A new application has been filed by WC Lake Anna, LLC. with Spotsylvania County Planning requesting zoning action by the County required to develop a 48-lot subdivision on 132 acres of what was formerly the Hayden property. You will remember that this was the site of the proposed Four Seasons at Lake Anna RV Park, for which the SUP application was withdrawn earlier this year.
The development as proposed will be a low-density residential subdivision, specifically a PRR-4 Planned Residential Rural district with 48 total lots within the subdivision. This specific zoning requires fifty percent of the land to be set aside as a Rural Preservation Area and specifies a minimum of two acre lots, with an exception for Lake Anna waterfront development (a minimum lot size of one acre for lots on the water). The requested zoning also requires that each residential lot has its own private well and wastewater/septic treatment system.
The application outlines various amenities to be provided for the subdivision including a small clubhouse and pool, boat ramp and covered boat docks (a maximum of 1 per lot) along Lake Anna. The proposed access point for the proposed development is strategically located on Zachary Taylor Highway (Route 522) through an existing fifty (50) foot wide access easement through the adjoining parcels to the West. The existing access point that serves the existing residences, (Miss Molly’s Lane along Days Bridge Road) will be retained as a private emergency exit that is gated/secured for the exclusive use of emergency services or emergency evacuation under the direction of emergency personnel.
The plan states the intention to preserve the trio of historically significant structures from the 19th century including the primary residential house on the property, a brick school, and a historic log smokehouse. The master plan has been revised to avoid impact to this trio of historic structures with the intention that they will be protected and stabilized at a minimum with the potential for further restoration in the future.
The application is currently being reviewed by Spotsylvania Planning Staff and will then go through the normal vetting process including a Community Meeting, public hearings at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor and adjudication by each of those bodies. Stay tuned for additional information.
History below this line
The Four Seasons at Lake Anna RV Park (History)
At this time, the Developer of the FOUR SEASONS RV PARK has withdrawn the Application for the Special Use Permit necessary to develop this project. This is a major positive outcome for the upper Pamunkey Branch of the Lake !
The Developer has completed the purchase of the old Hayden property and so we expect that they will present another development plan to the County in the future. To stay informed of future plans, please continue to check here for updates as they available.
From the Public Hearing Part III on January 19th 2022
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 AGAINST the Four Seasons RV Park SUP application!
This positive step was taken after completing the reading of the remaining written statements in to the record, the applicants rebuttal and further discussion. During this discussion, the planning commission added several potential conditions if the Board of Supervisors were to approve the SUP. If the BOS were to approve the SUP, it would be against the planning staff's recommendation and now also the planning commission's recommendation to deny the application. The conditions added by the PC include: forbidding boat rentals, reducing the potential permanent park RV model (mobile home) dramatically to a maximum of 15 and reducing the number of potential boat docks to a maximum of 30. In addition, the commission has recommended that the Board of Supervisors not hear this application until a supervisor has been elected to represent the Livingston district.
The public hearing was attended by over 50 concerned citizens. LACA and our board would like to thank all of those members that wrote emails or spoke at the public hearing, especially those that were able to attend in person.
From the Public Hearing on December 1, 2021!
On December 1st the Planning Commission met to continue the reading of the remainder of the statements sent by concerned citizens. As there remained a large number of statements to be read, an agreement was reached early in this meeting that if necessary, reading would conclude at 10:00 pm, and commence again with any remaining statements to be read at the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for January 5, 2022, now January 19th, (based on snow cancellation). Reading continued until close to 10:00, two individuals who had requested to make in person statements were heard, and at 10:00, with no other business to be heard, the meeting was adjourned.
From the Public Hearing on November 17, 2021!
The Public Hearing for the Four Seasons RV Park Special Use Permit (SUP) was conducted on Wednesday November 17th in the Marshal Center.
- Attendance from the community was good at close to 200
- 49 concerned citizens spoke in person to the Commission
The Public Comment period was led off by Greg Baker, LACA President providing the Top Four reasons why the SUP for the RV Park should not be approved. Greg was followed by 48 other concerned citizens, who for two- and one-half hours provided reason after reason why the Four Seasons RV Park will be significantly detrimental to the Upper Pamunkey Branch, the citizens who make up the communities in that area, and Lake Anna as a whole.
