Spotsy planners not keen on RV resort submission

Greg Baker, Lake Anna Civic Association president, speaks at a strategy meeting in late October at the Belmont Community Center about the proposed RV park on Lake Anna.

The Spotsylvania County Planning Commission was set to continue a marathon public hearing last night on a special use permit for a recreational vehicle resort proposed on the upper reaches of Lake Anna.

The hearing started on Nov. 17 at the Marshall Center in Spotsylvania Courthouse. It was suspended at midnight after five hours; most of that time was taken up by public comments. 

Developers Trey Wills, of The Wills Companies, and Lonnie Carter want to build the 300-lot RV park on 135 acres just east of Zachary Taylor Highway (Route 522). The property sits on the lake’s Pamunkey Creek branch and abuts Days Bridge Road (Route 719). Besides the RV parking, the developers have proposed 49 boat slips, walking trails, an outdoor pool and indoor clubhouse, and other amenities.  

The Lake Anna Civic Association is among the parties opposed to the project, citing concerns about the RV park’s potential to worsen harmful algae bloom issues in the upper part of the lake, traffic on surrounding roads, and other issues. This concern was echoed by Shannon Fennell, a Spotsylvania County planner, during her presentation to the planning commission.

“The applicant has provided little to no details on how the applicant will mitigate its impact on the lake and proposes no measures to improve water quality conditions,” she said.

Fennell recommended that the commission vote against the proposal because the applicant has yet to complete several studies, including of the potential impact on the groundwater supply for neighboring properties, whether the lake is deep enough adjacent to the site for safe boating, and where wetlands are located on the property. 

The developers have also not secured approval of the RV park’s main entrance off of Route 522 in Orange County. Fennell added that the second entrance to the property would be from Days Bridge Road, where there is an inadequate turnaround area. Fennell said county staff are also concerned about how to ensure the RV resort will not be used for permanent occupancy.

Despite the sour report by county planners, the applicants viewed it as a glass half full rather than empty.

“[County planners] haven’t said this is a disaster for the community,” said Torrey Williams, attorney for the applicants. “What they’ve said is, ‘We need more information.’ My client is happy to do all of the additional studies once a zoning determination is made. He’s spent half a million dollars to get here, but he’s willing to do the studies.”

Greg Baker, LACA president, told the commission that his group normally does not take a position for or against a development proposal, preferring to work with developers to make improvements. He said a poll of LACA members revealed nearly all were opposed to the RV resort.

“This is the most impaired part of Lake Anna due to harmful algae blooms,” he said. “It has been under a no-swim advisory since July 1. I agree with the applicant that they did not cause the problem, but adding 750 people and hundreds of pets absolutely adds nitrogen and phosphorus to the most fragile part of the lake.”

The ongoing challenge of harmful algae blooms has drawn the attention of officials in Louisa and Spotsylvania counties in the past two years. They worry that if the problem is not addressed, it could threaten Lake Anna’s appeal for recreation. There is debate over the precise cause of the problem, but it is generally understood that nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus contribute to algae blooms. Nutrients may be traced to agricultural sources and septic systems, among other sources.

The Lake Anna Advisory Committee, which includes members from Louisa, Spotsylvania and Orange counties, commissioned a study in 2020 to study what’s causing harmful algae blooms in the water and to recommend what to do about it.

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