$2.5m to go to business park planning

The Shannon Hill growth area and the business park that will carry the neighborhood’s name took another step toward development, as the Louisa County Board of Supervisors approved spending $2.5 million to plan water and sewer lines and acquire easements.

The board voted 6-0-1 on March 1 for a supplemental appropriation to the current fiscal year budget so that the work can begin immediately. Supervisor Eric Purcell (Louisa District) abstained from the vote because his family owns 2,100 acres within the growth area.

Shannon Hill Business Park is located on the northwest side of Shannon Hill Road, across from the Purcells’ land. The supervisors spent $2.6 million to buy about 700 acres for the park in 2019. Monday’s vote marked the board’s first new spending on the project since then.

For the past year, Timmons Group has been under contract to prepare a master plan and other engineering documents for the county. The state’s Go Virginia program provided $600,000 for that work. County Economic Development Director Andy Wade said Timmons’ work is nearly complete.

It’s important to proceed quickly with utility plans and buying easements, Wade told the board, because potential tenants have shown interest in the property. They will be much more willing to invest in the property if they know the county has the key permits it needs for construction.

“This development is definitely on their radar,” Wade said, citing inquiries from brokers that represent logistics companies. Advanced manufacturing, data centers and logistics are target markets for the business park.

William Hale, a Yanceyville resident and critic of the business park since it became public in mid-2018, repeated his concerns during the public hearing on March 1. A hearing was required because of the amount of money the board added to the budget.

“Who actually gets this money?” he asked. “The sellers of the property, the engineers … they’re certainly not from this county. What do we have? The prospect of spending a lot more money. Are forces beyond the county driving these decisions?”

The cost of water and sewer infrastructure for the business park and adjacent growth area was estimated at $18 million in 2018.

“The only feedback I’ve heard from citizens is that they want this project to stop,” said Cathy McCarthy, another resident. “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

No one on the board said they had an issue with the $2.5 million expenditure, including those who voted against the business park.

“I didn’t support the park initially, but now that we have it, I think it’s important to utilize it,” said Supervisor Tommy Barlow (Mountain Road District).

Board Chairman Bob Babyok (Green Springs District) and colleague Willie Gentry (Cuckoo District) said it was logical to develop the business park, given its location in an area designated for growth decades ago.

The likely route for the water and sewer lines will be along Route 250 from Ferncliff into Goochland County, then across Interstate 64 and on its northern edge to Shannon Hill Road, Wade said. The county will need to acquire access to property on 27 parcels where it can’t locate utilities within a Virginia Department of Transportation easement. All but two of those parcels are in Goochland.

New Bridge Fire and Rescue

The board agreed to form a committee to study possible locations and building specifications for the planned fire and emergency services station in the New Bridge Road (Route 208) corridor near Lake Anna. The board also allocated $5,000 to pay for related soil work. Board members did not decide during the meeting who would be on the committee. The group is to report back to the supervisors by April 19.

Budget update

During their March 1 work session, the supervisors took several votes on how much to fund outside agencies. The board denied a $7,000 request from The Journey Home, a transitional housing program in the town of Mineral, but approved a $3,600 increase for the Louisa County Library to $386,500.

Members also backed a $1,700 increase for Child Health Partnership to $58,800; they flat-funded Monticello Area Community Action Agency at $35,000, denying a $5,000 increase.

A public hearing is scheduled March 15 on the proposed $131 budget for fiscal year 2022. A separate hearing will be scheduled in April on this year’s tax assessments once they are finalized.

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