- 267 concerned citizens sent statements to be read into the record
Based on the volume of received statements and given that this portion of the meeting did not start until 11:30 PM, a motion to read the 267 statements into the record at the December 1, 2021 Planning Commission meeting was made and seconded, but failed on voice vote. The reading of the statements began and continued until approximately 12:30 AM when a 10-minute break was called for by the Chair. Upon return from the break a second motion was put forward that the Reading be curtailed for the night and that the remainder of the statements to be read into the record at the next Planning Commission Meeting, scheduled for December 1, 2021. This motion was seconded and voted in the affirmative, five to one. With no remaining business for the night, the meeting was adjourned.
What does this mean?
First, that the members of LACA and other concerned citizens really stepped up and provided great visibility for the Planning Commission members to the incredible opposition to this development.
Second, there will be no vote on the SUP by the Planning Commission until December 1, 2021 at the earliest.
Third, that it is unlikely that the Board of Supervisors will vote until their first meeting in January.
It will be important to maintain our presence and visibility at the December 1, 2021, Planning Commission meeting, and then the subsequent Board of Supervisors meeting where this will be voted on. We will keep you informed of any further meeting dates as they are scheduled.
SCHEDULE OF UPCOMING MEETINGS
- Next Planning Commission Meeting December 1, 2021
- Board of Supervisors Meeting on SUP - To Be Determined
First - We are very sad to report that Mr. Barry Jett, the Spotsylvania County Livingston District Supervisor and outspoken critic of the RV park, passed away about 10 days ago. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Jett. He will be missed for his unwavering support to Lake Anna and the surrounding communities. In closed session on Tuesday November 9th, the board of supervisors elected to schedule a special election for February 15, 2022 to fill the Livingston District Board of Supervisor position and not appoint an interim supervisor.
It is LACA’s position that the SUP application should not be put before the BOS without an elected supervisor to represent the very district where the park is being proposed.
Second - The planning commission staff have released their official response with a recommendation for the planning commission to oppose the RV resort. Of course, this is just a recommendation, but it shows that our hard work to date is paying off. A copy of the report can be seen HERE. It is long, but I would suggest you read the report. It brings up the under belly of this project from a legal/planning standpoint. It is a wealth of information.
If you reside in the Livingston District and plan to speak on Wednesday, please be certain to weave this comment into your statement so that our governing officials understand this is the desire of their constituency.
Third - To further demonstrate to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisor the opposition to the Four Seasons RV Park, please sign our petition against the park. Even if you have already signed a paper petition, sent emails or plan to speak, please go on-line to https://www.change.org/NO-FourSeasonsRVResort to sign this on-line petition. Our goal is to have over 1000 signatures. Forward to your spouse, your family and friends that have visited you at the lake. This is a way for us to show the overwhelming opposition to this project!
The information immediately below provides meeting specifics and helpful information you can use to formulate your emails, and in person statements. We look forward to seeing a very large turnout at the Public Hearing on Wednesday Evening.
- November 17 2021 7:00 PM (CONFIRMED!) - We are looking for as many as possible to speak in person at the public hearing. Each interested party will be given three minutes to make a statement for or against the SUP. Officials of HOA's, POA's and other organizations may get up to five minutes if they are representing members who are not speaking. We encourage you to use the information below and information that can be found via the links to the Spotsylvania County Planning Commission site to assist you in developing your statements.
- If you are unable to attend the public hearing and speak in person, you may write a letter or email to the Planning Commission, indicate that you wish your statement to be read in to the record at the meeting. Your written statement or email needs to be able to be read in 3 minutes just as if you were speaking and be sure to include your name and address. You should send you statement to either of the following addresses:
Spotsylvania Planning Commission
9019 Old Battlefield Blvd
Spotsylvania, VA 22553
Attn: Paulette Mann
You may either speak at the meeting or email/write and have your statement "read" into the record of the meeting, but you may not do both!
A document containing information to assist you in formulating your statement or email to the Planning Commission for the November 17 Public Hearing can be found Here.
LACA recently hosted a Strategy Session, you can learn more about it here.
- Plan to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting when the call comes out that the SUP is on their agenda. We will update the info here as soon as we are appraised of date.
- Write your Spotsylvania County's Supervisor to let him/her know of your position on the SUP. For the Berkley district, your Supervisor is Kevin Marshall and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. For Livingston your Supervisor will be elected by a special election currently scheduled for February 15, 2022.
