This week in county government; Supes narrowly approve scaled-down changes to Zion Town Center; Planning Commission green-lights technology overlay district
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, March 13 through March 18
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 frequently schedules internal committee/work group meetings after publication time. Check the county’s website for the most updated information).
Wednesday, March 15
Community Policy Management Team, Executive Board Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 1 pm.
Thursday, March 16
Industrial Development Authority, Public Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 8:30 am.
Monday, March 13
Mineral Town Council, 312 Mineral Ave., Mineral, 6:30 pm. (agenda)
Thursday, March 16
Louisa County Republican Committee, 10th Senate District Debate, Betty Queen Center, 522 Industrial Drive, Louisa, 7 pm.
The Louisa County Republican Committee will hold a debate for the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the 10th state Senate District, which includes most of Louisa County. The candidates include: Louisa County Board of Supervisors Chair Duane Adams, Powhatan resident Sandy Brindley, Hanover Republican Committee Chair Jack Dyer, and 56th District Delegate John McGuire. Republicans will choose their nominee at a May 6 convention at Buckingham County High School.
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.
Supervisors narrowly approve scaled-down changes to Zion Town Center
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors on Monday narrowly approved more residences at Zion Crossroads, but the plan includes fewer dwellings than the developer initially proposed. (meeting materials, video)
In a 4-3 vote, supervisors okayed Emerson-Roper Companies, LLC’s scaled-down proposal to add 50 units to Zion Town Center, a Planned Unit Development already approved for 599 dwellings—a combination of single-family detached homes, townhomes, and apartments—and nearly 275,000 square feet of commercial space on 113 acres behind Walmart.
The Chesterfield-based developer has contracted to buy Zion Town Center’s 90-acre residential component from Zions Town Center, LLC, the entity that, in 2019, won supervisors’ approval to rezone the property for mixed use development. Zions Town Center will retain the project’s commercial section.
Emerson-Roper had requested amendments to the PUD’s proffers and masterplan to add 124 residences—upping the total to 723—and to tweak the layout and design. But in a last-minute move, the developer sent revised proffers to county staff just hours before Monday’s meeting, slashing its request to just 50 additional units, which caps the development at 649 homes.
Emerson-Roper didn’t submit a revised master plan that breaks down the number of single-family detached homes, townhomes, and apartments it plans to construct. The developer’s representative, Jeffrey Geiger, said the company will work out those details during site plan review, an administrative process handled by county staff. It initially proposed 275 townhomes, 112 single-family detached homes, and 336 apartments, but at least one of those numbers must be reduced.
In motioning to approve the plan, Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes, in whose district property lies, said that he asked the developer to scale down the proposal because he thought building 723 dwellings was “too much.” But Barnes added that the property is in an area designated for dense development and concentrating growth there—where supervisors have made significant investments in water and sewer infrastructure—is the best way to protect the county’s rural areas.
“Fifteen percent of the county is in a growth area and 85 percent is rural…if we want to keep a rural tradition, we’ve got to keep our growth at the growth areas. That’s where you take your water and sewer. That’s the only way to protect the inner core of the county,” he said.
Louisa District Supervisor Eric Purcell, Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams, and Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie Gentry joined Barnes in supporting the proposal while Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams, Green Springs District Supervisor Rachel Jones, and Mountain Road District Supervisor Tommy Barlow opposed.
Williams expressed frustration that the original developer chose to sell the PUD’s residential portion and has left the commercial component untouched, noting that, when supervisors green-lighted the initial 599 units four years ago, they were told “you got to have the residential to be able to afford the commercial.”
“I feel like I’ve been sold a bill of goods back in 2019,” he said.
Williams said that the development would draw new residents that increase the cost of services and insisted that “most of the people who move here don’t think like us that live here.”
“(People) always told me that when you are in a hole—and I think we stuck ourselves in a hole (by approving) the 599—that you should stop digging and start doing something else,” Williams said, adding that the $1.5 million in tax revenue that the developer says will come from the residential component is quickly eaten up by the cost of educating the 174 students projected to enroll in local schools.
