By William J. Des Rochers
Fluvanna Field Officer
Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors Chairman Marvin Moss (Cunningham) had a relatively straightforward idea at the July 16th meeting: supervisors should have a discussion at their August session of a possible reassessment next year. The Board could debate the pros and cons and make a determination. Declining real estate values would suggest that homes are over assessed, according to the Chairman.
Even a discussion of the idea was too much for three members: supervisors Charles Allbaugh (Rivanna), Gene Ott (Rivanna), and Don Weaver (Cunningham) signaled their opposition, and the idea died on the table.
Mr. Allbaugh pointed out that any reassessment that would result in a lower property assessment likely would hamper homeowners’ ability to borrow against the value of their homes. Mr. Ott stated that if the assessments came in at a lower level then the tax rate would have to rise to compensate for potential lost revenue. Mr. Weaver reiterated his longstanding objection to county assessors, citing potential appearances of conflicts and favoritism.
Mr. Moss is correct regarding declining values. Through May of this year, according to county records, the sale prices of homes in Fluvanna are running at about ninety percent of the assessed value. On a $250,000 home, that suggests that the county is receiving a tax windfall of about $120 over what would be paid at that ninety percent level.
Land Use Issues
Planning Director Darren Coffey outlined some new land use application procedures that the supervisors endorsed. To make the process more transparent, and insulated from charges of favoritism, Mr. Coffey announced the following:
• Developers will now participate in a pre-application meeting to have a better understanding of the process and hopefully submit a higher quality application;
• There will be a neighborhood meeting for rezoning applications and special use permits prior to the Technical Review Committee meeting. This would provide for earlier citizen input in the process and more information for both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors; and,
• The planning staff no longer will make a recommendation when submitting its staff report. Coffey stated that it was important for the staff to remain credible and neutral throughout the process, and that the staff should not make policy recommendations but rather “accurately and fairly evaluate each application that is submitted”.
Supervisors also referred to the Planning Commission certain zoning and subdivision ordinance amendments for a public hearing and consideration at the Commissioners’ August 27th meeting. These amendments respond to the recent court decision that overturned the county’s special use permit requirement for central water and sewer systems. Supervisors will vote on the proposals in September.
The Board also addressed several other planning issues. Supervisors:
• Approved a rezoning application by Fluvanna Auto LLC to rezone 7 acres from A-1 (Agricultural, General) to B-1 Business (General) in the Zion Crossroads area of the Palmyra district;
• Deferred until September 17th a request by the Fluvanna-Louisa Foundation to rezone 1.4 acres from R-1 Residential (Limited) to R-2 Residential (General). This is to obtain additional information from the Fork Union Sanitation District and the Department of Environmental Health regarding concerns with potential water contamination;
• Revoked, by mutual agreement, the special use permit (SUP 01:07) previously provided to CPV Cunningham Creek LLC. The revocation was for failure to construct of a power production plant (Rivanna district);
• Received a verbal and written notification from Kingsbridge Land Partners regarding their intent to construct a sewerage system for their major cluster subdivision of 28 lots. According to County Attorney Frederick W. Payne, this notification is required under Virginia law since the new zoning amendments regarding such facilities have not been enacted. The issue will be brought back to the Board at its September 3rd meeting.
A Gift for the County?
County Administrator G. Cabell Lawton IV informed the Board that Enviro-Klean has offered to give the county an alternative wastewater treatment system at the ARC building in Kent Store with eventual connection to the new Kent Store firehouse.
According to Mr. Mike Clark the owner of Enviro-Klean, and the successful litigant against the county in the recent lawsuit over the by-right use for such systems, the county will receive a package worth about $30,000, including five years of free maintenance.
Supervisors asked the staff to evaluate the proposal. If the county were to accept the offer, it might be perceived as undercutting the position of those who argue that such systems are unproven and should not be permitted until regulations are in place governing their use. Conversely, if the county were to reject the offer, others might object to spending taxpayer funds on a project that could have been provided for free.
The next Board meeting will be held at the county courthouse on August 6th at 2:00 pm in the Courthouse. In keeping with the Board’s tradition, this will be the only August meeting.