$2.5m in county funds proposed for business park

Tucked into Louisa County government’s proposed capital improvement plan is $2.5 million for utility work for Shannon Hill Regional Business Park.

Andy Wade, the county economic development director, requested the money for fiscal year 2022, which doesn’t begin for another year and a half. He said the funds will be used to design the water and sewer lines linking Ferncliff and Shannon Hill and a new sewer pump station and to acquire easements from property owners.

“The physical construction of the utility may be several years off,” Wade wrote in his request, which the county’s planning commission and board of supervisors will consider over the next few months. “However, designing the infrastructure, acquiring the necessary easements and fully permitting the project is critical.”

The cost of building the water and sewer infrastructure for the business park has been estimated at $18 million.

As the supervisors agreed in January 2019 to buy the roughly 700 acres for the business park, they indicated they hoped the Commonwealth of Virginia would provide grants to cover the park’s development costs. In June, the state gave the county a $600,850 grant to prepare a master plan. Timmons Group, a county consultant, is now at work on that document.

More state funding could be available in the future, but it’s far from guaranteed. Meanwhile, if the county wants the park to be viable, it needs to bring public water and sewer service from Ferncliff. The water treatment plant and sewer pump station at Ferncliff are waiting to go into service once the rest of the James River Water Project is completed.

Wade said that as a backup plan, the county could drill wells at the business park to attract customers, but that’s “not an advisable option given the ongoing James River Water Project and the investment made thus far.” There is no alternative to public sewer, he added.

The county would like to locate the water and sewer pipelines between Ferncliff and Shannon Hill under the state’s right-of-way along Three Notch Road (Route 250). However, a portion could run along Grace Johnson Road, where the water treatment plant is located.

The board of supervisors is scheduled to receive an overview of the fiscal year 2021 budget at its Jan. 6 meeting at the county office building. The public portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m.