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December 02, 2010

Proposed rural development in Albemarle denied connection to public water

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Albemarle County supervisors have rejected a request to expand the public water system to serve a 30-home neighborhood near the Clifton Inn on U.S. 250 east of Charlottesville.

Supervisors on Wednesday denied the project’s developer a public hearing on his bid to connect to the system. Clifton Lake is located outside the county’s designated growth areas and its homes are expected to rely on well water and septic systems.

Area map showing proposed Clifton Lake development (RED) and neighboring Clifton Inn properties (ORANGE outline). Second road access via Clifton Inn and over lake's dam (YELLOW dashed line) was required by April 2008 action of Albemarle Planning Commission.

Local Realtor Greg Baldwin is developing the 62-acre property, which is owned by Dr. Charles W. Hurt.

“I am disappointed they could not have at least had a public hearing to consider the issues,” Baldwin said in an interview. “Long term, the central well systems and septic systems tend to fail, and the county has to take them over. Why not address this now?”

The project was originally approved in 1978 for up to 39 homes as a planned residential development (PRD) with the condition that the homes share a centralized well water system.

“At the time, that was an important consideration because of the [housing] density of this PRD,” County Attorney Larry Davis said. “[Now] we only recommend these densities within jurisdictional areas that would be served by public water and sewer systems.”

David Benish, Albemarle’s chief of planning, said the request was much different than the Whittington development on Old Lynchburg Road. In October, the supervisors approved that rural subdivision for public sewer connections.

Whittington, Benish said, is immediately adjacent to an existing growth area with available water and sewer capacity. Clifton Lake is in the rural area between Pantops and the Village of Rivanna at Glenmore, and the latter’s water and sewer capacity is expected to be challenged by growth that is already planned.

David Benish, Chief of Planning, Albemarle County

“Based on the work that was done with the Rivanna Master Plan, there was no intention or expectation to expand that village,” Benish said. “We try and focus the remaining and available capacities of water and sewer to our designated development areas.”

At their meeting Wednesday, Albemarle supervisors shared concerns about the density of the development in the rural area and its impacts on both transportation and nearby streams.

“If you approve it, you end up with 40 small lots right by the river with septic systems,” Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said. “The better result would be for a less dense neighborhood there.”

Clifton Lake will now be required to have a central well system as specified in the 1978 approval. Baldwin added that the project on Hurt’s land is only for 30 homes and that it would not be economical to build a smaller development.

“We need to think about how to proceed with the next steps,” said Baldwin.

Supervisor Rodney Thomas voted with the rest of the board to deny any further consideration of the request.

“I regret that we deprived him of a public hearing,” Thomas said afterwards. “I am not saying I was in favor of the [water connection], just that I wanted to hear some more discussion.”

See Charlottesville Tomorrow's April 2008 coverage of Clifton Lake's preliminary subdivision approval.


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