One of the most important bald eagle habitats on the East Coast is in danger of being turned into a luxury residential community and resort, complete with golf course, lodge, and spa. Fones Cliffs is an idyllic and dramatic spot in Richmond County on Virginia’s Northern Neck. The extensive forest and high white cliffs rising above the Rappahannock River provide an ideal hunting perch for the hundreds of eagles that migrate through the area, as well as numerous nesting pairs. It’s such a key site that the area has been designated an important bird area by the National Audubon Society. The river itself is a major spawning and nursery area for fish, including striped bass, shad, and sturgeon.
However, a massive development proposed for Fones Cliffs and covering nearly 1,000 acres threatens this vital habitat. On October 8, 2015, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to grant a rezoning request by the site’s Miami-based owner that would pave the way for this project, forever changing this pristine stretch of the Rappahannock.
The proposal includes 718 homes and townhouses, 18 guest cottages, an 18-hole golf course and driving range, 116-room lodge with spa, 150-seat restaurant, a small commercial center, a skeet and trap range, equestrian center with stables for 90 horses, a 10,000 square foot community barn, and seven piers along the river.
Why Developing Fones Cliffs Is A Bad Idea
But this plan would jeopardize the thriving eagle population and doesn’t make sense in the light of theChesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, which requires Virginia to sharply reduce pollution entering its waterways. Hundreds of acres of mature hardwood forest could be lost and large areas of pavement would be added, reducing the ability of the land to filter the polluted runoff before it reaches the river. Wetlands and streams would be in danger. The waterfront development would increase cliff erosion, and there could be significant damage from the planned septic systems.
In short, this treasure on the Rappahannock could be lost. If this pristine land is developed, it will remain developed and never again be a place of peace and tranquility. That’s why it’s crucial to oppose the rezoning request that will come before Richmond County on October 8, 2015.
Join us at the meeting at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, October 8, 2015, in the Board Meeting Room, County Office Building, Warsaw, Virginia.