Geiger offered a different view, contending that the project would diversify the county’s housing supply by offering “attainable” residential options to Louisa’s workforce. He said the developer updated the original masterplan to create a community “where people want to live” and it fits with the vision laid out in the county’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
Geiger emphasized that, in developing the residential component, Emerson-Roper is laying the groundwork for the potentially lucrative commercial section. He noted that the developer would spend $3.5 million to build a spine road beyond the terminus of Camp Creek Parkway to reach the property and $1.7 million to construct a water pump station and force main that’s necessary for both residential and commercial development.
“Residential is paying for the infrastructure that you will need to attract the commercial,” Geiger said.
During his presentation, Geiger also focused on two issues that have sparked debate since the project was first unveiled last spring: where the water will come from to support the project and the county’s dire need for affordable housing.
With respect to the former, Geiger said that there’s sufficient water in the ultra-deep wells that feed Zion to support the PUD and that, if the county deems there isn’t, the developer understands they’ll have to wait for completion of a pipeline to the James River, Louisa’s long-range plan to supply water to its growth areas along Interstate 64. That project, first launched in 2013, has been stymied by delays and is currently winding its way through the state and federal permitting process. It could be complete between 2025 and 2027.
Geiger said that Emerson-Roper carefully weighed the water issue before moving forward with its application, noting that the developer’s proffer statement includes a provision acknowledging that water from Zion’s wells is available on a first come, first serve basis and if water usage reaches 75 percent of the wells’ permitted capacity—per a current board policy—the county will stop issuing building permits. He also pointed out that the project would be built over 10 years and, by that time, water from the James would presumably be available.
Geiger said that Emerson-Roper conducted due diligence to ensure that adequate water is currently available via the wells. He cited a February 13 letter from Dewberry, the county’s utilities consultant, which states that the 723-unit development would’ve used 318,000 gallons of water per day at peak demand and the system—once two additional wells are brought online this spring—would have an excess capacity of about 475,000 gpd. The letter concludes that there is sufficient water for the project, pending the addition of the two new wells.
During the public hearing, representatives from Historic Green Springs, Inc., a land preservation group that has long feuded with the county over the wells’ capacity, pushed back on Geiger’s claim, pointing to a May 2021 study by Dewberry that found there wasn’t adequate water to support the initial 599-unit development.
“That study says, specifically and in plain language, that 599 units were approved, but there was only enough water for 359 units,” Green Springs resident Rae Ely said, adding that HGSI “had to dig and dig and dig” to obtain the study as neither the applicant nor the county made it available to the Planning Commission when it reviewed the project in November.
Louisa County Water Authority Executive Director Pam Baughman said that Dewberry’s 2021 study doesn’t accurately reflect the system’s water usage, noting that leaks skewed the numbers and the authority didn’t account for the difference in consumption between a one-bedroom apartment and a multi-bedroom single-family home.
“The numbers they originally had were incredibly inflated. I think the new numbers are more realistic,” Baughman said.
With respect to affordable housing, Geiger reiterated that Emerson-Roper plans to build a community with diverse residential options—from for-sale townhomes to rental apartments—that would meet the needs of a wide section of the market. He said the developer would offer an entry-level single-family detached home that starts at $350,000 in today’s dollars and, as a proffered condition of the PUD, at least 24 two-story townhomes, its smallest and cheapest unit. Those dwellings would start at $250,000 in today’s dollars, about $100,000 less than the median sales price for a home in the county during the last quarter of 2022.
The developer’s decision to remove a proffer that would’ve reserved 10 of the two-story townhome lots for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville sparked some pushback from Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie Gentry and Habitat’s Director of Regional Housing Andre Zalud, both of whom framed the project as a missed opportunity to address affordable housing.
