Sports complex asks for more time for waste disposal issue

MILFORD—Owners of the Virginia Sports Complex are asking Caroline County officials for more time to solve the facility’s waste disposal problem.

The facility along U.S. Route 1 near Carmel Church has over 150,000 visitors annually. But the facility, which opened in 2004, is not connected to a municipal sewage treatment system and does not have its own treatment system either, said Michael A. Finchum, director of planning and community development for the county.

“Right now they operate under a county pump and haul permit,” Finchum said. “They have a large septic tank on site, and septic flows to that tank. They pump septic waste into a truck and it’s hauled to the county waste water treatment plant.”

The pump-and-haul system at VSC was allowed by the county as a temporary system. But VSC owners are asking the county government for an additional seven years to either connect to the county’s wastewater treatment system or to build a gigantic septic tank with a drain field so large that it could possibly shut down one of the baseball fields.

In 2009, VSC owners agreed to this written condition: “Applicant shall connect to the county sewer system with 24 months…If public sewer is not available, then the applicant shall install a permanent on-site treatment system and discontinue use of the temporary pump and haul.”

Finchum said the 113-acre VSC is several miles away from the county system’s  nearest hookup, and hooking up to the system could cost VSC several hundred thousand dollars.

The county could build a “forced main system from the VSC site up to Carmel Church” and VSC would have to pay for it. “The preferred option would be a gravity system,” Finchum said.

Gary Wilson, director of Caroline County Economic Development and Tourism, “has been looking for ways to help them finance a connection,” Finchum said. VSC “has a prospect who wants to purchase the sports complex” but the prospective buyer wants the septic issue resolved before proceeding with the purchase, he added.

The request for more time on the septic issue came before the Caroline County Planning Commission on Sept.18. The six commissioners voted unanimously to defer the matter until the next meeting on Oct. 16. No one was at the planning commission meeting to represent VSC.

The planning staff, represented at the meeting by county planner Angela Pitts, had recommended that the planning commission defer the matter. Originally, it was on the agenda for the Sept. 24 Caroline County Board of Supervisors meeting but has been removed.

During the planning commission meeting, Commissioner Timothy Thompson asked if VSC had originally submitted drawings for a sewer system, and Pitts said no.

The county’s existing sewer lines are south of VSC along Route 1 at Union First Market Bank and north along Route 1 at Pendleton.

Finchum noted that plenty of small businesses along U.S. 1 and U.S. 301 south of Bowling Green have their own septic tank and drain fields because they are out of reach of the county wastewater treatment system. Some of those systems are no bigger than that of a house.

The problem with VSC, however, is that it might produce several thousand gallons of wastewater during a peak day or weekend. “You can’t just put a drain field anywhere,” Finch said. “It depends on how good the soils are and how well they percolate.”

Another condition VSC owners agreed to in 2009 is that they would pave the gravel road that leads to the complex. They are asking for another two years to do that.

The VSC website at http://www.vasportscomplex.com/ says the complex consists of “eight state of the art outdoor fields and an indoor facility that has eight batting cages, four volleyball courts, two basketball courts, full indoor turf field and other areas for private parties and meetings.” Caroline High School baseball teams played games at VSC in 2012.

The complex closed temporarily in 2010. Estimates indicated then that the complex had a $12 million economic impact on Caroline County. VSC hosts several baseball and softball tournaments every weekend from March to November and these average 30 to 60 teams from all over the East Coast.

In addition, VSC holds baseball camps and training clinics throughout the year.

The complex has other events, such as regional battle of the bands contests and  cornhole league competition.

Posted on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm