This week in county government; PC to review big-ticket capital spending requests, consider concrete plant at Ferncliff; BOS chooses Adams as chair; Residents call for more pickleball courts
Engage Louisa is a nonpartisan newsletter that keeps folks informed about Louisa County government. We believe our community is stronger and our government serves us better when we increase transparency, accessibility, and engagement.
This week in county government: public meetings, Jan. 8 through Jan. 13
For the latest information on county meetings including public meetings of boards, commissions, authorities, work groups, and internal county committees, click here. (Note: Louisa County occasionally schedules internal committee/work group meetings after publication time. Check the county’s website for the most updated information).
Tuesday, January 9
Louisa County Electoral Board, Office of Elections, 103 McDonald St., Louisa, 10 am. (agenda)
Wednesday, January 10
James River Water Authority, Fluvanna County Administration Building, 132 Main St., Palmyra, 9 am. At publication time, an agenda was not publicly available.
Neighborhood Meeting, hosted by the Louisa County Community Development Department, Public Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 2 pm. (public notice)
The Community Development Department will host a neighborhood meeting to allow the applicant an opportunity to discuss a request to rezone, from General Commercial (C-2) to General Residential (R-2), 1.5 acres of a 3.2-acre parcel on Pleasant Landing Road (part of tax map parcel 47-11-1).
Neighborhood Meeting, hosted by the Louisa County Community Development Department, Gum Springs United Methodist Church, 191 Cross County Road, Gum Springs, 4 pm. (public notice)
The Community Development Department will host a neighborhood meeting to allow the applicant an opportunity to discuss a request to rezone, from Agricultural (A-2) to General Commercial (C-2), 23.4 acres at Gum Springs for a Loves Travel Stop featuring a gas station, restaurant, car wash, automobile repair service, general store and parking facility (parts of tax map parcels 100-87, 100-88, 100-90).
Louisa County Water Authority, Public Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 6 pm. At publication time, an agenda was not publicly available.
Thursday, January 11
Finance Committee, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 9 am.
Louisa County Planning Commission, long-range planning work session, Public Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 5 pm. (agenda packet/livestream)
Louisa County Planning Commission, Public Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 7 pm. (agenda packet/livestream)
Monday, January 8
Mineral Town Council, 312 Mineral Avenue, Mineral, 6:30 pm. At publication time, an agenda was not publicly available.
Additional information about Louisa County’s upcoming public meetings is available here.
Interested in taking your talents to one of the county’s numerous boards and commissions? Find out more here including which boards have vacancies and how to apply.
Planning Commission to review big-ticket capital spending requests
The Fiscal Year 2025 budget process kicks into high gear on Thursday night as department heads and other county officials pitch the Planning Commission on big-ticket spending requests in the preliminary FY25-FY44 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP is a 20-year forecast for spending on tangible, long-lasting and high value items like new school buildings, fire trucks and recreational facilities. This year’s wish list includes everything from $26 million for an addition to Louisa County Middle School to $600,000 to begin designing a multipurpose rec center.
The commission is tasked with reviewing the CIP before forwarding it to the Board of Supervisors for consideration as part of the FY25 budget. Supervisors have the final say on whether a project is included in the CIP and when and if it receives funding. The commission will discuss some of the projects in the draft at a 5 pm work session. Next month, they’ll hold a public hearing on the spending plan.
Here’s a quick roundup of the marquee requests that the commission will review on Thursday.
LCPS requests at least $52 million for school construction projects in FY25: As currently proposed, the CIP for the coming fiscal year (FY25) includes more than $73 million in spending requests, the lion’s share of which—more than $53 million—come from Louisa County Public Schools.
For the last several years, the school division has been preparing for two significant construction projects—a 500-seat addition to Louisa County Middle School accompanied by a new alternative education center and a 56,000-square foot career and technical education center adjacent to Louisa County High School.
