Supervisors voted against HRSD land request in Carter's Grove

Staff writer

The Board of Supervisors denied Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s request to acquire land inside the Carter’s Grove Agricultural and Forestal District to expand an existing facility there on Tuesday.

HRSD had requested 53 acres of land in the district as it considers how to set up expanded facilities for water treatment at its plant located at 300 Ron Springs Drive, which is in the southeast portion of the county.

The denial sets the stage for a public hearing and a final vote on the request by supervisors in about two months. According to Virginia Code, the second consideration is the next step in the process should a local governing body rule against the initial request by a utility to acquire interests in an agricultural forestal district.

A utility is permitted to acquire interests in an agricultural forestal district with the permission of the local governing body, which needs to find the request is necessary to provide services to the public in the most economical and practical way, among other considerations, according to Virginia Code.

Supervisors were concerned by the size of the request.

“I’m a little concerned about the amount of take,” said Supervisor Michael Hipple.

Supervisors also weren’t sold on the idea that the project met the criteria of the Virginia Code, and were in favor of finding an alternative, less impactful way to expand the facility.

“I find it compelling to suggest … that there are some other options to be investigated,” Supervisor John McGlennon said.

HRSD’s initial request was to acquire about 76 acres inside the district. Carter’s Grove criticized the request as it made its way through the county’s AFD advisory board and Planning Commission on the grounds that it was too much of an ask, especially when one considers that HRSD has said it expects to really need about 7 acres of land for the expansion. HRSD officials said they wanted more land in order to maintain buffers and operate the plant safety.

A board vote on the request was scheduled to take place in March. That ruling was deferred on HRSD’s request to allow negotiations between the utility and Carter’s Grove to continue.

HRSD wants the plant to be the first of five full-scale plants in the region to treat wastewater to a drinkable standard as part of the Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow program. Treated water will be injected into the Potomac Aquifer, the region’s primary source for groundwater that has been depleted through overuse.

Currently, the plan treats wastewater to the point it’s considered safe to dispose of in the James River.

The district consists mostly of woods and wetlands and doesn’t include the Carter’s Grove mansion, according to a staff report. The HRSD plant precedes the district’s creation, which took place in 2002. The district includes about 316 acres.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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