County Wants Developers to Cover Mud Expanses

The county is looking to stop developers from razing the land and then leaving a field of mud, Sharon Fitzgerald writes in today’s Daily Progress. The proposal is to require that cleared land be covered up within nine months, whether with grass, a structure, or some kind of paving. Developers who can’t get that done in nine months can apply for a three-month extension.

After land is graded, the denuded land can lead to terrible runoff problems, clogging storm drains and filling stream beds with silt. (Recall Hollymead Town Center, which was a sea of red earth for years, the runoff from which reduced Hollymead Lake to a mud puddle.) It’s in a developer’s best interest not to let that happen—dirt isn’t as cheap as the expression would have you believe, and if you let dirt start flowing around on your property, there’s no telling where it’ll move to, and that can make a mess. Wendell Wood, the developer of Hollymead Town Center, blames the multi-year moonscape on the county, for delaying his permits, but that doesn’t explain why he’d grade acre upon acre of land without the permits to do anything with it. Jay Willer of the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association opposes the proposal.

Disclosure: I’m in the awkward position of writing about this during the same week—the very day, I think—on which the county is going to consider whether I have to renew the bond for the swath of land that I had cleared last year, which is contingent in part on whether I have adequately covered the land in question. Though having gone through that process, I do think I’m in a good position to say that nine months ought to be enough time, especially if those nine months don’t include winter. (Mine did, which meant I couldn’t grow a blade of grass until March, despite my best efforts.) Anyhow, knowing that folks from that office read this blog, and wanting very much to be released from that bond, the assumption that I’m sucking up is, while incorrect, totally warranted.

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