Supervisors Green Light Storm Water Project

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The red outline is the boundary of the proposed service district. The shaded area is the location of the wetlands.
The red outline is the boundary of the proposed service district. The shaded area is the location of the wetlands.

A project to create a wetlands impoundment of storm water runoff from downtown Crozet was approved by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors June 1. The drainage project is an essential foundation for new development downtown. It can be constructed simultaneously with the streetscape project designed to improve Crozet Avenue and create a new main street intersection where the new Crozet library will be built. County water resource manager Greg Harper said he wants construction on the impoundment project to start next winter so that plantings associated with it can be installed in the spring.

“Without this project, the streetscape project and the new Crozet Library would have to resolve these [storm water] issues themselves and that would be hard to do,” Harper said.

Supervisors authorized county staffers to negotiate the purchase of a five-acre parcel south of downtown owned by the Moyer Family Trust where the pond that collects rainwater would be built. Harper said he believes the trust (the surviving family members now live in Pennsylvania) is ready to sell the parcel and that it will likely convey for near its tax-assessed value. Harper called it an ideal parcel for the wetland. A combination of unbuildable slopes and flood plain, it is virtually unusable for any other purpose.

Harper outlined the $1.03 million project to Supervisors, including an explanation of additional costs not foreseen in the budget developed in 2007. Harper said that a grant from the Rivanna River Basin Commission, coupled with a 1998 proffer from the builders of Gray Rock subdivision meant for the improvement of Jarmans Gap Road will be applied to the project, reducing its cost to about $694,000. The storm water project includes improvements to Jarmans Gap Road at its intersection with Crozet Avenue. Six property owners will have to concede drainage easements through their properties for the project to proceed, but considering that those owners are now responsible for an open ditch that carries storm water, their agreement is likely, Harper said. Cnstruction will be funded from a county budget for storm water improvements. Reassuring the Supervisors, Harper predicted the fund would still contain at least $1 million after the downtown project is paid for. Actual cost will not be known until the project is put out to bid, he cautioned, but the costs are currently cheaper than expected in 2007.

The project will protect Powell’s Creek and the streams it feeds into, Lickinghole Creek and the Meachums River, all of which drain into the public water supply, from pollution in runoff from downtown Crozet’s streets. Development of downtown over the next 10 to 15 years could result in a district with a 100 percent impervious surface, he said. About 15 acres of impervious surface exist there now.

The plan calls for the creation of a downtown storm water service district of about 30 acres, roughly flanking Crozet Avenue and Carter Streets, which would eventually recover the cost of construction through one-time fees imposed on new and redevelopment projects in the district. Fees would be assessed on the basis of the percentage of the impervious surface in the district that such future projects would contain. Detailed terms of the district’s operation will be fleshed out later.

Harper said the project will deal with the runoff issue at a cost of somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000 per acre. Research on similar projects elsewhere discovered that costs are typically about $66,000 per acre.

Property owners who can solve their runoff requirement more cheaply with a private plan will be allowed to opt out of the district, Harper said, but is unlikely anyone will find a cheaper solution than joining the district.

Kimley Horn, Inc., the engineering firm in Richmond that has designed the streetscape project, will also handle the storm water project, Harper said. Drawings for the project are 80 percent complete.