County talks about Fork Union Village planning

By Page H. Gifford

County officials met with Fork Union community members on Saturday, June 3, to discuss the future of the village. The room was filled with residents from Fork Union as well as residents from other areas of the county. 

Director of Economic Development Jennifer Schmack pointed out some difficulties in implementing a wish list for more development without infrastructure in the area. She said the lack of water and sewer for businesses hampered economic development and noted “there is no natural gas so that takes us out of manufacturing.” But she touted the 112-acre industrial park on Rt. 15 and a commercial kitchen rental facility in Fork Union that could be used by food businesses such as caterers.

County officials told the residents about plans for the area. Director of Community Development Douglas Miles said Fluvanna and Louisa County were working together on an affordable housing project but gave no specifics.

Both Miles and County Administrator Eric Dahl also noted that broadband has been installed throughout most of the county except for a few isolated areas, including Bremo Bluff. Those areas, however, were expected to get broadband installed by 2025. 

The issue of water was also discussed with plans mentioned for establishing a long-term water supply for the Fork Union area.

But there is no doubt that the Fork Union area is losing business.

“This used to be a thriving town 40 years ago,” one resident remarked.  Fork Union’s businesses now include a small insurance office, the Fork Union Military Academy, a few churches, a gas station, two funeral homes, a pharmacy, one restaurant, the Fork Union Animal Clinic, the Fork Union Driving Academy and a Dollar General. Supervisor Mozelle Booker, who represents the Fork Union area, pointed out that “smaller moms and pops cannot compete with chains.” 

In the last ten years, a hardware store, a grocery store, a dentist, and an eye doctor left the area. The Family Restaurant also closed during the pandemic. 

“Driving through Fork Union is like driving through a desert,” said resident Bertha Armstrong, 

“Main street is a mish-mash of buildings. We’ve done nothing to keep our county attractive,” said one resident.

“How about looking at case studies of similar towns,” said resident Gary Johnson. Schmack said she was looking at towns similar to Fork Union, including Stanardsville in Greene County and Tappahannock in Essex County.

Booker said county officials are thinking of holding similar meetings in other areas of the county.

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