Tag Archives: Water

Fluvanna BOS Approves Landscaping Business SUP

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

In their May 21st meeting, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors approved an additional landscaping business to move into the county and also payment of a joint water authority bill.

Bella Terra Landscapes, operating in its fifth year, currently rents space in Earlysville but is looking to move to Paynes Mill Road in Troy. The owner, Tim Reese, is under contract for property on the road near Beaver Dam Baptist Church.

The business currently employs five, operates as contract landscaping and offers no retail operations. It does horticultural services and design. Reese lives in Lake Monticello and hopes to also build a home on the property in the future.

The business would include office space, covered storage and supply holding areas. The current illustrative site plan has the building being shielded by trees on all sides. The final site plan will have to be approved by planning staff.

Neighbors across the street, David and Pam Gregory, were two of the three people to speak during the public hearing. They gave concern of water usage and noise from delivery.

“I don’t think this is a suitable location,” said David Gregory.

Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) noted multiple landscaping businesses the county has approved with more houses around, including two around Lake Monticello.

“We’ve approved all those and every one of them is in a high-density residential areas,” said Ullenbruch.

Previously the land was used for four trailers. The sales contract on the property is contingent on passage of the special use permit.

Reese will be restricted from using irrigation for long-term growing plants, like for a greenhouse, and operating a retail business. The business can irrigate plants short-term.

The board approved the special use permit, the first to be labeled in 2014, unanimously.

The supervisors also unanimously approved paying $150,000 to the James River Water Authority to move the permit from Fork Union to Columbia. While everyone voted for it, it was not with any enthusiasm from conservative supervisors Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Ullenbruch.

Money was allocated from the county’s savings, referred to as the Fund Balance. The Fund Balance is currently less than a million dollars over supervisors’ self-imposed required level.

Board policy is to keep equivalent of 12 percent of the fiscal year budget in savings. Money is deposited in the Fund Balance from previous excess revenues or unspent money.

Ullenbruch is worried if the state budget stalemate goes into July, it will result in the county having to pay for items the state is normally responsible for.

“I want to be careful about expenditures until July 1 when we get a state budget,” Ullenbruch said.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) questioned leaving Louisa hanging on an item the county committed to in the second half of 2013.

“I wouldn’t want to partner with me if every time we don’t show up to the table,” O’Brien said. “It is all coming down the stream.”

O’Brien also wasn’t worried the General Assembly would halt the operations of the commonwealth because of a disagreement between the political parties over Medicare.

Weaver was concerned the JRWA is going to keep costing money, which he was told by county administrator Steve Nichols that it would.

“I’m going to approve it because we have made a commitment.” Weaver continued, “It looks to me we are starting to get out of control.”

Just before the vote was taken, Weaver also said, “It is still my responsibility to pay the debts of this county.”

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors next meet on June 4 at 4 p.m., with a work session to follow at 7 p.m.

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bryan-rothamelThe Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Fluvanna Sends Aqua a New Offer

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

After giving the county attorney time to revise the Public–Private Educational Facilities Infrastructure Act (PPEA) contract with Aqua, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to send a new offer to water service company.

Fred Payne, county attorney, briefed the supervisors on changes he recommend to the last iteration of the contract before the two sides stepped away. His changes were based on four key points: constitutionality, more reasonable protection for the county, fulfilling requirements of the PPEA and good practice of contract law.

The changes were specific to changes to the water and sewer lines contracts. The most common change was to give more protection to the county in regards to how the agreement might terminate in various ways. Previous versions of the contracts required Fluvanna to pay Aqua or its subsidiaries, even if both sides agreed to terminate the contract early.

Another notable changes were specifying venue of legal dispute to Fluvanna’s Circuit Court or elsewhere only if permissible by law, lowering the threshold of commitments to begin the water service contract and wording regarding appropriation versus financial obligation.

In regards to minimum commitments to begin the service agreement, Payne suggested reverting to an original wording of 15,000 gallons a day from a minimum of 30 households. Previously, the agreement required 120,000 gallons of water a day commitment to move the contract past early stages. The lower threshold will allow Fluvanna to start the contract and organically grow development.

Wording and penalties of failure of re-appropriation of funds were changed to move away from obligation on the county’s part.

