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.

4 thoughts on “County Wants Developers to Cover Mud Expanses”

  1. Wish this happened in Charlottesville like in the ECO Friendly ( cough cough) development next to the Riverview park. You should see all the mud when it rains there

  2. When mud becomes a problem, the government should clean it up and apply the bill to the offender’s real estate tax bill. That way the mud is cleaned up beofre it hits the streams or do damage to our stormwater management system.

  3. If mud is a problem, it’s already in the stream or the stormwater management system. The county requires a bond that would be enough to cover the cost of installing a stormwater management system that’s up to code, in case the developer (or homeowner) doesn’t do the work correctly. When the county inspects it, if they find that the work isn’t up to snuff, they’ll hire somebody to do the work themselves and deduct the money from the bond.

    The trouble with charging for, say, filling a streambed with silt and rendering the water muddy for miles downstream is the problem of pricing it. How much do you charge for that? Practically speaking, it can’t be fixed. That genie’s not going back in the bottle. So any price is arbitrary, from an end-of-pipe perspective. Instead the fee has to be punitive, and that’s what court is for, or so I figure.

  4. The process you have described allows a great deal of environmental damage to be done before the situation is corrected. If the county can have three inspectors running around looking to see if signs are inappropriately displayed in store windows and on trucks parked visibly from the highway, they should send them around to construction sites instead and inspect their mud provisions BEFORE it rains.

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