- Write to the Planning Commission members to express your opinions. Their contact information can be found here.
LACA CONTINUES TO HAVE THE FOLLOWING CONCERNS/COMMENTS RELATED TO THE FOUR SEASONS AT LAKE ANNA RV PARK:
We have reviewed the responses from the developer below and believe that the modifications made to the plans to date do not materially change the fact that this development fails all 8 Standards of Review.
In a letter to Planning Commission staff dated October 13, 2021, President Greg Baker provided information on LACA’s concerns as they relate to the (8) “Standards of Review” from the Spotsylvania County Code for Special Use Permit approval, highlights of which appear below. The entire letter can be viewed here.
#1: That the proposed use is in accord with the comprehensive plan and other official plans adopted by the county
- The proposed RV park is a large high density commercial operation, the antithesis of what is planned for this section of the county in the long-term comprehensive plan. This property is designated as Rural Residential with recommended density of one home per two acres.
- There is no need for a SUP for another RV Park as there is an existing campground within 4 miles of the proposed facility and 2 others within 8-14 miles.
- The applicant has been unwilling to size this project to fit the existing neighborhood, farms and surrounding property.
#2: That the proposed use or development of the land will be in harmony with the scale, bulk, coverage, density and character of the area or the neighborhood in which it is located
- The proposed development is in an area of the county that has established neighborhoods made up of homes on 1 to 2+ acres, agricultural or forested lands. A 300 hundred site commercial RV resort with pools, marinas, boat launches, amphitheater and other amenities is equivalent to dropping a Wal-Mart into a residential community.
- Unfortunately, there are no accommodations that the applicant could suggest that would create harmony with this established rural residential portion of Spotsylvania County.
#3: That the proposed use will not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and use of adjacent land and buildings or impair the value thereof:
- The applicant has suggested in their replies that their operators of RV properties in the Mid-Atlantic region have had a positive effect to the surrounding communities. In the examples they cite, the RV properties were not developed next to existing residential communities, but rather in more appropriate commercial centers and/or mixed-use areas. In both cases, these RV parks are on bays across from uninhabited islands separating the bays from the ocean. It is a stretch to assume that an RV park developed in a remote residential and agricultural portion of Spotsylvania County would improve the property values of the adjacent and nearby communities, quite the opposite is surely the case.
#4: That the proposed use will not adversely affect the health or safety of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the proposed use:
- It is well known that the site of the proposed development has suffered from four consecutive years of harmful algae blooms and no-swim advisories issued by the Virginia Department of Health. Adding a high-density development within this part of the lake is a health risk disaster.
- The applicant admits that they are aware of the HAB issue and take swim restrictions very seriously, promising to close access to the swim areas with caution tape and promising to notify their guests by text and email.
- While acknowledging “the HAB issue” is important, it is likely that, even while utilizing an alternative on-site septic system (AOSS), treating the wastewater from 300 RV sites with 600-750 occupants during the summer months will add Nitrogen and Phosphorus to the lake, increasing the likelihood of HAB occurrences.
- Additionally, adding 49 boats, most of which are expected to be rented, operating in this shallow, narrow portion of the lake will negatively impact the shorelines and safety of the existing neighbors and users of the lake.
#5: That the proposed use will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements with the neighborhood:
- There are very real health risks and boating safety risks that will occur if the proposed RV park is approved as previously discussed. There are also additional public welfare issues that would result if the SUP were granted.
- Significant erosion problems which exist in this shallow and narrow part of the lake will be exacerbated by increased boat traffic and development. Fifty years of accumulated phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil will flow into the lake at an accelerated rate becoming available to feed harmful algae blooms.
#6: That the proposed use is appropriately located with respect to transportation facilities, water supply, wastewater treatment, fire and police protection, waste disposal and similar facilities:
- The applicant’s proposed commercial development is not located near water or sewage treatment facilities. Therefore, they must establish onsite sewage treatment which has been addressed earlier and will add to the excessive nutrient problem that the lake is experiencing.
