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Dam study lacks cost estimate; dredging study next

Last November, Charlottesville’s City Council passed a resolution calling for a raft of studies related to the community’s 50-year water supply plan. The move came amid continued controversy about the plan that Council and other local bodies adopted in 2006, and followed an announcement that Gannett Fleming, the engineering firm hired to implement the plan, […]

Richard Spurzem lawsuit spurs 'em

Richard Spurzem lawsuit spurs 'em

Last October, developer Richard Spurzem of Neighborhood Properties decided that going through Albemarle County’s approval process for preliminary site plans was no longer an attractive plan. Having had his plans for 187 townhouse units (part of the North Pointe megadevelopment on 29N) rejected twice by county planners, and facing the prospect of a third review, […]

June 2009: The incredible shrinking footprint

June 2009: The incredible shrinking footprint

Fred Oesch and Debbie Davis in the 1,200-square-foot, octagonal house he designed for her in North Garden. Davis and her sister laid the Buckingham slate floor; her Murphy bed folds out of the wall behind the easy chair. It’s an overcast day, and inside a small clearing on Debbie Davis’ 26-acre property, the sunlight is […]

June 2009: To tie, or not to tie?

June 2009: To tie, or not to tie?

It’s easy to talk about getting off the grid, but how many of us would actually do it? As Fred Oesch’s first residential client who wanted to live completely disconnected from utility systems, Debbie Davis is unusually committed to her green goals. “In general principle, she wanted to be off the grid,” says Oesch. “That […]

June 2009: Building with bales

June 2009: Building with bales

If you’ve done any reading about straw-bale construction, you know that the epicenter of American straw-bale enthusiasm is far away, in states like Arizona and Utah. But there are a number of straw-bale houses in Central Virginia, including those that Fred Oesch has designed. Skeptics might question the use of a moisture-sensitive material in this […]

June 2009: Toolbox

June 2009: Toolbox

Measure for measure Tape measure: The simplest, most idiot-proof tool in the universe, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because any schmoe can take a measurement for a couch or a rug. No, because if your numbers have to be at all precise, a little quality makes a big difference in a seemingly very basic […]

June 2009: Double duty

June 2009: Double duty

Anita Gupta Lots of people look for a big kitchen when they’re house-shopping—sometimes more because of looks than function. Not so with Anita Gupta. The enormous granite-topped island in her kitchen is an essential feature, because she runs a business making custom cakes for weddings and birthdays. “This was the thing I needed the most,” […]