Fluvanna Considers Compassionate Billing, Zion’s Rezoning, and Insufficient Infrastructure Appeal

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

One the longest regular Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meetings in recent history included a little bit of everything.

The supervisors voted to set pricing and the collection of payment for transport emergency services.

The county will charge 125 percent of what Medicare sets. It will adjust as Medicare changes its maximum rates. The pricing passed 4-0, Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) was not present for the meeting.

The more hot button issue is how it will be collected.

Ullenbruch2014

Bob Ullenbruch

Insurance companies, like Medicare, sets maximums to what patients can be charged for transport services. If an insurance company sets a rate, typically it will pay a percentage of that total. In that case, residents would be charged the remaining balance, between what the insurance company allows to be charged and what the insurance company pays.

Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) wanted only insurance companies charged, not directly to residents. Charging insurance companies only requires an opinion of the Office of Inspector General. Staff stressed it is not an easy process but can be done in three months.

The option that passed, called ‘compassionate billing’ charges the insurance company based on its policies. The county’s third-party for billing collects from the insurance company then sends the remainder of the charge to the resident. The resident’s charges can be forgiven all or a portion of the bill based on income levels.

“Proof of inability to pay is insulting and demeaning,” said Ullenbruch.

‘Compassionate billing’ passed on a 3-1 vote. Supervisors later can decide to change to ‘insurance only’.

Supervisors also passed the rezoning of land on Route 15 near the county border in the Zion Crossroads area. The property was zoned A-1 and now rezoned to I-1. The applicant intends to use it for landscape stone company but the zoning allows other industrial uses.

Supervisors were leery of the rezoning because the property is near the Route 250 intersection and the county has longingly eyed the area for major development, once a water system is installed.

A water system for just the area would cost several million dollars and has been debated for decades because of hopes of money coming back to the county by way of water rates and commercial tax base. I-1 uses aren’t as lucrative for tax base as B-1 uses.

water bibThe issue currently is the land doesn’t have water yet. In fact, the supervisors still haven’t fully approved a water system. I-1 uses typically use less water than B-1. This is the second rezoning to I-1 in the area in the past few months.

“Are we focusing on what the vision is?” said Ullenbruch as the rezoning came up.

Supervisors really are at the mercy of the market on how things are developed, unless the county buys land and develops it itself.

Supervisors have discussed creating zoning overlays that would allow ‘fast tracked’ rezoning. The idea of an overlay is to tell the market what the county is most interested in properties becoming. Most of the property in Zion Crossroads is A-1, like the rest of the county.

Supervisors passed the rezoning 4-0.

Also unanimously approved was the denial of an appeal regarding a decision of the county’s subdivision agent.

The county has been issuing building and occupancy permits to properties that are in subdivisions that do not have public roads. Subdivisions are required to have public roads but because of the bursting of the housing bubble, some have been left with inadequate roads according to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  standards.

The county had been issuing permits incorrectly for these questionable properties. Now the county is denying any more permit requests for properties that are on roads that are supposed to be public but are not completed.

Liberty Homes, Home Builder in VALiberty Homes, the owner of the remaining lots in Cunningham Meadows, has recently completed a house and had a contract of sale for it. When applying for the certificate of occupancy, it was denied because the road is not public.

Liberty Homes appealed the decision to the supervisors because permits have been previously issued. The subdivision has multiple occupied houses. Other subdivisions not in compliance have occupied houses.

The appellant asked for the appeal because other homes have been incorrectly granted permits. The appellant viewed this similar to the other properties.

Fred Payne, the county attorney, argued that the property in question is clearly in violation of the subdivision ordinance and should be denied. He further showed is different because Liberty Homes, in his opinion, is the developer of the property, not just an owner of lots.

When Liberty purchased the remaining lots of the subdivision, an appraiser noted the lots ‘as is’ were less than typical market value because the infrastructure of the subdivision was ‘nearly complete’. The appraisal, provided by the appellant, notes it was “adjusted for the estimated cost to complete the infrastructure.”

The estimated costs to complete the road to VDOT standards is less than $200,000, Payne said. Liberty Homes still currently owns nine lots in the subdivision.

Neil Talegaonkar, lawyer representing Liberty Homes, said following the denial of the appeal, “We have a right to appeal to circuit court. We will evaluate and see if that’s something we are interested in.”

The next Board of Supervisors meeting is Aug. 5 at 4 p.m. There is no meeting on the third Wednesday in the month of August.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

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