- LACA is very concerned with the suggestion that a well producing only 10 GPM will support 300 families and their guests visiting the resort. The property is located on the Ellisville Pluton which is a 12-mile deep volcanic formation of hard rock making it likely that there is no aquifer under the property raising concerns that water will be retrieved from rainwater that is stored in the cracks and crevices of the Ellisville Pluton. Risk that water pumped from these cracks and crevices will cause the lake water itself to back fill these cracks bringing unsafe HAB infected water into any wells that do exist.
#7: That the proposed use will not cause undue traffic congestion or create traffic hazards:
- While the developer has agreed to add turn lanes on 522 which is an absolute safety necessity, adding hundreds of large RVs potentially towing vehicles or boats to Route 522 is a dangerous endeavor. Route 522 is already the site of numerous accidents and sadly the site of several fatalities over the past few years.
#8: That the proposed use will have no unduly adverse impact on the environment or natural resources:
- We have already discussed the adverse impact that a high-density commercial development will have on the lake by contributing to the excessive nutrients that cause HABs. In addition, the location of the proposed site is within the water zone that Virginia DEQ has designated as the highest level of impaired streams in the state.
- Adding a high-density development to this environmentally impaired area of the state will certainly not stabilize or decrease the number of impaired streams, but rather exacerbate the impairments.
It is clear that the SUP application should be denied based on failures of all eight of the standards of review established by Spotsylvania County.
LACA representatives provided the following additional detailed response the various replies in the applicant’s responses to staff dated August 5th, 2021 and September 21st, 2021:
A: There are abundant references to shallow water in this area of the lake. The applicant claims that the depth is 8 feet, yet their only proof is a supposed depth finder reading. LACA has visited the site and in the location of the proposed docks, the depth is 6 feet or less as you travel further in the cove. These depths are taken at normal lake level which is 250 feet above sea level. However, the lake is often 1 to 2 feet below normal in the middle of summer, this can often bring this area of the lake to 4-5 feet deep or less. The applicant has shown several pictures of one boat in the area and suggests that this proves that lake depths are not an issue. These pictures are misleading because the pictures show boats in the navigable waters beyond the boat ramp or slips. Factual water depths data in the cove where the proposed boat slips are to be located have not been provided. The applicant does not want to complete a more detailed boat channel analysis that reveal the fundamental flaws in locating a boat ramp and docks on the proposed site. A proper bathymetry survey should be required. LACA is concerned for several reasons related to the narrow and shallow characteristics of this portion of the lake. First, consider adding 49 boats to this narrow section of the lake and the corresponding safety hazards. Notice that there is only one boat in each picture. Imagine the impact to this cove if 49 boats are added. Secondly, add 49 boats and their propellors or jets stirring up the phosphorus laden lake bottom and releasing these bacterial and algae nutrients into the lake. The applicant insists that they have no plans to dredge. However, as the lake level fluctuates from 6 feet to much lower levels, RV park customers will not be able to easily launch their boats or access boat docks. LACA is concerned that an approved SUP will enable the applicant to obtain a dredging permit from DEQ. Dredging in an environmentally unstable area and releasing additional nutrients would be highly detrimental.
B: The applicant is asking for a SUP to be approved for a high-density commercial development outside the scope of the long-term comprehensive plan and in several instances ask the staff and the planning commission to effectively “trust” them. They suggest that staff does not need certain items to make an informed land use decision. LACA strongly disagrees. This is a very dangerous and risky SUP application. There should be significant effort by the applicant to assure staff and more importantly the community, of the design elements of the buildings, structures, potential dredging plans, the type and location of walkways within fragile areas, landscaping plans, streets, sidewalks, etc.
C. The developer has stated that they have significant experience with HABs and “red tides”. They have also stated that are more aggressive than DEQ or EPA in dealing with HABs. When asked to prove or expand on these bold statements, the applicant has said that this information is not needed for the county to evaluate the SUP for land use. We strongly disagree. Adding a high-density commercial devolvement in an environmentally fragile area requires more than unsupported bold statements and “trust us” to convince the community that we should permanently welcome them. This is “ground zero” for HABs on Lake Anna. According to our LACA Water Quality Team Captain that covers this section of the lake, the water quality on the Upper Pamunkey this year is the worst that he has seen in 30 years of visiting the lake. In the 2021 water quality sampling by both DEQ and LACA, the sampling station immediately near the RV park was far and away the worst sampling station on Pamunkey Creek. In addition, the applicant’s operator has supposedly donated at least 1MM to water quality although no details were provided. We would suggest that if they have the capacity to work to solve the HAB issue, that they would voluntarily invest a significant sum to water testing at Lake Anna and/or towards remediation of the HAB issue which will likely cost in the 10s of millions. The applicant also states that their guests are for the most part environmentalist. They further state that if they destroy our waters and our environment, that they basically would destroy the reason people come to them. However, entering a location that already is unusable for the majority of the boating season and adding nutrients to the environment is the exact opposite of this claim.
