On a state highway map of Virginia, the town of Lovettsville is just a small dot, a long way from Washington and Northern Virginia's busy suburbs.
But although the 250-year-old town in northwest Loudoun is almost a 50-mile drive from the center of Washington, it's less than three miles from the commuter train station at Brunswick across the Potomac River in Maryland.
The availability of commuter trains, such as the state-funded Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) service, have turned Lovettsville and similar small towns into attractive rural getaways for frustrated urban commuters.
On a normal weekday a MARC train commuter can make the trip from Lovettsville to Union Station in a relaxed one hour and 10 minutes for $119 a month.
"I wanted to live away from residential areas such as Ashland Park or Sterling," explained Nancy Sturcey, one of the town's six council members who also works as a bookkeeper for a Washington travel agency and commutes by train. "I like living in the country," Sturcey added. "It's very pretty out here and there's less crime."
With a population of about 750, Lovettsville is still a small rural town with a strong sense of community. But less than 10 years ago, the town had half as many inhabitants.
If Lovettsville keeps growing at its present rate, or faster, as town officials believe it will, its population is likely to double again within the next five years.
"I've talked to six or seven developers around town and I've found there's quite a bit of interest in building here," said Kenneth Harrington, mayor of Lovettsville. "Ten years ago I could never have imagined in this town there being the demand for development that there is at the present time. I won't say we want the growth, but we can't resist it."
Growth is slow in Lovettsville now because the town, which is serviced entirely by ground water wells, cannot provide sewer and water services to developments of more than one or two homes.
A few years ago, the town got all its water from five wells. But a fire at the old school house in 1976 required so much water to put it out that two wells deteriorated to the point that they could no longer be used. The last well dug in the town is 700 feet deep and supplies water at a slow 30 gallons per minute.
"A town official can go to bed at night and not know in the morning whether the town will have a source of water or not," Harrington said. "If the wells deteriorate, you can't just go out and dig another well and in 30 days expect to resume service."
A Leesburg engineering company is currently looking into a plan to draw water from the Potomac River to solve Lovettsville's water problems.
If the plan is feasible, and permission can be obtained from authorities, an additional 400,000 gallons of water a day would be available for the town.
The cost of the plan, according to the Dewberry and David engineering company, would be about $3.5 million.
This would cover construction of a pump house, laying of pipes to the town and construction of a water treatment plant.
"We hope the plan will be financed entirely by developers through the sale of water and sewer taps," Harrington explained. "We don't expect to have to increase town taxes."
Several developers are already waiting, building plans in hand, for approval of the plan, said Harrington.
"Our hope is that the water and sewer plans will be resolved eventually and we are proceeding with that in mind," said James P. Campbell, a Leesburg attorney representing Mountain Venture Partnerships, which has already submitted a proposal to the town's planning commission to build a 61-unit subdivision within the town limits.
Should the Potomac water plant be approved, town officials also expect development to increase significantly outside Lovettsville's borders, which encompass approximately 550 acres.
In an attempt to control growth immediately outside the town, Lovettsville's town council recently asked the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to grant them an emergency land management plan.
The land management plan, if approved, would enable the council to control development up to half a mile outside the town limits. It would also enable the town to have a say in the construction of services such as roads, lights and sidewalks in and around the new developments.
"I hope the county will give us some assistance," said Harrington. "I'd hate to see this ground out here developed in an unorderly fashion, which could be done if we don't get any assistance."