Now the supervisors have approved to send the offer to Aqua for consideration, the contract and working documents will be available for public consumption.  http://fluvannacounty.org/content/documents/BOS/Packages/2013/00%20-%20Package%202013-12-04%20Addendum%20-%20Aqua%20Agreements.pdf

The likelihood of the contract being accepted in current form by Aqua is low; perhaps even lower than when the Aqua deal was resurrected in November. Payne noted some items changed were discussed previously and might not a big deal to change. However there are more drastic changes, such as shift of financial responsibility after a terminated contract, that have not been negotiated.

Even if Aqua does accept the deal, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will have to approve the contract. Such approval will include supervisors-elect Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) in the New Year.

In other board news, the supervisors bid farewell to Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) and chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) after four years of service. Supervisors also unanimously approved a special use permit for a commercial kennel in the Bybee area.

The only presentation was a briefing on the annual audit of the county finances. Of note, the county has $99.717 million worth of debt. The county is projected to pay of the debt by 2036. FY2013, which ended in June, saw the highest sales tax revenue for Fluvanna.

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bryan-rothamelThe Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.

Fluvanna BOS Sends Walker’s Ridge Application Back to Planning Commission

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — The Walker’s Ridge development took a strange turn late into the night as the supervisors voted to send it back to the Planning Commission.

The staff presentation, applicant presentation, public hearing and board discussion all occurred as planned but things changed when county attorney Fred Payne gave legal advice, three hours into the hearing.

Payne discussed the legal requirement special use permits must not adversely effect the surrounding properties. Payne raised concerns about water table impact, traffic, phasing and proffers offered.

One of the major points Payne raised was new proffers offered by the applicant, Hotel Capital LLC, included only using community wells in the first phase. In order to start the second and third phases, the development would not use onsite ground water. Most assumed this as Walker’s Ridge would use public water.

Payne suggested if the first phase of the development was complete but public water wasn’t complete, the applicant could request a change of rezoning because the land had restrictions that left it unusable. If the developer sued to remove the zoning restriction, it would most likely win removing any zoning from the property.

Supervisors chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) was upset the statutory concern that the special use permit had to prove benefit based on law was not brought up earlier in the process. Payne and county administrator Steve Nichols relayed it was discussed at the Planning Commission level but perhaps not specifically said as a legal concern.

Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) is the supervisor representative at the Planning Commission. Kenney asked him if he knew of the legal concern.

“No one talked about the statutory concern,” said Chesser. Chesser did mention concerns were raised it did not benefit the county but more of opinion than law.

Chesser said, “This spells something out a lot differently.”

Planning director Allyson Finchum was asked if she relayed this specific concern to the applicant including the legal aspect. She said in her 25 years of planning experience she did not understand the importance of the requirement.

“I, myself, did not understand the seriousness of this,” said Finchum.

The agent for the applicant, Keith Smith, did not know of the requirement either. He requested the supervisors defer the application for 30 days so his client could supply more documents to the county.

The supervisors instead voted 4-1 to send it back through the Planning Commission. Booker dissented.

The application has changed since the Planning Commission recommended denying the application.

The latest proffers include only the first phase would use onsite ground water. The cash proffers were based on the latest Capital Improvement Plan of $48.5 million. The total cash proffer per unit was $4,800.

All amenities were proffered to be completed or in construction prior to submittal of the second and third phases’ site plan. The commercial property of phase one will also be complete before the submittal of the second and third phases’ site plan.

The development plan has also decreased from 1,180 units to 952 units. The plan also has 180,000 square feet of commercial.

Still, the changes didn’t sway the public. Over 20 speakers from the public spoke during the hearing portion. Every single one was against the proposal.

Even the streamline version of Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors timeline extends the application two or three months.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.

 

Funding Process Approved for James River Water Authority

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — The James River Water Authority (JRWA) now has a funding process set between the two parties responsible for the entity. The agreement is pending the expected acceptance of an amendment to the original contract.

Fluvanna Board of Supervisors passed the contract with amendment that set funding breakdown between Louisa and Fluvanna counties for the JRWA with a 3-2 vote on Sept. 18. Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) dissented.

The counties will evenly split costs of JRWA infrastructure which includes costs of reapplying for a withdrawal permit, intake facility and short pipeline, estimated to be about a mile long.

The one-time cost is estimated to be around $3.5 million to shared equally. The counties will also evenly split fixed costs of operating the JRWA year to year. JRWA will divide non-fixed operating costs based on percentage of usage to the two counties.