“It would be a shame to approve such a large-scale development without considering the needs and housing capacity of Louisa residents,” Zalud said.
Geiger said that Habitat and the developer couldn’t reach an agreement on a purchase price.
Beyond those concerns, several community members weighed in during the public hearing to support the project because they believe it will deliver economic benefits including increased amenities.
Zion Crossroads resident Will Shaw took a different view. He said that when he moved to the area from Arlington 46 years ago, he didn’t “try to bring Northern Virginia with (him),” contending that it’s a mistake for county officials to embrace residential and commercial growth.
“At some point, before you all die of old age, you’ll realize that you made a fundamental error in your concept of growth and development. It’s not in the interest of our existing resident taxpayers.” Shaw said.
Planning Commission green-lights technology overlay district
The Louisa County Planning Commission on Thursday night green-lighted a proposed ordinance creating a technology overlay district, a zoning designation that could pave the way for data centers and other high-tech industry in parts of Louisa County. (meeting materials, video)
Though several commissioners voiced concerns about the proposal, they voted 7-0 to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt the ordinance and an accompanying district map. The map recommends over 100 parcels for inclusion covering more than 6,500 acres in parts of eastern, central, and southern Louisa County. The district would overlay parcels’ existing zoning, allowing data centers, advanced manufacturing, and other technology-related businesses as by-right uses, meaning they wouldn’t require a public approval process. (draft ordinance, proposed overlay district map)
Deputy County Administrator Chris Coon said staff crafted the ordinance to attract lucrative tech sector industries that would diversify the county’s tax base and create jobs. He noted that many of the uses included in the ordinance “are typically high revenue generating with little to no public services impacts.”
Coon said that the ordinance is a response to initiatives at the state and federal level to expand the tech sector. He cited the CHIPS and Science Act, bipartisan legislation that Congress passed last year aimed at ramping up US-based manufacturing of semiconductors as well as the state’s Business Ready Sites program and a proposed workforce development department that readies residents for future employment opportunities.
Governor Glenn Youngkin and the General Assembly are also pushing to expand the burgeoning data center industry, passing legislation last month that incentivizes Amazon Web Services to build data center campuses across the state. At their February 6 meeting, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to explore ways the county could position itself to compete for tech-centered economic development.
Under the proposed ordinance, parcels included in a technology overlay district (TOD) would retain the property rights granted by their current zoning while gaining additional by-right uses, essentially making it easier for tech businesses to set up shop in the area.
Uses permitted in the ordinance by-right include data centers, technology research and development facilities, capital intensive advanced manufacturing facilities, technical schools, conference or training centers, and minor and major utility services. Utility-scale solar facilities providing power to the grid would generally require a conditional use permit.
“This allows owners increased property rights so they can use their property as they see fit,” Coon said.
In selecting TOD parcels, Coon said that staff focused on the needs of the tech sector including access to high-voltage power lines, water and sewer infrastructure, and adequate road networks. They also targeted properties with an eye toward limiting potential negative impacts.
“We focused on the compatibility with the permitted uses and the surrounding land uses, which was addressed through the strategic locations as well as the site development standards,” Coon said. He added that staff chose parcels in proximity to large transmission lines and in or near designated growth areas while avoiding historic areas like Trevilian Station Battlefield and Green Springs, ag/forestal districts, and property in residential subdivisions.
Businesses locating in a TOD would be required to adhere to specific buffer, landscaping, and design guidelines to mitigate their impact, Coon said, noting that the standards meet or exceed what’s required in the county’s designated growth areas. For example, the ordinance would require a 200-foot vegetative buffer for parcels adjacent to agricultural and residential uses, a 150-foot buffer along primary roads, and a 100-foot buffer along secondary roads. The ordinance would also require the use of dark-sky compliant lighting and mandate at least 20 percent open space for each parcel group. Land in the TOD must encompass a minimum of 125 contiguous acres for a specific use.
