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November 24, 2009

City Council poised to grant easements for Meadow Creek sewer line

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By Tarpley Ashworth & Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Charlottesville City Council has held the first reading of a resolution to transfer easements to the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority allowing for the utility to replace a sewer line that runs along Meadow Creek. At their meeting on November 16, 2009, Council also endorsed the concept of a restoration of the waterway’s stream bank. That work will be done in conjunction with the sewer line expansion.

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20091116-mc-map Click for a larger view of this map depicting the route of the interceptor as well as the area in which stream banks will be restored (Source: City of Charlottesville)
As part of the endorsement of the stream bank project, Councilors said it would consider granting a conservation easement on all City-owned land that surrounds Meadow Creek as it flows from Hydraulic Road to Greenbrier Park. That is a requirement of the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (VARTF), which is paying for the restoration.

In all, the project will cover about 8,500 linear feet of the creek, 1,800 linear feet of its tributaries, and will protect 73 acres of forests and wetlands. The restoration will create or strengthen riparian buffers along the creek’s edges, reduce the slope of creek banks to reduce the velocity of runoff, , replace invasive tree species with native vegetation, and install “in-stream” structures which rebuild natural stream characteristics, like curving meanders, which have been lost over the years due to erosion. 

“I can tell you [this will be] one of the largest stream restoration projects I think I will ever see in my professional lifetime,” said Kristel Riddervold, the City’s Environmental Administrator. She cited a 2000 foot restoration of Moores Creek through Azalea Park in Charlottesville as an example of a similar project the City has embarked upon in the past.

Download Download Kristel Riddervold's presentation to Council

In addition to upgrading capacity, the project will also address the deterioration of the current pipeline. There are currently numerous cases of broken pipe or joints, root intrusions, and exposed pipe along the banks of Meadow Creek which significantly increases erosion.

20091116-azalea-example Riddervold showed Council examples of how a similar streambank restoration project in Azalea Park looks nine years after work was performed (Source: City of Charlottesville)
Council must grant the easements on City land to the RWSA for the sewer replacement for the project to begin. The easements cover portions of Pen Park, Greenbrier Park, and land adjacent to the Charlottesville High School stadium, Melbourne Road, and the Route 250 bypass.

Public comment was fairly supportive of restoring Meadow Creek, but many residents questioned the merits of the Meadowcreek Interceptor project.

Linda Seaman of the Greenbrier Neighborhood Association suggested that city officials keep a “watchful eye” over construction to ensure that it doesn’t harm the environment, and proposed there be a single project manager between both projects so concerned citizens would have a primary point of contact.

City resident John Pfaltz said the expanded sewer capacity would lead to increased development and traffic along Route 29. Betty Mooney of the group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan said the Interceptor project would primarily benefit the County.

“The city should not be paying for county growth, for county traffic, [and] for enlarging pipes for the county,” said Mooney.

Before taking a final vote on the matters, Mayor Dave Norris addressed concerns that the City was paying for a County project.

“We have made it very clear that the City will not pay a single dime for expansion of the sewer system that’s related to growth in Albemarle County. That’s been our position for quite some time,” said Norris.

Council will take up the second reading of the easement at its meeting on December 7, 2009.

  • 01:00 – Presentation from Kristel Riddervold, City's Environmental Administrator
  • 32:00 – Lauren Hildebrand, Director of Public Utilities, presents on easements
  • 38:00 – Public Hearing is open
  • 38:18 – Linda Seaman, of the Greenbrier Neighborhood Association, says her organization wants projects to proceed with great care to the environment
  • 41:00 – Colette Hall, member of the Executive Board of the Alliance of Neighborhoods, says projects should consider impacts to other neighborhoods besides Greenbrier
  • 42:00 – Peter Kleeman, resident, says he wants the City to be clear on whether this transfer of rights to RWSA is officially a sale
  • 45:00 – John Pfaltz, resident, says that pipe expansion will have negative consequences concerning growth and traffic
  • 46:10 – Betty Mooney, resident, says that pipe expansion will disproportionately benefit County
  • 47:50 – Public hearing closed; Norris says that City will not pay for County’s portion of sewer expansion
  • 49:20 – City Attorney Craig Brown says that the City is not seeking compensation for the easement and can more appropriately be described as a donation
  • 51:40 – Council Member Holly Brown asks if there are opportunities to have local workers participating in the projects
  • 53:18 – Director of Parks and Recreation Brian Daly answers that they have discussed workforce development issues, and will present a more concrete plan about this in the future
  • 54:00 – Norris closes discussion and takes votes; ordinance to grant easements to RWSA approved and will come before Council again for 2nd reading, resolution endorsing conservation easements approved


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