On the Ground Updates – June 2022

A series of short updates from around the PEC region – Albemarle & Charlottesville, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange & Rappahannock.

Albemarle & Charlottesville

The Albemarle County Planning Commission approved Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s rezoning application for the second phase of its Southwood redevelopment project, which involves converting the balance of the property (including the existing mobile home park) into a mixed-income community with up to 1,000 units and deep affordability. The rezoning is a precondition for federal grants that will be needed for substantial environmental remediation. The plan is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors later this year. In the meantime, PEC is working with Habitat, Albemarle County, and other partners to provide safe and welcoming connections to adjoining Biscuit Run Park.

The Easton Porter Group is proposing an expansion to Pippin Hill Vineyard in North Garden within the Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District. The proposal would rezone a parcel of land from Village Residential to Rural Area and request a special use permit for the parcel containing the Historic Crossroads Tavern. Special use permits available to farm wineries in rural areas allow for substantial development activities; this transformation would add 11 guest cottages and have potentially harmful or disruptive effects. PEC remains actively involved in monitoring the process and assessing site impacts and will work to ensure consistency with goals expressed through the comprehensive plan for rural areas.


The County Farmers Market began its 2022 season on Saturday, May 7. The market is held 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays in the parking lot of the Clarke County Public Schools’ administration building on West Main Street in Berryville. With around 30 vendors, market-goers can expect to find locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, baked goods, flowers and plants, and homemade arts and crafts.

The County Planning Commission is reviewing a new draft of the County’s comprehensive plan, which helps guide growth and development decisions in the future. The draft comprehensive plan public hearing will be held on June 29.


In April, the Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning of 234 acres of agricultural land near Salubria and Hansbrough Ridge to light industrial to accommodate a nearly 450,000-square-foot data center complex proposed by an Amazon subsidiary. PEC, along with many local residents and a coalition of historic and open-space conservation organizations, strongly opposed this rezoning. Several neighboring landowners have filed suit against the County seeking to nullify the rezoning.


In April, PEC staff showcased our Potomac Planting Program and the Piedmont Grassland Bird Initiative at an event hosted by the Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance (BRCA) at Sky Meadows State Park and the Piedmont Memorial Overlook. The BRCA is dedicated to preserving and protecting a highly threatened portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains stretching from the Shenandoah National Park to the Potomac River.

Prince William County is undergoing a comprehensive plan update that would designate approximately 1,800 acres along Route 28 for Industrial Employment Use. This would deem the area appropriate for such uses as manufacturing, warehousing, distribution centers, and auto repair, replacing the rural/agricultural landscape that currently exists. We are particularly concerned about this potential, because based on traffic estimates, it could double the existing daily vehicle traffic and triple the existing truck traffic on Route 28 through Fauquier.


On April 12, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to deny a special use permit (SUP) sought by Sojourner’s Glamping that would have allowed for the construction and operation of a rural resort on 117 acres off Mutton Hollow Road. The proposed project, which met with spirited local opposition, would have included 144 glamping sites, a full-service restaurant, spa, event venue, and other amenities. PEC opposed this SUP over concerns that this facility would have adverse impacts on the rural character of this area of the County; we suggested that such a development could be more appropriately sited within the County’s existing growth areas.


Despite the spirited advocacy by PEC and community members for postponement of the Route 15 North Comprehensive Plan Amendment in favor of interim safety improvements, creation of a small area plan, and an economic development impact analysis on Lucketts businesses, the Board of Supervisors voted to forward the comprehensive plan amendment to the June 21 Board meeting for approval.

In April, PEC participated in a native tree planting at Middleburg Montessori School, organized by the Goose Creek Association and Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District. Students were taught the importance of riparian buffers, as well as how to properly plant trees, from proper hole size to mulching.

PEC’s Catoctin Creek Conservation Fund donated $1,000 to the Waterford Foundation to support poison hemlock removal efforts. Currently, 11 acres of floodplain near Catoctin Creek (including a public interpretive walking trail) are infested with poison hemlock, which is known for its toxicity to livestock and people.

Our fourth growing season at PEC’s Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows is well underway. Volunteers have been busy planting crops, helping expand our pollinator and wildlife habitat, and of course, harvesting fresh produce for donation to Loudoun Hunger Relief. To get involved on the farm visit pecva.org/farmvolunteer.


A Maryland developer has applied for a special use permit to construct a glamping facility on a 38-acre agriculturally-zoned property on Fords Shop Road. Pitched as the “Robinson River Nature Retreat,” the facility would include up to 70 glamping units and a large single structure containing a lodge, restaurant, wellness center and employee housing. County staff and several members of the Planning Commission have expressed concerns about the proposed density of the project, especially given that 10 acres of the property are in a floodplain and therefore undevelopable. In light of these concerns, the developer is seeking to acquire adjacent acreage to expand the project area. PEC staff will continue to closely monitor this proposed project.


Gordonsville has contracted with Land Planning Design Associates to begin final design for the Verling Park. The design will incorporate the two parcels that PEC purchased—thanks to strong community support—between King and Market Streets, that connect Verling Park and Firemen’s Fairgrounds. The design process, expected to be completed in early fall, includes opportunities for public input. Learn more at towntotrail.org.

PEC continues to monitor the proposed Wilderness Crossing residential development on the site of unreclaimed historic gold mines. As of this writing, the County has not scheduled a public hearing on the request to rezone the 2,602 acre property, but the applicant has continued to meet with County planning staff in efforts to move the project forward. Meanwhile, PEC has urged the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Energy to hold a public briefing in Orange County to share what is known about the mercury contamination and how the harm can be mitigated. The issue, and PEC’s response, were highlighted this spring in a Bay Journal article and a Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star opinion-editorial.


The Sperryville Community Alliance and its Sperryville Trail Advisory Committee have selected Racey Engineering to create a Master Plan and Invasive Species Management Plan for the Sperryville Trail Network along the Thornton River. Supported by funding from PEC’s Krebser Fund for Rappahannock County Conservation, these plans will guide future expansions of the trail network, and the replacement of invasive species with native plants along the trail.

At its May meeting, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors voted to expand access to broadband internet services by joining a multi-county agreement with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission and All Points Broadband. The project represents an attempt to reach the “last-mile” of properties without reliable internet access. PEC continues to monitor the progress of the project.

This article appeared in The Piedmont Environmental Council’s member newsletter, The Piedmont View. If you’d like to become a PEC member or renew your membership, please visit pecva.org/join.