12 August 2014
In a sometimes contentious meeting that ran long into the night, the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted Aug. 6 to approve the special use permit and zoning amendment to move forward with the Poplar Ridge development.
Poplar Ridge, which would be located off of Rt. 644 near Palmyra, would have 317 single-family housing units and a maximum of 74,000 square feet of commercial space. Supervisors Mozell Booker, Tony O’Brien and Bob Ullenbruch voted to approve the permit and zoning amendment; Mike Sheridan and Don Weaver dissented.
A petition with the signatures of more than 1,500 people opposed to the development was presented to the supervisors and 21 people spoke against it.
One of the concerns expressed was the impact the development would have on Camp Friendship.
Chuck Ackenbom, owner of Camp Friendship, the property adjacent to the proposed development, said “We offer a unique environment – a special and dear place – to children from over 93 different countries. I am afraid the camp would never be the same. Help me keep this camp a safe place for children.” Other members of his family spoke, including 11-year-old Nina Ackenbom, who said, “I have lived at this camp my whole life…I love this camp and I want to run it one day.”
Fluvanna resident Len Gardner said that Camp Friendship has an “international reputation,” and added, “Should you approve this project it will be at the expense of Camp Friendship, which has been a jewel in Fluvanna County for decades.”
Ullenbruch told Ackenbom: “When you sold the land, you gave up the right to bitch about what is done with that land.”
Robert Earl, the only citizen to speak who did not oppose the development said “landowners need to have the ability to make the highest and best use of their property,” and added that if the 1,500 people who signed the petition were concerned with how the land was going to be used, they “should have bought the property out of foreclosure in 2008 and put it into conservation.”