The division is asking for $26 million for the middle school and $25 million for the CTE center though Superintendent Doug Straley has called the latter figure a “placeholder.” Straley and LCPS Technology Director David Childress told the school board at recent meetings that the division is considering expanding the center to alleviate pressure from growing enrollment at the high school. Neither Straley nor Childress have publicly discussed in detail what that expansion could entail or how much it might cost.
The $26 million for the middle school addition would address crowded conditions at that facility where some classrooms are housed in trailers outside the school building. According to Straley, the facility is expected to include 20 classrooms, five science labs, four special education rooms, two resource classrooms and 11 classrooms in the alt ed center.
Outside of those costs, the division is asking for $1.15 million to cover architectural construction services for both structures.
Supervisors have already approved about $2.5 million for design work for the addition and the center with roughly $1.8 million of that coming from a one-time state grant. Construction at the middle school could begin as soon as this summer, according to Childress. Construction of the CTE center is expected begin later this year.
As the county grapples with continued growth, the division anticipates spending $36 million on elementary school construction between FY30 and FY34 though staff and the school board haven’t had detailed public discussions about those plans. In a written submission as part of the draft CIP, Director of Maintenance Todd Weidow says only that the money would be used for “new elementary schools.”
Parks and Rec eyes new aquatic center, rec facility and skate park: At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Parks and Recreation Director James Smith bluntly told the board that Louisa County lacks adequate recreational facilities to meet the needs of its growing population.
“Right now, we are in a stage where we are behind and, the more we try to do as a department, we get to a point where we hit a wall because either we don’t have the facility or we don’t have the space or what we need to move forward,” Smith said. “So, we can meet needs in this county up to a certain point and then we hit a wall.”
On Thursday night, Smith will pitch planners on several projects aimed at expanding recreational opportunities. Headlining his wish list is a $6.6 million request for a multipurpose recreational center that would house a large gymnasium with space for basketball, volleyball, pickleball, gymnastics, martial arts and group exercise classes. The facility would also include fitness equipment, a walking track, exercise studios, locker rooms, a children’s activity room and a teen lounge.
Smith is asking for $600,000 to begin planning and designing the facility in the coming fiscal year and $6 million for construction in FY26. While the department hasn’t settled on a location, Smith said in an email to Engage Louisa that it’s considering space adjacent to the Betty Queen Center.
“This would allow the department to create a centralized location that provides various indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities for the community. We would like to build a multi-functional facility that will allow the department to better serve the recreational needs of the community,” Smith said.
Some residents have already started lobbying for the project. At the board’s January 2 meeting, five pickleball enthusiasts told supervisors that the county needs more indoor courts to support the game’s burgeoning popularity, urging the board to include the facility in the budget (see below).
Smith is also requesting funding for two other projects that have been championed by community members: $375,000 for a concrete skate park in the next fiscal year and $400,000 that would be set aside for the potential construction of an indoor aquatic center in FY26.
With respect to the former request, the county previously had a skate park adjacent to the Betty Queen Center, which was uprooted in 2012 to make way for the Health Department. The department operated out of trailers at the site for about a decade.
At the time, county officials told skateboard enthusiasts that the park would be rebuilt when the Health Department found a permanent home. The department moved to the former Louisa County Medical Center in the Town of Louisa in December.
Now, skateboarders want county officials to make good on their promise. An online petition in support of the park circulating on Facebook had 321 signatures as of Sunday morning.
In his request, Smith says that building a concrete skate park would initially cost more than a park with wooden or fiber glass ramps. But the department would save money on maintenance in the long run. He estimates spending $2,000 on annual maintenance for the park.
With respect to the latter request, the county currently operates an outdoor pool on a seasonal basis near the Betty Queen Center, but some residents have pushed for a year-round indoor facility. An indoor pool would also serve Louisa County High School’s swim team, which currently travels to Fork Union Military Academy in Fluvanna to practice.
