> Link to 90 Acre Subdivision (5MP PDF)
> Link to Five Lot Subdivision Site Plan Map (5MB PDF)
> Link to Environmental/Health Facility Site Plan Map (5MB PDF)
EcoVillage is located ten minutes from the Point of Rocks, Maryland MARC (commuter) train station to DC and one-quarter mile from historic Taylorstown, Virginia. The land is beautiful, with rolling hills within view of Furnace Mountain. Originally, the land was part of the Great Eastern Piedmont Forest, until it was cleared for agriculture, primarily cattle farming.
The original 180 acre parcel has been divided into two sections. The northern section includes 25 rural hamlet lots and three conservancy lots. Under the terms of the conservation easement, it, can never be built upon.
All of the 180 original acreage is organically managed, and the common area is organically certified by USDA. Several areas of land representing approximately five acres containing the best soils have been identified as candidates for organic agriculture. The EcoVillage Community Association is seeking an organic farmer to grow fruits and vegetables on the land.
Electricity and telephone are supplied through an underground infrastructure. Residents may also select gas stoves that utilize propane stored underground. Some residents use solar thermal panels for heating and hot water or solar photovoltaics for generating electricity. The electric company serving the EcoVillage, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, practices net metering. This means that they will “buy back” electricity produced by the solar photovoltaic panels. Each home has its own well and secondary treatment septic system.
Homes are clustered in order to promote environmental preservation and provide opportunities for interaction among residents and their guests. Clustering results in a smaller human footprint on the land, and leaves over 85% of the land in open space, reforestation, and wildlife.
Clustering homes encourages awareness of neighbors, community safety, and collaborative activity. Sharing tools, e.g., mowers, gardening tools, etc. becomes easier; so does sharing common house amenities, e.g., meals and mail pick up. The “commons” nestled among nearby homes serves as a natural play space for children. EcoVillage kids can run outside and check out the commons to see who’s about.
Reforestation and Native Habitat
We are told by environmentalists that the site, if it were in its natural state, would be fully forested, as would virtually all of the land in our bioregion (the Piedmont). If we were to do absolutely nothing to the land, it would become fully forested once more, without any further human intervention.
Approximately 20 of the 180 acres of the original EcoVillage property is covered with established forest (noted in dark green on the SITE PLAN). EcoVillagers and volunteers, with the support of the State forestry program, have planted over 11,000 trees to “jump start” the reforestation process (land planned for reforestation noted in medium green on the SITE PLAN).
Existing forest provides habitat for numerous animal species, including Whitetail Deer, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Bobcat, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit, Skunk, Raccoon, Opossum, Groundhog, Beaver, Muskrat, Black Bear, Vole, and Mink. Additionally, other animals and insects have been sited such as the American Toad, Green Frog, Eastern Box Turtle, Snapping Turtle and various Salamanders. EcoVillage is home to thousands of insects, including Praying Mantis, Honey Bees, Carpenter Bees, Lacewings, Ladybugs, Paperwasps, Ticks, Ground Beetles, Elderbugs, Dragonflies and Gypsy Moths.
Reported EcoVillage sitings of birds include: Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Mallard, Red Tail Hawk, Screech Owl, Barred Owl, American Kestrel, Sharp Shinned Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Downey Woodpecker, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Common Flicker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Peewee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, White Breasted Nuthatch, American Crow, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, European Starling, Blue Jay, House Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White Throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Mockingbird, American Robin, Wood Thrush and Barn Swallow, Morning Dove, Killdeer, Northern Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Bob White, Woodcock, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch, Rufus-sided Tohee, and Eastern Bluebird.
Species of hardwood trees present on the land include White Oak, Black Oak, Chestnut Oak, Northern Red Oak, Shingle Oak, Scarlet Oak, Willow Oak, Hickory, White Ash, Black Walnut, Red Elm, Black Gum, Black Cherry, Persimmon, Sassafras, Yellow Poplar, Box Elder, Black Locust, Eastern Red Cedar, Hornbeam, Serviceberry, Sycamore, Hackberry, Mulberry, American Beech, Redbud, Buckeye, Hawthorn, and Dogwood. Evergreens include Eastern Hemlock, Loblolly Pine, Virginia Cedar, White Pine and Aroborvitae.
Reforestation improves stream and groundwater quality, air quality, microclimate, and provides windbreaks and noise control, not to mention raising the real estate value of the land. Most of the EcoVillage property will be allowed to develop full coverage of all forest layers: soils, detritus, herbaceous plants, shrubs and vines, understory trees, and canopy trees. "Snags" (dead standing trees), logs, brush piles and other dead plant material that provide critical nesting habitat for a variety of animals are allowed to develop over time.
Habitat for diverse and balanced native populations of microorganisms, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, and mammals are developing as the forest evolves. The job of EcoVillagers is to eliminate invasive exotic plant species, such as Tree of Heaven and Multi-flora Rose; plant native species to restore the land’s ancient seedbed, stabilize areas of significant erosion, achieve rapid shading along stream banks; and curtail human activities and the activities of human supported species (pets) in protected conservation areas.
Streams and Springs
Several year-round streams and springs grace the EcoVillage property, and that makes the water that eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay our community’s major export. EcoVillagers have a goal of protecting and restoring riparian habitats.
A number of inactive or seasonally active streambeds were used as trash dump sites in the past. EcoVillagers, volunteers, and other workers have now cleared these potential waterways. Our goal is to enliven and increase base flow of the springs and streams on the property through clearing waterways, reforesting along stream banks and mending damage to banks caused by cattle.