D: The applicant suggests that the county has ample information to make a decision without dimensions of impervious surfaces. These surfaces cause storm water runoff and we are being asked to again “trust” the applicant as to the impact these surfaces have to runoff in this environmentally fragile area.
E: If they are accurate in the very limited uses of the amphitheater, will the applicant agree to never host a professional musical concert on the premises as a condition of approval? Otherwise, screening or some type of sound shield should be required. What assurance if the SUP is approved will the community have that this will not become a music venue. Additionally, sound travels very efficiently over water. Residents that live on a lake can hear a normal conversation of a boater several hundred yards away. Adding a high-density RV park with corresponding activities assure that the residents of the adjacent communities will be negatively impacted. Nearby residents chose to purchase a home on this portion of the lake to enjoy nature and quiet tranquility. Adding a high-density RV park is not in harmony with the hundreds of existing nearby homeowners.
F: The applicant discusses an enforced “quiet time” on the property, but they do not define the start and stop times of “quiet time”. Would the applicant elaborate on the actual times that noise will be limited?
G: A decommission plan should be required. Opening a RV resort on a lake without access to the lake in the majority of the boating season is a inherit risky venture. It would seem appropriate to have a decommissioning plan in the event that the RV resort fails once the public realizes that access to swimming in the lake is prohibited for the majority of the season.
H: LACA is extremely concerned with having rental boats operated out of this remote location on the lake. Adding additional boats in and by itself increases safety concerns. The applicant uses contradictory language in their response to staff questions concerning rentals and boating licenses. They say that the do not intend to rent boats, yet in other answers they suggest that they will contract with a local business to bring in rental boats. How can the public be assured of the answer? Adding rental boats which are often rented by novice boaters dramatically increase safety risks. In one of their responses, the applicant states that Virginia State Law requires all operators of powered watercraft to have completed a boat safety course. This is blatantly not true. The law provides a loophole for boat rental customers. You may rent a boat in Virginia without a boater safety license as long as you complete a very basic training program by the rental company. This is confirmed on the DWR website: https://dwr.virginia.gov/boating/education/faq/ A short 15-minute orientation does not compare to the 3-8 hours required to complete the actual boating safety course. LACA would request that boat rentals not be provided as a condition of the SUP. Rental boats and safety must also be considered within the unfortunate presence of alcohol and now, marijuana which has been legalized in Virginia since July, 2021. Operating a boat under the influence is serious crime and can be deadly. Will the numerous food/concessions/tiki bars/restaurants in the development serve alcohol? Once legalized, will there be a dispensary added to the resort?
I: LACA sent a previous email related to the disingenuous response related to the comments received at the community meetings. The applicant carefully crafted a response that avoided submitting well over 100 negative comments that they received at the virtual community meeting in February. The applicant also promised the community that they would forward all of these comments to the county. We would request that all of these community responses be submitted to the planning commission and the board of supervisors and become a part of the record for this application.
J: They claim that their resort will be a significant source of revenue for the county. However, at what cost? The existing rural residential zoning laws are what were in place when property owners made decisions to purchase their homes. These are promises that must be kept and are not to be swept away by the whims of a wealthy developer at odds with several long-existing communities. The existing residential communities will suffer if the SUP is approved in their backyard. In addition, much of any ancillary revenue will go to businesses located in Louisa County, not Spotsylvania County. There are no businesses or restaurants in Spotsylvania County that are certain to benefit from this SUP’s approval. While it may be beneficial to Louisa County, it is at the expense of Spotsylvania County citizens. LACA also questions the remarkable conclusions that the applicant makes in terms of revenue and ultimate taxes to the county. The applicant is claiming revenue of $15MM per year. For example, they stated in the June 7th community meeting that they charge $40-60 per site and they model a 60% occupancy throughout the year. However, they are ignoring the adverse impact of text and email news of HABs and no-swim advisories. Taken at face value, 60% of 300 site is 180 sites on average rented for $50 a night. That works out to revenue of approximately $3.3MM in rental revenues. (300 x 60% x $50) It is unrealistic to imagine $12MM additional taxable revenue being generated from other services. It is also clear that any ancillary tax revenue generated by RV park visitors would go to Louisa County. This may be a low impact development to the county resources such as schools, but it is an extremely high impact to the local neighborhoods.