A proposed map of the overlay district includes six assemblages, most of which have access to either a 230kv or 500kv transmission line. One set of parcels covers more than 200 acres near the North Anna Nuclear Power Station on property designated for industrial use on the Future Land Use Map in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. A 230kv transmission line runs through the parcels.
Two other parcel groups have already been green-lighted for utility-scale solar development, but neither project has been constructed. One site is the Industrial Development Authority’s Cooke Industrial Rail Park, which covers more than 1,200 acres in the Mineral Growth Area between the towns of Louisa and Mineral. Two Oaks Solar, LLC received a Conditional Use Permit last year to build an up to 118 MW solar array on the property and a 50 MW battery storage facility.
The second group encompasses roughly 1400 acres north of the Northeast Creek Reservoir. In 2020, the county granted Aura Power Development, LLC a CUP to develop an up to 244 MW solar array on the property, most of which lies outside the growth area. A 230kv transmission line runs through both the rail park and the property north of reservoir.
The TOD includes another roughly 1500 acres across Route 33 south of the reservoir. The parcels lie outside the designated growth area but have access to water infrastructure and the same 230kv transmission line. Staff added two parcels, totaling about 70 acres, to the southern end of that assemblage Thursday night, which aren’t reflected on the original map.
The final two parcel groups lie in the Shannon Hill Growth Area and the Gum Springs Growth Area along Interstate 64. One is the 700-acre Shannon Hill Regional Business Park, which the county began developing in 2019 with an eye toward attracting distribution centers, data centers, and advanced manufacturing. The park is served by a 115kv power line. The other group covers over 1500 acres near Gum Springs just north of the interstate. A 500kv transmission line crosses part of the assemblage.
Commissioners’ discussion and recommendations
During both a pre-meeting work session and their regular meeting, commissioners expressed some concerns about the proposed technology overlay district, most notably its potential impact of surrounding residents. (work session video)
Mineral District Commissioner John Disosway took issue with a provision that allows buildings within a TOD to reach 80 feet tall—higher than the 60-foot limit for industrially-zoned parcels—but then places no limit on what could be on top of the building.
“I have no idea how tall these building can be,” he said, suggesting that the ordinance include a hard limit. “I’m not sure where 80 feet came from, but if it’s 80 feet then it’s 80 feet. Done.”
Coon said that staff crafted the height provision in response to industry needs. “We are trying to replicate some items that we think would strengthen our position (to attract tech businesses),” he said.
Several commissioners also expressed concern that the draft ordinance didn’t address noise limits. Some permitted uses—particularly data centers—can produce significant noise. Data centers are typically equipped with large fans that cool the servers housed inside, which produce what some describe as a whirring or humming sound. The noise has sparked contentious battles in parts of northern Virginia, an area dubbed the “data center capital of the world” where the facilities, in some cases, abut residential neighborhoods.
Coon said staff is evaluating noise requirements, but they currently recommend limiting noise at the property line to 70 decibels during the day and 65 decibels at night. The daytime limit coincides with what’s allowed in the county’s commercial zoning designations. Seventy decibels roughly equal the sound of a dishwasher or washing machine, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC says that long-term exposure to noise levels above 70 decibels may damage hearing.
“I look at it from the standpoint of the person living at the property line, who’s right now not getting any noise from this, daytime or nighttime. So, how’s it going to affect them?” Disosway said. He added that he’s particularly concerned about residents who live in agriculturally-zoned areas and how increased noise could impact the county’s rural character.
Several commissioners contended that there’s significant noise in the county’s rural areas already, from farm animals to trains. Cuckoo District Commissioner George Goodwin observed that Louisa County was once home to five planer mills and countless sawmills that produced loud noise five days a week across its rural reaches. “That was a lot more rural than it is now and you couldn’t go anywhere and not hear either a sawmill or a planer mill,” he said.
Commissioners decided to recommend that supervisors approve the ordinance and accompanying map with several amendments including that the ordinance cap the height of buildings at 80 feet and not exempt equipment and other extensions on top of the structures.
