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Water authority appeals decision on Fluvanna project

A Central Virginia water authority is appealing decisions by a state department related to a controversial planned water intake and pump station project in Fluvanna County.

The James River Water Authority, the entity in charge of the project, has filed a petition in Fluvanna’s Circuit Court appealing the decisions of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and its director, Julie Langan, around a permit application.

The authority applied for an anticipatory burial permit earlier this year, and Langan asked in a September letter for the authority to revise its application for the archaeological removal of human remains.

“Despite JRWA’s best efforts to comply with the laws and regulations necessary to obtain this permit, DHR has taken improper steps and made unlawful decisions that have impeded JRWA’s efforts to bring a new water supply to its citizens, thereby necessitating this appeal,” the authority’s petition states.

JRWA’s petition states that it is appealing VDHR’s denial of the application for the anticipatory burial permit and the decision that the archaeological consultant does not meet the DHR requirements, among other issues that were addressed in the department’s letter to the authority in September.

The water intake and pump station is part of a larger project through the water authority to bring water from the James River to a water treatment facility in Louisa County that ultimately would serve the Zion Crossroads area in Fluvanna and Louisa.

The project has been in the works for years, and more recently has received public pushback from residents and the Monacan Tribe, as the water intake and pump station is set to go on the site of the ancient village of Rassawek, the historic capital of the tribe.

JRWA states that VDHR failed to provide the authority with notice that it intended to deny the permit application and denied the authority “the right to attend an informal fact-finding conference to address the purported reasons for the decision,” which is in violation of the state code.

Langan had sent the authority another letter later in September stating that her original letter was not a denial of anticipatory burial permit application or the permit itself, but was a request for JRWA to revise its current application.

The state has filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, stating the authority “has failed to exhaust its administrative remedies as required” under the state code.

“The appellant has failed to exhaust its administrative remedies because the parties have not yet undergone [an] … informal conference or a … formal hearing as required under the [Virginia Administrative Process Act],” the motion to dismiss said.

The Monacan Indian Nation’s attorneys filed a proposed amicus curiae brief in support of the VDHR and Langan, but Judge Richard Moore denied the motion, stating they did not cite any statutory or case authority that would allow the filing of an amicus brief by a non-party in this case.

Moore, in the letter, said he was not denying and dismissing the motion with prejudice, “because there may be certain things that could occur in the future that would allow them to refile such — such as submitted authority (unknown to the court at this time) that would cause the court to reconsider this request and allow the court to grant such.”


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