Supervisors have set aside $1.2 million for the project over the last three fiscal year, but they’d have to appropriate at least $6.6 million more in FY26 (or another upcoming budget cycle) to make the center a reality. Smith also estimates that the facility would generate about $630,000 in annual staffing and maintenance costs with about $260,000 of that offset by membership fees, rentals and water aerobics programming.
Economic Development Department requests funding for Lake Anna WWTP expansion, transportation improvements: Economic Development Director Andy Wade and County Administrator Christian Goodwin are asking for $7.5 million to overhaul the Lake Anna Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The county purchased the troubled facility from a private owner last year with plans to upgrade and expand it to serve future economic development along the Route 208 corridor and to bring it into compliance with Department of Environmental Quality regulations.
Under its previous owner, the plant, which discharges its treated effluent into the lake, frequently ran afoul of DEQ rules. Since it came under the operation of the Louisa County Water Authority (LCWA) in May, the facility has continued to struggle to meet at least one DEQ standard, LCWA General Manager Pam Baughman told the Board of Supervisors at last Tuesday’s meeting.
The facility currently serves Lake Anna Plaza and adjoining townhomes and has the capacity to treat 20,000 gallons of wastewater per day. The county plans to expand the plant to handle 99,000 gallons daily, its permitted capacity.
The upgrade would allow the facility to meet the needs of a Planned Unit Development featuring luxury condominiums and a hotel slated for 15 lakefront acres across the street. That project’s developer, LA Resort, LLC, proffered $1 million toward the plant’s upgrade when it rezoned its property for mixed-use development last January.
In his request, Goodwin writes that the existing customer base would generate additional revenue for LCWA and future development supported by the plant could help offset its cost. He also notes that the county plans to “implement state-of-the-art treatment technology.” Construction could begin in late 2024 and is expected to last 18 months.
The Economic Development Department’s other big ask for FY25 is $348,000 for transportation improvements at the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park, a 700-acre industrial site that the county is developing just north of the Shannon Hill exit off Interstate 64. The county has nearly $1.7 million reserved for the project, bringing the total allocation to $2 million.
In a written submission, Wade says the money would be used to enhance a slice of Shannon Hill Road near the park, including widening the road, adding turn lanes and improving drainage, and to construct a commercial entrance and internal roads in the facility.
The county has already completed the design phase and intends to apply for state grant funding to help cover construction costs, according to Wade. The project timeline is contingent upon receipt of that funding, but it could begin as soon as this spring.
Louisa County began developing the park in 2019 in hopes that it will one day be home to distribution centers, advanced manufacturing or other large-scale economic development projects that broaden the tax base and create jobs. Wade states that the transportation improvements would “increase the marketability and site readiness of the SHRBP.”
“Upon completion, the improvements will provide better access to the best development sites within the SHRBP. All road improvements will be adopted into the VDOT system upon completion,” he writes.
FEMS Department to pitch new stations: While Louisa County Fire and EMS is asking for limited funding for facility expansion in FY25, bigger requests loom in the next two fiscal years.
FEMS Chief Kristin Hawk will pitch planners on a pair of new fire and EMS stations: one at Zion Crossroads proposed for construction in FY26 and a second at Ferncliff or Shannon Hill in FY27. The Zion Crossroads facility, expected to cost $6 million, would replace an existing station off Poindexter Road. The Ferncliff/Shannon Hill station, expected to cost $7 million, would be the first emergency service facility in either area.
With respect to the Zion station, Hawk says in her written request that the department needs the facility because the current station is too small and isn’t ideally located. Hawk writes that moving the station to the Route 15 corridor would enable the department to better serve the Zion Crossroads Growth Area and answer calls to the north near Gordonsville.
“Call volume continues to rise on average each year. The Zion Crossroads area is one of the County's highest growth areas. The calls in this area continue to increase as does the traffic. Currently the average response time to calls in the Zions area is 12:13 and the Gordonsville area is 19:35,” Hawk writes. “Moving this station just north of the Rt. 15 corridor will decrease both of these response times especially the Gordonsville responses by 7 minutes.”