Each county will also pay and maintain any county owned pipeline from the JRWA section. Louisa is planning to build a pipeline from the JRWA pipeline to the Louisa County line and build a treatment facility in Louisa. Fluvanna has no plans to use the JRWA raw water.

The Fluvanna supervisors are asking Louisa for an amendment to the contract, requiring Louisa to build and maintain a larger pipe for a portion of its pipeline. Louisa would also place another ‘T-junction’ location, allowing Fluvanna to connect to in the future.

The idea of this amendment proposal is it would allow Fluvanna to connect to the JRWA raw water line in a more centralized location without paying for the expanded pipe.

The proposed area for the Louisa-paid junction would be near Kents Store. Fluvanna could connect to that junction and run raw water to Palmyra. There, a centrally located treatment facility could disperse the water to all sections of the county.

Fluvanna, though, has no current plans to connect to the second junction or building a water treatment facility.

Louisa will have to agree to the amendment, which is expected. Fluvanna then would also pass the amendment to complete the contract. Earlier this year Louisa supervisors offered to pay for the entire JRWA operation and pipeline with Fluvanna only paying if wanting to connect in the future.

The ‘second junction amendment’ was proposed late in the night so county attorney Fred Payne suggested requesting the amendment but still passing the contract pending the amendment. This allowed other portions of the contract to move forward, like the counties requesting a change in the permit.

The permitted withdrawal location is currently near Bremo Bluff. JRWA would request moving the permitted withdrawal to a location near the town of Columbia. The process would be more along the lines of requesting a new permit and relinquishing the original. A new permit could also change the permitted withdrawal amount and the Fluvanna-Louisa breakdown.

The current permit evenly splits the permitted three million gallons per day. In the request process, Louisa could demonstrate a need for five million gallons per day and Fluvanna only three million gallons per day. The permit withdrawal could then be for a total of eight million gallons a day, the breakdown would change to such a request.

Department of Environmental Control could lower or even reject the request. The change in permit withdrawal location is pending DEQ approval.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Revised Water Plan on the Table in Fluvanna

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer 

PALMYRA -The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will be busy in the month following its annual summer break.

The biggest item to come to the board for the Sept. 4 meeting will be the James River Water Authority.

The proposed JRWA plan being discussed is to move the permit to the Columbia community planning area (CPA) then allow each locality to build a raw water line to each needed area from a nearby junction location.

In the proposal, the JRWA would be responsible for the capital costs of building an intake facility and operations and maintenance costs. Some costs would be shared fixed maintenance costs while other costs will fluctuate dependent on use of withdrawal capacity.

The JRWA would own a raw water line to a proposed ‘T’ junction. Either county would then own any pipeline from the junction, proposed near Route 6 in the Columbia CPA.

Fluvanna would be responsible for the Fluvanna pipeline and share costs if in the future Fluvanna wants additions to the Louisa pipeline. Louisa would be responsible for the Louisa pipeline. The parties would own any property they construct.

JRWA’s estimated costs are just below $3.5 million to construct a 3 million raw water intake facility and a raw water line to the junction plus the modification of the permit from Bremo Bluff to Columbia area. Unknown costs are easement acquisition along the Colonial gas line.

Water allocation would be based on needs each county established and agreed in a Columbia withdrawal permit and Department of Economic Quality summary findings. Each county could have a temporary reallocation or purchase bulk water from the other locality. A county could request a withdrawal permit increase and would be responsible for costs.

Supervisors will also consider the approval process Louisa would have to go through to construct a water line in Fluvanna. Current county code requires another locality apply for a special use permit to construct major utilities through Fluvanna.

Fluvanna could alter the current county code which could allow another locality, including Louisa, to develop major utilities by-right.

Louisa County Board of Supervisors previously said it was interested in executing the JRWA without Fluvanna’s full participation. The goal for Louisa was to bring water across Fluvanna’s eastern border following the Colonial gas line to Louisa to help alleviate Louisa’s water concerns in its southern portion of the county.

Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will meet on Sept. 4 at 2 p.m. in the Fluvanna Circuit Courtroom.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Fluvanna Water ‘Leaks’ Continue – Public Hearing Cancelled

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — Fluco Blog has received a leaked version of the entire return on investment (ROI) spreadsheet, including water-supply_thumb.jpgassumptions used.  Joe Chesser previously released a portable document format (PDF) of just the results tab of the latest Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) ROI. Fluco Blog has received the entire spreadsheet from multiple sources close to the process.

