December 8, 2005 The Stafford County Planning Commission recessed on December 7 without hearing the plan to develop Crow’s Nest. The Commission is now scheduled to take up the plan when their meeting resumes at 7:30 pm on December 19. But attorney David Bailey told the Commission that their placement of the item on the evening’s agenda was illegal. That’s because earlier in the day, Bailey, retained by the Crow’s Nest Defense Fund, LLC, filed an appeal on behalf of Linda and Jack Fellers to the Stafford County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) regarding Planning Director Jeff Harvey’s decision that the Crow’s Nest site plan met all requirements of the County Code. By law, when an appeal is filed, all action is stopped until the BZA rules on the appeal. In this case, on the advice of County Attorney Joe Howard, the Crow’s Nest site plan remained on the Planning Commission agenda and public comments were taken on it. That, argued Bailey, is illegal. (Read his comments to the Planning Commission.) Possible next steps are being evaluated. (Please show your support for this very important effort by sending tax-deductible donations to: Crow’s Nest Defense Fund, LLC, PO Box 102, Brooke, VA 22430.) County staff certified the Crow’s Nest plan as complying with all County codes. Yet, the plan shows streams running through houses (above) and drain fields in wetlands areas (below)! Citizens Raise Concerns Because of considerable community concern about the Crow’s Nest plan, the Commission allowed 45 minutes of public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Every single speaker opposed the plan citing its many technical flaws. Despite such obvious flaws as streams running through houses and drain fields situated in wetlands (see images above), the County Planning Director reported that the plan was in compliance with all County codes. Among the many other technical flaws in the plan noted by speakers were those in the following areas: WATER QUALITY. The plan does not adequately identify or protect Critical Resource Protection Areas, the one-hundred buffers that surround perennial (ever flowing) creeks. These buffers play an important role in keeping pollutants like sediment and nitrates from entering creeks. SOIL EROSION. Building the plan will require “cut and fill” development practices. The tops of the ridges will have to be bulldozed into the ravines that surround the creeks. With the steep slopes and erodible soils that are on Crow’s Nest, it will be impossible to control the erosion that bulldozing will create. All that dirt will end up in our creeks. DRAIN FIELDS. All those drain fields on all those one-acre lots are going to end up polluting our creeks. On those steep slopes, what will stop erosion from exposing the drain field and carrying waste down into the creeks? CULTURAL RESOURCES. The plan does not protect important cultural resources. An archaeological survey identified 47 new archaeological sites, 14 of which meet the criteria for listing on the National Registrar of Historic Places. All of these sites are located on or near the ridges—right where the roads and houses will be built. WILDLIFE PROTECTION. This plan does not provide adequate protection for rare and endangered species that live on the Crow’s Nest peninsula, or depend on it for food sources. The entire Potomac Creek area is an important feeding ground for bald eagles, and home to the blue heron rookery. It is also an important resting stop for migrating birds. TRAFFIC. Raven Road is a little dirt road, and it feeds into Brooke Road a winding, rural road. There is not adequate road infrastructure to support all the cars that will be moving in and out of the subdivision. (See related road story.) The meeting (and its continuation on December 19th) is the last for several members on the current Planning Commission. Fall elections removing four incumbent Supervisors will result in four new appointments to the Planning Commission in January 2006.