Albemarle Supervisors to Discuss Monticello's Water, Sewer Service Upgrade

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Monticello Monticello

Update 11/06/2013: The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved moving ahead with a public hearing on the request to connect the Monticello site to public water and sewer.

Original 11/05/2013: Thomas Jefferson's mountaintop estate wants to tap into Albemarle County's water and sewer service.

Right now, county policy prevents that connection from being as simple as just putting in some pipes. The request requires special approval from the Board of Supervisors since the historic attraction sits outside the county's growth zone.

Jefferson’s historic home needs to modernize its facilities.

“We need to make a responsible decision. We need to plan ahead,” said Lesile Greene Bowman, Thomas Jefferson Foundation president.

Right now, restrooms at Monticello and its visitors center drain into septic fields surrounding the mountaintop estate. The current ones are about tapped out.

“You can't upgrade a septic field. You just move and dig another one. That means excavating archaeologically important ground,” said Bowman.

Wells supply water to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's Library at Kenwood and Montalto event center. A foundation report finds the property's water flow to fight a fire is inadequate.

“It's critical that we have enough water to protect from fire on all three of these sites,” said Bowman.

The foundation proposes connecting to public water and sewer to serve all its sites, but the location in a designated rural area requires special permission from Albemarle County.

“Can you think of another place in the rural zones that gets 440,000 people a year? We're unique. We're not really typical of a rural zone,” said Bowman.

A county report says the foundation's request isn't consistent with current policy to extend public water and sewer. Albemarle County supervisors will decide if Monticello trumps policy.

“They can review what our past policies have been, but also look at what the uniqueness of this situation is,” said Andy Sorrell, Albemarle County senior planner.

The foundation believes it's the best way to maintain Monticello for the future.

“The most historically sensitive and environmentally responsible solution is to hook into the county plant,” said Bowman.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation agrees to pay the entire cost to extend pipes and connect to the county service. Supervisors will take up the request at their work session Wednesday.