While the results version Chesser released gives the final picture, the assumptions for the results has been questioned. Multiple sources close to the internal county dialog have confirmed county staff have questioned assumptions and/or the Excel formulas used.

Those same sources are saying the hold up in releasing the document has centered around those questions. Reportedly, TJPDC has reconfirmed the information and formulas without any major corrections.

Major assumptions for the ‘expected growth’ model of the Department of Corrections only plan, 75,000 gallons of water per day plus 125,000 gallons of sewer, include an average growth of housing units of seven a year for the first five years. Residential growth then slows to three a year from the sixth through the 20th year.

The commercial growth includes an average of 19,000 new square feet per year for the first five years. For the next 15 years, the average growth is 11,000 square feet per year for commercial. The forecast also averages 2,000 square feet a year of restaurant space for the first five years and zero additional square feet for years six through 20.

aqua america logoThe Aqua deal of 500,000 gallons of water a day plus 125,000 of sewer a day uses assumptions for the ‘expected growth’ scenario of adding an average of 10 homes a year for the first 15 years then an average of eight a year for the final five years of the 20 year forecast.

Commercially it includes adding an average of 41,000 square feet of retail space for the first 15 years then averaging 32,250 square feet a year for the final five years. Restaurant footage added is projected at 1,000 square feet average a year for 15 years and zero square footage for years 16 through 20.

Each proposal has water rates of $8 per 1,000 gallons of water use and $10 per 1,000 gallons of sewer use. Both proposals use the same connection fees as well.

The expected growth model for the DOC proposal uses the water capacity nearly by year seven and is 12,000 gallons short by year eight. The same model for the Aqua proposal uses 153,113 in the final year, thus leaving 346,887 gallons extra capacity even in the last year.

The DOC plan, by limiting available water also limits development, will not exceed the 125,000 gallons of sewer capacity the entire 20 years. The Aqua plan would need additional sewer space by at least the 15th year.

The document is locked via password, unbeknownst to Fluco Blog.

Originally the public hearing for the Aqua proposal was scheduled for Aug. 7 but was not properly advertised. It has been postponed to another meeting. The regularly scheduled 2 p.m. Board of Supervisors meeting will still occur, at Fluvanna County High School’s auditorium.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Is the Louisa/Fluvanna James RIver Pipeline Back?

By. Bryan Rothamel

LOUISA — The James River water pipeline is getting a second look.

The Louisa Board of Supervisors has sent notice, calling a special meeting to be held in Fluvanna with the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors. The Louisa notice states the two boards will meet to ‘discuss the James River Water Project.’

The notice says at 6 p.m. on March 6 in Palmyra. The Fluvanna supervisors have a normally scheduled meeting that day and do not require additional notice beyond the routine meeting notice.

The James River Water Authority, while still a legal entity, has not be active for years. Both counties paid money for the JRWA to defend it legally but it has not been seriously discussed since the summer of 2010 when the two parties split from discussing a water project.

The endeavor was officially canceled, but not disbanded, by Louisa on Aug. 17, 2010 when then Louisa supervisors felt Fluvanna stop acting in good faith towards making a financial decision. Fluvanna’s then leadership allowed a Aug. 16, 2010 Virginia Resource Authority application deadline for financing pass without an application.

There was a Memorandum of Understanding about a possible James River water pipeline  and until that August 2010 deadline, Louisa supervisors were willing to pay for up to half the water pipeline had it met “reasonable standards for costs and water age.” Louisa’s only public concern was to get water from the James River, across Fluvanna and to the Zion Crossroad planning area.

At the time, discussions in Fluvanna raised questions about extending the debt load of the county when the high school debt payments had not fully started. Some residents also voiced concerns about paying half the costs of a water line that would send water directly to where, Fluvanna residents felt, Louisa competed with Fluvanna the most, the Zion Crossroad economic development.

Louisa leaders countered in the Aug. 17, 2010 press release and follow up interviews with Louisa’s availability for future growth was much more limited than Fluvanna’s possible future growth because of Green Springs Historical District. The historical district is federally protected from development. Fluvanna has no such limitations.

Louisa leaders also said Fluvanna could strategically place the pipeline to hit major economic areas inside Fluvanna before even getting to Zion Crossroad. The proposed route was over 22 miles, winding through Pleasant Grove, near Lake Monticello and down Route 250.

