October 10, 2018
Big land donation includes Rappahannock River access
File Photo/Friends of the Rappahannock
The donation would provide Fauquier County’s second public access to the Rappahannock River, with another also planned 15 miles downstream at Remington. Another five miles south of Remington, the state maintains a public access point at the Kelly’s Ford Bridge.
The property that Charles K. MacDonald plans to donate lies along the river at Waterloo, just north of Route 211 about seven miles west of Warrenton.
We couldn’t be more thrilled by this generous donation. It’s just a great opportunity for the county.
— Marshall Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel
Thanks to an unprecedented land donation, Fauquier next spring could have another public access on the Rappahannock River.
Charles K. MacDonald of Madison County has agreed to give the county 196.6 acres along the Rappahannock River about five miles south of Orlean.
Fauquier’s board of supervisors Thursday will vote to accept the largely forested property along Leeds Manor Road.
Besides a canoe launch west of the Waterloo bridge, plans for the site, which has eight-tenths of a mile of riverfront, initially call for hiking trails and a parking area, county parks and recreation Director Larry Miller said.
The property already has a trail network, an entrance and a gravel road that will need some work, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Miller estimates the project’s start-up cost for the proposed park at $45,000 and annual maintenance at $12,500.
Construction of a wooden canoe launch — steps down to the river — would cost about $5,000, he said.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled by this generous donation,” said Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel, whose Marshall District includes the property. “It’s just a great opportunity for the county.”
Since moving to Madison 10 years ago, “I hardly use the it,” said Mr. MacDonald, explaining his decision to offer the land to Fauquier. “That’s a shame, because it’s beautiful.”
He originally planned to build a home there but decided not to because that would have required the removal of “mature” hardwoods.
“I didn’t want to do that,” said Mr. MacDonald, a retired investments manager for a New York firm.
> Document at bottom of story
The department plans to open the park in the spring, Mr. Miller said.
“This means that country residents will have their second (public) access to the Rappahannock River in Fauquier,” he said. “And they will have some worthwhile distances to hike over some very beautiful and varied terrain.”
The county’s only Rappahannock River public access lies immediately south of the Kelly’s Ford Bridge, five miles downstream from Remington.
The parks director in January learned about Mr. MacDonald’s interest in donating the property.
They first met at the site in May to discuss the potential transaction.
“We were out there for about two hours and walked most of the trails,” Mr. MacDonald recalled.
He paid $2 million for the property in 2007, according to court records.
A Virginia Outdoors Foundation easement prohibits further subdivision of the land. The easement allows a maximum of two, single-family dwellings but does permit construction of “nonresidential” buildings, “connecting” private roads and farm structures.
The easement also places limits on the square feet of certain structures and their proximity to the river.
Because of the easement, the county for tax purposes values the property at just $45,700.
But treated as a charitable contribution, Mr. MacDonald would be eligible for the full federation tax deduction and a portion of state tax credits, based on the fair market appraisal of the property.
County planning commission member Bob Lee (Marshall District) in June toured the site along with Mr. Miller and other county officials.
“It’s just a fabulous property,” said Mr. Lee, who canoes and hikes. “We need more access to the Rappahannock.”
In June, Piedmont Environmental Council staff member Julie Bolthouse and others visited the site.
“It’s a gorgeous piece of property,” Ms. Bolthouse said “It’s going to be a beautiful river access.”
But, there should be “a balance” between recreational uses and the “ecological and historical significance of the site,” she said.
Fauquier next spring also hopes to construct a public canoe launch on the Rappahannock River at Remington, about five miles upstream of the existing one at Kelly’s Ford Bridge.
If both planned public boat accesses remain on track, Fauquier could have three by the spring.
Mr. MacDonald’s property lies about 15 miles upstream of Remington.
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AngryBob · October 10, 2018 at 10:53 am
It really irks me that I pay TEN TIMES MORE TAXES on my 1/4 acre than this 200 acre lot with a mile of Rappahannock river front. Something is not right.
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