While moving the Zion station would shorten response times along Route 15, it would increase the need for another station along Route 250 and Interstate 64, according to Hawk. To fill that gap, she’s asking for a station at either Ferncliff or Shannon Hill in FY27.
“As we build a Zions Crossroads station more centrally located in the growth area and along the Rt. 15 corridor, and as the Ferncliff and Shannon Hill business parks begin to build, there will also be a need to build a fire and EMS station in one of these areas. These locations are being looked at due to the Interstate 64 call volume from Zion Crossroads to Gum Spring,” she writes.
Because the station isn’t replacing an existing facility, Hawk notes that the Ferncliff/Shannon Hill station would require additional funding to cover new personnel and equipment.
Another $3 million for broadband included in draft CIP: In the last two fiscal years, supervisors have allotted about $3 million to Firefly Fiber Broadband’s effort to bring universal high-speed internet access to the county by 2025. In FY25, staff is asking the board to make its final roughly $3 million contribution, bringing the county’s total investment to nearly $9 million.
Firefly is relying on a combination of local, state and federal funding and private investment to fund the project. It’s working with the area’s three electric providers—Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, which owns Firefly, Dominion Energy and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative—to complete county-wide fiber construction.
Supes choose Adams, Barlow to lead board, hear from residents who want more pickleball courts
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors last Tuesday night kicked off 2024 with a wide-ranging meeting, welcoming two new members, selecting a chair and vice chair, hearing an update from Dominion Energy on its controversial Belcher Solar Facility, okaying a Conditional Use Permit for construction of a civic use building and more.
Board unanimously selects Adams as chair, Barlow as vice chair: For the third consecutive year, supervisors selected Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams as chair and Mountain Road District Supervisor Tommy Barlow as vice chair. No other board members were nominated for either position.
Adams, a Republican, was first elected to the board in 2017 and retained his seat with no opposition two years ago. The Lake Anna resident spent much of his career as an insurance executive. He now owns LKA Watersports, a boat and jet ski rental company.
Barlow, a surveyor and Louisa County native, is serving his fourth term. Though he runs as an independent, he’s one of the board’s most conservative members and has never faced opposition for his seat.
Adams will lead a new-look board that includes two new members and, for the first time in history, has a Republican majority. One of the board’s newly-elected members, Cuckoo District Supervisor Chris McCotter, ran unopposed on the Republican ticket last November. He’ll replace longtime independent Willie Gentry, who retired after 20 years. McCotter joins Adams and two other Republicans—Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams and Green Springs District Supervisor Rachel Jones—to give the party four seats.
The board’s other new member, Louisa District Supervisor Manning Woodward, ran as an independent, defeating fellow independent Greg Jones and Republican Chris Colsey in a hotly contested race. Woodward replaces independent Eric Purcell, who served two nonconsecutive terms. He joins two other independents on the board: Barlow and Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes.
Pickleball community speaks out about need for more courts: Pickleball players spoke out Tuesday night about the need for more courts.
During the meeting’s public comment period, five community members told the board that they support Parks and Recreation Director James Smith’s proposal for a new recreation center that would include more indoor pickleball courts.
Smith included $600,000 in seed money for the facility in his Fiscal Year 2025 capital project requests and another $6 million to construct the project in FY26 (see above). In an email to Engage Louisa, Smith said that the facility would include a large gymnasium to accommodate pickleball, basketball, volleyball, martial arts classes and other activities as well as an indoor walking track, fitness center and teen lounge. While the department hasn’t chosen a location, Smith said the facility could be built adjacent to the Betty Queen Center. Supervisors will consider Smith’s request during the upcoming budget process.
