Updated August 29, 2020
Properties adjoining the south side of Center Lane between Union Street and Ellicott Street have been under development for many years. While the eastern section bordering Union Street and locally known as “Berrywood” has been completed and the units occupied for years, construction of the western portion bordering Ellicott Street is only partially completed and has seen little progress for years. This latter section has led to numerous inquiries regarding its expected completion date and the condition of the site. Additionally, numerous inquiries have also been received regarding the consistent presence of unscreened trash containers along Center Lane between Union and Ellicott Streets.
Current Situation and Planned Steps Regarding Unfinished Development
Once a site plan is approved and construction has begun, state law neither mandates nor allows the Town to require that construction be completed by a particular date. The Town can and does require that erosion and sediment from a construction site be managed in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. At the moment some of the plant growth on the site of the unfinished development exceeds the height limits allowed for “grass, weeds, and other foreign growth” under Section 92.20 of the Town Code. This growth, however, is an important component of the erosion and sediment control plan for the site and plays a significant role in stabilizing the soil and preventing it from flowing off the site during rain events. Consequently, it has been allowed to remain.
There is, however, no need for such excessive plant growth outside the property’s silt fence that borders Town streets and alleys. Consequently, the property owner is being notified that they must cut this growth in accordance with the Town code or the Town will do so and assess the cost to the property owner.
Current Situation and Planned Steps Regarding Unscreened Trash Containers
The Town Code does not allow trash receptacles to be adjacent to the street outside of a range of time that brackets collection hours. Outside of that range of time trash receptacles must be in the rear of a unit and/or screened. Several property owners have been notified that they are not complying with this requirement of the Town code. In one instance, three attempts to communicate with an HOA on the matter, including by a certified letter, have gone unanswered. Violations of this section of the code constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. Occoquan’s Zoning Administrator plans to try to once more to communicate with the relevant property owners the need to address this issue. If unaddressed the Town will proceed with appropriate legal action.
Updated August 29, 2020
For many years the property at 430 Mill Street has been a point source for water on the adjoining sidewalk and on Mill Street itself. This was the case well before the property was sold by the owner of Rockledge Mansion in 2014. In fact, at one point the Town Engineer, at the direction of the Town Council, developed a plan to address the drainage issue and offered it to the individual who owned both Rockledge and 430 Mill Street for implementation. Prior to the property being sold and the current construction beginning, water from Rockledge flowed through the site, which being entirely grass at the time retained the moisture and gradually released it across the sidewalk on to Mill Street. Sometimes the water discharge was substantial, but for the most part was only hazardous during the winter months when it repeatedly froze on the sidewalk.
After the owner of Rockledge sold 430 Mill Street to its current owner, the latter began construction of two single-family homes on the site. This has led over the past several years to significant additional water (and sediment) flowing from the site on to the sidewalk and on to Mill Street. Though uncertain, it appears likely that a significant amount of the water is still coming from the Rockledge property. In the absence, however, of the grass that previously covered the site this water is no longer being absorbed and discharged more slowly, but is rather flowing in significantly greater amounts and velocity than in the past on to the sidewalk and on to Mill Street. Additionally, the crown (or lack of crown) of Mill Street is such that the water is not staying along the curb and running down to the storm drain at the intersection of Mill and Ellicott Streets, but is rather spreading out into the parking spaces on the south side of Mill Street and, before it reaches the storm drain, crossing to the north side of Mill Street. This leaves many of the parking spaces on the south side of the street wet.
In addition to the water discharge, heavy rain events and inadequacies in the construction contractor’s silt fence have resulted in sediment from the site periodically inundating the sidewalk and the south side of Mill Street. Even now, after substantial cleanup by the contractor, the inevitable residual sediment on the sidewalk gives the appearance of mud when the sidewalk is wet, and due to parked cars it is often difficult for the contractor to perform any cleaning of the street itself.
Measures Taken and Planned to Address the Situation
At this time the contractor on the construction site has improved the silt fence and cleans the
sidewalk every day after construction to remove any sediment accumulation. The sidewalk and
street will nevertheless sometimes appear a little muddy due to past sediment accumulation that
now can only be removed by power washing (not a particularly environmentally-friendly
practice and best left until the end of construction). The bulk of the water is now being routed
via a flexible conduit across the sidewalk and on to Mill Street. Absent a break in the conduit this is and should continue to be clear, sediment-free water. This inconveniencing of the sidewalk in that location will remain until the surface of the site is completed, which is expected in the next few months. Once that is completed it is hoped that there will be no further discharge of water from the site. In the interim, we are investigating with VDOT installing a small berm a few inches from the curb on the south side of Mill Street that would keep any discharged water against the curb and direct it to the appropriate storm drain.
In the event that water continues to be discharged from the site after construction is completed, the Town is investigating how best to direct that flow. One possible solution is to identify the point source and install a small grated section of sidewalk so that the water flows directly into the street and not across the sidewalk (whether directly or through a conduit). Initially, that would still result in water spreading out on the street (absent the berm mentioned in the preceding paragraph). We expect VDOT, however, to re-crown the street in 2021, which should keep the water against the curb and direct it to the appropriate storm drain. Additionally, we are evaluating whether or not the water can be directed to a storm drain near the intersection of Mill Street and the cul-de-sac.