They unanimously green-lighted a separate motion recommending that the board adopt a TOD-specific amendment to the county’s noise ordinance. The proposed amendment stipulates that noise limits within the TOD coincide with what’s allowed on the property’s underlying zoning. Noise levels at the property line of agriculturally-zoned parcels (A-1, A-2), for example, couldn’t exceed 65 decibels during the day and 55 at night, per the recommendation.
Before taking those votes, Patrick Henry District Commissioner Ellis Quarles said that commissioners had been tasked with moving the ordinance along “with some great expediency,” which put them “in a difficult spot.”
“I know we don’t have all the information and it becomes frustrating. It’s frustrating for us and it’s frustrating for the citizens,” he said.
But, he noted that the proposal could help the county expand economic development and increase revenue.
Jackson District Commissioner Cy Weaver agreed, suggesting that the proposal could attract businesses which, in turn, pay for parks, police, firefighters, and other services.
“The only way we can have those things is the county has got to have some way to provide them…this is a way the county can provide (more services),” he said.
Nine community members spoke during the public hearing, with some sharing commissioners’ concerns, others confused by the proposal, and several explicitly opposed to the TOD’s adoption in their area. Many said the TOD required more investigation before county officials move forward.
Some speakers criticized the county for not providing adequate and accessible information explaining the draft ordinance. The county sent notices to landowners with property in or adjoining a TOD and a flyer aimed at explaining the proposal. The notice directed residents to the county’s website where the draft ordinance and proposed map are posted.
Mineral District resident Mark St. Pierre’s property abuts the proposed TOD at the Cooke Rail Park. He said that he and his neighbor read through the information the county sent, but it left them confused.
“My neighbor, poor little old lady, called me up in a panic when she got her certified letter, she just couldn’t understand it and, honestly, I can’t either. This is written pretty much like legalese. But, on the ground level for us, we don’t even know what the impact could be…before this gets voted on, this should be better explained,” St. Pierre said.
Several Lake Anna residents took issue with the proposed TOD off Kentucky Springs Road near the North Anna Nuclear Power Station, expressing concern that the roads in the area can’t handle increased traffic and that noise from some tech sector industries would disrupt the tranquility of the lake.
“When I look at these items that can be developed by right virtually all of them would increase traffic on this two-lane road considerably. I just don’t see how this is going to possibly work in that area,” Cuckoo District resident Mark Salamone said.
Steve Randolph, who lives in a subdivision near Kentucky Springs Road, said that he’s worried data centers would bring noise pollution to his neighborhood.
“I live on a nice cul-de-sac. It’s nice and quiet. I got my little deer and foxes that come around every night for their dinner. How I am going to be able to sell my house and get a fair market value if it sounds like a swarm of hornets. I think there should be a lot more investigation on this before anyone makes a decision,” Randolph said.
Some residents who live near a proposed TOD said that their area lacks adequate services to sustain technology businesses and the county should first focus on providing for residents’ needs.
“We don’t have internet. We depend on our cell phones for any kind of technology to our house. I think we need to service the people here in Louisa County before we do any of this,” Cuckoo District resident Amy Brick said, noting that her neighborhood has poor roads and inadequate fire and EMS service. “The infrastructure needs to be addressed first before we start bringing in this.”
Several residents worried about the TOD’s potential impact on agricultural areas, suggesting that, by adopting the ordinance, the county could dramatically change the character of some neighborhoods.
“We are still a rural community who enjoy our trees, who enjoy our Gum Springs Creek, enjoy our pond. We do not want warehouses. We don’t want this technology district coming through and usurping any of our green space,” Gum Springs resident June Kenny said. “We are not in favor of this proposal of redistricting our land. We farm this land. We’ve gone to church on this land. I have parents who were married on our family land. Our land is important to us.”
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors will have the final say on whether the county adopts a TOD ordinance and which parcels would be included. At publication time, the county had not yet advertised a public hearing in front of the board.