Pickleball enthusiasts told the board that Louisa County has a dearth of recreational options for its citizens, particularly when it comes to pickleball. They said that the sport’s popularity has exploded in Louisa over the last several years and the few courts available at the Betty Queen Center are insufficient. The speakers urged the board to invest more in recreational facilities—especially for pickleball—noting the many benefits of the activity,
“Pickleball has been shown to provide health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of dementia, improved balance and agility. Additional courts would provide that opportunity for socialization, health benefits and good, old-fashioned fun,” said Spotsylvania resident Karen Hillard, who teaches intermediate pickleball clinics with her husband at the Betty Queen Center.
Pickleball players emphasized that the limited facilities in the county make the game inaccessible to some residents. They said that the Betty Queen Center, where residents can play pickleball year-round, is often used for other activities on nights and weekends, relegating pickleball mostly to weekday play.
Mineral District resident Pat Gallagher said that pickleball first gained popularity with “people looking for something easier on their joints than playing racquetball and tennis. In other words, my age group,” but it’s now catching on with younger players. He noted that the sport is growing fastest among 25 to 40-year-olds, three professional leagues have been established and some colleges now offer pickleball scholarships. To accommodate more players, the county needs more courts, he said.
“Pickleball is an inexpensive activity that is easy to learn. It’s a great family activity. It can be enjoyed by those with disabilities. It is very social and helps build a sense of community. Louisa County residents would benefit from a facility that offers more opportunities for play, specifically an indoor facility for year-round play. More importantly, providing a space for evening and weekend play would help accommodate the influx of younger players,” Gallagher said.
Patrick Henry District resident Gloria Pope agreed. She said that she’s the only African-American Louisa resident who regularly plays pickleball through Parks and Rec. Pope argued that the county lacks adequate recreational activities for many residents, leading to poor health outcomes. Pickleball, Pope said, has provided a path to a healthier lifestyle for many retirees and she wants those same opportunities for younger residents.
“Not only have many retired Louisa residents reaped improved health benefits such as getting off high blood pressure medicine, managing their weight and not feeling lonely and/or depressed, they have also acquired many new friends in our community playing pickleball three to five times a week. We should stop denying other working residents and young people these same opportunities for better health and great fun by creating a new, indoor recreational facility,” Pope said.
Dominion updates board on Belcher Solar Facility: A representative from Dominion Energy briefed the board on the company’s efforts to address problems with stormwater runoff at its 88 MW Belcher Solar Facility off Waldrop Church Road. Concerns about runoff and erosion and sediment control have plagued the 900-acre facility since its construction three years ago.
Downstream property owners along Bickley Road near the southern end of the property have repeatedly raised concerns about runoff from the site, complaining that it’s causing severe erosion and other damage on their farms.
Dominion representative Sarah Marshall told the board that the company believes the stormwater management plan it has implemented over the last several years has corrected problems with runoff, noting that Dominion officials haven’t observed any stormwater issues since the spring of 2022.
Marshall said that, as part of the plan, the company has worked to establish vegetation across the site and is in the process of converting wet stormwater retention ponds to dry ponds.
“As you may recall during construction, the ponds were kept as wet ponds and, as the project was designed, post-construction they are to be transitioned and converted into dry ponds, which means they’ll still have the same shape, same form, but they will be dry most of the time,” she said. “They will have grasses growing in them, and they will serve as catches for any extreme water events and hold the water until it can be evaporated or soaked into the ground.”
Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes, who represents the area, said that while he appreciates Dominion’s efforts, he wants to hear directly from adjoining landowners who’ve been impacted by the runoff.
“My concerns are always my constituents’ concerns,” Barnes said. “I want to hear from the people affected…that they feel that they have been heard, that the issues they are dealing with (have been) fixed.”
Marshall said that Dominion has made “a good faith effort to reengage with neighbors of the project through their attorney and (we) are still waiting to hear back.”
“We believe that we have made all the right efforts, and the project is in a good space, but we are also currently working on confirming that from others who have been potentially impacted,” she said.