This homestead included the bank barn, house, a shed, a sizable stonewall between the front yard and the creek, a bridge (now washed downstream), a foundation at the stream edge for presumably a former and larger bridge, a year-round spring, and a cedar-lined lane that is almost entirely intact. The style of the house is common to this part of Virginia and adjacent Maryland. It was built in stages, originally one-and-a-half stories and later raised to a full two stories, and covered in horizontal weatherboards. The house was originally built on land that belonged to John Stoutsenberger, one of the original German settlers of the area. Some visiting descendants said that they had evidence that the family originally moved to the area in the 1730’s. Though the original date of construction is undetermined, we know that the homestead remained in that family’s possession until 1852. The barn is one of the few remaining barns built prior to the Civil War that was not burned to the ground during the conflict.
Both the house and barn are in good condition; some minimal repair has been done to both buildings to stop deterioration. Some residents have a dream of rehabilitating the house to serve as a site for children’s activities. Visions for the barn are diverse, including a meditation space, storage space, an arts center and others. Eventually, we expect that the best use of both buildings will emerge.
Route 668 forms the western border (approximately one mile) of EcoVillage land.
Red Bank Barn
EcoVillage has completed some renovation to improve the structural integrity of this hundred year old building, formerly used for cattle. So far, two great EcoVillage barn dances have occurred here. The EcoVillage Community Association has discussed various additional uses of the barn for community purposes.
Hiking and Cross-country Ski Trails
Mown hiking paths (noted on the SITE PLAN) allow close contact with natural areas. These trails provide pedestrian walkways throughout the acreage and serve as cross-country ski trails in winter.
EcoVillage hamlet lots range in size from approximately 1/3 to 3/4 acre. Each lot has its own assigned drainfields and its own well, either within the lot or in common area. Underground electric and telephone lines are already installed to each lot. Siting of each home is finalized following lot purchase and determination of the house design. Private landscaping extends the look and feel of the forest is encouraged, with lawns and private gardens appearing as forest clearings and edges. Residents are also encouraged to maximize wildlife habitat on their respective lots, by using guidelines like those defined by the National Wildlife Federation’s backyard program. Some EcoVillage restrictions extend to private lots, such as a restriction on planting exotic invasive plant species, a mandate to eradicate exotic plants from the lot, a limitation on weed and insect controls being those practices set forth under USDA Organic Certification regulations, as well as limitations on various landscaping structures that can be erected on lots. These restrictions and limitations are laid out in the EcoVillage Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Easements and Restrictions and further detailed in the Architectural & Environmental Design Guidelines.
Primary and Accessory Dwellings
According to the zoning law that governs EcoVillage, two dwellings may be built on one lot. A maximum build-out design has been tested to evaluate each lot for its capacity to carry two units without significantly trespassing on the solar envelope of neighboring structures. Although most of the lots can accommodate two houses, this arrangement is subject to Loudoun County approvals.
Southern Orientation of Buildings
Individual homes and the planned common house are oriented to attain maximum benefit from the sun (within 15 degrees of true south). In this hemisphere, that means that buildings elongate from east to west, with the maximum window area oriented toward the south.
The solar envelope (drawn as a cone on the south side of each building on the SITE PLAN) refers to the area that represents maximum solar access for that building, allowing the home to take greatest advantage of the sun’s light from its eastern rising to its western setting. Building and planting restrictions apply to this area. EcoVillage’s standard for the siting of each home attempts to minimize trespass of any structure’s solar envelope by a neighboring building. Only deciduous trees with loose branching are allowed within the solar envelope, in order to minimize winter shading. (Note that the representations on the site plan assume flat land. Because actual slopes on each Lot differ, the actual solar envelopes are configured slightly differently depending on the individual lot).
Each lot is assigned two parking spaces for exclusive use by the owners of that lot. As an option, at the owner’s expense, and subject to Loudoun County approvals, an owner may arrange to build a carport for his/her parking spaces. EcoVillagers have agreed that any vehicle that fits into a carport can be parked at that location, so long as the vehicle does not represent an environmental hazard, e.g., leaking fluids, and only vehicles as large as a pickup truck may be routinely parked in non-covered parking spaces. So if a household owns a car and a boat, both may be parked in that household’s assigned carport spaces. Permanently assigned parking spaces not in use may be leased to another EcoVillage resident, but not to individuals from outside the EcoVillage community. Some EcoVillagers are planning to suspend bicycles, canoes, kayaks, etc., from the ceilings of their carports. Also the carports have been designed to provide space for large storage units that might be used for items such as camping and sports equipment.
Currently a trash and recycling structure provides a centralized space for these purposes. In the future, a second trash/recycling structure will be built. Another structure is planned for each of the two neighborhoods to house lawnmowers, various hand tools, and shared outdoor equipment.
Vehicular Roads and Parking
Private entry roads (noted in lavender on the SITE PLAN) lead to parking. The goal is to limit vehicles to the periphery of the community, resulting in a primarily pedestrian commons. This means that gasoline powered vehicles and the negatives that go with them – danger to pedestrians, noise, and pollution – generally do not penetrate the residential area. In addition, EcoVillagers get exercise walking several hundred feet to and from their cars.
Several lots have, or are designated to have, driveways with garage parking on the lot: lots 3, 4, 10, 11, 12.
From the parking areas, narrower roads, indicated as lanes, lead into the interior of the community. Though these interior lanes are used primarily by pedestrians, they are built to vehicle standards, and will carry moving trucks, emergency vehicles, furniture delivery trucks, etc.
The planned Common House provides a setting for EcoVillage community functions, a location for economic initiatives that benefit the EcoVillage Community Association, and a venue for serving the larger community. The EcoVillage Common House is designed and constructed to exemplify green building and harmony with the environment.