James City supervisors delay decision on exception to Primary Service Area

JAMES CITY - Whether allowing a residence on John Tyler Highway access to county sewer services would set a bad precedent for other areas of the county, or rather it would be unprecedented to deny such a connection, was the topic of debate Tuesday among James City County supervisors.

Supervisors, after a lengthy discussion decided that they needed to delay the decisions until they done more thinking about the Primary Service Area issue.

One a 4-1 vote, they delayed the issue for one month.

Roberts District Supervisor John McGlennon, the board's lone Democrat, wanted to reject the proposal Tuesday night.

"I don't think we'll be any farther along in a month," he said. "If we deny it, the applicant can come back in a year."

The lot at 2604 John Tyler Highway, owned by Vernon Geddy III,  is already served by public water but not sewer, because the water and sewer lines were divided at that point during he development of Governor's Land in the 1980's.

Connections are  generally denied outside the Primary Service Area, a tool the county used to control growth.

But not always.

"The PSA line was basically erased and redrawn for Governor's Land," said a speaker during the public comment period.

Jamestown District Supervisor Kevin Onizuk said he was inclined to support the connection.

"Connection to the sewer line is going to be our most environmentally friendly option," he said. "If this wasn't connected to water, there is no way I would look at this because of the integrity of the PSA."

J4C a slow growth advocacy group active in the county, opposed the connection, falling in line with county staff's recommendation and the vote of the Planning Commission.

Staff argued that approving the connection could lead to other requests not only residents living father west on Route 5, but along Centerville Road as well by others who live on lots that are close, but not actually adjacent to the PSA.

"I don't think if we do this we're going to see a big run of people who want to expand the PSA," said Stonehouse District Supervisor Jim Kennedy.

But, he said he would like to have a discussion about what might come from the decision.

"If we have to make a decision tonight, I'd be inclined to vote no," he said.

Powhatan Supervisor Michael Hipple said that the PSA has been an effective tool for the county to control growth, however, he said he was concerned that there was an environmental issue.

He pointed out that the PSA had been extended in other areas, such as Jolly Pond Road and that each connection calls for approval by the supervisors.

Roberts District Supervisor John McGlennon said the issue isn't really a connection to one property.

"What the argument is about is whether we should have something like this at all. You may not think the PSA is a perfect tool to manager growth but it's served us well for a number of decades," he said. "If we make this decision it will lead to many people, some of whom have already said they will be next to come forward with more requests."

Board Chairwoman Mary Jones, who represent the Berkeley District was supportive of the application, said she did think the board needed to take a look at the PSA and see if it was still working as it had in the past.

"Governor's Land and Greensprings were outside the PSA when they were built," she said. "This is why we have the (SUP) process. People can come foward and ask us and it's up to this board to make a decision."

But ultimately they choose to defer the decision to have additional discussions about the PSA.

In other actions the supervisors:

  • Approved an a matching grant to the Victim Witness Program in the Commonwealth's Attorney's office for $120,000.
  • Accepted an additional $10,000 grant from the Virginia Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
  • Heard a report from the Virginia Department of transportation, the highlight of which that a synchronized traffic signal system should be complete on Monticello Avenue by Spring, 2015.
Vaughan can be reached at 757-345-2343