The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Landslide work well under way
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
A landslide behind two houses in the Austin Ridge subdivision in Stafford County is scheduled to be repaired by mid-September at a cost of $150,000.
Residents could move back into the homes, at 116 and 118 Brush Everard Court, in December.
The county declared the residences uninhabitable last fall after their back yards turned into an 80-foot-deep hole in the wake of the Aug. 23 earthquake and two major storms.
County officials, who are overseeing the restoration project, held a press conference in front of the North Stafford homes Tuesday. The work, which began in late July, would have cost about $500,000 without help from individuals and businesses, Stafford Deputy County Administrator Keith Dayton said.
“This was truly a community effort, and no one does community better than Stafford County,” said Ty Schieber, who represents Austin Ridge on the county Board of Supervisors.
A local quarry provided about 1,500 tons of rock at an “attractive price” for a recently completed barrier behind the homes, Dayton said. Newland Communities—developer of nearby Embrey Mill—is donating at least 7,750 cubic yards of dirt to fill in the damaged site.
Workers will also install a drainage system.
“This is really an effort that involves a number of different companies,” Dayton said. “We couldn’t have gotten as far as we have without their assistance.”
The county plans to pay for the work with private donations—Ebenezer United Methodist Church has raised about $70,000—and $62,000 in developer’s bonds from Austin Ridge released last year.
Also, the county has applied for $52,000 from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Dan O’Leary, who owns the home at 118 Brush Everard, said he has a lot of faith in the project.
“We’re amazed, quite frankly,” said O’Leary, who attended Tuesday’s event with his wife, Michele. “We have a lot of confidence because we know that engineers who understand these sorts of problems have been involved.”
The slope behind the homes had problems before last year’s landslide, and a retaining wall was constructed in 2005. This is the first time a third-party has overseen the fixes, O’Leary said.
He purchased another home in Spotsylvania County and says he’s not sure what he’ll do with his Austin Ridge property.
“There are probably a lot of different things on the table option wise, but we’ve got to figure that out,” O’Leary said. He said he has adult children who could move in.
Ora Barnes, who owns the other affected home, has moved in with her son in Haymarket. She did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
A $15,000 report by Froehling & Robertson Inc. stated that the slope had marginal stability before the land was developed.
The typical solution to landslides is a large block or cement retaining wall, Dayton said.
“It’s not conventional but the result is still the same,” he said of the project. “This took advantage of using materials that fit our budgetary requirements.”
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
- Jeff Branscome