Louisa County Planning Commission recommends rezoning for resort, but declines to recommend 80-foot buildings

Plans to build a hotel and residential complex on the shores of Lake Anna in Louisa are before that county’s government and went before the nine-member Planning Commission on October 13. Before we get into the details about what happened, you can also choose to read an account of this meeting as a thread on Tammy Purcell’s Twitter account. Purcell writes the newsletter Engage Louisa.

Don’t tell me how it ended. I’m still going through the audio of the meeting, in which senior planner Thomas Egeland introduced the several requests before them from L.A. Resort LLC by laying out the land. 

“Together these two parcels make up 15.277 acres located near the Spottsylvania / Louisa County border adjacent to the New Bridge Road, Route 208,” Egeland said. 

The properties are zoned for commercial, and a previous owner of one of the properties sought an increase to Planned Unit Development to build a 60-unit condominium. The Board of Supervisors denied that request in 2016 and the current owner obtained site plan approval for a project that allowed a restaurant, 25,000 square feet of storage buildings, and three hotels. 

“Tonight, L.A. Resort LLC is requesting to start fresh,” Egeland said. 

That means a new Planned Unit Development request which Egeland details.

“To Planned Unit Development, PUD, to construct a 96-unit condominium building, a 130 room hotel, a restaurant with retail space, marina services, and accessory structures,” Egeland said. 

The plan is presented to the Louisa County Planning Commission

There’s also a conditional use permit request to allow for 80 foot residential buildings. The Comprehensive Plan calls for mixed-use and is within the Lake Anna growth area. 

Mike Grossman represented Lake Anna Resort LLC. 

“Every once in a while you find the perfect use for the perfect location and I think this is exactly what we have in this particular situation,” Grossman said. 

Grossman said the project would benefit Louisa County financially by providing new hotel rooms and dining opportunities. 

During the public hearing, several people disagreed and spoke out against the size of the development such as one person across the street. 

“When we purchased that property we recognized that it would be residential across from us, that’s what we expected to see,” said Bill Unrue. “We did not expect to see an 80 foot Virginia Beach style type condo set-up there.” 

Several other nearby property owners also opposed the rezoning, including one person who drove down from Leesburg.

“I’m the first one to say I’d love to have a hotel on this lake,” said Carolyn Lorenzin. “It would be great. I have lots of friends and family from out of town and it would be really great to have a place to put them up, but I think this is too much.” 

Others were concerned that the residential units would become hotel units by being rented out on a short-term basis. Others cited Lake Anna’s recent bout of harmful algae blooms, as monitored by the Virginia Department of Health

“I believe it’s irresponsible for the county to add to the problem by allowing this dense, high-density residential resort,” said Anna Clapp. “Discharging up to 60,000 gallons of wastewater a day. I know it’s treated but that’s what they’ve said, that they might that they might discharge up to that amount.” 

In his rebuttal, Grossman pointed out that the land has been zoned for commercial use since 1969. 

“So I think it should be no surprise to anyone that this land is going to get developed,” Grossman said. “It’s extremely valuable land so a Putt Putt Golf or some kind of light density commercial development is just not going to happen.” 

Many speakers had questioned the timing of development and were concerned the residential would be built before the commercial. That would mean less revenue from meals and lodging taxes, which tend to be paid by people who don’t live in the community and don’t use services One Planning Commissioner wanted a guarantee.

“I would be looking for something along the line that we would without certificate of occupancy for the residential until we have an approved site plan for the hotel and the restaurant,” said the Planning Commission Chair John Disoway of the Mineral District. 

Grossman said the project would need a hotel in order to proceed with financing, and the goal is to build all of it at once. However, other Planning Commissioners agreed with Disoway agreed that they wanted more certainty. 

“If a lending institution won’t take on the risk if they don’t have the commercial, then why should we?” said Commissioner George Goodwin of the Cuckoo District. 

There is currently no hotel on the Louisa County side of Lake Anna. 

The Commission had three votes. In the first, they recommended approval of the rezoning with two recommendations. One would be for the developer to post a performance bond and the other would be to tie the certificate of occupancy for the 96 residential units to a site plan being submitted for the hotel. That passed on a 4 to 2 vote.

Next was a conditional use permit for the request to allow the residential buildings to be 80 feet tall. That failed on a 3 to 3 vote. 

A third motion on a request to allow a different kind of material passed. 

The item will go before the Board of Supervisors at a later date. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the October 19, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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