Rockland Farm Owner Looking Forward to Working With Montgomery and Loudoun Counties to Reopen White’s Ferry as Quickly as Possible

On December 28, 2020, White’s Ferry ceased operations due to a dispute with Rockland Farm in Loudon County, VA over the ferry’s landing site.

In February 2021, the Ferry was purchased by Chuck and Stacy Kuhn, owners of JK Moving Services, with hopes of restoring service to and from Virginia by either purchasing the Virginia landing site or coming to an agreement with Rockland Farm. Rockland Farm has consistently maintained its stance against accepting a flat fee for the Virginia landing site. Instead, it has proposed a fee of $0.50 per vehicle utilizing the ferry.

Earlier today, White’s Ferry owners-Chuck and Stacy Kuhn- announced that they had formally offered to donate the White’s Ferry operation to Montgomery County. This most recent offer has been described by the Kuhn family as “part of their commitment to getting the ferry operational to preserve history, save jobs, and reduce traffic.”

In response to the statement, Libby Devlin, owner of Rockland Farm, tells us, “This is great news! I look forward to working with Montgomery and Loudoun Counties to reopen a ferry as quickly as possible!”

Jim Brown, President of the Commissioners of the Town of Poolesville, commented the following in response to the Kuhn’s statement offering to donate White’s Ferry to Montgomery County: “Please don’t believe anything you see or hear until the boat is actually going across the river again. The Town of Poolesville remains hopeful that all interested parties (the Kuhn’s, Rockland Farm owners, and Montgomery County) will reach some sort of agreement that will allow the ferry to start operating again. The ferry service is a critical (and historical) transportation link between our region and Virginia (and beyond) as well as the long term economic viability of Poolesville and the Ag Reserve.”

Full statement from White’s Ferry and the Kuhn Family:  “We are happy to propose a resolution to Montgomery County. Our goal was always to get the ferry reopened.  It’s a special crossing that serves as a local economic engine and piece of history. Too many businesses and residents have had their livelihoods impacted by its closure. Despite many good faith efforts to work with the Virginia landowners to make ferry access available, donating the operation became the only solution that made sense to ensure the ferry has a chance to become a functioning part of our lives and local economy,” explained Chuck Kuhn, CEO, JK Land Holdings. 

Over the past three years, the Kuhns worked closely with the State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia, Montgomery and Loudoun Counties, including their economic development authorities and transportation departments, and previous ferry owner Herb Brown, to develop a proposal to gain access to the Virginia ferry landing side from Rockland Farm. Unfortunately, Rockland Farm owners rejected the offer to purchase an easement for access to the Virginia landing and a subsequent higher one for $1.25 million-which were all well above the appraised land value. In addition, the Kuhns offered Rockland Farms the opportunity to buy the ferry operations along with an easement to the Maryland shoreline-with no success. This led to White’s Ferry owners offering to donate the White’s Ferry operation to Montgomery County. The donation to Montgomery County would be contingent on Montgomery and Loudoun counties working together to find a solution to gain access to the Virginia shoreline and reopen the ferry in a timely manner. 

 “Our donation will be the best way forward. This is not what we had originally envisioned, but we recognize the importance of White’s Ferry to our region. With this donation, we believe that Montgomery County will be able to work with Virginia to get the ferry moving again,” Kuhn added. 

 Chuck and Stacy Kuhn bought the ferry in February 2021 to help protect this important Potomac River crossing with a long history. The purchase included the ferry, the store, and the Maryland shoreline that supports the ferry operation.  Established in 1786, the ferry ceased operation in December 2020 after the previous owner Herb Brown could not come to terms with Virginia’s Rockland Farm, which proposed a price of 50 cents a car each way. The toll would have resulted in a 50% reduction in operating income, making the ferry business unviable. In addition, Rockland Farm’s contract terms and conditions made it too risky a business to pursue. Since purchasing it, the Kuhns also worked diligently and yet unsuccessfully with Rockland Farm to find a good faith resolution.  

 The ferry remains important. The economic impact of resuming ferry operations (based on travel time savings, travel cost savings, safety savings, the value of emissions avoided, and the value of trips not taken) will be over $9 million this year alone and will result in a travel time savings that equates to up to $1.7 million a year, according to a Montgomery County Department of Transportation study. While working through the efforts to regain landing rights, the Kuhns invested in needed upgrades and repairs, which will help make the transition easier for Montgomery County. 

White’s Ferry donation to Montgomery County fits with the Kuhn’s interest in conserving land and history. Through JK Land Holdings, the Kuhn family seeks land acquisitions that can be sold, leased, developed, placed into conservation easement, or utilized by sister companies JK Moving Services and CapRelo. Over the past decade, they have placed more than 22,000 acres of its purchases into conservation easement, ensuring vulnerable vistas and habitats are preserved and protected for future generations.”

We will provide an update when any additional news regarding White’s Ferry breaks.

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