Monthly Archives: March 2014

We’ve seen this before

Rappahannock Record, March 27, 2014

Six years ago, Lancaster County announced it was going to put a boat ramp and pier on Ashley Cove. Much the same as Simmons Cove, which is also off of Dymer Creek and is now targeted for the same.

A graceful heron waits in wetland grasses

A graceful heron waits in wetland grasses

Like Ashley Cove, the Simmons site is shallow, requires dredging and will disrupt homes and wildlife lining its shores all the way to the Bay. There’s another similarity: both projects were sneak attacks, with no residents notified until the County was ready to approve the projects.

People who own waterfront property pay premium annual taxes for that privilege. So why the jihad against those who shoulder a heavier share of the tax burden?

Access to the Bay is not the question; that’s available whether the Simmons project is ultimately approved or not. The question is whether it is necessary to diminish waterfront residents’ enjoyment of their property in order to provide additional access to the Bay.

The answer is “no.” The County can do now what it should have done years ago: buy a deep water lot close to the Bay and put the ramp there. With ramp users passing fewer homes and with less environmental disruption, opposition would be minimal and the County would have what it wants.

Yes, it would cost more upfront than a “free” donation of land (read: proffer for future development rights), but if the project is as beneficial to the county at large as the Board of Supervisors would have us believe, then all of us should logically share the cost.

The County turned away from the Ashley Cove Project for good and sufficient reasons. There are plenty of reasons to drop the Simmons Cove idea as well. Then they should do it the right way.

Brian Hart
White Stone

Open the doors

Rappahannock Record, March 27, 2014

The Lancaster County Board of Supervisors’ (BOS) deliberations regarding the proposed boat ramp at Simmons Cove were conducted in secret.

Loon spilling water after a dive on Dymer Creek

Loon spilling water after a dive on Dymer Creek

This was the worst sort of backroom dealing between local politicians and a developer who stands to gain if the ramp is constructed. The developer offered the land (five acres) to the County if the County would agree to build the ramp. The County agreed to build the launch facility and accepted the gift of land.

The County then sought and received a grant from the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and paid $17,000 of taxpayer funds to develop a preliminary site plan—all in secret.

There were no public hearings, there were no public announcements, there were no discussions involving the public. The only ones who knew what was going on were those in the ”backroom.”

None of the residents in the affected area were told about these deliberations until just one day before the BOS voted to approve the project. They were kept in the dark until the BOS had voted.  It was a sneak attack, plain and simple.

This sort of backroom dealing discredits the BOS and undermines the trust that is so vital to the partnership between citizens and government that must exist if we are to solve the many problems we face in Lancaster County.

We have schools that need serious community attention, and roads that are littered with trash. We all need to work together to solve these and other pressing problems.  But who will trust a government that conducts its business in secret, and treats citizens with such disrespect?

Wendy Smith
White Stone

Ramp at odds with county plan

Rappahannock Record, March 27, 2014

The Rappahannock Record’s March 20 balanced reporting of Lancaster’s consideration of a plan to construct a public boat ramp on the headwaters of Dymer Creek, recounted environmental, ecological, water-safety and supervisory process concerns voiced by community members.

The front page coverage also afforded county planner and land use director Don Gill the opportunity to address some of the concerns but in doing so, it would appear that he raises a dilemma that will remain unresolved by this boat ramp proposal.

Mr. Gill in part speaks to “…the comprehensive plan’s call for a site in the eastern part of the county with direct access to the Chesapeake Bay” and further explains that “…DGIF grant… calls for boats under 25 feet in length.”

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries supplied a $100,000 grant and Bay Design provided a $17,000 engineering study for supervisory deliberative due diligence in considering the camp proposal.

"... trailers that have had a hard time clearing the wide median strip completely, leaving trailers stretched across and obstructing oncoming lanes on Route 3."

“… trailers that have had a hard time clearing the wide median strip completely, leaving trailers stretched across and obstructing oncoming lanes on Route 3.”

However, any safety-minded boater knows the Chesapeake Bay is no place to operate boats under 25 feet, especially by inexperienced “weekend warriors.”