In an email on Friday, attorney Graven Craig, who represents downstream property owners, told Engage Louisa that he has had “brief conversations” with Dominion’s counsel, but he “would not agree that Dominion has asked if the situation has improved.” He added that the company hasn’t made “any attempt to correct or repair the damage created by the Belchers project.”
Craig said that while he hadn’t checked with his clients regarding recent rains, “earlier this fall they were still experiencing high levels of water runoff after precipitation events.”
In a follow up email on Sunday evening, Craig said that he had just spoken with one of his clients, who checked the creeks after this weekend’s rain. Craig said his client reported that “it is still flooding just as bad” as it has been since Belcher’s construction.
The problems at Belcher have prompted the Board of Supervisors to rethink the county’s approach to utility-scale solar development. In 2022, the board unanimously adopted a revised solar ordinance that significantly beefs up erosion and sediment control standards for large solar projects, mandates a 300-foot buffer around the facilities and caps the number of acres that can be used for utility-scale solar generation at roughly 9,800, three percent of the county’s land.
Marshall said that Dominion wants Belcher to “put its best foot forward and be seen as a highlight for the county.” To that end, she said the company is preparing to submit an application to amend its Conditional Use to better align the project with current standards. While she offered few specifics, Marshall said that the company would propose changes to its decommissioning bond as well as language related to vegetation management and buffers. Supervisors initially approved the project in 2016 then amended the permit in 2017.
Board considers how to address excessive litter in yards: Supervisors discussed making changes to county code aimed at cracking down on people who allow trash and debris to accumulate on residential property.
County officials occasionally field complaints about residents who pile trash and other debris in their yard, but staff has been stymied in attempts to address the issue in much of the county due to recent changes in state law.
At their October 16 meeting, Cuckoo District resident Jeffrey Bullock told supervisors that, over the last two years, his neighbor has piled mounds of trash in his yard, which Bullock described as an eyesore and potentially an environmental hazard.
Bullock said that he worked with county staff to address the issue and that the county took the landowner to court. After initially ordering the property owner to clean up the yard, the court reversed the decision.
Then-Assistant County Attorney Kyle Eldridge explained that the court reversed course based on a change in state law. Eldridge said that, in 2021, Virginia updated its code to exempt properties used for farming or zoned agricultural from “duty to keep residential property clean” ordinances like one included in Louisa’s code. Though the subject property isn’t used for farming, he said, it is zoned agricultural, so state law ties the county’s hands.
Eldridge noted that most property in the county is zoned either A-1 or A-2, and it’s exempt under state code regardless of whether it’s a farm.
Interim County Attorney Dale Mullen presented supervisors with draft code amendments that could allow them to address Bullock’s issue and similar concerns. Mullen said that the county doesn’t have the tools to remedy such complaints under its existing code but could potentially do so by tweaking two code sections: Sec. 38-1, which addresses public nuisances, and Sec. 62-29, the county’s “duty to keep residential property clean” ordinance.
Drawing on state code, Mullen proposes adding language to the former code section that empowers the board to “maintain an action to compel a responsible party to abate, raze, or remove a public nuisance.” He proposes adding the following sentence to the latter code section: “Any storage, accumulation or dumping of litter, debris, abandoned vehicles, or other waste material, which might endanger the health, safety and wellness of others is declared a nuisance.”
Under Mullen’s proposal, if litter reaches the level of a nuisance regardless of a property’s zoning, supervisors could take action with a circuit court judge having the final say on whether the county has the power to address the issue. Mullen noted that, in general, agricultural operations can’t be considered a nuisance though that’s not always the case.
After some discussion, the board agreed to send Mullen’s draft amendments to the county’s Ag/Forestal and Rural Preservation Committee for its review before holding a public hearing at an upcoming board meeting. Several supervisors suggested that they want to ensure the ordinance is squarely aimed at residential property owners who pile large amounts trash and debris in their yards.
