Is Economic Development Up A Creek in Fluvanna?

By. Neil Williamson, President

When is a picture not worth a thousand words?

When it is not the whole picture.

Please let me explain.

Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors are reconsidering their Proposed Riparian Protection Areas.  Regular readers may recall that the Free Enterprise Forum called for this additional review so the Planning Commission and Board could consider the proposals impact on the buildable areas in their Community Planning areas, most notably Zion Crossroads.

As a part of the review, staff prepared a number of maps including the one below, seemingly indicating very little impact from the buffers highlighted.

Stream scan 1

But wait – all the required buffers are not highlighted.  sharpie-accent-tank-style-highlighter-yellow-pic1

According to the legend, intermittent streams are included in the map but even at 400% magnification I could not identify the vast majority of intermittent streams in all of Fluvanna County.  While the legend suggests all stream buffers are highlighted, the required 50’ (each side) intermittent stream buffer is not.

To prove this point even further,  according to this map. many ponds have no outflows even in “derecho” storms!

So, how many intermittent streams are there? 

How will this regulation impact the developable land in the Community Planning Areas?

These were among the questions the BOS asked staff to answer. 

The Planning Commission looked at the map above and moved the Zoning Text Amendment forward.  Unless they received something that is not being shared with the public, the Planning Commission had no way of knowing how intermittent stream buffers will negatively impact development in Fluvanna’s Community Planning Area.

By means of background, the United States Geological Service defines intermittent stream as:

Intermittent stream – A stream that flows only when it receives water from rainfall runoff or springs, or from some surface source such as melting snow.

We are unclear if the maps become a part of the ordinance or if the USGS definition controls?

Are all of the impacted streams on the map?

If the the material presented in the BOS Board packet does not include the complete requested buffer information for intermittent streams and the benefits of such a buffer are less important than the streams and rivers, the Free Enterprise Forum respectfully requests that the local mandates for intermittent streams in the Community Planning Areas be dropped from the ZTA. 

Such an action would allow the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Army Corps of Engineers regulations to rule in the Community Planning Area.

Without the elimination of the intermittent stream buffer in the Community Planning Area, Fluvanna will reduce the amount of land available and increase the cost of developing the property.  The rational market would respond by choosing a more hospitable locality to locate their enterprise (and the associated jobs).

Like water,  economic activity tends to follow the path of least resistance.  If Fluvanna enacts such a restrictive ordinance, one might wonder which neighboring locality might benefit from such an economic outflow? 

With such economic dislocation, the Free Enterprise Forum fears Fluvanna will then find itself “Up a Creek”?

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson, President


20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.  For more information visit the website

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County, Sharpie


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s