Unaddressed are traffic safety concerns that will arise from the narrow, two-lane road to serve the proposed ramp. Fleets Bay Road sits lower than Route 3 which creates a steep approach where the roads intersect, necessitating a driver to pull far forward to see oncoming vehicles before entering Route 3.

I have been behind commercial landscaping trailers that have had a hard time clearing the wide median strip completely, leaving trailers stretched across and obstructing oncoming lanes on Route 3.

The increased difficulty of handling safely an everyday vehicle hitched to trailers weighing thousands of pounds and driven by inexperienced weekend tow drivers will make the intersection more challenging to cross; and during boating season a line of backed-up boat trailers will create an extreme inconvenience for those served by Fleets Bay Road.

Frank Maguire
White Stone

Priorities askew

Rappahannock Record, March 27, 2014

Every parent, teacher, grandparent and concerned citizen in Lancaster County should be appalled that the board of supervisors could find $17,000 to build a boat ramp in a swamp when they could not find money for a school nurse.

Medical needy children were left without professional supervision of their medications.

However, with no public discussion, $17,000 was shelled out for an elaborate boat ramp plan before the county even owned the land.

What kind of message are we sending to our youth?

Jeff and Kaggy Chase
White Stone

Board of Supervisors: Cordial and Noncommittal

Standing room only in the room and outer hall as people came in opposition to the boat ramp

Standing room only in the room and outer hall as people came in opposition to the boat ramp

On March 27th at 7:00 PM the Lancaster County Board of Supervisors met in regular session and was confronted by a crowded room of opponents to the proposed ramp and parking lot. Residents stood and addressed the Board during their “public input” period before regular business: not a hearing, but the only opening available for residents to be heard.

The Board chairman began by giving County planner/land use director Don Gill the opportunity to review the history of the County’s comprehensive plan and his efforts since 2012 to develop the site on Simmons Cove.

County planner Don Gill speaks on the 14-month process to bring the boat ramp proposal to the public

County planner Don Gill speaks on the 14-month process to bring the boat ramp proposal to the public

Opponents of the ramp were each limited to five minutes. Dozens of citizens spoke, with facts about boating safety, water quality and depth, dredging effectiveness and cost, habitat destruction, poor comparison to open water at other public ramp facilities, underdeveloped cost estimates, critical expenditure needs elsewhere in the county, and alternative ramp solutions. Several spoke with passion regarding the secrecy the County used this time in developing the Simmons plan, and how it was presented as a fait accompli. Adjacent property owners, whose families have resided on the land for generations, spoke about the County planners’ disrespect for them by giving only a day’s notice before information appeared in the newspaper and the Board’s acted publicly for the first time.

Resident Mick Kendrick describes the inadequate cost analysis by the design firm

Resident Mick Kendrick describes the inadequate cost analysis by the design firm

Citizens spoke for two hours. Board members were cordial and listened quietly, asking no questions. Clarification was given about a Board member’s interest in fishing piers as apart from boat ramps. The County planner was directed to meet with anyone interested after he developed responses to the issues raised. There was no further indication given of the Board’s plans for this issue.

Adjoining property owner George Simmons addresses the Board of Supervisors about the secrecy employed by the County in developing the ramp proposal

Adjoining property owner George Simmons addresses the Board of Supervisors about the secrecy employed by the County in developing the ramp proposal

Opposing a ramp on Dymer Creek

Rappahannock Record, March 20, 2014

If anyone wants to see a peaceful creek full of wildlife, come to Dymer Creek and watch the eagles, eaglets, and osprey dive, blue herons feeding near the bank and flying overhead and see oysters growing on the banks.

Dymer Creek is truly a revitalized environmental treasure in Lancaster County.

For those who don’t know Dymer Creek, it is a small narrow creek with many shallow coves and little boat traffic. Years ago there was not marine life because of the menhaden factory on the creek and because the town of Kilmarnock used Simmons Cove for all its sewage run-off.

After many years, thousands of oysters are again growing here. The residents have purposely avoided riprap where possible and instead have living shorelines.

There are osprey nests, one eagle’s nest, and at least five blue heron rookeries at the creek’s headwaters.

