On the Ground Updates – September 2022

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

Albemarle & Charlottesville

The AC44 Comprehensive Plan update is currently in Phase 1: Plan for Growth, which focuses on reviewing the current growth management policy through the lenses of equity, climate action, and growth projections. PEC is making climate-based recommendations for the County’s draft Vision for Growth and Resilience that will guide the next phases of the Comp Plan update.

A first draft of a new Zoning Code for the City of Charlottesville will be prepared this fall and available for review and comment in early 2023. Right now the City is finalizing a diagnostic tool and gathering preparatory feedback. Learn more at

Hexagon Solar is proposing the development of Woodridge Solar, roughly 650 acres of utility-scale solar arrays on 1,500 acres of land within the rural area of southeastern Albemarle. It is currently the largest proposed solar facility in the County. PEC is assessing the impacts of the proposal through site visits, review of Hexagon’s Special Use Permit application and briefings from the applicant.


In June, PEC held a Clarke County Informational Luncheon at Audley Farm in Berryville, where attendees learned about local conservation successes, PEC‘s Clarke County Land Conservation Fund, area partnerships and ongoing conservation efforts. We also highlighted several programs available for landowners, including the Potomac Planting Program and the Virginia Grassland Bird Initiative.

PEC staff attended the Clarke County Easement Authority’s 20th anniversary celebration at Long Branch Historic House and Farm in Boyce in June, along with area landowners, easement holders, county employees and community members. Food, drink and fellowship were enjoyed by all.


The County’s first utility-scale solar proposal, approved in 2020, is Greenwood Solar, a 732-acre solar facility located generally along Rt. 663 (Batna Road) and Rt. 661 (Blackjack Road) in Stevensburg. The company is now seeking site
plan approval from the Planning Commission in September. We’re concerned about the cumulative impacts of this utility-scale solar site and the Marvell Data Center adjacent to it, especially considering that the Management Plan for nearby Culpeper Battlefield State Park has not been completed yet.

The AttoTek Data Center is a speculative proposal in one of Culpeper’s designated Technology Zones. It is speculative because there is no identified data center user at this point, which leaves many unanswered questions about water and electricity usage, height, architecture, fuel storage, noise, and lighting impacts. The proposal would rezone 88 acres to allow a 765,000-square-foot data center and a nine-acre substation. This proposal will likely come before the Planning Commission in September


Our June event in Warrenton, with the Goose Creek Association and the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District, shared information about PEC’s Potomac Planting Program and Headwater Stream Initiative and other area tree planting programs and cost-shares that help landowners support cleaner waters.

In partnership with Citizens for Fauquier County and the local citizen group Protect Fauquier, we hosted a community town hall to highlight shared concerns about the Amazon data center and transmission line proposal and actions residents can take to oppose it. The turnout was overwhelming — more than the room could hold — and a number of people had to access the recording online. We hope the level of engagement around this issue will keep the momentum going. The next Planning Commission work session is likely to be on Sept. 27.

At its August meeting, the County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution initiating proceedings for the Town of Warrenton Boundary Line Adjustment by authorizing the County to request more information from the Town. The Board agreed to delay the public hearing proceedings to allow time for open public meetings and research and analysis of various options and impacts, to better understand what the Town wants to accomplish and how residents will be affected.

In July, PEC’s Julian Scheer Fauquier Land Conservation Fund hosted a Land Conservation & Management Workshop and Social, along with PEC, the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Fauquier County Agricultural Development Department. This event highlighted conservation options and funding opportunities for agricultural cost-share programs such as stream fencing, alternative watering systems and tree plantings for working farmland and residential properties.


In July, the Greene County Planning Commission heard and approved a request for a Special Use Permit Amendment for expansion of the Lydia Mountain Lodge and Log Cabins, despite opposition by many community members and PEC, which believes the proposal fails to align with the Comprehensive Plan. The proposed new facilities represent significant additions to previously approved development within the County’s Conservation District, which is characterized by rugged terrain, poorly drained soils and ecologically sensitive areas unsuited to intensive development. We remain concerned about the intensity and appropriateness of resort-scale tourist lodging and entertainment projects within rural areas in Greene and throughout PEC’s nine-county region.


In June, PEC’s Catoctin Creek Conservation Fund hosted a conservation-focused educational event at Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery in Waterford. Speakers included PEC, Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District and Virginia Working Landscapes. Attendees heard about conservation easements, agricultural cost-share programs and habitat restoration efforts within the Catoctin watershed.

Loudoun’s Zoning Ordinance Rewrite has advanced to the Planning Commission for public hearing and revisions on the second draft. The rewrite draft is being divided into two parts for public hearing; the first set of chapters was available for comment on August 30, and the remainder is expected to be available for public comment later in the year.


A Maryland developer has revised his Special Use Permit application for a large glamping facility on agriculturally zoned property. The proposed “Robinson River Retreat” would include up to 70 glamping units, employee housing, and a large structure containing a lodge, restaurant and wellness center. After County staff and several planning commissioners expressed concerns about the proposed density, the project was put on hold in May. The developer recently acquired an option to purchase an adjacent 20 acres, and the application is again moving forward with the same number of units on the now-58-acre site. A public hearing could take place as soon as October. PEC staff will continue to closely monitor this proposal.


The Wilderness Crossing mixed-use residential development, being proposed for a 2,600-acre site where at least five historic gold mines lay unreclaimed (not closed and not cleaned up of mercury and other toxins), continues to move forward. Orange County has indicated that an initial public hearing could take place as early as October. PEC is working with historic preservation groups, watershed advocates, and concerned citizens to urge the County and relevant state agencies to develop and commit to a plan to clean up the site before any rezoning decision.

On Aug. 4, the Town of Gordonsville held a community meeting to solicit input on design for the expanded four-acre footprint of the Verling Park, including two parcels acquired by PEC through the generosity of local supporters. The landscape design firm retained by the Town presented a draft design and photographs of different options for components of park infrastructure, such as playground and park shelters with different architectural style. The meeting was well attended and the Town expects to finalize the park design this fall.


The Town of Washington and the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors continue to negotiate the proposed boundary line adjustment and related concessions for the County’s first mixed-use development project, Rush River
. The first phase of the project broke ground in June, but the second phase is subject to the boundary line adjustment. PEC continues to monitor the progress of these discussions.

The Flint Hill and Sperryville Pedestrian Infrastructure Evaluation Report, funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation, was released in July. The report identifies opportunities to enhance connectivity and safety in the two villages. PEC submitted a letter to the Board of Supervisors supporting the careful consideration of the recommendations included in the report.

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.