The biggest issue about take water from the James River for either county is neither county owns the withdrawal permit. The JRWA owns the permit to take any water from the river. Neither county can get that permit without the authority relinquishing control. The JRWA board has three Fluvanna members and three Louisa members.

Reportedly, the JRWA has not met beyond keeping up with regulated bylaws. The Louisa County’s website last has minutes for the JRWA board dating January 2010. Fluvanna’s last published minutes are February 2010.

The joint Louisa-Fluvanna meeting will happen on March 6 although discussions with Fluvanna sources say the Fluvanna supervisors will have additional agenda items to accomplish before meeting with Louisa.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Fluvanna Administrator Proposes Examining Groundwater

By. Bryan Rothamel

Included in the Fluvanna County administrator’s proposed budget capital improvements plan is a hydrogeologic study.

Hydrogeologic study is examining the distribution, occurrence and effect of groundwater. Steve Nichols, county administrator, included this study because of how important he feels groundwater can be.

groundwater - Credit State of California

The CIP has not been approved, and up until the last Board of Supervisors meeting it wasn’t publicly discussed by the board. However, the hydrogeologic study was brought up.

The study is proposed for $50,000 to pay for the study. County administration suggests studying the Zion Crossroad, Palmyra and Fork Union planning areas for water.

Nichols told the board he didn’t believe groundwater was useful until he heard a presentation from a groundwater expert.

Nichols said if the board wasn’t a believer in usefulness of groundwater, just look across the county line in Louisa. The Zion Crossroad area is supported with groundwater, he said.

He mentioned the advantages to groundwater is once the the source is tapped, it is much more cost effective than surface water. It is cleaner, requiring less, if not no, treatment to serve.

There could be massive amounts of water in the ground that the county just needs to, literally, tap into. It could be the most cost effective way to start a water system at Zion Crossroad before larger sources are used.

The county also will need to add a new well to the Fork Union Sanitary District. FUSD is supported by wells that are aging. If a catastrophic failure happens to one of the operating wells, the county does not have a contingency plan currently.

A well could operate a Palmyra water system. Reportedly, Palmyra already has pipes in the ground. The system could serve the various government entities.

Nichols told the board he would like to have a water engineer present at an upcoming meeting reasons why using groundwater is sometimes a better option. He said it could turn them into a ‘believer’ also.

The supervisors are scheduled to approve the FY14 budget and capital improvement plan on April 17. Anything in the plan for Fiscal Year 2014 is approved for funding. Anything in the plan past FY14 is planned for but not approved for funding, unless it is in connection with an FY14 item.

The next Board of Supervisor meeting is Feb. 27. It is a work session to hear presentations from nonprofit and regional agencies. The meeting will start at 6 p.m.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Image Credit: State of California

Fluvanna BOS discusses Water Options & Amphitheater

By. Bryan Rothamel

PALMYRA — Fluvanna Board of Supervisors were briefed during the Jan. 16 meeting on upcoming meetings over water options regarding the Zion Crossroad area and options for the Fork Union Sanitary District system.

The updates were extremely brief during the meeting and more aimed to keep supervisors abreast of the process.

aqua america logoThe county has been discussing two routes to provide water to the Zion Crossroad planning district. The first option being a private-public partnership with Aqua using the Rivanna River station. The second route is to team with the Department of Corrections to use the women’s correctional facility water system.

County officials will meet with the Department of Corrections on Jan. 22. One issue discovered early in the process is the water system is rated for 250,000 gallons per day usage but the permit for the system is 400,000 gallons per day.  The correctional officials will host county administration at the correctional facility for the meeting.

Officials will meet with Aqua on Jan. 24. There was brief discussion concerning Aqua thinking a system would only be viable with 90,000 gallons per day used. The county would have to find potential customers to make the system viable.
Fluvanna BOS 2012

 

An ongoing water issue that costs the county money each year is the Fork Union Sanitary District (FUSD). FUSD, often pronounced Fuzz-dee during meetings, has old wells that have been worked and reworked to maximize production.

There are well options at the old Thomasville plant that haven’t been used and showed better production than currently used wells. The county does not have use of the wells currently and are discussing the process of obtaining use.

County officials are recommending the county perform two separate hydro studies. One would be on FUSD for an additional well and another on ground water availability for use at Zion Crossroad and Palmyra.

“Fork Union is a critical issue,” said Joe Chesser (Rivanna District). “It is costing us money and the wells aren’t in that good of shape.”