Kersey appointed to PC; Goodwin and Weaver reappointed: Supervisors approved Matthew Kersey’s appointment to the Planning Commission. Newly-elected Louisa District Supervisor Manning Woodward tapped Kersey for the job, which he held before winning a board seat last fall.
Kersey, a retired postmaster, brings a wealth of experience in local government to the commission. He served three terms on the Board of Supervisors in the 1980s and ‘90s, winning his first election at just 19 years old. More recently, he served 14 years on the Louisa Town Council.
Supervisors also approved the reappointment of Cuckoo District Commissioner George Goodwin and Jackson District Commissioner Cy Weaver. Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams reappointed Weaver while Cuckoo District Supervisor Chris McCotter reappointed Goodwin.
The commissioners’ terms run concurrently with those of the supervisors that appointed them, ending December 31, 2027.
Board oks CUP for civic use building: Supervisors voted 7-0 to approve Louisa County’s request for a Conditional Use Permit to erect a building designated for civic use on 104 acres at end of Sacred Heart Avenue (Route 825) off Mica Road (Route 700) in the Cuckoo Election District (tmp 59-112).
The county-owned parcel is mostly zoned Agricultural (A-2) with a portion zoned Industrial Limited (I-1). It’s already home to several county facilities including the Louisa County Animal Shelter and dog park, a fire training area, parking, storage and a telecommunications tower. The property adjoins the Louisa County Landfill.
Deputy County Administrator Chris Coon told the board that the county intends to construct a 4,000-square foot building with three bays. The building will primarily be used to store vehicles and other equipment.
The CUP also allows the county to expand existing structures at the site including the animal shelter, which frequently operates at or near capacity.
In 2021, the county updated its zoning code, requiring civic use structures to obtain a CUP in A-2 zoning. Though the existing uses are considered nonconforming, meaning they’re grandfathered in, obtaining a CUP brings them into compliance with current code, Coon said.
No one spoke for or against the CUP request during the public hearing.
PC to consider rezoning for concrete plant at Ferncliff, repeal of parts of Lake Anna shoreline ordinance
The Planning Commission will convene for its first meeting of 2024 on Thursday night with two public hearings on the agenda. In the first, commissioners will consider a rezoning request that could clear the way for a concrete plant at Ferncliff. In the second, they’ll consider a recommendation to repeal part of the Lake Anna Shoreline Ordinance.
Commission to consider rezoning for concrete plant at Ferncliff: Commissioners will hold a public hearing and consider whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve Essex Concrete Company and KFP1, LLC’s request to rezone, from General Commercial (C-2) to General Industrial (I-2), 39.3 acres near the corner of Three Notch Road (Route 250) and Kents Store Way (Route 659) in the Patrick Henry Election District.
The property consists of three parcels (tmp 67-2-C, 67-2-B, 67-2-A). One of the parcels, measuring 14.6 acres, would be used by Essex for a concrete manufacturing facility. An adjoining 13.2-acre parcel, currently home to S&N Communications, would provide access to the plant. The application doesn’t discuss any potential uses for the remaining 11.5-acre plot.
The property is in the Ferncliff Growth Area Overlay District and designated for mixed-use development on the Future Land Use Map in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. It’s surrounded by parcels zoned General Commercial (C-2) and General Agricultural (A-2) though the industrially zoned Ferncliff Business Park is nearby.
In its land use application, the applicants state that they’re asking for the rezoning to allow Essex to establish a concrete plant on the parcel, where it has a 10-year lease. The applicants contend that the use fits with the character of the neighborhood and wouldn’t negatively impact public services or infrastructure.
“The request will not be materially detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood as the Route 250 corridor is identified by the Future Land Use Map as industrially-focused and in large part currently used by industrial based owners and occupants,” the application states. “With no residential component, there will be no negative impacts on schools. The intention is to use private utilities and any traffic impact will be minimal as daily trips are minimal and a turn lane (is) already constructed at the proposed entrance.”