K: The applicant is asking for a SUP as opposed to a rezoning. The proposal includes a restaurant (although it is called it a dining room in a clubhouse), a lounge, tiki bars, bait shop and concessions. This is clearly a commercial operation. The applicant should go the rezoning process as opposed to requesting a SUP.
L: Applicant suggests an annual 60% occupancy and an average stay of 5 days. This suggests that only 180 of the sites would be in use. However, it is likely that the occupancy in the boating season is near 90% and that in the winter it is far less. This impacts the environment during the worst of times. In the summer, when HABs are in full force, it is likely that the RV park will be at capacity. In the winter, when the cold weather impedes HABs, the RV park will not be in use.
M: The applicant’s operator has suggested in the June 7th meeting that they will be using “park model” RV units. These are glorified mobile homes that remain on site that the operator rents out by the day. They are effectively residential stationary homes. They state that no residential dwellings units are proposed as part of the project, but later they suggest that park model RVs will fluctuate to keep in step with market conditions. This is contradictory to their statement that there are no residential dwellings on the proposal. We would ask for further clarity on this issue or an agreement to not allow park model RV units as a condition of approval. LACA is also concerned with the viability of an RV park on a lake that is not usable for the majority of the warm season. In case of a failure, the operator could easily convert the majority of the RV sites to effectively a mobile home park. We would suggest banning the ability to use park model units. The operator’s Castaway Resort recently announced the addition of “fully equipped cottages”. It is clear that the operator uses permanent residences as part of their business model. What assurances can the applicant give that will prevent the installation of permanent residences on this property?
N: The applicant discusses their by right ability to install a total number of boat slips of 300+ and then takes credit for lowering the number of slips to 49. However, by right, the property may only have 6-12 homes built and therefore only 6- 12 docks built. The ability to build a greater number of slips is dependent on approval of the SUP, which is far from certain. LACA would suggest limiting the number of docks to 12 to correspond with the number of docks available if this were a residential community. The applicant consistently suggests that there are ample on-site amenities to occupy guests if there is a no-swim advisory. They state that the majority of their guests would likely use stand up paddleboard, kayaks or similar non-motorized activities. They are less than clear on their desire to have boat rentals on site. Therefore, why approve more than 6-12 docks?
O: The applicant suggests that there has been no indication that the public access from Route 522 will be refused by Orange County. However, the Orange County Planning Commission voted 7-0 against the proposed SUP when it was presented to their commission. “No indication” cannot be implied that the applicant will receive approval.
P: The applicant is suggesting that they will install a microwave internet connection for their guests and it will not impact the county residents. Microwave internet transmission is adversely affected by weather conditions, terrain, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind. Lakes and water formations are extremely reflective surfaces with respect to radio transmissions which leads to signal degradation. All connections within range of a microwave tower will share the same bandwidth. Connection speeds are significantly reduced and degraded as more and more users connect to the network. Finally, this plan relies on line-of-sight communication between an access point and the end receiver. Signal strength cannot be sustained during inclement weather or through brush or trees. Even if the applicant sets up a dedicated system, as it degrades with 500-750 users, those guests will resort to using their cell phone coverage. This will degrade the coverage for the local communities that rely on cell coverage for both communication and internet access. The current cell coverages in this area are at best mediocre. Adding many hundreds of cell phone users to the existing cell phone towers will impact the current residents of this portion of the county and degrade their access to cell phone coverage even further.
Q: Based on the applicant’s cover sheet, they state that their building area is 74,724 square feet. This is the equivalent of 30 single family 2400 square foot homes, double the number of home that the applicant by right may build. The impervious coverage ratio is 1,250,000 square feet or the equivalent of over 20 football fields. This would never be approved for a traditional residential development on the property. The total open space area is 1,103,485 square feet which is less than the impervious area created. This is not consistent with Resort Agricultural Zoning.
