The disposition of 71 acres of property that had been offered, but subsequently rejected, for the site of the new Clarke County High School may soon be resolved now that the Salvation Army has begun the process of developing the site.
In 2005 the Salvation Army received a 400-acre land donation along Westwood Road donated by the late Mrs. Eugene Casey. A portion of the property, originally 200 acres but subsequently reduced to 71 acres, was intended for donation to the Clarke County Public Schools via the Clarke County Education Foundation for the construction of a new high school.
However, negotiations over use of the property for the school site broke down when a new Clarke County School Board was voted into office. When Salvation Army officials revived their plans earlier this year to develop the property, Clarke County planners noticed that a 71-acre lot included on the plot map was labeled “possible public education use”. Salvation Army lawyers later said that the organization still intended to give the property to an educational entity but none had stepped forward to request the parcel.
“It is our understanding that The Salvation Army is newly interested in the development of a 22 home subdivision in Clarke County resulting from a 400 acre land donation made by Mrs. Eugene Casey to The Salvation Army in 2005” said School Board Chairman Barbara Lee in a letter to Salvation Army Southern Territory Commander Lt. Col. Maxwell Feener. “In spite of all required permits having been approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors in October, 2007, however, this donation did not occur, and our School Board was obliged to seek other land for the new high school construction, which is now underway.”
Lee’s letter challenged the notion that the Salvation Army had not received any requests for title to the 71-acre tract.
“Your local attorneys, Simms Showers LLP of Leesburg, Virginia, have recently submitted an updated plan for the 22 home subdivision, and during a recent Clarke County Planning Commission meeting, as regards to the 71 acres, your attorney Mr. John Farrell stated that ‘The Salvation Army stands ready to give it to any public education institution that asks for it, ” he said. ”None have yet, though.” Lee said. “We are also attaching our March, 2008 letter to your attorneys, showing clearly that our school division had requested the deed to the 71 acres at that time, a letter which remained unanswered. No deed from the Salvation Army was ever offered or recorded.”
Lee said that the School Board was very concerned that a “serious misunderstanding” about the donation may have occurred and, although the land would not now be used for new high school construction, Clarke County Public Schools has many other important educational plans for the 71-acre parcel including athletic fields, Ag programs and career and technical programs.
Lee’s letter formally requests that the Salvation Army transfer the property to the school division for educational use and in accordance with “our policies for the betterment of our students, and to enhance their education.”
Salvation Army Subdivision Plat (Click here to view the Clarke County School Board’s 2008 request for the 71-acre parcel)
Editor’s note: An early version of this story stated that the Salvation Army plot map was labeled “School Use ”. The plot map actually “possible public education use”.