Credit: Albemarle County

The Board of Supervisors today requested that City Council defer action on the proposed ordinance establishing the Ragged Mountain Natural Area (RMNA) Rules of Use that would allow biking at RMNA and ask its staff to provide the County with information related to the impacts of biking on the water supply.  The County’s existing regulations applicable to RMNA do not allow biking with the express purpose of preventing pollution of the public water supply.  The Board has asked for the deferment to allow for the possibility of more discussion and assessment regarding this issue.

The Board considers this an issue of community-wide interest. The Board has received numerous comments from residents concerned about the City allowing biking at RMNA. The County’s Natural Heritage Committee, some members of whom are City residents, has expressed concerns about the location of proposed trails that will intrude into environmentally sensitive areas within RMNA.

The Board recognizes the rights of the City as the landowner, and the unique State law that allows the City to extend its regulatory and enforcement powers into the County. However, because RMNA is located within the County, it is also subject to the County’s authority to protect public water supplies through regulations or otherwise. The members of the public using RMNA will be confused as to what activities are allowed if the City’s and County’s regulations are in conflict with another. This, in turn, will create enforcement problems for the County if the City is, in effect, inviting bikers into RMNA despite the County’s regulations.

It appears that the General Assembly anticipated the potential for localities to have conflicting regulations. To address this problem, the Virginia Code prohibits the City, as the locality-landowner, from adopting regulations that are in conflict with the regulations of the County, as the locality in which RMNA is located.