R: The gated rear access for service and emergency vehicles is indeed a good idea for the proposed project. However, Route 719 can barely handle 2 passenger vehicles passing in opposite directions. For this to be a viable secondary exit for service vehicles or an emergency exit, Route 719 should be improved from the proposed entrance to Route 522. The plan states that the Route 719 entrance is for service and emergency access. The applicant’s response to questions state emergency access only. Which is it?
S: The option to phase the development should be taken off the table. If approved, the applicant could decide to phase portions of the development and then fail to deliver promised key elements.
T: LACA has met with the developer on two occasions. At both occasions and in our presentation to planning staff, LACA stated that the applicant should consider investing in the “state of the art” AOSS and commit to removing additional nutrients from the wastewater. To date, only meeting the minimal DEQ standards have been addressed. We commend the applicant for investing in a phosphorus reduction module for their AOSS, but they have yet to address a higher standard for Nitrogen removal. They have not agreed to make public an Operations and Maintenance Manual for the AOSS and be held to this self-imposed standard.
Summary of LACA Constituents Top Four Concerns
1: If this SUP were approved, it is counter to the long-term comprehensive plan that has been designed by the county. As you know, this portion of the county is classified as rural residential with density of 1 home per two acres. There are four residential developments within 1.5 miles of the proposed site. To grant a SUP for a commercial development is unfair to those Spotsylvania County residents that purchased or built a home in these nearby communities. It is not in harmony with the existing neighborhoods and will most certainly harm the values of these homes. Many of these residents have retired to the beauty and tranquility of Lake Anna and decided to settle in this part of the county for the very reason that it is isolated and peaceful. There are no commercial developments nearby and it is a betrayal of trust if the county were to grant this SUP.
2: The developer is purposely being vague and dishonest regarding density of this development. In their own materials and responses to PC staff they state that the residential density will be zero. This is purposely misleading. The land is two parcels that total 135.08 acres. With 300 RV locations, that works out to a 2.22 homes per acre. As opposed to the comprehensive plan recommendations of .5 homes per acre. They claim that a RV should not count as a residence. They dance around “residential dwelling unit” and claim that an RV that can sleep 4-6 people or more should not be counted since it is not a permanent structure. The stress to the environment of 2-4 people staying in a home or an RV is no different. In addition, in their own material, they state that they may have 0-30% in “Park Model RV” units. A Park Model RV is a glorified mobile home that is permanently installed and rented to customers that do not have a RV. The operators for the developers have two additional RV parks in the Mid-Atlantic area that the applicant mentions in their submissions. Both Castaway and Massey’s Landing make use of these more permanent structures. 30% of 300 units is approximately 90 permanent units that they are admitting could be located on the site. By right this property could have 6-12 homes. The BOS or the PC would never approve a SUP or a rezoning to add 90 homes to this 135 acre parcel, not to mention 300 homes.
3: The lake has suffered through 4 consecutive years of Harmful Algae Blooms and no-swim advisories for the upper portions of the lake. This area of the lake is “ground zero” for HABs having the longest duration of no-swim advisories and the worst results of any of the water quality testing stations that LACA monitors. This year’s no-swim advisory was issued July 1st and is in force to this day. Adding a high-density 300 RV park in this area brings in roughly 600-800 people per day in the summer with 100-200 pets on average. All of this sewage, even treated with an alternative onsite septic system, creates significant release of Nitrogen and Phosphorus and those nutrients eventually end up in the lake. Adding these nutrients to an already environmentally fragile section of the lake is asking for further advisories that last longer and make it that more difficult to resolve. The developer and the operator claim to understand HABs and is focused on water quality. However, when asked to give examples of the type of work that they have done or to specify their intentions, they refuse to provide an answer.
