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.
LACA neither supports or opposes development on Lake Anna. Our mission statement is as follows:
Lake Anna Civic Association’s mission is to preserve and protect the cleanliness, beauty, and safe use of Lake Anna and its watershed through communication, advocacy, education, and community involvement to benefit the membership and all lake users.
LACA's goal is to provide feedback on all possible developments at the lake in accordance with our Mission Statement.
LACA has the following concerns/Comments related to the four seasons at Lake Anna RV park:
1: Upper Pamunkey Creek at the 522 bridge is "ground zero" for Harmful Algae Blooms and the corresponding no-swim advisories issued by Virginia Department of Health. HABs are caused by excessive nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus. Traditional septic systems do very little to remove the nutrients that are the primary cause of HABs. We are pleased that the developers have proposed a large alternative Onsite Sewage System (AOSS). They are proposing a 50 gallon per day (GPD) per site plant. With 300 proposed RV sites, this amounts to a plant that would need at least a 15,000 gallon per day VDH or DEQ permit. We would propose the following:
- Any privately owned AOSS poses significant financial risk to the county and the surrounding communities. For the county to approve, we would ask the developer to voluntarily post and maintain an ample financial bonds to assure the proper operation of the plant. We are concerned that a privately held plant could pose a risk without the proper bonds and financial assurances. It is unusual for VDH to require such a bond, but if possible the developer should volunteer for VDH to make this a requirement.
- Given the high risk of HABs in this area, we would propose that the developer voluntarily accept a higher standard than required in removal of BOTH nitrogen and phosphorus from the effluent. For AOSS over 10,000 GPD, VDH mandates a maximum Total Nitrogen limit of 8 mg/l. Given the very fragile environment of this part of the lake, we would ask the developer to voluntarily limit Total Nitrogen to the "state of the industry" levels of a maximum of 3-4 mg/l. We would ask that the developer demonstrate compliance with not only the required 5 mg/l total nitrogen level in groundwater after dilution by infiltrated rainfall, but a higher standard of 3 mg/l.
- Pressurized shallow dispersal in soil treatment systems should be utilized to augment nutrient removal. If properly designed, this type of drip system should reduce total nitrogen by as much as 50%.
- Currently, VDH does not mandate removal of phosphorus. However, phosphorus is the key component of HABs. We would ask that the developer voluntarily install a system to remove phosphorus as well to the "state of the industry" levels.
- Concentrations of nutrients are important to monitor, however, it is the mass of nutrients that most impacts the development of HABs on the lake. We would ask that the developer commission a study with a qualified soil's engineering firm to recommend what would be considered the "state of the industry" in reduction of total mass outputted from the development. Then voluntarily accept that level of output as a standard. This can be achieved by either reducing the density of the development or reducing the concentration of the nutrients.
- We would ask that ground water monitoring wells be put in place and the developer test the wells at least quarterly and provide that data via the RV park's website within 2 weeks of testing.
- A well designed AOSS can still fail without proper operation and maintenance. We would ask that the developer develop an Operations and Maintenance Manual and that Manual be available to the public. The developer would also post to their website at least annually the logs to show to the county and the surrounding homeowners their commitment to running a state of the art AOSS.
- Since VDH nor the county can enforce standards higher than code, there needs to be an enforcement mechanism for failure to comply with any promises made by the developer. The developer should acknowledge that they would be liable in civil court if they did not continually maintain the nutrient removal standards promised.
- Given the dangers to their visitors, the developer should assure the county that any no-swim advisories issued by Virginia Department of Health will be advertised on their website as well as signs posted at the entrance to the RV park, any on-site marinas and the entrances to any docks.
- The operator should be required to close their beaches and swim areas if a no-swim advisory is issued for this section of the lake. This information should be published on their website as well. (This is required of the state park when they are under a VDH no-swim advisory.)
- Given the significant increase in population density that would occur if this SUP were approved, and the common interest that the developer, LACA and the rest of the community has in solving HABs, the developer should consider a donation towards a watershed study. (Currently, the Lake Anna Advisory Committee (LAAC) is conducting Phase 1 of a comprehensive watershed study at a cost of approximately $48,000. Phase 2 of the study covers a much larger area including the location of this proposed resort. It is likely to cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $150,000.) A significant donation towards a Lake Anna HAB study would be a win-win for both the Lake Anna community, the county and the developer. No-swim advisories on Upper Pamunkey Creek are detrimental for the lake, the surrounding communities, the environment, wildlife and of course any visitors to the RV park.
- LACA is currently working with Randolph Macon College and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality doing sediment sampling research. Our hypothesis is that stirring of the sediment in the lake releases nutrients increasing the likelihood of HABs outbreaks. Upper Pamunkey Creek near the 522 bridge is very shallow making it susceptible to boat prop wash. The depth of the lake in this section is under 8 feet and much shallower in immediately vicinity of the proposed development. In a typical summer, it is not unusual for the depth of the lake to drop 1 to 2 feet from the normal level of 250 feet above sea level even further reaching the navigation safety in this area. We would urge the developer to promise to only promote non-motorized activities as a way to further mitigate nutrient release in this shallow area based on boat prop wash.
