Charlottesville: Environmental disaster area?

Charlottesvillians are used to making Top Ten lists, but the area's latest ranking is anything but an honor.

The Southern Environmental Law Center includes Charlottesville on its "Top Ten Endangered Places" list, which "targets areas of exceptional scenic, ecological, or cultural value that are facing immediate, potentially irreversible threats– and the important actions needed in 2012 to protect our environmental heritage for future generations."

To what does Charlottesville owe this dishonor?

According to the Law Center, its the Western Bypass, which was approved by Albemarle County Board of Supervisors in in a secret, midnight vote: "A wasteful, destructive bypass would mar landscapes, cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, endanger public health, and fail to solve traffic problems," the Law Center claims. Ouch.

Other areas to make the Law Center's list: the Coast of Alabama, where unregulated drilling for oil makes another BP spill not only possible but plausible, and the long-threatened Chesapeake Bay.

28 comments

I agree with SELC

I agree but for different reasons. What endangers the county more than the bypass is all the high density housing units that will more than likely dump two cars per household on the roads and burden the infrastructure. Scary how fast Albermarle is becoming northern Virginia.

Thanks Mr. Huja.

Another group of tree hugging nuts. Where do they get their funding since they are lawyers and they would sell you water if you were on fire there is big bucks being given away.

And speaking of water how could they support a water plan that Is dependent on a 10 mile uphill pipeline , using electricity to push water uphill ? And by the way this pipeline that connects South Fork Reservoir to Ragged Mt . cuts thru the same land as the bypass - where's their opposition ?

Why didn't they support dredging , repairing the dam at RMt. And conservation ?

SELC is just another group of tree-huggers financed by big liberal money that would even complain if you hung them with a new rope. How do they think it would endanger public health? Mar the landscape? If you go by that rationale, every highway mars the landscape.
BTW, bad headline and bad story. This "dishonor" is the same as if some guy at a bar on the corner yelled "The Hook is horrible" and then you ran a headline: "The Hook: Horrible Journalism." SELC has no credibility outside of the puffy faced, unbathed Al Gore acolytes.
Sissy Marys.
R.I.P.: Blossom Rock

BB, you're old saws don't cut anymore -- tree hugging nuts indeed. Please send us a photo of someone hugging a tree. And any original thoughts you might have would be appreciated. Break some new ground.

I have tremendous respect for the work SELC has done in many other communities - that is why I am puzzled by their advocacy of this environmentally and fiscally disasterous water plan that makes our long term water supply dependent on a coal fired pipeline - how sustainable is that ?

An environmental disaster?! Only to Rooker and all those opposed. Since when is building a road the same as Uranium mining? Or the threat to the Chesapeake bay? Inclusion on this list is elitist nonsense not based on any existing or previous environmental report by any governmental agency. If you read the list the SELC is against any new road or any progress. They have already lost in the Virginia Supreme Court on this very road but the SELC will keep the hunt on till the last dog dies. ( which is their right, however wrong headed and excessive it may be.)

Just file your new lawsuit already- everyone knows it's coming

It wasn't a secret vote it was held in the open - it was just unannounced and unexpected but the issue had had a public hearing. It wasn't a new vote just the changing of one supervisors previous vote but by all means keep up your narrative as the only true defenders of our land.

You don't have to be a treehugger to lament the loss of what makes this place so great for many people. Who doesn't love the drives from town through Ivy, up to Earlysville and Free Union, out to Keswick or up 20N? It may not be sustainable long-term to shut down all growth, but it doesn't change the fact that the beauty of the area lies in the pastures, mountains, rolling hills, not highways, roads and cars. Sure beats the hell out of 29N. Also doesn't change the fact that while a bypass is needed, the current iteration of the plan is outdated and doesn't address 2012 needs for traffic diversion on Rte 29N's primary business corridor.

The only thing endangered here is SELC's credibility. Such conflation does not serve their reputation well. Preaching to a choir is not truth to power.

Costly...yes, environmental disaster...unlikely.

