By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Though the City of Charlottesville owns the land on which the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

lies, Albemarle County regulates the use of the shoreline. If a property owner wants to build a dock, they must seek approval from the

Planning Commission

and the

Board of Supervisors

in the form of a special use permit.

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Dr. Craig Slingluff requested such a permit at the Commission’s meeting on May 5, 2009. The City of Charlottesville supports the project and signed off on the application. The dock in question would float on the reservoir rather than being secured by the use of pillars into the reservoir floor. The purpose would be to launch human-powered boats, as the use of motorized vehicles on the reservoir is restricted to

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

(RWSA) employees.

A schematic depicting how the dock will be oriented on the water of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

County Planner Scott Clark said staff recommended approval of the permit because the water supply would not be affected, and the dock’s presence would not contribute to flood levels in the event of heavy rain. However, Clark noted in his staff report that the presence of too many docks on the reservoir could begin to affect water quality. He said recreational access to the reservoir would be addressed in the next update of the County’s

Comprehensive Plan

. Clark estimates that are about 20 docks currently on the reservoir. The dock designs are approved by the City and the RWSA.

Dr. Slingluff said he kayaks on the reservoir, and the dock will replace a make-shift landing that he has installed.

“One of the advantages of having a dock is that it enables me to take a boat in and out of the water without dragging it across the edge of the land,” Slingluff said.

Jeff Werner, speaking as a City resident and not as an employee of the

Piedmont Environmental Council

, said that the community’s water supply trumped private recreational use of the reservoir. He said there were at least 60 parcels with access to the water. He acknowledged that the County will seek to restrict the construction of docks in its next comprehensive plan update, the existing system leaves him uncomfortable about oversight.

“This is a private amenity on a public property, so who has responsibility for the maintenance of this and the repair of it, or even the removal of it at some point in the future?” Werner asked. He called for more substantial conditions to prevent more docks from being built.


Linda Porterfield

(Scottsville) said she was very surprised that the Commission was being asked to weigh in on docks. She said that on Lake Erie, the Army Corps of Engineers has very stringent rules that govern their construction and use on that body of water.

“I would hate to just start approving docks [if] they could go in any way, shape or form,” Porterfield.

Wayne Cilimberg, the County’s Director of Planning, recommended that the Commission not interfere with the design of the dock, given that is under the jurisdiction of the RWSA.

Marcia Joseph

(At-Large) said that when the County is ready to revisit the comprehensive plan, she expects to have studies from the RWSA about the relationship between the presence of docks and water quality.

Porterfield suggested adding a condition to require Slingluff to keep the dock in good repair. Cilimberg said that the County did not have that authority, but added that the RWSA does require the applicant to pay an annual inspection fee to maintain the dock.

“What we try not to do when we recommend conditions to you is duplicate or muddy the jurisdiction that’s already in another public entity’s control,” Cilimberg said.

After a 25 minute public hearing, the Commission voted 5-0 to approve the dock. Commissioners Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) and Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) were not present.



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