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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Winter 2005 arrow Virginia: Construction Near Oatlands Plantation, Loudoun County
Virginia: Construction Near Oatlands Plantation, Loudoun County

Agency: Army Corps of Engineers
Oatlands Plantation in Loudoun County, Virginia, was established in 1804 by the great-grandson of one of the richest and most extensive landowners in the colonies, Robert “King” Carter. The Greek Revival-style plantation house, a National Historic Landmark, is maintained with more than 250 acres of original land.

Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revoked a developer’s application to construct a road crossing and two stormwater management ponds in a planned 227-unit housing development. The development would have been visible from Oatlands Plantation and the surrounding National Register-listed Oatlands Historic District.

Consulting parties stand at Oatlands Plantation, across from the proposed development area, Loudoun County, Virginia. Consulting parties view the proposed development area from Oatlands Plantation, Loudoun County, VA
(staff photo)

In 2003, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to permit the construction of a road crossing and two stormwater management ponds within a planned 227-unit housing development known as Courtland Farms Rural Village in Loudoun County, Virginia. The development would have been visible from historic Oatlands Plantation and the surrounding Oatlands Historic District.

Oatlands Plantation was established in 1804 by the great-grandson of the famous colonial-era landowner, Robert “King” Carter. The house is a Greek Revival style mansion that was transferred in 1965 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation with 261 acres of land. The property was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969, and the Oatlands Historic District was listed in the National Register in 1974.

In early 2004, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Audubon Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns Oatlands Plantation, filed suit against the Corps over its use of its Appendix C regulations to evaluate effects of the proposed development on surrounding historic properties.

In a settlement of the lawsuit, the Corps agreed to use the ACHP’s regulations and evaluate effects on historic properties from the entire planned development, not just the specifically permitted activities. Since that time, the developer has determined that the housing development can be redesigned so as to go forward without the need for a Corps permit at all.

In November 2004, the Corps notified the project’s consulting parties that it had revoked the permit verification, and that it now no longer had an undertaking.

The National Trust is reviewing the matter to determine whether it believes the terms of the settlement agreement have been violated and whether the Corps must still review the developer’s plans to restore those portions of the land that may have been altered under the former Corps permit before it was revoked.

The Corps had been using its “Appendix C” regulations to review this permit application (and many others across the Nation), and was only considering the effects of two stormwater management ponds and one crossing—not the entire 227 unit development—on the historic properties.

Thus, only very small areas were being evaluated for visual effects to Oatlands Plantation and the Oatlands Historic District, and the permitted areas were found by the Corps to have no effect on historic properties.

This was another case where the Corps of Engineers used its own regulations to narrow the scope of its Section 106 analysis. By only looking at effects to historic properties caused by the actual filling of wetlands, or the construction of a stormwater drain facility, the Corps had not considered the direct or long-term consequences of the entire project on historic resources.

Staff contact: Tom McCulloch

Updated March 8, 2005

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