AUGUST 20th UPDATE - Orange County Planning Commission Results
The Orange County Planning Commission met on August 20th and voted 5-0 to deny the Special Use Permit for the Orange County Resort. Please note that this does not necessarily kill this development and LACA expects that the development will be reworked and a new application submitted. Our concerns outlined below are still valid. If the developer moves forward in some capacity, we hope they will take our concerns to heart. To get up to date on this development, please see our previous post below.
LACA will post information here as soon as we learn the time of the Spotsylvania County Planning Commission meeting that will hear this application.
ORANGE COUNTY RESORT - RV RESORT PLANNED ALONG UPPER PAMUNKEY CREEK NEAR ROUTE 522 BRIDGE
First presented at a virtual meeting of the Orange Planning Commission on August 6, where both the original May 11 Application and a PowerPoint were used. This project incorporates 83 acres of A-1 agricultural land. The applicant is not seeking rezoning but simply a Special Use Permit (SUP) on the existing A-1 land. The August 6th Agenda may be seen here and the SUP begins on page 7 Agenda item 5a. The PowerPoint presentation may be viewed here.
In the original PowerPoint presentation, the developers described an upscale motor coach resort with 150-175 lots. The original application suggested as many as 250 lots but was scaled back due to creeks on the property. The project would not be a rental facility, rather lots could be purchased with prices ranging from $100,000 to $375,000. It would be a gated facility and no transient or overnight camping. The following facilities are planned: camp store, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, a club house with bath and rest room facilities, fitness center, picnic areas, a trail network and golf cart storage. In addition, a marina with fuel facilities and 150 docks are proposed.
All water and waste water will be handled on-site. The private water system will consist of an on-site well and treatment, storage and distribution within the development. The private sewage will be gravity collection to a pump station and then private on-site waste water treatment and disposal.
The next Orange Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for August 20th. The agenda are the next meeting may be viewed here. Information on the Orange County Resort begins on page 10 of the Agenda.
In the agenda, there is a letter from the developer's representatives revising the original plan to shift from an ownership model to a resort that would be an RV rental facility.
Due to the coronavirus, the Orange Planning Commission meeting on August 20th will not be open to the public. Rather, all public comments that are received by August 18th at 5PM will be read to the commission. If you would like your voice heard, please send comments to Sandra Thornton at firstname.lastname@example.org
LACA has the following concerns related to the Orange County Resort:
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. Septic systems do not remove nutrients and eventually end up in Lake Anna. Adding a septic system that will serve up to 150-175 motor coaches would add an unbearable strain to this portion of the lake. We would propose a waste water treatment system similar to the Lake Anna Environmental Services facility behind Asian Cafe/Vitos restaurants. Alternatively a tank and ship system where the waste water is stored and removed periodically to a larger waster water treatment system. Adding a septic system, dumping excessive nutrients from 150 Plus motor coaches would have a horrific impact to the HAB/No-swim problem that Lake Anna has been experiencing.
2: LACA has concerns about 150 boat slips planned for just 1200 feet of shoreline. By comparison, the entire Upper Pamunkey Creek has only 88 slips along its 3 mile length and were built over 30 plus years. This will result in a significant additional boat traffic creating a safety hazard in this shallow and narrow point of Lake Anna. In the developer's presentation, the waterfront map currently accounts for only 68 of the proposed 150 slips. Where does the applicant plan to install the additional slips? Dominion Energy must approve all slips on the lake and their rules would eliminate several of the proposed in-cove slips dues to the "1/3rd rule". LACA is concerned with the number and location of the proposed slips and would like further clarification of their intent prior to voting on the matter.
3: LACA recommends "Dark Sky Lighting". Three approved developments in Louisa have voluntarily agreed to use them. On this sloped and open tract of land, dark sky lighting would greatly reduce light pollution in the area. We would suggest that Orange County Resort adopt dark sky lighting.
4: There is a open question as to whether the planned amenities being proposed would be permitted on A-1 zoned property. These include a camp store, fueling facility, marina, clubhouse, fitness center, etc. LACA agrees that these determinations need to be made soon in the Orange planning process so the public and the planning commission more fully understands the scope of the project.
5: LACA is concerned with the failure to provide adequate turn lanes from route 522 into the proposed development, in fact the developers are asking that no turn lanes be required. Route 522 is a rolling and dangerous road especially for large motor coaches. Case in point are the many severe accidents which have included fatalities at the intersection of route 522 and route 208. Given that the developer has changed to a rental model, there will be even more traffic entering and exiting the resort than an ownership model. We would propose that 522 be widened at this location to provide a turn lane in both directions into the resort. In addition, we would suggest that a second entrance be added off of route 719 to minimize the traffic on the 522 intersection and to have closer proximity to the Spotsylvania County Belmont Fire and Rescue Squad.
6: By right, the developers state that they would have the ability to develop 41 homesites on the property. This density is more favorable to the issues state above. There is very limited waterfront on this property and adding a resort with 150-175 families create significant issues from safety both on the road and the water and from excessive nutrient loading. Our understanding is that there is a general agreement among the counties to waterfront development of one lot per acre and one lot per two acres off-water. We would propose that the resort be resized to accommodate this understanding and limit the resort to no more than 50 sites. At a 70% average occupancy rate (the developer's estimate) that would be an average of 35 families using the resort on average.
LACA is not an anti-development organization, but our mandate calls for us to preserve and protect Lake Anna. This proposal as it has evolved represents significant issues with the health and safety of the lake. We would request that the following issues be resolved prior to approval: