“No Trespassing” at Forest Lakes

Steve Ashby writes:

The Forest Lakes Neighborhood Association has placed NO TRESPASSING signs at two extremes of the walking trails behind Baker-Butler Elementary School in Proffit. These trails provide access to the school from four subdivisions (Jefferson Village, Chesterfield, Langford Hills, Forest Lakes North) and Proffit Road. The signs prevent legal pedestrian access to Forest Lakes and force non Forest Lakes middle school students from healthy bicycle/foot access to Sutherland Middle School onto buses. The option to bike on Proffit Road and U.S. 29 is just too dangerous for our kids. The streets in Forest Lakes are state-maintained, public rights-of-way. All this seems down right unneighborly.

I have made a short and silly VodCast, “Noise in the Wood“, about this development-developement.

35 thoughts on ““No Trespassing” at Forest Lakes”

  1. Keep in mind, this is a “neighborhood” which despite its name, decided to kill a family of Beavers, that were peacefully expanding one of the ponds, rather than relocate them as recommended by local wildlife experts. In other words, they aren’t exactly known for being a subdivision that cares about the environment or the greater public good.

  2. That looks like a non-partisan sign to me. I just got off the phone with one of my staunch Democratic Party friends and he told me the sign was none of my business and was there to stay. When I asked him what prompted the sign, he mumbled something about not living in the city, said he had another phone call and got off the phone. I’m not through with him yet.

  3. Maybe Shirley Presley has some leftover razor wire from blocking use of the Rivanna Trail! That would keep those kids out.
    Or maybe it is actually the School District preventing pedestrian access, so they can increase the number of paying bus riders in the 2008-09 school year.
    Or maybe not.

  4. Is this sign blocking access to the trail that goes through the forest, or the one that passes by the lake?

    Oh, that’s right, I forgot…

  5. Isn’t this the low cost towhnouses and whatever out there near Target? Who the hell would want to walk through there anyway?

  6. Regarding Jeff’s comment:

    I believe the red line represents one of the trails affected. Also, the space between Tompkins Drive in Jefferson Village and Timber Point in FLakes is only about 20-30 feet! My neighbors and I have maintained a footpath connecting the paved county path on the Tompkins side with the gravel/mud county path on the Timber Point side. We had used that as way to get around earlier NO TRESPASSING signs placed by Forest Lakes between the two cul-de-sacs. The county’s updated subdivision ordinance now mandates pedestrian connections between abutting cul-de-sacs. Neither BOS Chairman Ken Boyd (our non-rep on the BOS)
    nor head planner Wayne Cylimberg will give us the time of day, let alone challenge the sacred FLakes Ass. Board. I guess that’s hardly news. The sad thing to hear is that there are EXCLUSIVE DEMOCRATS in FLakes. The one’s I know and a great many of the FLakes Repubs don’t agree with the board, but don’t seem to be able to offer any serious challenge to their edicts. Anyhow, I’m proud to be part of the “Proffit Road riffraff,” as one FLakes Board member called us at a public meeting, some years ago.

    To be fair, County Recreation Director Dan Mahon WILL talk and he’s planning a community-wide meeting at Baker-Butler (and no guns allowed!).

    BTW-I remember Shirley P. when she was a sweet young checker at the Downtown & Long Street Safeways! No one EVER got a free half-gallon of “Snow Star” ice cream out of her! And she was always nice to my grandma. Don’t know what happened to her to make her so bitter. I’ve always hoped it’s not the same Shirley, but the picture in the Progress a few years back sure favored her.

  7. I called two more friends this evening and one said he thought that the signs were temporary. The other friend (who said she actually attended an association meeting where it was discussed) said the signs are there because of incidents of vandalism that they believe are caused by outsiders and people (outsiders) walking their dogs leaseless. She’s very old and may not fully understand conversations at meetings so you can’t prove it by me.

  8. Those “temporary” signs are each screwed into a pair of 12′ 6 X 6 pressure-treated posts. Pressure treated wood generally carries a 40-year warranty. 40 years. That’s rather biblical, isn’t it? Perhaps we Riffer-raffers are destined to wander between the signs, until we are permitted, at long last, to enter the “promised land.” As Major Hoople used to say, “Egad!”

  9. Ha! Maybe it’s a precursor to gates.
    “Temporary” didn’t seem to know as much as Mr. Ashby about any of it. As long as he’s reading his histories…

  10. This reminds me yet again why I am so glad to live in a city neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of restrictions. Too bad I can’t put “no trespassing” signs up to keep all those Forest Lakes drivers from cutting through Greenbrier (and blowing through stop signs) in the morning and increasing traffic when I’m walking my children to school.

  11. Thanks Chville Eye for the clarification…and from my understanding from a resident, the signs were put up due to a problem with 4-wheelers, vandalism, and littering….sounds like a reasonable reason to post your property to me…..and it is private property owned by FL it sounds like….and ultimately their decision as a home owners association.

  12. There appears to be a robust community association http://www.forestlakes.net/about.html . A David Shifflett with email at charlottesville.org (the police officer) who is on the board. Maybe that’s a move to get tough on some of the “problems,” although the recent high winds have the source of most of the litter in my yard. Yes, it is all private property but I can understand if the residents in the nearby subdivisions feel somewhat rebuffed. I’m sedentary and have continued to put off visiting a friend there (all right – lazy) but now I’ve really lost interest. It reminds of several years ago when some of the residents at Lake M. were complaining on TV about the outsiders breaking into their homes during the day, only to find out the culprits were some of their own residents.

  13. Just for the record: ALL of the roads in Forest Lakes are owned by the PUBLIC, not the Forest Lakes Homeowners Association. Pedestrians and bicyclists should not be denied safe and convenient access to state-maintained roads. It would help if the county would fulfill its promise to build sidewalks and bicycle lanes along Proffit Road and US 29, and, indeed, in all of our growth areas. Our growth areas are urban, not suburban. A concentrated population requires pedestrian oriented infrastructure. The philosophy behind growth areas, that we live, work, and play in them, is being thwarted by a bipartisan alliance of NIMBYs.

    I would recommend that Forest Lakes place NO TRESPASSING signs on strategic rooftops to ward off a possible invasion from outer space. You never know when an innocent FLaker might be vaporized by an alien heat ray.

  14. CVille Eye, that’s pretty interesting. Why would a city employee use city e-mail to conduct personal FLakes business?

  15. Lonnie,

    Relocating beavers is easier said than done. Where do you take them? It’s a species that is doing pretty well in VA, meaning that most habitat that can support a family of beavers already has beavers in it. Beavers which will defend their territory against the ‘invaders’ that you’d want to drop off. Then you’ve just started a war in which the home team will probably drive out the newcomers, who will probably not live very long without adequate food and refuge from predators. Habitat that does not presently harbor beavers is generally being used by humans who will be every bit as furious at the beavers’ activity as the people at Forest Lakes were.

    Wildlife relocation can only legally be done by those licensed to do so and it is, unfortunately, usually impractical except when you are dealing with an endangered species. It seems so easy to most people to just say ‘drop them off in the woods somewhere’ but the realities of finding proper habitat are much more complex.

    Anyway, while refusing to let kids use safe walking paths to get to and from school makes me very angry at Forest Lakes, the beaver issue that you raise is more complex than just whether or not they wanted the beavers to live.

  16. “It reminds of several years ago when some of the residents at Lake M. were complaining on TV about the outsiders breaking into their homes during the day, only to find out the culprits were some of their own residents.”

    I’ve heard the same thing happenend in Glenmore. It tickles me that people go to such extremes to keep the “riff raff” out, when the greatest threat generally comes from inside you own gates.

  17. Forest Lakes has done nothing but post signs to prevent trespassing onto its private property, county parcel 46B3-A2 here: http://gisweb.albemarle.org/Map.aspx

    Forest Lakes tolerated the trespassing for 15 years, but the abuse over the past year by minibikes and ATVs ruined an otherwise good situation. Previous signs prohibiting motorized vehicles were vandalized and the ATVs and motorized vehicles were seen entering and leaving Jefferson Village -by me (and I apparently wasn’t the only one). That’s not to say the vandals and trepassers are Jefferson Village residents, but if you don’t control the ATVs and minibikes, can you blame Forest Lakes for shutting the door?


  18. I checked the map link. I had no idea Forest Lakes claimed all the land between Bungle Town and Gilbert!

    Although I know of no one in Jefferson Village with a minibike, we did have to deal for a while with a large ATV running up and down our streets. We complained to the offending neighbor and the thing has remained sequestered.

    I have seen only BICYCLE tire tracks on the trails, of late.

    The last motorcycles I saw on the trail were owned by residents of Langford Hills, which is, horror of horrors, part of Forest Lakes!

    Vandalism has been rare in Jefferson Village over the past 18 years of my tenancy.

    We’ve always been interested in talking things over in a neighborly way–something that never seems to occur to anyone on the FLakes Board.

    Anyway, I’ve asked that the trails be legally “sealed off” from the FLakes private access routes, so that Flakers will have to drive to access the public trails from legal public access points in Jefferson Village and at Baker-Butler Elementary School. That would mean no more long hikes from FLakes and no more walks to and from school for FLakes North elementary school kids. As president of the Jeff Village Homeowners Association, I have stated our concerns about possible hooliganism etc. coming our way from the direction of Forest Lakes. As I said in my missive to the BOS, we must all share in the inconvenience of fear and signage in the Northern Growth Area.

  19. Mr. Ashby,

    To correct and clarify your post….Lanford Hills is not a member of Forest Lakes Community Association nor is it in any way associated with Forest Lakes. Not sure where you are getting your information but you should get your facts straight prior to posting such inaccurate and derogatory statements.

  20. Golfer:

    I delivered mail to Lanford Hills from 1991 until about Y2K. The sign originally read, “Lanford Hills-a Forest Lakes Community.” I found out today from a friend, who lives in FLakes that Lanford Hills has parted ways with FLakes. I am not sure when that happened. BUT-the residents WERE, indeed, part of Forest Lakes AND members of the FLakes Association. AND I hardly think associating Lanford Hills with Forest Lakes is derogatory, lad. If you want to see me in “derogatory mode”, ask Ken Boyd to forward some of my old e-mails on mass transit to you. Anyhow, thanks for replacing my divot-and correcting my spelling! I usually “get my facts, first, and, THEN, distort ’em.” So, for the record, then, Lanford Hills is now, officially, NOT one of “them” but one of “us.”

  21. Steve,

    Lanford Hills has never been a part of Forest Lakes and has never paid association dues….as I have lived in both neighborhoods. Lanford Hills residents were allowed to be a part of the Swim and Tennis Club for a membership fee when the amenities were controlled by the developer only…and this is no longer the case as the amenities are now under the ownership of FLCA.

    The derogatory comment was pertaining to your statement that Lanford Hills was the horror of horrors…not your misstatement that Lanford Hills was associated in some way to Forest Lakes.

    You are obviously upset over this signage you describe…have you attempted too discuss this issue with the FLCA Board? If you are in fact the President of your association, I would hope you would have the business sense to attempt to negioate with the board prior to posting comments that I perceive as being knee jerk and somewhat bizarre. As a Forest Lakes resident, I have brought up several issues in the past to our board and they appear very competent and have been responsive to my concerns.

  22. Golfer,

    Thanks for the details. I apologize for the errors.

    Guess I was your mailman, at one time.

    BTW-“Horror of horrors” is an old-fashioned expression for feigning surprise. It is used ironically in prose as a substitute for 19th-century stage histrionics (try saying it, while placing your hand, palm outward, against your forehead). :-]

    When I served on a subcommittee at the MPO, I had to endure unpleasant remarks about my fellow non-Forest Lakers. It left a very bad taste in my mouth. Sorry.

  23. Others have corrected many of your fact errors – Lanford hills, property lines, etc. It was Forest lakes who improved the access to the bakerbuter property in actual fact to make it easier for children to walk to school. They are nice people trying to stop atv traffic which comes from your area and protecting their community property like everyone else does or should. I am sure they mean no harm to you if you want to go visit your friends there. With your rude and insulting tone you may not have any friends left there though. As others have said, why don’t you call em up and chat about your concern instead of slinging this trash on line?

  24. I’m not gettin’ out of the kitchen, Fred-o. Those signs are are meant to intimidate. Ask county Parks why the trails remain unfinished. It isn’t because every single resident of FLakes is a beneficent saint. I never saw but one ATV, which was an irritation to Jefferson Village residents, also. Simply placing the 12′ 6 X 6’s strategically along the end of the trail would have stopped any and all ATV traffic, while allowing your decent, law-abiding neighbors to continue passing through on foot or bicycle. As a matter of fact, if anyone over “there” had bothered to contact us, we would have shared in the cost of the wood and helped erect the barrier!

    Yes, I’ve gone WAYYYY overboard in my reaction and by making that crazy and downright mean movie. FLakers need to realize that they are a big part of the growth problems we have here in “Intersectionville.” Yet every time I’ve talked to any FLakers at any public meetings, they can’t see beyond their own worries and consider the greater public good. AND, I’ll give an example:

    At a “Places 29” meeting held at the Double Tree Hotel, some months ago, the route of the proposed Free State Road Extended was shown on a map with a connection to the extreme lowest(eastern?)end of Forest Lakes South. Several residents of Forest Lakes South were there to oppose this connection, fearing airport cut-through traffic. I pointed out to them that Free State Road Extended was to connect to an improved Proffit Road, which would be a straight shot to the airport. Any one continuing past South FLakes would arrive at the airport long before the foolish person taking the S. FLakes “shortcut.” I further explained that the only folks benefiting from this connection, would be residents of S. Forest Lakes, who might be in a hurry to get downtown or even to the airport. These nice people (and they were) just couldn’t see why your average Joe Motorist would want to take a straight, short, and direct route to the airport, when they had the option of a very long, circuitous ride through the lovely streets of Forest Lakes. From what I can recall from reading the newspapers, your association still opposes this connection, which would serve the greater public good by giving many of your own residents an alternative to US 29.

    If you want to know my “record” on things public, contact the MPO and ask for the minutes of the Community Mobility Committee. I’ve tried to do some good for the people of this area, however, I have found that elitism and cronyism nearly always win out over our collective interests. Like the U.S. under the Bush Administration, Albemarle County has become an oligarchy.

    Should you really like to talk, come on over. The beer’s cold and the sofa’s warm.

  25. I’m inclined to agree. If they wanted to keep out ATVs, a “No ATVs” sign would have been the way to go. “No trespassing” makes quite clear that only residents of Forest Lakes may enter. That’s pretty nasty.

  26. An interesting development:

    While having dinner last night at a friend’s house on Locke Lane in the Heather Glen neighborhood of Forest Lakes North, my wife’s car was “egged.” If this was done by a vandal from outside the community, I don’t think those signs are working at all well. I suspect, however, that this was an inside job. We noticed another place on the street, when we went over to visit our friends, today. It was beside a freshly-washed car, on the opposite side of the street. If there are any Doubting Thomases, please drive over and check the street. Locke Lane is a very short cul-de-sac. Oh, well. No harm, no fowl! (pun intended)

  27. Reading all this venom makes me thankful that I don’t live in a place where people think acting like that is OK. It seems the more dense the population becomes, the more people do not love their neighbors. This caterwauling sounds like we’ve got “Fairfax Co South”, right here in Albemarle. Can’t we all just get along?

  28. Funny, I was just thinking the other day how students don’t use these trails to walk to school. I can understand a parent not wanting their child to walk alone through the woods, but wouldn’t it be great in a million ways if parents were to organize a walking “school bus” to get these kids to school, instead of using gas and ferrying our students when walking is better all the way ’round? The access issue has been there since the school was built. I know there are a number of places where trails cut between properties in Forest Lakes. Why not at these points?

  29. I find that the denser a population is, the LESS people hate their neighbors. If you live in the inner city sharing your square block with hundreds of other residents, your expectations of neighborliness are so low that the smallest gestures of kindness are seen as golden.

  30. Below are my notes on the meeting last evening (March 5, 2008) between Jefferson Village and Forest Lakes, as delineated in an e-mail to the Board of Supervisors. Once again, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, from the “exclusive attitude” of Forest Lakes Community Association Board members. I have no desire to “talk” with these people ever again.

    From: Steve Ashby
    Date: March 6, 2008 5:31:25 PM EST
    To: Ken Boyd , Sally Thomas , Lindsay Dorrier , Dennis Rooker , David Slutzky , Ann Mallek
    Cc: Fred Gerke , Brian Wheeler , Marcia Joseph , Jared Loewenstein , Waldo Jaquith
    Subject: Details of Meeting between FLakes & Jeff Village and request for BOS Action

    My dear representatives, et al:

    Dave Shifflet, Chair of Flakes Assoc. invited me to meet with him and Scott Eliff, another FLakes Board member. We met at N. FLakes meeting room. I invited Alan Collier, former treasurer of Jeff Village, to accompany me.

