Fones Cliffs still endangered by development

The June 13 article concerning the would-be Fones Cliffs developer filing for bankruptcy left me frustrated and heartbroken, yet clutching to a glimmer of hope.

I am frustrated that this proposed development, which has floundered since the property was rezoned in 2015, is still being discussed. After multiple environmental violations that resulted in the Virginia Attorney General filing suit, failing to pay taxes or obligations to local vendors, inability to meet the county’s regulatory deadlines, and now filing bankruptcy, one would hope that this ill-conceived development proposal would be put to rest.



Now we hear for the first time that the golf course idea is abandoned, confirming what the Chesapeake Conservancy and others have been saying for years about its economic viability.

Countering that good news was the startling proposal for a 300-room hotel and a cluster of 10-story condos! This would be gut-wrenching for the people and organizations that are working to conserve the exceptional natural and cultural values there.

No more so than for the Rappahannock Tribe, which in 1608 encountered Capt. John Smith at the exact location where the condos are proposed to loom just feet from the cliff’s edge.

My optimism comes from the fact that The Conservation Fund and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just completed a transaction to permanently protect 252 acres at Fones Cliffs that had also been slated for development, but is now part of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. By virtue of its location and history, it is an important feature of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

Chesapeake Conservancy was pleased to successfully advocate for the funding that was used in the Fones Cliffs purchase as well as other recent land acquisitions.

We are further pleased that Richmond County is now armed with a healthy sense of skepticism about the efficacy of any development project at Fones Cliffs, which we will continue to monitor with all the vigilance it deserves.

Joel Dunn

President & CEO,

Chesapeake Conservancy

Load comments