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August 11, 2015

8/11 briefing: $70-million estate attracts no buyer

The property has three primary residences, including this 10,000-square-foot “Brick House,” which Paul Mellon built for his first wife in 1941.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request for a rehearing of his appeal in front of the three judges who had already rejected his case and for a rehearing in front of the entire court.
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Some potential buyers have taken a look or two, but the Upperville estate of the late Rachel “Bunny” and Paul Mellon has failed to sell for its $70-million asking price.

So, after a year on the market, the 2,000-acre property will get offered in smaller parcels.

Meanwhile, Fauquier’s board of supervisors on Thursday night will conduct a public hearing on a zoning amendment that would allow up to 30 scholars to stay on part of the estate that Mrs. Mellon designated for creation of a horticultural education center.

Also in Fauquier this week:

• The Warrenton Town Council on Tuesday night will conduct a public hearing on a 120-bed assisted living home on American Legion Post 72 property, behind the horse show grounds. That hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

• The Bluemont Concert Series will present its seventh of eight summer performances in Old Town Warrenton on Saturday night. Hard Swimmin’ Fish, a blues quartet, will perform at 7:30 p.m.

• Fauquier County Public Schools open classes for the 2015-16 term on Monday, Aug. 17. The county system has 102 new teachers, representing about 8 percent of the instructional workforce.

Around Virginia this morning:

Mellon estate near Upperville offered in smaller parcels

New York Social Diary

After a year on the market at $70 million for 2,000 acres of prime Virginia hunt country land, with a Georgian mansion and a jet landing strip, the Upperville estate of Paul and Bunny Mellon has not sold. The property was shown to 8 buyers, including three who returned for second looks, and one for a third, but none made an offer. The Mellons real estate and legal overseers have decided, and confirmed to New York Social Diary exclusively, that they now will break up the property and sell it in a dozen parcels.

“We have made a decision to move now to speak with parties who have expressed an interest in parts of the property, and those include neighbors,” said Tom Anderson of Washington Fine Properties, who announced the listing last August. He said these interested parties, forming something of a wait list, have been in touch directly with him and executor Alex Forger, asking “if there was a time when portions of it would be available would we inform them.”

To head off any groans that Paul and Bunny are rolling in their side-by-side graves, Anderson made clear that this move is part of a “strategic plan” the Mellons helped devise. He said the principal goal is still to sell the whole estate, intact, to a single buyer to “keep Mr. and Mrs. Mellon’s idea of how it would be handled. They were great stewards of the land. Passionate about keeping it intact.” He said that Bunny Mellon left a plan for “how this was done,” and they are “still adhering to her wishes.”
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Federal appeals court turns down McDonnell, again

The Washington Post

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell’s latest bid to challenge his case, leaving the Supreme Court as his last avenue to get his public corruption convictions overturned.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied McDonnell’s request for a rehearing of his appeal in front of the three judges who had already rejected his case and for a rehearing in front of the entire court.

In a two-paragraph order, the court’s clerk wrote that no judge voted in favor of a rehearing. Eight voted against and seven deemed themselves disqualified and did not participate.
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ABC agents return to duty in Charlottesville

The Daily Progress (Charlottesville)

Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents placed under restricted administrative duty following the bloody arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson returned to work Monday following the completion of an Virginia State Police administrative investigation into incident. The report was turned over to the office of Brian Moran, state Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security two weeks ago.

“After thoroughly reviewing the incident and the report, Virginia ABC concluded that the agents did not violate agency policy and returned these special agents to active duty today,” ABC officials said in a news release.

"Because Virginia law prohibits disclosure of personnel files, the administrative review will not be released, and Virginia ABC cannot comment on specifics of the matter," the release states.
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Culpeper students return for first day

Culpeper Star-Exponent

After visiting all 10 Culpeper County Public Schools before noon on the first day of school Monday, superintendent Tony Brads delivered a positive report to the Culpeper County School Board that evening.

Brads shared his three favorite days of the school year: Welcoming new teachers, the first day of school and graduation.

“Not in any particular order, but it depends on my mood on which one is which,” said Brads. “Today was one of those fantastic days. Things went very smoothly.”

According to Brads, 7,675 students attended school Monday.
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Editorial: Expansion costs need to be shared

The Daily Progress (Charlottesville)

Albemarle County officials no longer can ask developers to pay their full share of development costs, as judged by the county, because a 2013 state law puts new limits on those payments, called proffers.

The law says that, in calculating development costs, “the only thing that can be considered now are projects that expand capacity” (“Board briefed on proffer recommendations,” The Daily Progress/Charlottesville Tomorrow, Aug. 6; emphasis added).

Albemarle County will lose thousands of dollars per unit that officials believe are necessary to counteract the cost of development — that is, the added stress that new homes and new residents will put on infrastructure such as schools, roads, libraries, public safety and recreation.
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Bedford County man pleads guilty to $1-million fraud scheme

News & Advance (Lynchburg)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Samuel K. Pate Jr.’s job was to make sure donations were deposited into the accounts of his conservative clients — including campaign funds for now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter.

Instead, the Forest resident’s bookkeeping scheme diverted more than $1 million into his own accounts to pay for a lavish lifestyle of vacation homes, luxury vehicles and jewelry, federal prosecutors said.

Pate, 52, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of mail fraud in federal court in Louisville, Kentucky. Prosecutors said the scheme ran from early 2008 through November 2014 and netted him more than $1.1 million.
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