A mature eagle monitors Dymer Creek

A mature eagle monitors Dymer Creek

Many come visit this peaceful creek by kayak and boat to watch the eagles, eaglets, herons, swans, ospreys, loons, geese, otters, many sea birds and ducks. It’s genuinely an ecological treasure worth saving for anyone wanting to visit in the future.

If a ramp is put at the headwaters of Dymer, the oysters will die from pollution, the eagles and their offspring will relocate, as well as the osprey and other wildlife. The living shorelines will be distorted by wakes from additional boat traffic. Dymer Creek will die.

There are ways to see Dymer Creek by water using nearby ramps on Indian Creek, Antipoison Creek, and Windmill Point. Why destroy an environmental treasure? We are opposed to the ramp for large boats at the headwaters of Dymer Creek in Simmons Cove.

Don and Kathy Davidson

Response from the Town of Kilmarnock, Mr. Marshall Sebra, Planning/Zoning Director
March 21, 2014

  …to the best of my knowledge the town has never delivered sewage run-off to Dymer Creek.

The town’s wastewater treatment plant and discharge is located on the headwaters of Indian Creek, where it has always been.  Truthfully, the water quality of Dymer Creek headwaters has benefited greatly over the years from the town’s sewer system.  The many connections made to our system in that watershed has greatly reduced the number of failing traditional septic systems that otherwise provided a source of pollution.

On behalf of the town, I would appreciate your acknowledgment and correction of this false statement by way of retraction in next weeks paper.  In addition, please take corrective measures on and any other source of information where the aforesaid has been stated about the Town of Kilmarnock.

Marshall A. Sebra, Planning/Zoning Director

Town of Kilmarnock,
P.O. Box 1357
Kilmarnock, VA 22482


Thanks, but no thanks

Rappahannock Record, March 20, 2014

I have lived on Dymer Creek for 23 years, enjoying the peaceful surroundings, the wildlife, and the gentle sport of canoeing, lately with my grandchildren, and sometimes with my husband, who suffers from dementia.

The proposed boat ramp, a project sneakily contrived by our Lancaster county government, will surely have a negative effect on our creek and environs. It is to be build in a marsh, with about 500 feet of dredging required, destroying habitat and the aquatic life that sustains our winter ducks.

Since that which is dredged often re-silts, the dredging could become an ongoing disturbance, as will the increased number of motor craft. Wakes from carelessly operated boats damage shorelines and could throw silt into the oyster rafts from which some our residents are trying to replenish the oyster population.

Heron taking the fish home to the family on upper Dymer Creek, near the rookery

Heron taking the fish home to the family on upper Dymer Creek, near the rookery

The pair of herons I saw on my dock this morning, the circling eagles, the ospreys and the playful otters may vanish from the unfriendly environment created by this foolish project.

Another issue is safety. Those who partake of the quiet pastimes of canoeing and kayaking, and the children who play in the creek before and after jellyfish season will be endangered if our creek becomes a thoroughfare for speeding motorboats, obviously producing unsafe wakes.

A 35-car parking lot is an invitation to unwholesome partying, and the proposed increased police presence on Fleets Bay Road indicates that the county government is aware of this possibility.

All of this is at taxpayers’ expense. I suppose the donor of the 5.7 -acre parcel will receive a tax write-off, and some contractors will make a bit of money, but it is an unwelcome gift to our neighborhood.

Mary K. Helne
White Stone

Ecological nightmare

Rappahannock Record, March 20, 2014

On February 27, the agenda for the meeting of the Lancaster board of supervisors meeting appeared in the Rappahannock Record and included an item regarding a presentation of a deeded gift of land to the county on Dymer Creek for the intended purpose of building a boat ramp to provide public access to the Chesapeake Bay.

I am appalled to learn that the county is behind this 100%.

Lesser Scaups, or "little bluebills" are summer visitors on Dymer Creek

Lesser Scaups, or “little bluebills” are summer visitors on Dymer Creek

This prong of Dymer Creek where the access is proposed is an extremely shallow pristine wetlands marsh. The county proposes to dredge the creek to a 4-1/2-foot depth. This is a breeding place for heron and other waterfowl and there is reportedly an eagle’s nest on the shoreline as well.

