The James River Water Authority and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources seem to have different definitions of “rejection.”

The JRWA wants to build a water pump station at Point of Fork, which is also the historic site of the Monacan capital, Rassawek.

The historic resources department recently told the JRWA that the consultant it had hired to evaluate the archaeological significance of the site did not meet the state’s requirements.

It also said the JRWA had not obtained landowner permission for access to parts of the project.

The authority is objecting to the department’s rejection of its permit request.

The VDHR, however, said its decision wasn’t an outright rejection, but rather a notice that additional information was needed — including, apparently, another consultant.

Part of the problem seems to be different interpretations of the process.

The JRWA reads the letter as hard-and-fast “No”; the VDHR’s explanation for the meaning of its letter seems to be “No, not yet” or “No, not like this.”

The JRWA alludes to this in its reply, saying the VDHR letter was “unclear.”

But there’s more. The authority also objects to some of the department’s comments on their face, saying the VDHR letter contained statements that were “inaccurate.”

It also says that the consultant’s work has been accepted by the department in other cases.

We can understand that a rejection of part of a permit request might not have been intended as a rejection of the entire concept — only that portions were inadequate.

We can also understand that the applicant might see the decision as more encompassing, especially if the department found fault with several items of the request.

This is both a problem of semantics and of facts. But if the two entities could agree on a common definition of “rejection,” they might clear the ground to then come to a better and mutual understanding of the facts in question.

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