4: Boat safety is a big concern. The developer is suggesting that they by right have the ability to build 300 docks and then they suggest that they are making a concession to only put in 49 docks. By right, this property has the ability to put in 6-12 homes. Only if they received the SUP would they have the right treat to this as a commercial property and add numerous docks. This is putting the cart before the horse. The developer claims that they will tape off the access to the lake when the no-swim advisory is in place which is most of the boating season. They claim that they have plenty of amenities on property that their guests will not care that they do not have access to the lake, yet they wish to install 49 docks. They are also less than straightforward about boat rentals. They say in some sections of their application that they do not intend to rent boats, but in other sections they state that they will invite a local business to rent boats from their docks. They claim erroneously that customers are required by law to have a boating license. Rental customers only have to do a quick 15 minute safety talk to successfully rent a boat and do not have to have a license. The applicant claims that the depth at the dock location is 8 feet where in fact it is 3-5 feet currently. Adding this many boats and the ability to rent boats on this shallow end of the lake invites inexperienced boaters, stirs up the sediment on the lake bottom releasing phosphorus to feed HAB and is a safety nightmare. By right, they should have the ability to add 6-12 docks and there should be no ability to rent powered boats in this rural residential area of the lake.
Planning Staff qUESTIONS/dEVELOPERS Response
Over the past four months the Spotsylvania Planning Staff has provided the development group three sets of questions and received responses from the development group on the first two. The content of these communications can be seen below with the most recent exchange first. There have also been changes to the submitted SUP Package by the developers that can be reviewed on the Spotsylvania Planning Commission site.
- The third letter dated September 16, 2021 to the developer from Planning Staff can be viewed here.
- The second letter dated September 7, 2021 to the developer from Planning staff can be viewed here.
- The response dated September 21, 2021 from the developer can be viewed here.
- The first letter dated June 25, 2021 to the developer from Planning staff can be viewed here.
- The response dated August 5, 2021 from the developer can be viewed here.
Greg Baker, LACA's president and Harry Looney, LACA's Water Quality Chair made a presentation to the Spotsylvania County Planning Commission staff on Thursday, June 18th. You may see the presentation here.
In preparation for the presentation, LACA polled our membership on their support or opposition to the proposed development. In addition, the poll asked if LACA should take an official position on the proposed development. There was an overwhelming response and a super majority of our members that oppose the proposal. In addition, the membership believes that LACA should take an official position against this development. The results of the poll are as follows:
On Thursday March 4th, Supervisor Barry Jett hosted a meeting to discuss this development with the community. Approximately 54 people attended in person as well as 27 people that attended via WebEx. Supervisor Jett listened to the concerns of the citizens and shared his opinions about the development with the group. Supervisor Jett is opposed to the development.
Gary Griffith, a member of the development group attended the meeting as well. Mr. Griffith provided the official response from the developer related to the concerns that have been addressed during the virtual community meeting. You can read the response here.
Lonnie Carter and the Will Companies (Tim and Trey Wills) are proposing to build an upscale RV park on Upper Pamunkey Creek in Spotsylvania County. According to the Spotsylvania GIS system, the property is owned by Jeffrey Hayden. You may see the property in question on the County GIS system by clicking here. The property's PIN is 53-A-1 and 53-A-1B. The property is currently zoned Resort-Agricultural and will need a Special Use Permit (SUP) approved by the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors for the development to proceed. (If you would like to understand the rules related to Resort-Agricultural, you may click here to read more.) The original iteration of this development was called Orange County Resort which was also an RV park. The new iteration is twice as large as originally proposed and now includes two parcels of land. The property will now lie completely in Spotsylvania County after Orange and Spotsylvania Counties have settled the location of the county line. The properties' entrance is on a parcel of land that will still be in Orange County.
The original application (Orange County Resort) was presented to the Orange County Planning Commission and was denied in a unanimous vote. This application has a new team of developers and it is apparent that the new developers have a more polished plan than was presented to Orange County.
The developers are required to host a community meeting and solicit feedback/questions from citizens of the county. Because of Covid, the meeting is being held virtually until February 26th. You may see their presentation here. (If the website is not available, a PDF of the website is stored here.) Feedback must be received by March 1st, 2021. You may send your feedback by email to CommunityMtngFeedback@gayandneel.com OR you may send a written response by US Mail to:
Gay and Need, Inc.
1260 Radford Street
Christiansburg, VA 24073
The developer will respond to any feedback received by the deadline and include the feedback and any replies to the Spotsylvania Planning Department. The developer, if they choose to proceed, will present at the Planning Commission of Spotsylvania. The Planning Commission (PC) will hold a vote to recommend approval or rejection of the development. However, the ultimate authority is with the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors (BOS). The developer may go before the BOS regardless of the recommendation of the PC.