Residents surrounding Lynchburg lake raise concerns about impact of nearby development

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) For more than 50 years, Lakeland Lake has been the centerpiece of a neighborhood where residents own a piece of the man-made-waterway itself.

Chuck Richardson bought a house next to the lake in 1969 and raised a family there.

"I saw that lake and I had two young sons. I said this is a wonderful place to have for your kids," Richardson said of his first visit to the neighborhood.

For years Richardson said the lake remained mostly unchanged, until new housing developments started being constructed along nearby Leesville Road.

"We have problems, and we've had problems from day one with the developments," explained Richardson, who said the clearing of properties at higher elevations has changed the way water drains downhill.

Richardson and his wife, Rebecca, worry the lake could be overwhelmed in the event of a heavy rainfall, causing its earthen dam to fail.

"We've had big issues with the state about our earthen dam," Rebecca Richardson said. "We've had to lower the lake by 16 inches. We've had to pay for very expensive studies to be done."

Concerns about the lake prompted the Richardsons and others to oppose rezoning for an 87-unit townhouse development on Leesville Road.

On Tuesday night Lynchburg City Council voted to table the rezoning request after hearing from neighbors.

The Richardsons hope the issues they and others raised will cause city leaders to pay closer attention to how stormwater runoff is impacting their lake.

"We've lost 15 or 20 percent of our lake already since I've been here," Chuck Richardson said. "Every time they build something, you have mud and stuff running into it."

Tuesday night's action by city council doesn't mean the townhomes nearby won't be built. The developer can come back later with an amended proposal.