Biscuit Run & Courthouse Relocation Updates
On January 4, Albemarle County entered into a 99-year lease for the approximately 1,200-acre Biscuit Run property that was slated to become a state park. Gov. McAuliffe had proposed full funding of $42.5 million to open the park in 2016, but the proposal was not passed by the General Assembly. Then, in 2017, we worked with Del. David Toscano and Sen. Creigh Deeds to seek enough funding for a day-use parking area, which also failed to gain traction. PEC will continue to advocate for prioritized funding to open the property to the public and hopes that this new chapter will allow Albemarle County to prioritize funding to open the park more quickly.
As we’ve mentioned in previous updates, Albemarle County was seriously considering a move of the County Courthouse last year from the historic location of the past 250 years in downtown Charlottesville to a new location in the County’s urban growth area. Along with many other organizations and individuals, we spoke against this proposed move. At the end of December, the Board of Supervisors voted to suspend discussions on the relocation decision until March 2, 2018. Despite that positive step to allow time for additional discussions and negotiations with the City of Charlottesville, this issue is not resolved and we will continue to monitor developments.
County Updates and Ordinances
The Planning Commission has several updates to County planning and zoning documents that are in process or planned to continue this year and into 2019. In the coming months, county staff will provide revisions of the Water Resources Plan, which includes ground and surface waters. Revisions to the Historic Resources Plan are on the same timetable. A comprehensive review and update of the zoning and subdivision ordinances is underway and will be completed in 2019. Five-year reviews of the Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan will be scheduled this spring, and they are expected to be finished in the spring of 2019. The Economic Development Plan review will be scheduled in this fall and finished in the fall of 2019.
Waterloo Bridge Update
Thanks to the efforts of supporters and to the Hitt family, who donated $1 million in private funding, we remain optimistic that the Waterloo Bridge rehabilitation will move forward. The project has made it through the first funding hurdle and has been accepted as a revenue share project. The next step is for VDOT to rank the Transportation Alternatives Program funding application for the remaining funds. If the project scores high enough in this process, the Waterloo Bridge will finally have the funding it needs to be rehabilitated.
Data Centers, Development Proposals & Stormwater Pollution Solutions
With the arrival of OVH data center in Vint Hill last year, Fauquier is starting to look harder at how to attract these tax revenue generators. Currently, the Town of Warrenton does not allow data centers but is weighing the pros and cons of adding them as an allowable use in industrial zoning. In the Remington Service District, just outside the town, a developer is proposing space for up to 1.8 million square feet for a data center. However, the developer has tied the Remington proposal to a request for $2.7 million in proffer relief at a subdivision in Bealeton. Not only is this a bad deal involving two non-related properties, but if the county even entertains the idea, it could create the perception of a pay-to-play scenario.
There are a number of other development proposals being considered in Fauquier — such as the Blackthorne event center and resort near Upperville and the Mendleson LLC (a nine-lot subdivision) in The Plains. For details about these or other land use proposals, contact Julie Bolthouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 347-2334 ext. 7042.
In positive news, the Town of Warrenton has been actively planning ways to treat stormwater pollution with conservation landscaping, rain gardens and more at Rady Park. Along with John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District, we have been assisting the Town in this work and will be looking to get some shovels and native plants in the ground later this spring!
White Run Reservoir
In December, the Greene County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution that allows reservoir funding of up to $60 million for the White Run Reservoir Project. The goal of the project is to supply Stanardsville and Greene County with a reliable water supply through 2050. This project proposes to build a 75-foot-tall and 1,460-foot-long dam along Whites Run and would inundate 125 acres. We have some questions on the growth assumptions related to this project and will be monitoring it as it moves forward.
True North Data Center was approved in a disappointing 5-4 vote that conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan and was made despite over- whelming public opposition. Please thank Chair Randall, Vice-Chair Buona and supervisors Buffington and Higgins for standing firm for the Plan, the Transition Area vision and for representing the public will.
This spring, the Board is expected to vote to make Route 15 a four-lane road from Leesburg to Montresor Road. Now the County must avoid creating new problems. With this lane increase, safety and access become more challenging for residents east of Route 15. To help keep traffic moving safely, one suggestion we have is to put roundabouts at the Whites Ferry and Montresor intersections to avoid new problems.
Also, farther north on Route 15, there is a rezoning proposal to locate a 24-pump gas station. The site is inappropriate for this use because it would create traffic and environmental problems. Planning Commission discussions will continue in March.
In the spring, county staff will hold public input sessions on proposed new uses for the rural area. These include commercial shooting ranges, indoor recreation uses and amendments to outdoor recreation uses, among other changes. Your input will be critical.
Also, six open houses for public input on the new Comprehensive Plan draft have been scheduled for the latter half of May. The upcoming dates will be posted on envision-loudoun.org. Be on the lookout for our email alerts too!
Septic System Program
Thanks to a recently awarded two-year grant, Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District will now be able to expand its septic system program to Madison County. Under the program, residents are eligible for a reimbursement up to fifty percent of costs for pumping, maintaining, repairing and replacing septic systems to residents in CSWCD’s five-county service area, which includes Greene, Madison, Orange, Culpeper and Rappahannock. According to the District, the program “is a win-win for both water quality and property value.” For more information, contact District staff at (540) 825-8592.
Orange County is in the process of rewriting its subdivision ordinance, including how it pertains to agricultural and family subdivisions. For more information, check out the Planning and Zoning page at the Orange County website (orangecountyva. gov) or contact Planning Department staff at (540) 672-4347. We will be providing input and tracking the revision process.
Putting Farms First
Over 100 local farmers, entrepreneurs and rural residents came together on Jan. 20 to discuss the future of farming and conservation for Rappahannock at the “Agriculture Community Discussion with American Farmland Trust” event, held at the Washington Fire Hall. Attendees gathered to hear AFT President John Piotti give a presentation and learn about his organization’s national conservation initiatives and policy. This event will be followed by successive agricultural community meetings, which will be organized by a steering committee composed of local producers and interested persons, including PEC’s John McCarthy.
This article was written featured in our Spring 2018 member newsletter, The Piedmont View.