Shockey Family Reels from 'Down-Zoning'

Shockey Family Reels from 'Down-Zoning'

Hamilton resident Jack Shockey lets the Board of Supervisors know what he thinks about Smart Growth, wearing a signature red bandanna and at times holding up a sign or putting displays in front of the County Government Center.

"It's important that the citizens of Loudoun County have heard the other side of the Smart Growth policy," said Shockey, president of Citizens for Property Rights (CPR). "The people I represent, they need to have a voice [and] a public record that we're objecting to the policies of the board."

Shockey owns eight acres in Hamilton and shares ownership of an 800-acre farm in Arcola with his mother Haseltine Shockey and two sisters, Sonja Shockey and Jo Ann Bensen. Before the current Board of Supervisors took office in 2000, the Shockeys planned to develop part of the property and keep the rest for their family homes.

At the time, the entire farm was zoned as A-3, or agriculture with one house per three acres, and CR-1, or countryside residential with one house per acre.

IN JANUARY, the Board of Supervisors adopted a revised zoning ordinance that changed the zoning of the farm to Planned Development — General Industrial, while the properties to the east and west of the farm remained residential, Shockey said. The property was located in the transition zone, a policy area defined in the Revised General Plan that provides a visual and spatial transition between suburban development in the eastern end of the county and rural development in the west.

"We look at this special attention to the Shockey family. I have a big mouth. They're not too appreciative of that," he said. "Their argument is we're too close to the airport and that it was always intended to be zoned this [way]. I disagree with both of these arguments. ... There are homes closer to the Dulles Airport than us."

Shockey knows that "PDGI means no houses." "There is an unlimited supply of PDGI in this county. To come here and to make it PDGI is obvious what the motivation is," he said.

Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York (R-At large) disagreed, saying that Shockey "has not been picked on" when it comes to the zoning of his property. "Like everything [Shockey]’s said, he’s incorrect on this, too," he said. "His property is in the area where the transition zone is."

"We're very serious about what happened here. This is not a joke. We believe our property rights have been trampled on," Shockey said.

"We're not the only ones in this boat. There's a lot of people," Haseltine Shockey said. "We've lived here for 60 years. We want to do something else with our land and move onto something else."

THE SHOCKEY farm has been in the family for decades. In the mid-1940s, Haseltine Shockey and her husband Joseph "Joe," a real estate broker who died in 1990, purchased 125 acres in Falls Church. Shortly thereafter, the farm was condemned, so the Shockeys took their two daughters to Loudoun, where Jack, named Lee Jackson Shockey after the two generals, was born in 1946.

Over the years, the Shockeys purchased other pieces of property, eventually ending up with the 800 acres in Arcola, a property that fronts Route 50, along with property in other parts of the state, Maryland and West Virginia.

"We were one of the largest hog producers in Northern Virginia" in the 1950s, Shockey said. "We've been here a long time working the farm."

Today, Shockey's brother-in-law Bruce Benson works the farm, a corn, soybean, hay and horse operation, with part-time help. Shockey, a 28-year retired federal government employee, helped start CPR in 2000 after meeting with 13 other farmers to discuss the Board of Supervisors earmarking $1 million in the budget for a law fund. "We figured there was a problem. When the government was putting money aside ... it was pretty obvious to all of us we were going to have a problem," he said. And then "when you have 193 lawsuits filed, there's something wrong."

Since it formed, CPR's membership has increased to 600 members who pay $15 a year in dues. The members, including farmers, homeowners, property owners, businessmen and professionals, believe the current board is denying property and development rights through its growth initiatives.

"I'm surprised to see the extreme approach to land management in Loudoun County," Shockey said, adding that he believes that some of the landowners in the west who did not want to see "development in their backyards" provided campaign donations to the current board.

"I think they've blown it. They're trying to turn the county back into the horse and buggy day," Shockey said.