Parties trying to work out water issue before going before Fluvanna Co. judge

A controversial project to support growth in Zion Crossroads is back in the spotlight.
Updated: Dec. 16, 2019 at 2:58 PM EST
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FLUVANNA COUNTY, V.A. (WVIR) - A controversial project to support growth in Zion Crossroads is back in the spotlight.

There seems to be a disconnect between the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) and the James River Water Authority (JRWA). At issue is an anticipatory burial permit from the authority to build its water intake and pump station at Point of Fork, which was formerly the capital for the Monacan Indian Nation.

Point of Fork in Fluvanna County (FILE)
Point of Fork in Fluvanna County (FILE)(WVIR)

The permit outlines a process if JRWA should encounter any graves or burials while excavating the site, attorney Justin Curtis explained. Construction can continue without the permit, however if crews were to find burials or graves, all work would cease and the project would be suspended until the authority applied for the appropriate permit, he added.

JRWA recently filed an appeal in Fluvanna Circuit Court following a September letter sent by the VDHR. The state has also filed a motion to dismiss.

“We still took the September 6th letter to be a denial. We weren’t able to resolve those issues in time to avoid filing, so we had to go forward and protect our legal rights and interests,” Curtis said.

VDHR Director Julie Langan says that was not the case: “We have always maintained it, we never denied burial permit. It was not a complete application, and so the purpose of my letter was to call attention to those issues,” she said. “I thought they were well aware of that. What they would not have been aware of, and that is also addressed in the letter, is that we would need for them to obtain the professional services of an archaeologist to meet certain standards.”

Langan said she sent another letter clarifying the department’s position just a few weeks after the September 6 letter.

Despite the secondary letter, Curits said the authority waited 30 days before filing an appeal to “protect our legal rights and interests,” as the two parties were unable to resolve several issues addressed in the letter.

“We were hopeful that we would have a chance to sit down and talk to them, and maybe work these issues out to avoid the need to go to court,” Curtis said.

Now with the appeal filed, both parties, along with the Attorney General's Office, are sitting down to iron things out.

“We have had a meeting recently to discuss their application for a burial permit, and I would say that meeting went well,” Langan said.

Both parties in this case do agree on something: Neither one wants to go to court. They are hoping they’re able to work out these issues before they ever make it in front of a judge.

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