    The meeting was, for the most part, without rancor. The Flakes delegation, however, did not wish to negotiate, they merely wanted to restate Flakes position on the NO TRESPASSING signs and point out, in great detail, using aerial maps and photos, exactly where the boundaries are.

    The signs were put up in order to make it possible to arrest any nonresident crossing onto FLakes via the Baker-Butler paths. Alan and I asked under what circumstances non residents of adjoining subdivisions could legally enter. The answer: only when invited by a resident.  Passing through not permitted. Scott: ” For example, just knowing someone in Glenmore, doesn’t give you a right to be in Glenmore.” Read: Forest Lakes is de facto a gated community.

    Asked would our middle school kids be allowed to walk or bicycle to school. Answer: NO. 

    Asked why. Answer: Liability (i.e., fear of torts).

    Asked if could support a PUBLIC path between Timber Point and Tompkins Dr.. Answer: NO.

    Asked if FLakes would consider donating right-of-way from end of county property to Timber Point. Answer: NO.

    Asked if FLakes would consider donating strip of land to connect now-isolated county green-way between Forest Lakes North and Hollymead/Spring Ridge. Answer: NO.

    Asked why. Answer: Forest Lakes has a “special lifestyle” which needs to be preserved. Having non-Forest-Lakes pedestrians and kids on bicycles on Forest Lakes’ state-owned streets is not acceptable, because it would destroy their lifestyle.

    Scott Eliff pointed out, at least five times, that FLakes had improved paths so that children could get to school, as if this was a service to the general public. Making that a two-way deal was not acceptable. 

    Offered to help with costs of erecting barricades to keep out ATV’s, in exchange for removal of signs. Answer: NO.

    Scott, then chewed me out for embarrassing Forest Lakes by calling them an exclusive neighborhood. He said that I should just pick up the phone next time I had a complaint. I assumed, from his tone (and a few not-deleted Nixonesque expletives), that I was to call him so that he could tell us Proffit Road riffraff when to jump and how high. Dave Shifflet, who was polite throughout meeting, said little and seemed to defer to Mr. Eliff, even though Dave is chair of Flakes board.

    I can appreciate Ken’s position on this. There are a lot of Republican votes in FLakes. But I feel that, with the next Rivanna district election, nearly 4 years off, it’s pretty safe to act in a statesman like manner and push for public ROW between Forest Lakes and adjoining communities. The problem along the eastern side came from the county not offering to buy Steve Runkle’s flood plain to protect the access to PUBLIC property (it could have been purchased until Runkle deeded it to FLakes). The western side’s problem came from the foolishness of not providing a pedestrian connection between two public streets (Tompkins and Timber Pt). Action should be taken to bring all adjoining cul-de-sacs into compliance with the current subdivision ordinance.  (Ken, you should talk to Alan, if you need a witness to the veracity of my statement.)

    Until this problem is resolved, the PRIVATE access points between FLakes and the Baker-Butler trails should be closed.

    The two alternatives to these cheap fixes are:

    1. Immediately begin to build sidewalks and bicycle lanes along Proffit Rd from Proffit Station Rd to US 29 AND along Worth Crossing (the walkways there are property of FLakes and we are not allowed to use them) AND Timberwood and all streets in Flakes. The Proffit Rd sidewalks were supposed to have been built by 2007, anyhow (I know why they haven’t been. VDOT, not county–but, still, we are a growth area with urban needs.) 

    2. Force the Forest Lakes Community Association to buy their public streets and take responsibility for all future maintenance and snow removal.

    BTW-I had, briefly, considered the idea of building a pedestrian bridge over Forest Lakes, with exits in the non-exclusive neighborhoods :-] 

    I look forward to the BOS’s response. Connectivity is an important issue, particularly, in the growth areas. Subdivisions should not be allowed to seal themselves off, when such action blocks reasonable access to public property. Special treatment of large developments must cease. No one  county citizen is any better than any other. 

    Yours sincerely,
    Steve Ashby
    Jefferson Village Homeowners Association

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