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Storms, Development Cause Erosion At Historic Fones Cliffs

Developers who illegally cleared over 13 wooded acres for their golf course resort atop the historic Fones Cliffs are in trouble again after heavy rains this month sent trees and soil toward the Rappahannock River.

The New York-based Virginia True Corp. have been working to put in erosion, sediment and stormwater control devices to comply with state and local regulations after a stop work order was issued earlier this year. But some controls failed and parts of the cliff sloughed off along with some trees.

"This is exactly what we were concerned about, says Richmond Moncure with Friends of the Rappahannock River. "We're waiting for the county to step up. We're hoping that this is evidence enough that this cliff face is sensitive and does need precautions beyond what we're seeing here through standard erosion and sediment and stormwater compliance plans."

But engineers, both for the county and the developer, say the rain event was beyond what any required controls could handle.

Richard English is Richmond County's environmental compliance agent. "I don't know if anything would have helped during that rainstorm. If it helped, it was insignificant compared to the amount of rain," English says.

Meantime, as Virginia True continues compliance work engineers will be looking at ways to slow water during heavy rain events.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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