BOS okays Centerville Road rezoning, takes step toward addressing Hamilton Road bridge
Supervisors okayed more residential development in the Lake Anna Growth Area.
The board voted 7-0 to approve Mercerville Land Trust’s request to rezone, from agricultural (A-1) to residential (R-2), 33 acres on the east side of Centerville Road across from the Lakeshore Woods and Contrary Forest subdivisions. But supervisors removed a pair of proffers agreed to by the developer and recommended by the Planning Commission. (meeting materials, video)
Mercerville representative Jefferson Jakubowski told the board that his entity plans to divide the property into 13 residential lots, ranging from 1.6 to 5.2 acres. Under A-1 zoning, the land, which covers two tax map parcels, can only be divided into six pieces. Jakubowski said that the property is in an area designated for low-density residential development, per the Future Land Use Map in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, and the rezoning fits with the character of the community, which is home to several subdivisions with relatively small lots.
Each lot would have a minimum of 125 feet of frontage of Centerville Road, Jakubowski said, noting that the property is unique for a parcel its size because it has some 2,000 feet of road frontage. He said that the Virginia Department of Transportation preliminarily approved each lot for a private entrance.
When the Planning Commission reviewed the project at its February meeting, several commissioners and neighbors said they didn’t have a problem with more residential development in the area, but they did take issue with 13 separate entrances off Centerville Road, citing safety concerns and a goal in the Comp Plan to reduce access points to state roads. Neighbors also asked for a roadside buffer, pointing out that homes in nearby subdivisions are accessed by internal roads enabling the area to maintain its rural character.
In response, Jakubowski agreed to proffer a 60-foot buffer, consisting of existing vegetation, and construct side-by-side driveways to reduce tree removal and concentrate access points to the road. The Planning Commission green-lighted both conditions, but supervisors took a different view.
Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie Gentry, a retired traffic engineer who represents the area, said that he didn’t see the benefit in constructing side-by-side driveways and didn’t think it appropriate for the board to dictate where the applicant locates entrances.
“This is a dead-end road that this is on so it’s not like there’s a major traffic issue and I think you are taking a right away from a property owner by requiring where the entrance is. We’ve never done that in the past,” he said.
Several other supervisors balked at the vegetative buffer, noting that the board recently wiped away a requirement that subdivisions in agriculturally-zoned areas maintain a tree-lined buffer along state roads.
Jakubowski said he offered the proffers in response to neighbors’ concerns and didn’t have an issue with the board removing them.
“If you want to voluntarily do those things you proffered, that’s up to you,” Board Chair Duane Adams said.
Supervisors okay resolution to address needs of Hamilton Road bridge
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution requesting that the Virginia Department of Transportation develop a plan to upgrade an aging one-lane bridge on Hamilton Road.
The vote permits VDOT to start a formal process to replace or rehabilitate the circa 1917 steel Pratt truss bridge that crosses the South Anna River in the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District. The bridge has fallen into disrepair in recent years and is no longer sufficiently rated to handle emergency vehicles or other heavy loads, according to VDOT Residency Administrator Scott Thornton.
Because of the area’s historic designation, plans to replace or rehabilitate the bridge must go through the National Historic Preservation Act’s Section 106 process to open all avenues for potential funding, Thornton told the board at a previous meeting. The process allows the public to weigh in on federally-assisted projects that could impact historic properties.
“(After) you pass the resolution, we’ll get a third-party facilitator in there, have meetings, and start to develop the project. (We’ll) go through the 106 process and anything else that needs to happen to get something done with the bridge,” Thornton said.
Thornton said that the department will use up to $31,000 from the county’s six-year secondary road plan to cover initial costs. Additional funding could come from VDOT’s bridge maintenance fund and the State of Good Repair program, federal grant money that the department receives to rehabilitate, reconstruct, or replace deteriorating bridges. He declined to estimate how long it would take to complete the project.
“It depends on the funding,” he said.
Planning Commission approves CUP for equipment business, CIP and code amendment
While the public hearing on a proposed ordinance establishing a technology overlay district attracted the most attention Thursday night, the commission held three other public hearings.
PC recommends approval of CUP for equipment sale business: Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of Lane Industrial & Supply, LLC’s request for a Conditional Use Permit to operate an equipment sales business at 18034 Louisa Road (Route 22) at its intersection with Oakland Road. The 4.38-acre parcel is zoned for industrial use.
Thomas Lane told the commission that he plans operate a business that sells agricultural, forestry, and construction equipment, but noted that the site wouldn’t be home to a large sales lot. He said he does most of his business with out of state dealers via the internet and telephone and would primarily use the property to assemble equipment. Lane rehabbed an existing structure for office space.
Lane agreed to maintain a 50-foot vegetative buffer along adjoining residential properties and use dark-sky compliant lighting. He’s currently working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to determine what, if any, improvements are required for the property’s entrance off Louisa Road.
Staff recommended approval of the CUP with seven conditions including the vegetative buffer.
PC green-lights FY24-43 Capital Improvement Plan: The commission voted unanimously to forward the proposed FY24-FY43 Capital Improvement Plan to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval.
The CIP, annually approved by the Board of Supervisors as part of the budget process, is a roadmap for spending on big-ticket items like new school buildings, fire stations, and ambulances. The Planning Commission is tasked with reviewing the document to ensure its projects conform with the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Supervisors then decide when and if a project receives funding.
The proposed FY24 CIP includes nearly $49 million in capital spending with much of that earmarked for bringing water and sewer infrastructure to several of the county’s designated growth areas. The plan includes $18 million to finish the James River Water Project, which will channel millions of gallons of raw water to a treatment facility at Ferncliff. That water will then feed development along the Interstate 64 corridor. It includes $15.9 million to bring wet utility infrastructure to the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park, a project that’s expected to cost more than $27 million. The county won an $11.59 million state grant to offset the expenditure.
Beyond utility infrastructure, the plan includes several other big-ticket items including nearly $3 million for Firefly Fiber Broadband’s RISE project, a key component in an effort to bring universal fiber access to the county by 2025 and $3.4 million to build two turf fields adjacent to Louisa County Middle School.
Beyond FY24, the plan includes more than $71 million in capital requests for FY25. About $53 million of that is earmarked for a 550-seat addition to Louisa County Middle School and a 55,000-square foot career and technical education center. Another $6.5 million is slated to upgrade a wastewater treatment plant at Lake Anna. Supervisors voted in January to purchase the plant for $90,000 and, according to preliminary plans, intend to expand it to support additional economic development along Route 208. The plan also includes two new fire and EMS stations: one at Zion Crossroads, slated for funding in FY25, and another tentatively planned for Ferncliff in FY27.
Read more about the CIP here.
PC okays zoning amendment for minimum lot size effective date: The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve a proposed amendment to county code that would allow any property rezoned to residential (R-2) between February 2019 and February 2021 to be subdivided and developed in accordance with the county’s minimum lot size prior to a 2021 rewriting of the zoning code. The proposed amendment also applies to any adjoining R-2 property shown in the rezoning application as intended to be developed with the rezoned property.
In February 2021, supervisors adopted a significant overhaul of the zoning code that increased the minimum lot size in R-2 zoning from 40,000 square feet to 1.5 acres. So, any R-2-zoned property that hadn’t been subdivided prior to the rule change falls under the new rules.
Community Development Director Josh Gillespie told the Planning Commission that when supervisors adopted the update, they didn’t include a provision to exempt projects “in the pipeline.” He said that the Covid-19 pandemic impacted developers’ ability to complete plans for subdivisions and the proposed amendment would allow subdivisions working their way through the approval process during the specified timeframe to adhere to the minimum lot size requirement in place prior to the overhaul.
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