The Board of Supervisors is facing a tough situation: a proposed new development in an area without enough groundwater to support the new population, but they don’t have the power to prevent it. Jessica Kitchin writes in today’s Daily Progress that the Glen Oaks subdivision, south of 250 in eastern Albemarle, intends to create thirty new lots despite members of the nearby Running Deer subdivision often lacking enough water for their own needs. Although the 2004 groundwater ordinance requires developers to assess whether there’s enough water available, it prevents the county from rejecting a development on that basis.
The developer figures that if he were allowed to spread the houses out more, there might be more water available. But the problem posed by this is larger than the immediate concern. Why in the world must we permit new developments to be built when we lack the resources to support them? Must property rights amount to a metaphorical murder-suicide pact?
6 thoughts on “Development Despite Water”
The quick answer is: We have no obligation to permit such idiocy. What we have is a system of law that tells us we have to. The laws can be changed, but no one is willing to do so.
That legal problem stems from the ludicrous notion that we own land. Such concept makes personal chattel of what should be indivisible, communal, natural resources. Supposedly there is a difference between personal and real property in the law, but functionally they seem to work the same. Unfortunately, unlike blacks, gays, homeless persons, felons, and women, rivers, rocks, and trees cannot demonstrate in a court of law that they are viable life forms independent of ownership and thereby entitled to rights; ergo, natural resources lose.
I perceive the situation as being the opposite–the land owns us, because we cannot survive without its resources. We can live on it and with it, but we cannot make it live for us. That much seems self-evident to me. [Caveat: I stand accused of being a watermelon, so my observations are obviously suspect. However, I think of myself as a lime–green on the outside, greener on the inside, goes with tequila.]
Nature is a very unsentimental neighbor; it doesn’t care about our comfort levels, nor can it be forced to care. I hope that the Glen Oaks developer figures that out quickly. He won’t sell many of those planned houses if the potential buyers learn that they can’t even regularly flush their toilets.
In the meantime, perhaps Albemarle County might look into adding or upgrading their ordinances regarding managed decentralized waste systems. I don’t know what they have on the books, but stringent, eco-conscious wastewater requirements would be a handy club to wield in such a situation. (For more info, go the the EPA program strategy site.)
Charlottesville Tomorrow has given this issue some coverage on our weblog: Albemarle’s groundwater ordinance reviewed by Planning Commission ; GlenOaks appeal to be heard July 5th ; Effectiveness of groundwater policies questioned with subdivision decision. Brian Wheeler
Hey TLPatten, I’ve long wondered something and maybe you can help me: when a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know you’re insane or is your mind able to maintain the fiction of lucidity. I mean, have you ever found yourself acting as the shaman while performing a rain dance naked in some pagan rite to Gaia and said to yourself, “Wow! It is amazing how crazy I really am.”
Without getting into the merits, or lack thereof, of the Glen Oaks subdivision, I would point out that individual ownership of real property has served Western Civilization rather well these last thousand or so years. Communual ownership of land, or some some crazy postmodern notion that “the land owns us,” on the other hand…
And what the hell do “blacks, gays, the homeless, felons, and women” have to do with anything? I guess no lefty tantrum can be truly complete without including this laundry list, but give me a break!
We generally maintain the fiction of lucidity nicely. It’s a coping mechanism.
TLPatten Says: “but stringent, eco-conscious wastewater requirements would be a handy club to wield in such a ………”
I wholeheartedly agree and who on the Board would not vote for it? Let`s put it to the test. Perhaps the vote results will be revealing.
I recall, many years ago , when I moved to the County from the Town (not a City then), I posed the question to the County officials of water/sewer connection in my area. I was informed, rather abruptly, that “You wanted rural – you`ve got it.”
Well “rural” is gone and I am smack in the middle of a growth area and no one from the county has called me and advised me the “rural” is gone and we`ll hook you up tomorrow.”
Judge Smails asks the burning question,
Actually, no. You see, I have a very practical form of insanity. When I am trancedancing naked while channeling spirits at a ritualistic bonfire dedicated to nature worship, I am much more worried about whether I have applied enough sunblock or bug repellent to last through the ceremony.
I hope you had a great Litha too, Mr. Smails.
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