Fones Cliffs Enforcement Case Sent to Virginia's Attorney General

Sep 25, 2018

In July, Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality asked the public to weigh-in on fines and actions against a New York company that violated environmental regulations on pristine cliffs above the Rappahannock River.

Now they're asking the Attorney General's office to weigh in, as well.

The trouble for Virginia True Corporation began last year when more than 13 acres were clear-cut on the environmentally sensitive Fones Cliffs without permits or erosion, sediment and stormwater control devices. Then came heavy rains and erosion into the river.

Erosion along Fones Cliffs caused by clear-cutting last year.
Credit Chesapeake Conservancy

It was the worst fear for conservationists who said exactly that would happen as plans to construct a 964 acre golf course resort and development overlooking the Rappahannock River went forward. The spot is a favorite of hundreds of bald eagles and for watermen who fish in the river and a historic area for the Rappahannock Tribe.

Jeff Howeth, who took over as manager of the development said he was surprised as he's been working closely with officials from the Department of Environmental Quality.  "All of the rainfall certainly has not been anything short of a challenge to try to keep up with all of the things going on out there," Howeth admitted. "But we sit down with DEQ on a regular basis. I turn in a weekly engineer's report with 30 to 40 photographs."

A spokesperson for DEQ said recent history and ongoing issues that have been identified by DEQ staff contributed to the decision to ask the AG's office on how best to proceed.

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