Fluvanna sued

The special use permit would have authorized the JRWA to construct a raw water system, including an intake facility, on the Point of Fork and pipe water from the James River a little over a mile to Rt. 6 near Columbia.

State code dictates that an aggrieved party has 30 days to challenge a special use permit denial, stated Brendan Hefty, JRWA attorney.  “That period ends tomorrow,” he said.

Two things need to happen in a lawsuit, Hefty explained at the meeting.  The JRWA voted to file suit and will do so in Fluvanna County Circuit Court Dec. 31, he said.  But the JRWA will hold off on the second step, which is serving the lawsuit on Fluvanna County.

Louisa County and the Louisa County Water Authority (LCWA) will be plaintiffs in the lawsuit as well, confirmed Fluvanna County Administrator Steve Nichols.

Mike Lockaby, LCWA attorney, said the parties will refrain from serving the lawsuit in the hope that the issue can be resolved through mediation and through the upcoming Fluvanna County votes on the special use permits.  “We think talking is going to solve this,” he said.  Serving the lawsuit would actually start the litigation process, he said.

The vote to file suit passed 4-1.  Louisa citizen representatives D. D. Watson and Goodman Duke voted for the lawsuit, as did Louisa County Administrator Christian Goodwin and Fluvanna citizen representative Joe Chesser.  Nichols voted against the suit.  Fluvanna citizen representative Erick Gomez was absent.

Nichols declined to comment on his vote.  Chesser said, “Hopefully it’s just a formality.”

In 2013 the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors signed an interjurisdictional agreement with the JRWA, the LCWA, and Louisa County, committing to construct a raw water system through Fluvanna into Louisa.  In that agreement, Fluvanna committed itself to passing any necessary zoning, which includes special use permits.

On Jan. 20 the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will vote again on the JRWA and LCWA special use permits.

On Dec. 2 Supervisors Mozell Booker and Tony O’Brien voted to approve the permits, while Don Weaver and Bob Ullenbruch voted against them.  The tied votes failed.  Supervisor Mike Sheridan had recused himself because the proposed path of the pipeline crossed his property.

On Jan. 20, however, incoming Supervisor Patricia Eager will have replaced Ullenbruch on the Board.  She has not commented on how she plans to vote.  When she was on the Planning Commission she voted against the project.

Sheridan, who is currently taking a leave of absence from the Board for health reasons, is recused from the vote on the LCWA but not the JRWA.

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