landing pad, and a 6,540-square-foot barn into a hangar.
Baker is one of several Loudoun residents who have emerged as heliport supporters. Other neighbors feel very differently, establishing an opposition coalition — Keep Western Loudoun Peaceful — and launching a petition drive.
The coalition is urging Kuhn to keep his Eurocopter EC130 at Leesburg Airport. They say it will disrupt their way of life, frighten their horses and force down their property values.
“Recent plans to construct a heliport in North Fork on land called Egypt Farm threatens not only the peace and quiet of the surrounding area, but directly impacts many important local industries including the equine industry, viticulture, and historical tourism,” the coalition writes on its Facebook page.
“Private land ownership and usage is an important part of our history in Loudoun County,” the coalition continues, “but the construction of a heliport is not in keeping with the traditions and becomes a dangerous precedent for future development in the area.”
Kuhn is in negotiations to acquire another 400-plus adjacent acres. The land he assembles will be put into conservation easement. He also plans to construct a seven bedroom home on Egypt Farm, install a 14.8-acre lake and maintain active farming operations.
"I do hope others with concerns," Baker wrote, "will sit down and take the time to listen and not hasten to anger over something they may know nothing about."
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.