Good news! In January, the UVA Foundation protected almost 1,200 acres of forest land, known as Morven East, located in the viewshed of Monticello. This important project was part of a significant gift of land from John W. Kluge in 2001. The new easement was donated to the Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority and is adjacent to the 4,500 acres recently protected by the James C. Justice Companies (more on page 3).
City Comprehensive Plan
As Charlottesville continues to work on its comprehensive plan, PEC is at the table to ensure the city is planning appropriately for future growth. A thoughtful plan, reliant on citizen input, results in reduced infrastructure costs, better public health outcomes and a thriving community where people want to live, work and play. In addition, a well-designed, functional urban place is a key way to help protect the rural area.
Planning & Water Quality
The Planning Commission continues to review and update the Zoning Ordinance and will likely hold a public hearing after it is complete. PEC is partnering with Clarke County and the Friends of the Shenandoah River to monitor local streams. You can help by becoming a Certified Water Quality Monitor—visit streams, count bugs, and record data to help the community and organizations better understand our waterways. Contact Tracy Lind at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
PEC, in collaboration with Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, has vocalized concerns about the impacts of the Clevenger’s Village Planned Unit Development. Our organizations, along with citizens from both counties, are concerned that associated light pollution will be detrimental to both counties’ night sky visibility. Culpeper County has recently discussed updating its lighting ordinance to address lighting conditions and requirements; we are pushing for an updated ordinance to include dark sky friendly language.
The Draft 2020 Comprehensive Plan severely lacks the appropriate amount of detail related to the county’s historic resources. PEC has submitted written comments to government and elected officials, asking that the draft plan include all important, documented historic resources, and strengthen historic resources preservation language. PEC is compiling a list of these resources to communicate to the county
The Hazel River
The end of 2019 brought in several new easements that protect water quality and habitat along the Hazel River. The Hazel is home to the green floater mussel, a federal species of concern, and is one of 30 rivers in Virginia with “Exceptional State Waters.” PEC now holds an easement conserving 100 acres on the Parrish Property, which has 5,964 linear feet on the Hazel River and its major tributary, Waterford Run, as well as 51 acres of floodplain.
Sanctuary at Barrel Oak
The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak Winery request for a hotel, restaurant, and event center on the 50-acre parcel next to the existing Barrel Oak Winery has been postponed at the request of the applicant. The proposed resort, located two miles west of Marshall on Grove Lane, would require approval of four special exceptions.
Community Planning Initiatives
In January, the Town of Warrenton held an open house to get final public input before drafting its new Comprehensive Plan. Focus is being placed on economic development, creating diverse housing options, mixed-use development, enhancing public services and amenities, and fiscal health. A draft is expected to be released for public review in early Spring. Fauquier County is following the town’s planning process carefully and intends to update its Warrenton Service District Plan soon after adoption.
Streetscaping and Community Mobility
PEC continues to monitor the future of U.S. 29 in Greene County to ensure it is consistent with the Ruckersville Area Plan, which calls for “appropriate development.” Officials will soon conduct an audit of the zoning code and are working on a streetscape plan to limit signage. A major goal is to build a parallel road network to serve local traffic and make it easier for residents to bike and walk, as well as preserve the integrity of the 29 corridor. Later this year, JAUNT will begin operating the Greene County Transit service. As Greene grows, PEC’s ongoing work on community mobility issues will help increase ridership.
Land Use Planning
PEC Field Representative Evan McCarthy was recently confirmed by the Board of Supervisors to serve on Loudoun’s Facilities Standards Manual (FSM) Public Review Committee. The FSM contains information related to design and construction standards for subdivisions and site plans. When a change is proposed, the county’s director of building and development requests advice from the committee, prior to discussions with the Planning Commission and Board.
PEC staff is helping local residents stay informed and provide input on rural subdivision applications. We are also partnering with other organizations to ensure a reduction of development impacts in the Rural Policy Area to better align with the preservation goals outlined in the newly adopted Comprehensive Plan.
PEC weighed in against the county’s decision to demolish Criglersville School. We believe selling the property for adaptive reuse is a better option, especially considering the $250,000 price tag for demolition. The county tentatively expects a rezoning application and purchase contract to be submitted by an applicant this spring. The applicant’s vision includes building updates to allow for retail, event/venue, short-term or long-term lodging, and restaurants/food service, in addition to rezoning the property to light industrial.
Zoning Ordinance Changes
The Board of Supervisors made changes to its rural resort ordinance, lowering the minimum parcel size to 10-acres in the A-1 and C-1 zoning districts. PEC weighed in against this action, which is a 90% reduction from the original 100-acre minimum. Although we support revenue generated by rural tourism, we believe rural resorts should require more land to mitigate impacts on neighbors and the environment.
New County Administrator
The Board of Supervisors has hired an interim county administrator, Brenda Garton, as they search for a new hire. PEC is following the hiring process and looks forward to meeting with and working alongside the new county administrator.
In January, Gordonsville purchased a parcel from CSX Transportation, which owns and operates one of the rail lines passing through town, to formally incorporate into Verling Park. This latest addition to the park follows two previous ones, including the adjacent parcel on Linney Street, purchased and cleared in 2018, and a vacant lot in the block between Verling Park and the Firemen’s Fairgrounds, purchased by PEC last year to better link these two in-town open spaces through our Town to Trail initiative.
PEC partnered with Virginia Working Landscapes and Clifton Institute to bring attention to restoration ecology’s newest (and oldest) friend: the beaver. Skip Lisle, a renowned wildlife conservationist, joined us at the Little Washington Theater to teach us about his non-lethal beaver management tools, the “Beaver Deceiver,” “Castor Master,” and other beaverproofing tools for landowners. A new film, Beaver Believers, was shown, followed by an expert panel.
Rush River Volunteers
Clean water has been the catalyst for a new citizen science group of volunteers who will monitor water quality on the Rush River. Since 2007, the river has been impaired by elevated counts of E. coli bacteria. PEC is supporting the volunteers by leading bi-weekly monitoring at two sites. The data will be provided to DEQ and help make the case for a cleaner Rush River that we can swim in, fish from and enjoy as a community. The data will be provided to DEQ and help make the case for a cleaner Rush River that we can swim in, fish from and enjoy as a community.
This article was featured in our Spring 2020 member newsletter, The Piedmont View.