SUP 21-03 Firefly

Current Status: Application Review

App Review

Case Status Descriptions

Case Manager

Josh Gillespie, AICP

Summary (Project Description from Narrative)

SAUNDERS’ SURVEYS, INC.
329 Crabtree Falls Highway
Roseland, Va. 22967
434-277-8574

August 11, 2021
Orange County Department of Planning and Zoning
128 West Main Street
Orange, Va.  22960 

Attn.: Josh Gillespie 

Re.: Broadband in Orange County, seeking a Special Use Permit for installation of a fiber facility within the Thomas E. Lee Industrial Park 

To whom it may concern: 

I have been working with Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) for many years on various projects and currently am working with them in the development of their broadband facilities.   I have designed and set up facilities in Nelson, Albemarle, Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, and Louisa Counties.   We are also working on a site in Goochland and now into your area, Orange.  

CVEC brought electricity to thousands of Virginians for the first time in 1937 and is now proud of their fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project which will bring fiber to many homes and businesses in those same communities.  CVEC’s wholly owned subsidiary, Firefly, is a locally based company in Central Virginia, with the vast majority of their technical and support staff located in the counties being served.  The goal of Firefly is to provide high-speed internet to all CVEC members at an affordable price.   

Firefly Fiber Broadband is superior to all other connectivity technologies.  Unlike cable, DSL, satellite, cellular, and fixed-wireless connections, Firefly’s fiber-to-the-home internet ensures lightning fast download and upload speeds of up to a gigabit per second.   

Currently CVEC is serving 602 accounts in the Orange County area.  FTTH will be made available to all these homes/businesses as a part of the development of the facility at the Thomas E. Lee Industrial Park.  CVEC has purchased 1.024 Ac. within the park from the Industrial Development Authority of Orange County for the development of the “hub” that will serve as the central point for the distribution of the fiber to their customers. 

The placement of this hut within the industrial park will allow a fiber optic based, high speed communication system to be built as it is throughout the rest of the entire 14 county, 4500 mile electric distribution network.  CVEC allows its members to use this fiber for broadband internet access if they choose.  The communications network provides benefits to all electric accounts regardless of whether the member subscribes to broadband service or not.  The fiber system provides options for power cost containment, improved reliability, faster service restoration, and increased electric efficiency on the lines.  The network will assist with distributed generation and battery integration, as well as provide a platform for additional smart grid technology deployment to strengthen the system. 

The Industrial Park is made up of many larger tracts, totaling over 155 acres, serving multiple businesses.  CVEC purchased a portion of the residual of a 1.934 Ac. lot owned by the Industrial Development Authority of Orange County (IDA) that was located between Lohman Corporation and PMC Distribution, Inc.  The IDA elected to retain ownership of the remaining 0.910 for future use. 

As compared to other industrial sites within the park, the impact of this site is minimal due to the small footprint of the development.  The current site appears to have been an old pasture site due to the old fencing and large cedar trees that were observed during initial inspections of the property.  The plan for the site is to remove the trees and undergrowth from about 21,000 sq. ft., 0.5 acres, within the 1.024 Ac. owned by CVEC.  This disturbed/developed area for CVEC’s broadband site only covers approximately 0.3% of the total area within the Industrial Park.  This open area will be used for development of an entrance road to the site from Litchfield Drive, construction of the fiber hut (10’x20’), a concrete pad for a generator (8’x12’) and a concrete pad (7’x14’) for a propane tank.   The purpose of the generator and propane tank is to provide uninterrupted backup electricity for the hut during a power outage to allow customers continued use of their broadband and Wi-Fi.   A portion of the cleared area will be utilized for stockpiling topsoil to be spread back onto the disturbed slopes and for the routing of the underground conduits bringing electricity to the site and running fiber out to CVEC’s electrical distribution lines. 

Upon completion of the construction of the site, there will be minimal traffic entering and exiting the property.  It is estimated that there might be a vehicle or two a week, if that much, with someone just checking on things to be sure that everything is functioning properly. 

The site will be served by electricity supplied by CVEC from an existing enclosure just east of the property and on or near the right of way of Litchfield Drive.  The electric service will be underground to the site where a pad mounted transformer will be placed to provide service to the fiber hut.  There is no restroom within the hut so there will be no need for water or sewer hookups.  The only public service supplied by Orange County that may be utilized would be existing law enforcement services performing periodic visits to the industrial park and noting any suspicious activities.  Existing street lights along Litchfield Drive will remain in place and a single entry light will be installed on the fiber hut for evening visibility.    There will be a fence around the generator and propane tank of a style acceptable to Orange County. 

As noted earlier, the site is 1.024 Ac. in size, with approximately 0.5 Ac. being disturbed as a part of the construction.  Of the 0.5 Ac. that is being disturbed, only approximately 0.2 Ac. will be covered with stone, pavement, or other structures (building, generator, & propane tank).  The remaining portion of the disturbed area will be graded banks and erosion control measures necessary for the development.  Upon completion of the construction, all slopes will be covered with topsoil and erosion control fabric to maximize the potential for a good strong stand of grass to hold the banks in place.   

Stormwater will be handled by infiltration ditches that we have utilized in the construction of the other Firefly sites.  These ditches minimize the velocity of the storm water within the channels and allows the water to infiltrate as opposed to being collected and channeled to the existing storm sewer within the park.  There is an existing drop inlet in the low area of the site that carries the stormwater from the south side of Litchfield Drive to the north of the road.  Assuming the soils are fairly good within the site, it is anticipated that there will be minimal water leaving the site during a storm event. 

As noted, this site is within the Thomas E. Lee Industrial Park and is bounded on the west side by Lohman Corporation on a 12 acre tract, on the southeast by the 0.9 Ac. parcel retained by the Industrial Development Authority of Orange County and to the northeast is Litchfield Drive.  Adjacent to the IDA property is PMC Distribution, which is located on a 23 acre tract.  There will be no impact on the Lohman Corporation site because the existing woods and undergrowth adjacent to their property line will remain in place.  The CVEC site will be graded into the side of a hill between the remaining property of the IDA and Lohman Corporation and will be visible from the remaining property of the IDA, who sold the parcel to CVEC for development of the fiber site, and Litchfield Drive.  The IDA has worked with and continues to work with CVEC in the purchase and development of the property. 

There are no costs or negative impacts to the county.  There are a number of benefits including additional tax base since the assets are taxed annually, increased home values with FTTH broadband service available, and overall higher quality of life in the rural areas with improved electric system service and broadband internet access. 

CVEC takes pride in developing a neat and orderly site for the development of their facilities.  They can be seen from many of the roads throughout their service area.  Their track record speaks for itself and has been welcomed by all the Counties in which we have worked.  Feel free to speak with any of the officials associated with the approvals of these facilities.  The engineers, contractors, line crews, and other personnel that are a part of the Firefly team, trust that you will find this infrastructure as a benefit allowing for community and economic development that will raise the quality of life in the communities and rural settings of Orange County.   

I make myself available to answer any other questions, concerns, or comments you might have in reference to this project and this Special Use Permit application.  I can be reached at massie@saunderssurveys.com, 434-277-8574 (home and office) and at 434-841-5684 (cell). 

P. Massie Saunders, Jr.
Land Surveyor, Professional Engineer
Saunders’ Surveys, Inc.
Agent for Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

SUP 21-03 Application
SUP 21-03 Narrative
SUP 21-03 Proposed Site Plan

For questions regarding SUP 21-03, please email Planning Services.

Location

Disclaimer: The map shows the general location of the case. Information is updated weekly on Friday. For additional information, email Planning Services or call (540) 672-4347.