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June 27, 2008


To:                  School Board Members

                      Board of Supervisors

      Dr. Edgar Hatrick, Supt.

      Mr. Kirby Bowers, County Administrator


From:              Sam Adamo, Director


Subject:          Supervisor Burton’s Analysis of the Rouse Appraisal

The purpose of this memo is to clarify critical points in Supervisor Burton’s June 27, 2008, memo regarding the Rouse appraisal.

Item A - Physical Characteristics – the memo suggests the property is characterized by a “…large swatch of floodplain …and…fairly steep hillside…” The Rouse parcel is a total of 173.69 acres. There are .44 acres of very steep slope (> 25 percent), 7.25 acres of moderate steep slope (15-25 percent), 6.42 acres of wetlands and 6.29 acres of minor flood plain. This leaves a minimum of 153.26 acres of developable land for public school purposes (note the wetlands and floodplain overlap one another; the deletion of this overlap would increase the net developable area). The aforementioned calculations indicate that slightly over 88 percent of the site can be used for development purposes. Based on zoning regulations, the entire 173.69 acres would be utilized to determine density.

Item B – The use of assessments to determine market value is not valid. County assessments and market based appraisals use different methodology and guidelines in arriving at value.

Item D – All residential sales are valid. Professional methodology and guidelines account for density differences and the presence of entitlements. The adjustments are necessary when and if there are not sufficient numbers of identical sales in size, zoning and respective physical features. It should be noted that there is very limited A-3 zoned property in the County. The county-wide remapping changed the majority of A-3 land to AR-1 and AR-2.

Item EBased on County soils maps, there are approximately 70 acres of soils that are considered to be fair to good for drainfield potential. Out of the remaining 100+ areas of the property, it is quite probable that there are other areas that would provide drainfield opportunities. On-site testing provides better soils information for the specific site and frequently yields greater drainfield potential than the broader soils mapping suggests. Since a public school use is able to utilize central utilities, a drainfield analysis was not conducted on the property. From a development perspective, a 53 lot subdivision potential was assumed since there is no question that 70 acres of drainfield could support a hamlet cluster subdivision. Hamlets may utilize communal wastewater disposal and water supply systems (by right). A 53 lot subdivision on a communal system would require a primary drainfield of approximately 8 acres plus a reserve of equivalent size (total 16 acres). Extension of central utilities would not be required to serve the above development scenario.

Item F – The School Board packet, distributed on June 26, 2008, defines methodological differences employed by the Assessor who relies upon mass appraisal techniques, versus a professional appraisor who is required to use reporting standards and conduct outlined in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. As Mr. Thorne pointed out in his June 25, 2008 memo (p. 1) “…the County Assessor uses our raw and adjusted sales data to derive another indication of value using an incorrect process to derive a lot price for the subject property.” This is also highlighted on page 2, in Mr. Thorne’s response to the Assessor’s erroneous technical approach in determining value of the Rouse property.

Based upon the available data, School Board staff believes that the purchase price is justified in the current market. In addition to the market forces at work, it is important to consider the potential costs of time and money and their collective effect upon the county wide capital planning process. Delays add hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to the county-wide capital improvement plan. For example, the original MS-5 budget of $39.675 million required a supplemental approporation of $12.2 million to fund its construction as a consequence of the two year delay.

Costs will certainly escalate if land is to be acquired in any of the approved planned developments like Brambleton and/or Loudoun Valley Estates. Additional time will be required to research, negotiate, seek legislative and ministerial approvals, conduct engineering and traffic analyses, etc, not once, but three times. Staff estimates that normal due diligence per site costs anywhere from $500,000 for an elementary school site up to $750,000 for a high school site. These economies of scale are clearly realized in the Rouse acquisition. This purchase also supplies the needed property well in advance of the construction timelines associated with LCPS facilities. In sum, the economic advantages are evident and the proposed site meets the guidelines outlined in the General Plan, as well as Board of Supervisor and School Board policy parameters.

Should you have any questions regarding this information, please contact me at your earliest convenience.


Cc:    Jack Roberts, County Attorney

Mark Adams, Director Management and Financial Services

Todd Kaufman, Assessor