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Posted In: James River

New Conservation Easements Protect Important View of James River

Andy Thompson

January 5, 2017 10:50am

The Capital Region Land Conservancy had some good news to announce this morning for those who think Richmond’s stretch of the James River  — and views of it — is worth preserving as is.

For the past 25 years, the CRLC wrote in a statement, private property owners Mark and Donna Romer and Dorothy Cleal had an agreement that they would not develop their adjoining properties without consulting each other. Late last month, they took the ultimate act to formalize this agreement in perpetuity by recording conservation easements on their parcels at 5513 and 5517 Riverside Drive respectively.

The CRLC facilitated the review and recording of these two easements covering 1.4 acres for the purpose of protecting the watershed and scenic views of the James River from the scenic byway Riverside Drive and the view of the surrounding landscape from the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. In addition, these properties adjoin the James River Park System and portions of the park that the City of Richmond protected by a conservation easement in 2009. They thus provide a further buffer for the natural resources and recreational uses protected there.

Under Virginia’s Conservation Easement Act, a conservation easement is a voluntary act of the property owner and must be compatible with the locality’s comprehensive plan. The City’s Master Plan recommends that “the recreational, aesthetic, and environmental attributes of the James River be protected and enhanced in a way consistent with its role as a unique urban waterway.”

“Sharing similar goals, we were able to work as a team to not only donate the conservation easement but to make sure our neighbors and visitors would always be able to enjoy this very special view of the James River,” said Dorothy Cleal.

Parker Agelasto, Executive Director of the Capital Region Land Conservancy said “the Romer and Cleal easements are unique examples of land conservation in an urban environment where development pressures threaten important viewsheds and encroach on existing protected lands.”

Here’s a link to the area in question in Richmond’s Westover Hills neighborhood. As you can see, it’s absolutely a view worth protecting.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?