Purcellville establishes nutrient credit bank at Aberdeen | News

As part of Mayor Kwasi Fraser’s effort to monetize town assets, Purcellville on Tuesday formally established a Nutrient Credit Bank on 93.4 acres of the Aberdeen property with a 6-0 town council vote.

Fraser has pushed for the initiative, which was designed to create a “green economy” for the town by planting trees.

By growing trees on what was previously farmland, it creates a nutrient mitigation bank, which essentially introduces healthy elements to the soil and that environmental benefit can be given monetary credits through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The credits range in value from $18,000 to $30,000 and would permanently restrict the land to forest, according to town attorney Sally Hankins.

Last June, DEQ approved the town’s nutrient mitigation bank which is expected to generate 76 credits, according to Fraser. The credits can be sold to developers who are seeking to offset the environmental impacts of their projects on the environment.

In December the town issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a partner to maintain the town’s approved nutrient bank in exchange for a share of the revenue generated by the bank. The town received five responses and selected Davey Resource Group, a national company with offices in Virginia.

The town purchased the 189-acre Aberdeen property in 2009 for $2.175 million for the purpose of providing additional well water to the town, if needed. The property has three wells and a house which was built in the 1880s.

Fraser noted that with this project, the town is still able to access the well water and will not risk further contamination of the water source with either agricultural or residential development.

He estimated the value of the town’s credits to be between $1.52 million and $2.28 million.

The town’s director of finance, Liz Krens, said the proceeds of the project would be directed to the water utility fund since Aberdeen is a water fund asset.

Fraser told the Times-Mirror that 111,000 trees — including Northern Red Oak, Willow Oak, Pin Oak, Sycamore, Lobolly, Premium, River Birch and Silky Dogwood — were planted at Aberdeen to develop the nutrient credit bank and to further carbon sequestration efforts. The trees will take about five to ten years to mature and about 30 years to become fully grown, he said.

“This is the largest such initiative in Loudoun County,” Fraser said. “The town is expected to earn over $700,000 from the sale of nutrient credits for major infrastructure projects in the watershed.” He said officials expect the new forest will attract new species of birds in addition to deer, wild turkey, raccoon, opossum, bear, rabbit, and more.

Aberdeen has been the focus of discussion for many proposed projects in recent years, including one proposal that it be used as a location to grow hops as well as a potential equine park. Another idea was to use the land as a {span}lab promoting agricultural technology, by using drones to video and monitor crops.{/span}

Council members each spoke in support of the project and thanked the staff for their role in moving the process along.

“We got here through a lot of blood, sweat and tears on the part of the staff and Sally, you obviously played a big role in this,” said Councilman Tip Stinnette.

Councilman Chris Bertaut agreed, adding, “This marks an important point in the town’s history in terns of leveraging our assets for the greater benefit of the public.”