By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
At the March 18th Board of Supervisors meeting, Fluvanna citizens turned out in force to object to the supervisors’ plan to create a joint water authority with Louisa County. They spoke against it (26-2) and presented a petition containing over 2,100 signatures requesting a referendum on the issue. Just over 1,600 are required (ten percent of the registered voters) to force a referendum on the issue.
County attorney Fred Payne suggested that the Board defer any water authority action for a month until he and staff could determine the legality of the petition. Earlier Mr. Payne suggested that the petition might be invalid since one technical procedure was omitted.
Supervisors split 4-2 over whether to accede to a referendum (Ott and Weaver in favor) and agreed to defer. Four supervisors currently favor establishing the joint authority and were not moved by the petitioners’ complaints that the authority would undermine Fluvanna’s sovereignty and have too much power – such as eminent domain. The authority also could issue bonds backed by the two counties.
Board members fear that the petition effort, if successful, could undermine potential federal support for the project. They also suspect that a negative vote to establish the authority would derail the entire project, although petition sponsors say that is not the intent.
On another matter, the county’s draft Comprehensive Plan was approved unanimously. The plan was long overdue (the previous plan was approved in 2000), and sought to avoid the ideological traps that plagued the previous Planning Commission. Once a decision was made to defer the controversial land use decisions, the process moved smoothly and quickly under Planning Director Darren Coffey.