13 September 2013
The Lake Monticello Owners’ Association unanimously approved a resolution asking Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors to suspend a vote on any water resolution until many questions are answered and made available to county residents as soon as possible.As Board member Charles Harrelson said, “Basically we’re asking them to come up with better proposals because these stink.”
The vote was taken Thursday (Sept. 12) at a special meeting.
County Supervisor Joe Chesser (Rivanna) told the audience economic development can’t wait and the county needs to get water to Zion Crossroads one way or the other.
Chesser outlined three plans:
- With the help of Louisa County and the oversight of the James River Water Authority, getting water from the James River;
- Contracting with Aqua Virginia to build a pipeline from its plant near Lake Monticello;
- Getting water from the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women on Rt. 250.
Chesser fielded questions from both the LMOA board and the audience. Two things were clear: most were against doing anything and Chesser didn’t have all the answers. A champion of economic development, Chesser said something had to be done to get water to Zion Crossroads, designated in the county strategic plan as a growth area.
“What I’ve found is it is difficult to get anything done in this county,” Chesser said. “When you see an opportunity, you go after it. I think there’s a better chance at economic development with the Aqua Virginia proposal.”
For the group assembled, the Aqua Virginia proposal was a hard sell. Aqua Virginia provides water to Lake Monticello and many during the evening said they pay the highest water and sewer rates in the state.
At a Board of Supervisor meeting held weeks earlier, County Attorney Fred Payne advised the Board to not sign the Aqua Virginia proposal.
Rick Kelly, Republican candidate for the Rivanna seat being vacated by Chesser, said he looked over the Aqua proposal and decided it “violates a constitutional prohibition against eminent domain.”
“That should end it right there.”
Tony O’Brien is also running for the Rivanna Board of Supervisor seat. While he did not weigh in on one proposal, O’Brien echoed Chesser in saying getting water to Zion Crossroads is essential to economic development.
“Our county resolve to make big decisions is very small,” O’Brien said. “If you’re worried about taxes in the long run you have to change the trajectory. Core services will continue to deteriorate and property values will decrease while taxes increase. If we always look for the very best deal, we’ll continue to lose.”
O’Brien criticized the administration and the other supervisors for not being at the meeting and leaving Chesser to present alone.
“This isn’t a one-man show,” he said. “The county hasn’t done a good job of presenting this to the people.”
Len Gardner said he’s been a resident of Fluvanna for 37 years and has watched the county deal with water issues for 20 of those years – as a supervisor and as a reporter and editor and part owner of the Fluvanna Review. He said the mains issue is getting water to Zion Crossroads and summed up the situation as a chicken and egg scenario.
“The reason there is no development up there is there is no water,” Gardner said. “I think getting water from the James River is the best plan. While we do not have an immediate need, Louisa County does have the need and the resources to do it. I believe they’d have it done in rapid order and we would have access. We would pay nothing except for withdrawal in Columbia and have to buy it from Louisa – but you have to buy it from someone.”
Marilyn Kozak said the problem as she sees it is caused by “shortsightedness.”
“There seems to be no strategic planning,” Kozak said. “Do we learn from past mistakes or do we continue to make the same ones?”
Chesser said “the community needs to answer that.”