Update Pop Ridge


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 were 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.”

Others were concerned that the development would strain water resources and that the proposed septic system would be insufficient or would pollute the Rivanna River.  Tom Ross, owner of Hotel Street Capital LLC, and developer of Poplar Ridge told the board that the consulting hydrologist found there would be sufficient water, and he insisted on the safety of the proposed septic system.  He added, “We believe as applicants we have submitted sufficient data,” to the Board of Supervisors. “The community that would result would be far superior to the original plan,” he asserted, referring to the original, much larger planned development, Walker’s Ridge.

Weaver was not convinced.  “I’ve not found the word “test wells” in your reports.  We go back to the sewer issue – have the drain fields been perked?  I don’t see it in any of the reports.  The fire department has problems with (the development)…VDOT used the words ‘this is not acceptable.’” Weaver shook his head. “I contend the special use permit will change the character and established pattern of the area and will impact neighboring property.  Are we going to follow the zoning ordinance?  Are we going to listen to you?  Are we going to listen to the people?  I want to represent you,” Weaver said, nodding to those in attendance. “You have spoken tonight.”

Booker drew gasps from the gallery when, responding to Weaver’s stated decision to follow the will of the people, she asked “Why do we make our rules and ordinances if we are just going to listen to the people?”

O’Brien said of tonight’s vote, “one of the challenges about a vote like this is that a lot of the names on this petition are people I like and respect,” and added “We are going to continue to face the pressures of growth.”  O’Brien said that if the Board opposed all growth, then “What will Palmyra be?  What it already is – a place where you can’t buy a cup of coffee and people just drive by.”

Sheridan, countering Ullenbruch’s complaint that citizens were disinterested in anything that did not directly impact them, and that they failed to attend meetings that dealt with other important issues, said “I don’t believe the people are disinterested.  They don’t come to every decision because they trust the people that they put here to represent them.”

After the vote was taken, many of those who attended walked out of the meeting in tears, and the board moved on to other business as Nina Ackenbom left the room sobbing audibly.

In other business, the board voted to approve:

*Updates and revisions to the Fork Union Sanitary District Committee’s by-laws;

*The proposed reorganization of sheriff’s office staff and the addition of another school resource officer.








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