Water, sewer line easement is a sticking point for Boyce project

Posted: October 22, 2013

The Winchester Star

BOYCE — It has been eight years since Boyce residents had a growth spurt in their town in the form of a new housing development.

Now, William Dean is planning a 24-lot subdivision on 10 acres he owns on West Main Street, just west of the Boyce Elementary School.

While no formal proposal has been presented to town officials yet, Erika Kelble, who heads the Boyce Planning Commission, said the subdivision appears to meet the criteria of the town’s ordinances.

The plan still has to be presented to the planners and be recommended to the Town Council for consideration.

Currently, Ron Mislowsky, engineer with Pennoni Associates Inc. of Winchester, has been working with the Clarke County Sanitary Authority to guarantee that the planned homes can be hooked into the water and sewer utilities the authority manages in Boyce.

While the authority does have capacity to serve the proposed homes, linking them to the sewer plant has proved dicey.

The closest sewer line to the Dean property serves Boyce Elementary School, and the developer would need an easement from the school to extend that line.

At a meeting in September, the Clarke County School Board agreed in principle to grant the easement, but decided not to draw up legal papers until the development was approved.

However, Board of Supervisors member John Staelin has raised questions about the easement, which would bisect the rear of the 10-acre parcel the school sits on.

Staelin told a meeting of local officials that the easement might “constrain” future use of the school by making it impossible to add on to the rear of the structure.

School Superintendent Michael Murphy noted that the Boyce school no longer meets the state’s criteria for a school site. Virginia Department of Education recommends a 20-acre site for an elementary school, and Boyce sits only half that amount of land.

Kelble said the water and sewer issue will have to be settled by the Sanitary Authority for the subdivision to be approved, but that would not be decided by the town.

Kelble said she would be looking at protecting Roseville Run, a perennial stream that cuts through the southern third of the parcel, and the safety of the entrance to the subdivision.

Just west of the development’s proposed entrance, Main Street (Route 723) rises and then drops over a small hill, reducing the sight distance for cars approaching from the west.

“The speed limit is 25 miles per hour there,” Kelble said, “but how many people are doing 25” as they get to the rise from a 45 mph speed zone beyond the town limits.

Kelble said she did not know if the subdivision plan would be presented to the Planning Commission this month. The next meeting is set for Oct. 28.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com