City to vote on acquiring donated land near Seminole Square, Locust Meadows

By Tarpley Ashworth

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Monday, December 7, 2009

Charlottesville is set to acquire two properties that will help facilitate the

restoration of Meadow Creek

. Council’s agenda for tonight’s meeting includes consideration of two donations totaling over 26 acres.

The Meadow Creek Restoration Project will restore about 8,500 linear feet of the creek and 73 acres of bordering land by creating riparian buffers along the creek banks which reduce erosion and sediment runoff. The project will also replace invasive vegetation with species natural to the area and reintroduce the natural curvature of the creek bed lost to years of erosion.

Portions of the Rivanna Trail extend through the combined property and Charlottesville’s Director of Parks and Recreation Brian Daly reported that there will be minor trail relocations in the area to accommodate the project. He called this land donation a “key part of [our] connectivity strategy” for the greenbelt trails.

The first donation is acres in the Locust Meadows subdivision near Holmes Avenue. The second is 18.3 acres behind the Seminole Square Shopping Center. Both tracts, according to Daly, will help the City as it moves forward with implementing the Meadow Creek Restoration Project.

The Locust Meadows donation, which is assessed at $26,300, was land left over from the development of that neighborhood several decades ago. The land is located within a floodplain and is adjacent to both Meadow Creek and property recently purchased by the City from a private resident. This purchase, approved on November 2nd by City Council, cost the City slightly more than $10,000, which was the assessed value of the property.

Both of these parcels on Holmes Avenue straddle Meadow Creek, allowing the City to protect greenspace and establish riparian buffers along both banks. Similar preservation efforts will begin soon along all portions of Meadow Creek which the city has access to either through land ownership or right of easement.

The donation was secured when the City approached the land owner about acquiring easement rights to extend the greenbelt trail along the property. After discussions, the owner opted to simply give the land to the City instead.

“It’s really great that we can bring this land under full protection,” said Daly. “This land is especially important because it gives us coverage on both sides of the creek.”

The second land donation behind Seminole Square is also situated within a floodplain and has sat undeveloped for many years. This tract was unsuitable for construction and retained as residual property by owners Ja-Zan, LLC until the company agreed to donate the land to the City.

This tract is adjacent to city-owned parkland. According to Daly, almost half of the restoration work included within the Meadow Creek project will be done between these two tracts of land.

“This particular land donation was an integral part to our project,” said Daly. “It was big.”

In regards to future land donations or purchases, Daly said that there would always be a need for additional land to be protected, especially tracts which border waterways, but that he could not comment on future land acquisitions due to ongoing negotiations.

“These two donations establish a wonderful precedent of natural resource protection,” said Daly.

City staff has recommended that Council approve both donations.