According to a conceptual plan, the concrete plant would sit toward the rear of the property and share an entrance with S&N Communications.
In its report, Louisa County Community Development Department staff notes that a concrete plant constitutes an “industrial medium” use, which typically produces “moderate external effects such as smoke, noise, soot, dirt, vibration, odor, etc.”
Despite those potential impacts, staff recommends approval of the rezoning, stating in its report that the use supports the Comp Plan’s goal of “broadening the tax base by establishing businesses.” The report also points to similar zoning along the Route 250 corridor including the Ferncliff Business Park, which is home to “many business types including warehousing, distribution, contractors, and other light industrial and service uses.”
The Community Development Department held a neighborhood meeting in mid-December to give the applicant an opportunity to discuss the project. No community members attended the meeting, according to staff’s report.
Commission to consider repeal of parts of Lake Anna Shoreline ordinance: Commissioners will hold a public hearing and consider whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve a partial repeal of the Lake Anna Shoreline ordinance.
Adopted in 2005, the ordinance lays out development and design standards for overwater structures like docks, boathouses and boardwalks and largely mirrors Dominion Energy’s development guidelines. Dominion owns the lake and its shoreline but allows adjoining property owners to construct overwater structures via individual use agreements.
Louisa County’s professional planning staff recommends that supervisors repeal two components of the ordinance, which address “Safe navigation” and “Neighbor policies,” because they mostly duplicate Dominion’s regulations. Staff’s recommendation would leave intact a third section related to erosion and sediment control, which isn’t covered in Dominion’s guidelines. A fourth section addressing dredging would refer to Dominion’s rules. A provision that mandates the use of dark-sky compliant lighting on overwater structures would be moved another section of county code.
At its December 5 meeting, the Board of Supervisors discussed the recommendation, agreeing to send it to the Planning Commission for a public hearing. Any changes to the ordinance would require a second public hearing in front of supervisors and an affirmative vote by the board.
Staff has pointed out that Dominion and the county’s overlapping rules cause confusion and increase project review times. Of the three localities home to Lake Anna shoreline—Spotsylvania, Louisa and Orange—only Louisa has a separate shoreline ordinance.
“The county doesn’t really have direct control over what is built out over the water in terms of how it’s oriented. The county does have control, through a building permit process, whether something is built safely and in a compliant manner according to the Uniform Statewide Building Code,” County Administrator Christian Goodwin told the board. “We have a situation where the county is applying a set of ordinances and Dominion is also applying its set of rules that look exactly like the county’s ordinances and truly it’s Dominion’s property.”
Board Chair and Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams, who represents the upper end of the lake, agreed. Adams said that, through the shoreline ordinance, staff is tasked with figuring out where property owners’ riparian rights extend onto the lake, a job that has become more complicated with increased development. He said the job is eating up staff time even as the county doesn’t have the final say on where structures are built.
“You start extending property lines over the back of a cove and it’s like a hundred people playing laser tag. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Once staff goes through that process, it goes to Dominion who has the final say. I think that we’re duplicating effort,” Adams said.
But two longtime board members—Mountain Road District Supervisor Tommy Barlow and Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie Gentry, whose term ended December 31—cautioned that the board shouldn’t rush into repealing the ordinance.
“I just think we need to be cognizant of what could happen without the ordinance and really need to know how (Dominion) is going to enforce their (rules). They own the lake, but the lake is in Louisa County,” Barlow said.
Commissioners and the public will get a chance to weigh on Thursday.
Commission to consider adding public facilities section to Comp Plan: In other business, the commission will consider adding a section addressing public facilities to the 2040 Comp Plan.
Though most of the plan was finished and approved in 2019, county officials left several components outstanding. Greenlighting inclusion of the public facilities chapter would bring the county closer to completing the document just ahead of a planned five-year review. The new section documents current county facilities across all departments and assesses future needs.
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