JK Land Holdings Partners with Freedom Center to Donate Land, Move Power Line

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va., — February 29 2024 –JK Land Holdings President and CEO Chuck Kuhn and Loudoun Freedom Center founder Pastor Michelle Thomas pose for a photo before signing a memorandum of understanding that would gift the center 10 acres of land if Dominion Energy agrees to move a transmission line 70 feet. Hanna Pampaloni/Loudoun Now.

On the last day of Black History Month, JK Land Holdings President and CEO Chuck Kuhn signed a memorandum of understanding with Loudoun Freedom Center founder Pastor Michelle Thomas that would gift 10 acres to the center—if Dominion Energy moves its planned transmission line.

Kuhn said the company closed on the purchase of 108 acres adjacent to the African American Burial Ground For The Enslaved At Belmont a month ago, but the property lies directly in the path of Dominion Energy’s Aspen to Golden 500/230 kV transmission line project.

“As long as we can develop the site plan that we have with the county, and the county is certainly working together with us, as long as we can develop that plan, we’ll have the economics to make this large donation to the Freedom Center,” Kuhn said.

Each acre of the property is worth approximately $2 million, making the entire donation worth a total of $20 million.

A depiction of the planned route for Dominion Energy’s Aspen to Golden transmission line project is shown in blue, while the pink line shows where JK Land Holdings and Loudoun Freedom Center are asking the line be shifted to.contributed

The site plan includes two by-right data centers and was originally submitted by the Toll Brothers, from which JK Land Holdings purchased the property from for $181 million. 

If Dominion agrees to move the transmission line 70 feet from where it is currently planned—moving it closer to the burial ground—it will not impede on the data center site plan.

“We need Dominion Power to do their part. We need the State Corporation Commission to do their part to make sure that Dominion doesn’t interrupt this gift and this program,” Kuhn said.

Thomas said the donation benefits Loudoun Freedom Center because it gives it control over the land surrounding the burial ground and expands the property to allow buildings on the property, including the planned Loudoun Freedom Center Museum & Cultural Resources Center.

She said field trips to visit the site are part of Loudoun County Public Schools curriculum and that she would like to expand the site to provide amenities, such as bathrooms.

“We have thousands of kids that come through this burial ground every single year, learning more about it,” she said.

Thomas said gaining ownership of additional property surrounding the burial ground is important to her and the Black community in Loudoun.

“It means everything to me because I understand this history. I understand the uniqueness of this shared history,” she said. “I understand the struggle of ancestors who were forced to labor in the beautiful fields that we now golf in. … the last stage of freedom, is the freedom to tell our story.”

JK Land Holdings President and CEO Chuck Kuhn signs a memorandum of understanding with Loudoun Freedom Center founder Pastor Michelle Thomas that would gift 10 acres to the center—if Dominion Energy moves its planned transmission line.Hanna Pampaloni/Loudoun Now

Owning the land would give the community a greater opportunity to do that, she said.

Kuhn, Thomas, and Dominion Energy have been collaborating on the project for the past six months, according to a letter sent by Dominion on Feb. 27.

The letter recommended that the center obtain the title to the 10-acre property and begin creating professional architecture plans for the museum. The letter also said Dominion would donate funds to the center for those plans. 

“DEV pledges to contonue to work closely with JK on micro-siting its route over the larger portion of its property east/southeast and minimizing potential future impacts to allow JK to continue to its data center project … the company believes that after the county siting requirements are considered, JK will be able to proceed in a manner in which the data center project can proceed without any conflict with DEV’s proposed right-of-way,” the letter stated. 

“I think Dominion Power is doing their best,” Kuhn said. “I think they need to put a little more effort into aligning these power lines so our goals can come together, but we’re excited to be part of this.”

Thomas said that Dominion is “on the wrong side of history” and that they have a track record of cutting through African American historic communities.

“To stand in the way of a gift to the African American community makes no sense to me,” she said.

Dominion is expected to files it power line plan with the State Corporation Commission in early March.

This article was updated Feb. 29 at 3:56 p.m. to include statements from the letter from Dominion Energy. 

Source: https://www.loudounnow.com/