More than 30 years ago, Mary and Peter Gustafson bought a 200-year-old log cabin in the village of Lucketts, a community in Loudoun County, Va., minutes from the Potomac River and the Maryland border.
While development is spreading to the hamlet, Mary Gustafson said, much of the unincorporated village has remained unchanged over the decades. There’s one traffic light, and then rolling hills, pastures and farms, horses and cows, and views of Sugarloaf Mountain.
“We came into the community as newlyweds because we wanted to live in the country,” she said. “The old-timers then would bring us bags of potatoes and corn. Now we’re the old-timers. Our boys are 26 and 32. They grew up in this bucolic environment running and playing. They were free-range children.”
Other residents — both newcomers and longtimers — agree.
“We’re tucked away and this is our little jewel,” said Naomi Hattaway, who moved to the village last July with her husband, Todd, and children Terran, 20, Antonio, 11, and Mia, 8. “When people hear about Lucketts, they’re either totally enthralled or scratch their heads.”
“It’s a best-kept secret,” said Norbert Dee, who’s lived there many years. “Everyone has space, but you don’t feel isolated.”
Development vs. preservation: Lucketts’s housing stock ranges from historic log cabins and farmhouses to newer single-family houses and townhouses in subdivisions. About 2,700 people live in the village.
The major issue facing the community is balancing the need to grow with the need to preserve the unique character of the community, as well as its fragile natural resources.
New residential developments are increasingly common. Village Green is a 280-unit subdivision of townhouses and single-family homes, and Selma Estates has 255 detached houses.
Several other subdivisions of single-family homes are partially built, including Catoctin Springs and Loy Estates.
Years ago, negotiations among Loudoun County officials, preservationists and developers led to development in and around Leesburg.
“Residents are concerned about how much growth the community can support, because the landscape is geologically fragile,” said Mary Gustafson. The karst landscape, made of limestone conglomerate, is porous, with open channels that act as routes for surface contaminants that can threaten drinking water.
Loudoun County recognizes the unique geologic characteristics and their relationship to groundwater quality, said Charles Yudd, assistant county administrator.
“By adopting additional zoning regulations, the impact of land use and development is further regulated in areas underlain by limestone and in areas with karst features,” Yudd said. “In response to the possibility of water pollution, spring contamination and ground surface collapse, the county adopted regulations in the form of an environmental overlay district, referred to as the Limestone Overlay District, in September 2010.”
Still, Mary Gustafson said, “every community has a population threshold that, if exceeded, can cause unbalance. We feel a little close to the tipping point.”
Homegrown businesses: Hattaway co-founded the Ladies of Lucketts, a group whose members meet monthly to swap stories and promote one another’s businesses. Cottage industries abound — the village has photographers, jewelry makers, artists, breweries, wineries, woodworkers, arborists and purveyors of herbal products. The Gustafsons, both graphic designers, run Daydream Design, and she coordinates the Lucketts News & Notes newsletter.
The Lucketts Ruritan Club, a volunteer service organization, conducts the weekly Saturday trash pickup as one fundraising activity. Residents drop off trash and recycling and leave a donation, and Ruritans hire a truck to haul it away. They return proceeds to the community as scholarships and financial support for nonprofit organizations.
There’s Old Lucketts Store and Lucketts Spring Market, Loudounberry Farm Garden and Fabbioli Cellars, On a Whim Antiques and Bridle Paths therapeutic riding facility, Temple Hall Farm Regional Park and White’s Ford Regional Park.
Faith Like a Mustard Seed Farm is “our farm, our business, our days off, our store, our retirement,” said Patricia Glaeser, who bought the 26-acre farm with her husband, Karl, four years ago.” They raise horses, pigs, cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, geese and guineas; operate a bed-and-breakfast, market store, coffee shop and indoor laboratory to grow hydroponic barley seeds for feed; offer cooking classes; and rent the barn for events.
The 100-year-old community center, once a school, is a hub for parks and recreation and is used for day care, after-school activities and concerts. This year’s Lucketts Fair is scheduled for Aug. 15 and 16.
Living there: Residents have a Leesburg mailing address and the 20176 Zip code. The village is centered on U.S. Route 15 near State Route 662. It has a jagged informal border to the west of Route 15 and runs to the Potomac as the river curls from the north to the east and south.
According to Naomi Hattaway, owner and founder of 8th & Home Real Estate, 41 properties are for sale, at prices ranging from $465,000 for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family house to $2.2 million for a seven-bedroom, 10-bath single-family house on 15 acres.
Ten properties are under contract, from a $448,000 four-bedroom, four-bath single-family house to a $665,000 five-bedroom, three-bath single-family.
In the past year, 62 properties sold, ranging from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom farmhouse for $182,000 to a $3.1 million single-family house with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and an alpaca farm on 151 acres.
Schools: Lucketts Elementary, Smart’s Mill Middle and Tuscarora High.
Transit: The drive downtown is about 50 miles along U.S. Route 15, the Dulles Greenway, the Dulles Toll Road and Interstate 66. Tolls are about $15. The MARC station at Point of Rocks, Md., is just across the river. Leesburg is seven miles to the south, Frederick 20 miles to the north. Dulles International Airport is a 24-mile drive.
Crime: According to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the village had no significant crime reports in the past 12 months.
Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.