By Brian Wheeler
Friday, June 4, 2010
The sale of nearly 188 acres near the
South Fork Rivanna Reservoir
to a Roanoke company has surprised
Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority
officials who were evaluating the property as a site to dump sediment dredged from the reservoir.
Authorities discovered the sale only days before the RWSA is expected to release the results of a survey on dredging costs and potential sites to place material removed from the reservoir.
“Unfortunately, the RWSA did not know until June 2 that a sale of the property was taking place,” authority Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr. told the
Albemarle Board of Supervisors
on Wednesday. “The [dredging] reports will be based on data prior to the announcement of this transaction.”
Roanoke-based Rockydale Quarries and Stone Acquisitions Co. purchased the land, which includes an old quarry. The firm plans to resume quarry operations in August with eight employees at the facility, according to Albemarle Supervisor
Rodney S. Thomas
Ken Randolph, president of Rockydale Quarries, confirmed the purchase.
“We have acquired the property in Charlottesville,” Randolph said. “We do not have any definite plans for a start date, and we will have more to say next week when we share a press release with local media.”
Randolph declined to comment further about the project, his firm’s plans or the cost of the acquisition. According to county tax records, the firm invested $6 million to purchase 187.61 acres in seven parcels that include the quarry on Rio Mills Road.
The land was previously owned by
Dr. Charles Hurt
who, Thomas said, purchased the quarry after it was used during the construction of
in the 1960s.
Frederick said in an interview that the quarry site, though not the property as a whole, had been eliminated from consideration as a sediment dumping site earlier this year.
, the firm conducting the survey, “contacted property owners based on a survey of sites that looked promising, but they only investigated sites where they had permission of the property owner,” Frederick said. “In the case of the Hurt quarry site, the portion of that site known as the quarry itself was placed off limits by Dr. Hurt, so it was not investigated.”
Dominion Development Resources
proposed using the quarry as a storage site for sediment. Hurt, an investor in DDR, said in an interview that he thought the quarry would be well suited for that project. By 2010, however, the property was under contract to be sold and Hurt told HDR that he was no longer in a position to discuss its use for dredging.
According to Frederick, other portions of the property now owned by Rockydale Quarries have been evaluated in the dredging study.
Supporters of dredging say it would be a less expensive alternative to the area’s
50-year water supply plan
approved in 2006. That plan has been estimated to cost more than $140 million, though some critics believe the true figure would be several tens of millions of dollars higher. The approved plan calls for construction of a higher dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and a new pipeline to carry water from the South Fork reservoir to Ragged Mountain.
Albemarle County’s director of zoning, Amelia McCulley, told the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday that the sale of the Hurt property raises concerns about increased truck traffic on Rio Mills Road.
She read an e-mail from the Virginia Department of Transportation that stated, in part: “Increased truck traffic is not a desirable situation for VDOT because it will cause an increase to the deterioration of Route 643 and an increase in maintenance costs, but VDOT cannot restrict the use because of the road condition.”
said the greatest concern for residents would be if trucks left the quarry heading north to access Earlysville Road.
“I would certainly be interested in engaging VDOT again and asking them to direct the traffic down to [U.S.] 29 where the road is in far better shape in a much shorter distance,” Mallek said.
Thomas said company officials told him they would meet individually with nearby property owners but that it was not up to the board to tell them where to drive their trucks.
“The property is permitted for mining/quarrying rock and also has the proper zoning, which is natural resource extraction,” Thomas said.
“I don’t know why we are having this conversation,” Supervisor
said. “It is already zoned, they have it by right, we can’t do anything about the roads, and we can’t dictate anything, so I don’t understand why we are spending a lot of time on this.”
After further discussion, the board agreed to review a resolution at its next meeting asking the firm to encourage trucks to access the quarry via U.S. 29.
A public information session on the dredging study has been scheduled for 6 p.m. June 30 in CitySpace at the Market Street Parking Garage.