Public hearings

The reasons for the sudden delay remain elusive, as three supervisors offered three separate explanations for the decision.

The public hearings were for two special use permits for the James River Water Authority (JRWA) project – a joint venture between Fluvanna and Louisa Counties to pull up to 12 million gallons per day from the James River.

One permit would allow the JRWA to construct an intake station at Fluvanna’s historic Point of Fork near Columbia and pipe water a little over a mile inland.  The cost of this project to Fluvanna would be about $2.75 million.

The second permit would allow the Louisa County Water Authority to shuttle the water northeast through Fluvanna to Louisa.  Louisa would bear the costs of this project.

Nichols declined to comment on why the public hearings will be postponed, but said that they would be rescheduled for a later date.

“Questions have come up,” said Chairperson Mozell Booker, referring in part to a “Save the Point” campaign that has sprung up to keep the intake station off the Point of Fork, the historic piece of land where the James and Rivanna Rivers meet.  “Information came out in the Fluvanna Review last Thursday, and people began to talk and ask questions.  Once you get information out then you have people who take notice, and that’s a good thing, because people need to understand.”

Booker said she’s been calling local historians about the Point of Fork, “just to make sure that I am clear and I understand the Point of Fork and the concerns that people have.”

Restating her support for the JRWA project, Booker said, “This is the best opportunity for us to get water.  We can’t let this slip away from us.  Everybody doesn’t have to be on board, but we at least need to make sure that we have the right information.  We can’t let this slip away from us.  I’m not in favor of moving the intake station, because I know if they start excavating and find anything [of historic value] they will stop.”

Supervisor Don Weaver, on the other hand, said that to his knowledge the matter didn’t have anything to do with the Point of Fork controversy.  Rather, the hearings are being postponed “primarily because we have not received the water permit yet from the Department of Environmental Quality, and we did not want to move on until we have received that,” he said.

Though Weaver didn’t know when the permit will arrive, he guessed within the next few weeks, and speculated that the hearings may be rescheduled then.  “It’s pretty cut and dry,” he said.

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch offered a third opinion on the delay.  “There aren’t enough votes to pass the special use permits,” he said.  “The people who don’t have enough votes to pass it are postponing it.”  When asked to specify who he meant, Ullenbruch declined, but said it was “the minority of Board members – I really can’t say who.”  He confirmed that he would not vote to support the intake station on the Point of Fork.

When asked how a delay would help the cause of the supposedly outnumbered supervisors, Ullenbruch said, “Maybe there’s an election coming up.”  He declined to comment further, saying he didn’t wish to “put words in other people’s mouths.”

Supervisors Tony O’Brien and Mike Sheridan weren’t immediately available for comment.

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