It was discussed if Aqua has been asked again about purchasing FUSD from the county. The general feeling from county staff was they are different issues. It is something supervisor Mozell Booker (Fork Union) is not interested in.

“I just hate to see that on the table now,” said Booker as it was brought up.

Also during the Jan. 16 meeting the supervisors approved submitting a proposal to Bama Works for construction of phase one of the Pleasant Grove Amphitheater. The proposal cannot exceed $60,000. Patricia Groot, grants administrator for the county, noted Bama Works typically does not grant more than $10,000 at a time but exceptions sometimes happen.
image

Groot also noted Charlottesville Area Community Foundation administers Bama Works. Even if Bama Works only grants $10,000, another benefactor from CACF might contribute to the program.

“We’ve received Bama grants in the past that have been administered properly. They have been satisfied,” said Groot.

The amphitheater would be constructed in two phases. The first phase would construct a stage about the same size as the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center. Phase one would also include enough bench seating for 140 people and additional grass seating.

The second phase would add a shelter area for possible changing rooms and storage, covering over the stage and additional 450 seats seats with less grass seating.

The first phase is expected to cost $59,925. The county has budgeted $5,000 with plans for the remaining funding from grants.

The deadline for the Bama Works grant is Feb. 1. The next Bama Works deadline is Aug. 1.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Image credits: Fluvanna County

A Tax By Any Other Name

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

rose“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;” – William Shakespeare

Words matter that’s why it is refreshing that as State Senator John Watkins has been discussing his transportation funding solution he has used the term “Gas Tax” rather than the more trendy “user fee”.gas tax 2

By contrast Charlottesville, if you haven’t heard yet, the bottom line on your property tax bill is increasing but don’t call it a tax. 

No, your property tax bill will be the mechanism the city uses to collect the soon to be passed stormwater user fee.   

Who will pay the fee?  Property owners based on their percentage of impervious surface.  The city has already used aerial images to calculate your property’s impervious surface. Impervious surface includes rooftops, driveways, paved patios etc.

But wait, doesn’t rain fall on everybody?

Charlottesville WRPPThe goals of the Water Resources Protection Program include “bringing the community together to help protect and improve the city’s valuable natural and man-made resources by protecting public health and safety…”  Aren’t these community goals that should be supported by the entire community?

While some of the costs of the new program can be blamed on the city’s existing, aging  stormwater infrastructure.  The majority of the cost is associated with new TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) storm water requirements that are a part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chesapeake Bay initiative.   

Back in the old days, when a locality (or State) identified a need in the community and a government solution to that need, the community would fund that solution through its normal revenue stream.

Instead, the city is utilizing enabling legislation to establish a stormwater utility (expect Albemarle County and others to follow) to create a dedicated million dollar a year revenue source for stormwater management.

The city sees significant benefits to the user fee approach —

Providing funding through user fees has many advantages. Charging a fee is fair and equitable since it is based on a property’s contribution to the problem (runoff from impervious surfaces), not simply on assessed value, and includes all properties (including tax-exempt ones). A stormwater utility also ensures that collected user fees are wholly dedicated to funding the WRPP components. Finally, a fee also provides a consistent and stable funding source to ensure that the WRPP is both environmentally and economically sustainable.

It is important to note that the city has been proactive in reaching out to large commercial centers as well as churches (often with large parking lots) to inform them of the fee structure as well as discuss potential mitigation the owners can do on site to reduce their stormwater impacts and their “user fee”.

The Free Enterprise Forum is torn on the user fee concept.  While we tend to like paying for specific services rendered, we see the benefit being provided to larger than just those carrying the cost burden.

One business owner indicated his company owned  several apartment buildings mainly filled with University of Virginia students.  Using the user fee methodology, as schools make up about 60% of the  budget and that his properties do not significantly add to Charlottesville’s K-12 education population, shouldn’t he get a credit on his property taxes?  Of course not, education is a community goal that benefits all – well educated graduates may become future employees (or tenants) for his company. 

Taken to its logical conclusion, couldn’t the same argument be made for the gas tax and the stormwater utility fee.  In the former, an effective and efficient transportation system encourages economic development and improves the quality of life of all citizens regardless of their need for gasoline.  In the latter, environmental improvements included in the WRPP clearly benefit all of the community not just those who own impervious surfaces.

Words matter.  To paraphrase William Shakespeare “A tax by any other name will hurt as much”

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.