Enviro-conscious group honors developer

It’s pretty rare to see a group of environmentally active citizens applaud a local real estate developer. But, at an October 18 fête at King Family Vineyards in Crozet, the Charlottesville Waldorf Foundation held its second annual Commonwealth Environmental Leadership Awards (or CELAs) and honored New Hampshire-based Qroe Farm Preservation, the developers of 2,300-acre Bundoran Farm who are known for their rural conscientiousness.
    “We, as developers, usually have to create our own fake organizations and pack them with cronies to get awards,” joked David Hamilton, project manager and architect for Qroe (pronounced “crow”). But the company has been trying to show Virginia that they’re different from the other guys ever since Qroe purchased Bundoran Farm, site of the Albemarle County Fair, from Fred Scott in 2005.
    For one thing, Qroe is planning a relatively modest number of houses for the site: They analyzed the land to preserve maximum farm land and viewsheds, tucking away 94 lots on the property when they theoretically could plan 163 lots. The County has even made some special allowances for Qroe’s planned roads, which took into account the paths of cattle.
Yet, some have argued that the lots, which will sell for between $400,000 and $700,000, hardly represent a manageable strategy for Albemarle preservation. Nonetheless, the audience at the catered winery gala seemed relieved at Qroe’s sustainable approach to development.
    Other winners were Joel Salatin, the “beyond organic” farming guru of Polyface Farms; Doug Lowe of Artisan Construction, which uses sustainable home building practices like permeable driveways and recycled plastic carpeting; H. H. Shugart, a professor of environmental science and director of the Global Environmental Change program at UVA; and Katie Swenson, director and founder of the Charlottesville Community Design Center. Awards also went to Nature Neutral, a local company that sells “environmentally preferable” products, and Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., which consults on wetland-related issues. Winners were presented with unique pieces by local artists instead of the traditional office plaque.
    Marianne Lund with the Charlottesville Waldorf Foundation says, “For us it is all about creating a sense of community.” That a developer, an organic farmer, a green builder and an environmental scientist were at the table instead of at each other’s throats is unique, to say the least.

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