- The research is clear that the buffers of vegetation immediately adjacent to the lake are very high in the nutrients that cause HABs. Erosion along the shoreline causes phosphorus "bombs" especially when trees fall into the lake. 50 years or more of phosphorus buildup is released into Lake Anna. Increasing the number of boats in this narrow area of the lake by over 400% will substantially increase erosion. Therefore, as required in the Chesapeake Bay Act in the Resource Protection Area, the developer must be required to properly install rip rap erosion prevention upon the entirety of their project.
2: Given the large increase in the capacity of RV sites within the current proposal, we are concerned with the amount of hardscape (pavement) that will be required. Pavement causes runoff which ends up in the creeks and eventually into the lake. We applaud the developers focus on storm water runoff, but this is one of the most environmental sensitive areas at Lake Anna. It is imperative that the developer engage an environmental consultant and commit to planting a significant number of native over-story trees, under-story trees, bushes/grasses and the like. There would be a mandate if approved to planting a nutrient buffer of native plants in the area within 6 feet of the lake. There would be a goal to minimize any planting of grass and a focus on a forested concept. The greater the competition for nutrients, the less nutrients end up in the lake. Pavement and grass are the enemy of the lake and major contributors to HABs.
3: One of the biggest concerns is with the number of boat slips and the amount of additional traffic that the Four Seasons resort would generate. The prior Orange County Resort proposal included 150 boat slips and the new iteration includes a staggering 300 slips.
- The entire Upper Pamunkey Creek which is 3 miles long has approximately 88 slips currently. It has taken close to 50 years for this to occur. To add over three times the number of slips in a short period will create an unsafe boating environment on one of the most narrow, shallow and windy parts of the lake. It is simply a recipe for serious injury or death.
- In the early days of the lake, there was a boat ramp on the lake adjacent to the 522 bridge immediately across from the proposed development. The ramp was owned and operated by DGIF (Now DWR) at the time. The ramp was considered too dangerous for this section of the lake and was closed. On a busy weekend, there might only be 25 boats launched from this location and it was determined to be an unsafe section of the lake. Reintroduction of a marina with 300 boat slips is unacceptable and is not appropriate at the northern end of Upper Pamunkey Creek.
- We would not support a number of permanent slips on this property that would be in excess of the number that would be allowed by right if a traditional single family detached home development were approved. By right, this property at just over 135 acres, assuming a number of acres would be for roads and common areas, it is likely the maximum number of homes that would be allowed would be approximately 50-55 homes. We would ask the developer to not exceed the number of docks or slips that would be allowed if there were a residential community. At maximum, no more than 40-50 docks should be permitted.
- There does not appear to be an area for boats trailers to be stored on the plans. Assuming this is added, it would expand the amount of pavement and create additional hardscape. (See above)
- Most of the water surrounding this development (as shown on the map below) is very shallow. The developer should disclose if they plan to request permission to dredge. This is a very important consideration given the significant nutrients that would be released if dredging were permitted. We would not support approval for dredging in this highly sensitive area of the lake.
- We have significant concerns with the locations of several of the on-water slips and amenities. Specifically the locations of the swim area and the "L" shaped dock off the point of the property. We are concerned with the intrusion into the main section of the lake of the proposed docks. Given our opposition to the sheer number of slips, we would suggest the following:
- Eliminate the L Shaped Dock entirely.
- Move the swim area around the point into the cove as indicated below. This would allow better sight lines to the lake and make boating navigation safer.
- Remove the second sections of the two lower proposed docks. We believe that Dominion Energy rules have a maximum distance into the lake of 150 feet. We believe that these covered slips violate this rule.
4: We commend the developer for offering to install dark-sky lighting. This should be a requirement of all future developments on Lake Anna.
5: This property is zoned Resort-Agricultural. From Section 23-6.5.1: "The purpose of the resort agricultural (R-A) district is to provide for low-density, single-family detached residential and agricultural uses in a rural setting on or near a lake." The zoning language does provide for special uses such as a campground. LACA does not believe that the intent of the zoning language would classify a 300 site RV park with 300 boat slips as a "campground" in a rural setting. This is a major commercial operation in an area of the lake that is not conducive to this level of boat traffic. We would encourage the developer to find a more suitable location for a commercial operation on the lake consistent with the recent Spotsylvania County Comprehensive Plan Update. Alternatively, allow for the RV park to be developed without slips nor a boat launch. This is a beautiful piece of property and would be desirable with the amenities, the swimming dock and non-motorized boating activities.
6: We are very pleased with the developer's willingness to install turn lanes on Rt. 522. The reluctance of the prior developer to provide turn lanes was one of our major concerns and the current developer has appropriately addressed this safety issue. We are not experts on VDOT requirements, but we would like to be assured that the turn lanes being offered would easily accommodate 2 or 3 large RVs waiting to turn into the resort. We also commend the developer for providing a gated rear entrance to the property for emergencies. Unlike Rt. 522, Rt. 719 is a smaller and windier road. Access to the property at this entrance should indeed be gated and RV traffic should be prohibited from entering or exiting the property from this location except for emergencies.
7: If the development is approved we would strongly recommend the use of dry hydrants throughout the property. Combine high density camping, RVs (with gas or diesel onboard) and outdoor fire pits, it is clear that serious fire dangers will exist. Installing a system of dry hydrants would be a rather inexpensive addition that could eventually save a life. We would recommend consulting with Spotsylvania County fire and rescue to discuss the optimal placement of dry hydrants throughout the property. We would also recommend that if a ramp is approved, that it be appropriate for access for the Spotsylvania County Fire and Rescue Boat