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Stratford Hall program to highlight Virginia's enslaved cooks

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Commission to address dangers of eroding cliffs in Stratford Harbour subdivision

Stratford Harbour subdivision’s engineers of the 1960’s may have overlooked the hazards associated with the waterfront subdivision’s sheer cliffs that rise as high as 150-feet above the waters of the Potomac River and the Nomini. Storms have toppled pre-Bay Act homes over the edge of the tall cliffs and some homeowners have actually moved their houses to the landward side of streets where erosion has been most extreme.

During a work session on April 23, the Westmoreland Planning Commission reviewed applications for remedial action brought by a group of Stratford Harbour waterfront home owners. The Monument Drive properties are but a short distance upstream of the yard from which a woman in September 2010 sustained severe injuries when the land at the

top of that Potomac River cliff gave way.

Pre-Bay Act homes were routinely built dangerously close to the edges of those eroding cliffs. During this Monday’s Planning Commission discussion, county officials and engineers acknowledged the original subdivision architects’ failure to take erosion into appropriate account when laying out the lots.

County Planner Charlie Wrightson explained the Chesapeake Bay Act exception applicants need to improve the grading of those cliff top homes. The six dwellings are described as being 60, 65, 80 feet from cliff tops that are in immediate danger of giving way.

“The bank is deteriorated from upland erosion and sliding,” Wrightson told the Commissioners.

Commission Chair John Felt is himself a Stratford Harbour resident. He explained that free-flowing springs in those Stratford cliffs contribute greatly to the ongoing erosion hazards. Grading remediation would begin near the rear of existing structures and would extend to a short distance above the base of the eroding cliff. Vegetation would be installed to stabilize the grade.

Public hearings on those requests are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7 in A.T. Johnson auditorium.
The agenda will include a request from New Jerusalem Baptist Church and Jerome Johnson for a zoning code special exception that would allow the cemetery to expand onto an adjacent agriculturally zoned property, where a pavilion would also be installed.

Coles Point Enterprises and engineer Jeff Howeth will seek approval of a Bay Act exception that would allow a timber retaining wall to be constructed on the Coles Point waterfront. The 1,122 foot bulkhead would be 32.5 inches high and would be installed immediately behind previously existing rip-rap revetment. Bio-retention filter utilizing vegetative materials would also be installed to stabilize the shoreline area that is situated upstream of the old Salisbury Park subdivision near the mouth of Lower Machodoc Creek.

Betsy Ficklin

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