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PHC Property Annexation to Aid Development

December 11th, 2009

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Earl Hall, Vice President for Campus Administration, overlooks the "back 60" acres of campus property from the back porch of Founder's Hall

To the relief of Vice President for Campus Administration Earl Hall, the Town of Purcellville this week passed an ordinance annexing the last 66 acres of Patrick Henry College property. After an ongoing conversation of seven-and-a-half years between Hall and town planners, as of January 1, 2010 all College property will reside within Purcellville’s jurisdiction, rather than part residing within Purcellville and part within Loudoun County.

“This will give us the ability to grow the campus to a sensible size for the sustainable future,” Hall explains. “Otherwise, it would be problematic to develop. Not impossible, but difficult.”

At a sometimes tense Town Council meeting on Tuesday, December 8, both critics and supporters of the annexation spoke out, including former mayor of Purcellville Bill Druhan, who stepped in to support the College’s bid for annexation. Calling the College a “good neighbor,” and its students “good kids who work in our businesses and serve on our rescue squads,” Druhan detailed a rich history that leads back to PHC’s initial application in 2002.

Hall termed the former mayor’s speech a “pleasant surprise,” since he had not asked him to speak. Druhan joined five other residents in voicing support for the annexation, while three residents spoke against the measure. At meeting’s end, the Town Council voted 6-1 to pass the annexation ordinance.

Aerial map of campus, with the newly-annexed 66 acres marked in yellow. Click the map to view a larger version.

"Patrick Henry College has been an outstanding resource for our community,” said Mayor Bob Lazaro following the vote. “I look forward to working with our citizens and the College as we work together to shape a plan that meets the needs of all parties concerned."

The annexation was the end result of seven-and-a-half years of intensive water and land use studies, detailed discussions, and give-and-take negotiations with town planners, said Mr. Hall.

“I believe it took us seven and a half years to reach this goal because we needed to develop a long-term track record as good neighbors,” Hall says. “Because we are situated in Purcellville, we have developed a quality relationship with the town and town staff over the years.”

Standing before the Town Council during its public hearing, Hall recited a list of 30 positive contributions that PHC makes to the Purcellville community, including:

  • Over $200M in new money to the region over the past ten years.
  • Jobs for local residents; the College is one of the largest employers in Town, bringing positive economic impact to the Town with new spending on housing, retail, and medical services, creating tax revenue for the Town.
  • Students who volunteer in the community (Town Offices, County Offices, Planning Commission, Fire Department, Rescue Squad, Teen Center, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Ladies Rummage Sale; periodic town-wide clean-up days; 9/11 memorials, food drives, gift drives, moving assistance).
  • Students and staff who keep the road frontage along the campus litter-free.
  • Public use of softball and soccer fields (free-of-charge) in support of local youth sports leagues.
  • Several national championships in collegiate debate and moot court competition.
  • World-renowned faculty members who speak and write prolifically.
  • The backdrop and setting for a feature-length movie.
  • Alumni who are taking active and influential roles in leading our nation and shaping our culture.

As part of the annexation ordinance, PHC has agreed to fund and construct a municipal well and water system to add into the town’s water supply, and to loop the existing water system, which will allow water to flow freely and improve overall water quality for the side of Purcellville near the College. Currently, the water system creates a dead end near the College, meaning that water has a chance to build up mineral deposits before it is used.

Current PHC campus, viewed from across its additional acreage

Jurisdictional issues regarding the annexation remain to be resolved between the Town and the County Board of Supervisors, but for now the College deems the successful vote a relational milestone with the community worth celebrating.

"Patrick Henry College is thrilled to be part of the Purcellville community, and this annexation further cements our ties with the town,” says PHC President Dr. Graham Walker. “In future years, Purcellville will be widely known as a premier "college town" -- featuring a classic colonial Virginia campus and enjoying the amenities, activities and cultural events of collegiate life.  You know how people think of Charlottesville now?  That's how they'll think of Purcellville, on a smaller scale, thirty years from now.  Thank you, Purcellville."

Over the next 20 years, PHC plans to continue to develop and grow into a larger campus of up to 1600 students. Bringing the College’s full land holdings into the Town of Purcellville is another important step toward making that goal a reality.