Zion well water remains hot topic

Before they approved rezoning property on Dec. 16 for new housing and business on the south side of Zion Crossroads, the board of supervisors revisited the recent history of the area’s well water.

Developer Brian Roy inserted language into his proffers for rezoning 35 acres for up to 321 apartments and townhomes and 138,000 square feet of commercial space at Crossing Pointe, agreeing that water is available on a first-come, first-served basis. If access to the county wells is restricted at some point in the future, Roy said, his project will have to wait for surface water to be piped from the James River.

But the proffer contained the words “outside of Spring Creek,” appearing to exempt that subdivision from the restriction. 

That surprised board Chairman Toni Williams (Jackson district), who questioned why Spring Creek should “continue to get water until they build their last house, no matter where we are in water usage.”

Supervisor Bob Babyok (Green Springs district), who lives in Spring Creek, tried to explain why he thought the exemption should be in the proffers.

“I believe, from what I’ve read, that Spring Creek was guaranteed the well water necessary for the continued development of their property, since it was Spring Creek’s developers who actually dug the wells,” he said, adding that he thought some of the wells were set aside for that neighborhood. “I was assured that was the case.”

At one time a conditional use permit existed that restricted the well water to Spring Creek and neighboring commercial businesses. But in 2013, after land was rezoned for the future Stonegate apartment development, the supervisors voted to eliminate the restriction.

Rae Ely, Historic Green Springs Inc. president, who was sitting in the audience at Monday’s meeting, interrupted Babyok to say he was referring to a conditional use permit that no longer exists.

Ely and other Green Springs residents continue to contest the county’s position that there is plenty of water feeding the wells. Several residents criticized a presentation by county consultant Brent Waters at the Dec. 2 meeting in which he said recent data suggest water levels “appear to have stabilized” after a nine-year decline. Ely said the county should have hired an independent analyst to study recent water data, rather than Waters, who worked for the county when the wells were first put in service in 2005.

The board approved the Crossing Pointe rezoning, 5-1, with Supervisor Tommy Barlow (Mountain Road district) opposed. Duane Adams (Mineral district) was absent.

Image: Rendering prepared by the developers of what new housing and business at Crossing Pointe might look like

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