I wonder if this is an analogous situation to the Nature Conservancy involvement in the water plan and the push from wealthy donors to save rural Western Albemarle County on the backs of urban water ratepayers. How many SELC local board members live on the western side of town and how many major local donors are anti-pass bypass individuals. Perhaps some investigating is called for.

Personally, I am not in favor of the by-pass, but I don't see the downside to be nearly as environmentally or fiscally harmful to the community as the water plan. At least the state is paying the bill and not local ratepayers, as is the case with the water plan.

My family moved here in 1969, the bypass over Emmet St was under construction, nothing to see north of K-Mart but farm land. I-64 ended @ 29-S. Four Seasons was a golf course! GROWTH IS GOING TO HAPPEN!! Why not pay for it when the price is at it's lowest (costs will not go down in the future..), accept it and deal with it!

Growth is not a foregone conclusion, or more accurately, sprawl. In fact, if you really want to continue growing, you need to stop sprawling. The cost is too high.

I don't care either way about the bypass being built, but to call it an environmental disaster only strains the credibility of the SELC.

Excellent questions, ND. I wonder if we can get the list of individuals responsible for making this ludicrous declaration? Surely there is an intrepid journalistic organ in this town that would look into the curious designation of Charlottesville as an environmental disaster area.

If I pave my driveway, will the SELC proclaim those few square feet an "environmental disaster area"? I am stating here and now that the SELC is a joke and this designation makes them look like complete fools.

Indeed the County's public records show one "Frederick S. Middleton III" owns two parcels totaling over 17 acres in Western Albemarle. The 14 acre parcel is assessed (and taxed) at $2700! What an incredible tax break!

I wonder if this is the same "Frederick S. Middleton III" that is the president of the SELC? How much of the decision to declare Charlottesville an 'Environmental Disaster Area' was driven by his personal motivation?

The designation is SO ridiculous, one could only hope that it will bring more attention to how these decisions are made by the SELC. No doubt the SELC does good work, but that should not mean that suspicious activity should be overlooked by the media.

It's sad SELC lost local credibility when they chose to support a Nature Conservancy water plan to decimate Ragged Mt. Natural Area and supply less water than dredging our existing reservoir at South Fork. Now as posted above they are advocating for a new reservoir at Ragged Mt. that wouldn't fill without an uphill electricity driven pipeline thru Albemarle County.
Smart lawyers at SELC should have realized that supporting this would come back to bite them.

They didn't even testify to protect the wildlife at Ragged Mt. and postpone clear cutting until breeding season was over.

The Sierra Club opposed the new dam/pipeline plan. They get my vote for protection of local resources.

TJ and ND I agree with you. In the late 1990s Councilor Kay Slaughter of the SELC said that the building the bypass 100 yards (a football field) away from the South For Rivanna Reservoir would endanger the reservoir through potential truck spills and voted on the MPO not to continue funding the bypass project. Now, although retired from SELC, she is an ardent support of building reservoir so that is straddles I-64. Unless the SELC brings a lawsuit the Hook should ignore it. You better believe that the financial backers of SELC will stay hidden.

Here's the environmental disaster waiting to happen. The new earthen dam at Ragged Mt. will create a reservoir that goes under I64 and according to the plan will be our only water supply reservoir in the future. I agree Cville Eye, hypocrisy of the first order.
See for yourself - map at the end of this cover story.

http://www.readthehook.com/81847/cover-reservoir-dogged-142-million-boon...

The SELC is a front group for donations . They oppose anything and everything to bring money in and pay themselves FAT to do so.

They will oppose the bypass in favor of a western route then they will oppose that.

They go where the money is....they use the guilty conscience of nature lovers who are afraid to pee in the woods because it might comtaminate the soil.

Not to report the facts or anything, but in no way shape or form does SELC use the term "environmental disaster." Their (biased) argument really has nothing to due with loss of environment. Based on the SELC info, I'm not even sure how the Hook came up with the title of this article.

@ Bill...I can't believe I'm typing this...I agree with you. I agree with you? This may be one of the signs of the apocalypse...