I am most concerned about the environmental impact on the creek from loss of wetlands, disturbing the very shallow prong by dredging, impact to wildlife, and the increased wave action from boats and jet skis zipping up and down this narrow prong. The increased boat traffic will negatively affect all shorelines along this prong as well as along the main channel of Dymer Creek.

I have owned my home on this creek for over 11 years and have lost all my shoreline grasses due to the excessive wakes primarily from non-resident boaters that refuse to slow down as they approach the narrow areas of the creek.

My grandchildren and I also have had encounters from speeding boats when we have been kayaking, canoeing and swimming, thus creating a safety issue.

This project is an ecological nightmare and if it comes to fruition, it will negatively impact Dymer Creek forever.

To build a boat ramp on a shallow backwater that is 2-1/2 miles from Chesapeake Bay is a reprehensible act.

Georgine Villafana
White Stone

Oyster growers express concerns on Dymer Creek

Rappahannock Record, March 20, 2014

We operate a commercial oyster farm on Dymer Creek, and any activity such as dredging Simmons Cove to create a public boat ramp threatens the health of the creek and other commercial waterman’s operations on Dymer Creek.

Our concern is that any activity that disturbs the environmental quality of the headwaters of Dymer Creek will certainly impact the rest of the creek. The health department measures those waters every month and the western end of the creek, including Simmons Cove, has been condemned for years by the health department.

What contaminant led the health department to condemn this portion of the creek? It is reasonable to believe that whatever that contaminant was, it is now embedded in the silt of Simmons Cove.

If that contaminated material is disturbed, how will it impact the rest of Dymer Creek? What will be the environmental cascade down the creek? Would the balance of Dymer Creek then be condemned and not available to harvest oysters for years to come?

Has the Corps of Engineers completed as study to dredge this section of the creek?

If so, we should have the opportunity to review the study.

What was the approved plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to dispose of the dredged materials?

Has the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—or any other agency—performed an environmental impact study on the construction of the proposed boat launch facility? If not, why not?

We believe the construction of the proposed boat launch facility islikely to have an adversse environmental impact ofn DC. No one has made a convincing arguen t that it will be otherwise.

Therefore, as citizens who make their living from a healthy creek we much oppose construction of the proposed boat launch facility.

Mike and Kim Bouis
White Stone

Where am I living?

Rappahannock Record, March 20, 2014

The latest uproar about building a public boat ramp on/near the headwaters of Dymer Creek has me baffled. As a result I have heard numerous tales and am unable to separate fact from fiction. Specifically, I need some clarifications from our Board of Supervisors (BOS).

Donated land (red line) is in the upper reaches of Simmons Cove, a feeder stream at the source of Dymer Creek

Donated land (red line) is in the upper reaches of Simmons Cove, a feeder stream at the source of Dymer Creek

I have “heard” that the BOS, when involved in issues such as building public boat ramps, do NOT need public approval before initiating such actions. Additionally, to build the proposed Dymer Creek ramp assessments from the Army Corps of Engineers is required along with numerous other evaluations (impacts on local wildlife habitats, building a new access road to the proposed ramp, dredging requirements, etc.) Again, I have “heard” that the BOS has already got all the approvals they need as the agencies involved have “rubber stamped” their required approvals.

It appears to me that the BOS considers themselves omnipotent. Why didn’t my BOS representative (Mr. Bellows) inform his affected constituents about what was going on? I am told that he did/does not have to. Why? The fact that no notice is supposedly required leads one to believe that the existing regulations/laws on this issue are sadly amiss. Has the BOS tried to re-negotiate with the Windmill Point owner(s) to see if a ramp could be used there? When was the last time the BOS looked into buying/leasing the long closed White Stone Beach area?

I have arrived at the conclusion that our BOS has NOT done their “due diligence” on the public water access issue. Rather, they have taken the “ostrich” approach to solving this dilemma and have opted to accept a “gift” of some worthless property, ramrodded their desire through all the other state and federal agencies involved, and have determined the property owners effected do not deserve to be heard with their concerns and questions.

I thought I was living on the Northern Neck of Virginia in the USA. But lately I am beginning to wonder if this is true. My hope is that someone on the BOS has the courage/gumption to answer my questions. How about it Mr. Bellows?

Peter B. Southmayd
White Stone