Opinions

At the Jan. 20 public hearing, I pointed out that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) water permit compels Fluvanna to build a lot of costly infrastructure in a short time. The permit says Fluvanna must:
• Complete water infrastructure at Zion Crossroads by January 2018, and
• Have capital improvements ready to serve Palmyra, Fork Union and Columbia with treated water and sewage by January 2023.
In the last Fluvanna Review, County Administrator Steve Nichols called my comments “incorrect.” He brushed off permit deadlines: “If conditions call for it, that may be what we do, but if they don’t, we may not.”
So is DEQ’s permit just a wink-wink document or does the plain language of the permit actually mean what it says?
I urge you to read pages 6-7 of the permit on the county website.
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The interjurisdictional agreement between Fluvanna County, Louisa County and two water authorities doesn’t mean what it says, according to Fluvanna Administrator Steve Nichols. Did anyone explain that to Louisa officials before they filed massive lawsuits to enforce that agreement?
According to Nichols, a covenant within the agreement – two covenants, actually – specifying that the James River pipeline must run west or north of the Columbia Community Planning Area (CPA) doesn’t really mean that. As reported in the Fluvanna Review, here’s what Nichols said:
“Every plan has modifications to it depending on conditions on the ground. West or north (of the Columbia CPA) doesn’t mean it can’t be in the Columbia Community Planning Area.”
Does that make sense to you? Is our contract merely a plan?
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It’s remarkable how the pundits in the Washington bubble together with the establishment media still fail to understand what Bernie Sanders is talking about. They continue to make comments like Bernie can’t win or that he’d never be able to get his issues through Congress. Their heads are wrapped around politics as usual. His numbers already show that he can win. And as far as getting through Congress, Bernie talks of using masses of citizens to put pressure on those in office to bring about the change that will make our government truly reflect the voices of the American people. Certainly history has proven that it takes mass movements to make things happen. It took thousands of Americans putting pressure on Congress in the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s movement and the gay rights movement. This is how democracy works. It was with great sadness that, with the tremendous number of supporters in social media and other areas, Obama as president did not use them. Shortly after his election he allowed Organizing for America to simply disband. That will not happen with Bernie.
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Public hearings to inform county officials of constituents’ thoughts on Special Use Permits for a joint Fluvanna-Louisa water project revealed grave errors in local government’s procedures.
Mistake #1: Fluvanna contracted to build an inter-jurisdictional water pumping station on the James River in Fluvanna without first securing a site.
Mistake #2: Fluvanna held public hearings about the pumping station and related pipeline only after signing an inter-jurisdictional agreement on the matter.
Mistake #3: Fluvanna allowed Louisa County Water Authority eminent domain across 72 tracts in eastern Fluvanna. To accommodate the acquisition of this right-of-way, conservation covenants and Agricultural & Forestal Districts, set up by preservation-minded landowners in the absence of protective zoning, were nullified without notice. Fluvanna will add utility easements “as needed” parallel to easements already scarring eastern Fluvanna. This will complete Fluvanna’s sell-out of its largest Rural Preservation District.
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As you now know, the vote on Jan. 20 passed 4-0. This moment will be one of my proudest moments as a public servant, for I truly believe that it will greatly strengthen our county.
The vote was a difficult choice for Mr. (Don) Weaver and Mrs. (Patricia) Eager, and a let-down to those citizens that fought hard to have the pipeline moved away from Point of Fork. I want to publicly acknowledge that I recognize the Board’s decision came with a bitter cost to them and that I am sorry that this vote caused them such heartache. At the end of the day, I truly believe that they will recognize that their loss was not without reward to all the citizens of Fluvanna and that they can be proud of the fact that their sacrifice meant something.
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