By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors got in its last minute items in a long meeting on December 16.
Three residents spoke during public comments regarding the Special Use Permits of the James River Water Authority (JRWA) intake and a Louisa County owned water line that failed to pass. In an unusual move, chairperson Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) wanted to immediately address the comments.
One issue was raised because the supervisors had on their agenda to vote to ‘ratify’ the November 20 vote on the addendum to the interjurisdictional agreement. That controversial vote was 2-1 with Don Weaver (Cunningham District) dissenting, Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) not present and Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) recused.
Fred Payne, the county attorney, felt a vote on December 16 was not necessary to ratify the previous action. His reasoning is all parties to the contract had agreed to the addendum so Fluvanna was bound to it regardless of if the ratification occurred.
Booker said the decision to include it was to show the public the supervisors felt it was a correct action because some residents questioned if the vote was legal.
“[Ratifying the vote] would eliminate one possible argument,” Payne agreed.
“I thought my voice was taken away by that,” said Ullenbruch. He said had he known it would be on the agenda, it would’ve been a different situation.
Supervisors passed the ratification 3-1 with Weaver still dissenting. Sheridan is currently not at board meetings for health reasons.
Weaver protested even having the vote because it found it odd the supervisors would vote on something they already voted on. He said it was confusing. He did agree the addendum was favorable for the county and commended Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) for working on it.
“You got more consideration than we would have had if we just approved [the previous agreement],” Weaver said to O’Brien.
Supervisors also approved more ordinance changes that brought county laws into agreement with state and federal changes. One was the sign ordinance.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that government couldn’t restrict signs based on content without strict scrutiny. Fluvanna had restricted political signs differently than other temporary signs.
The new changes to the ordinance now eliminate the political signs subset and all temporary signs are held to the same standard. Temporary signs can only be displayed 60 days prior to the event and 10 days after.
This change actually does not extend the limit on political signs but on temporary signs. In Fluvanna, political signs had 60 days but temporary signs only had 30 days prior to the event. They both had 10 days after the event.
Also, in seemingly direct violation of the Reed decision, the state passed a law requiring the localities to issue permits for ‘going out of business sales.’ The reasoning was the permitting eliminated businesses to have ‘going out of business sales’ repetitively. The state wants only businesses really closing to have such sales.
The county has to issue permits for these sales now and never previously had an ordinance addressing it. The fee for permit is $50. It was proposed at $65.
Supervisors also received the FY2015 comprehensive annual financial report. The audit gave the highest marks possible.
Ullenbruch was honored for his service on the board the past four years. His familiar line of ‘do your job’ was listed on his going away cake. At the start of the meeting he received a plaque. He said it would be hard to walk away.
“I say a lot of stuff and you know I don’t mean 97 percent of it. I love you all,” Ullenbruch said directly to county staff. He said over the last four years the staff has made the county better.
The next supervisor meeting is January 6 at 4 p.m. It will be the first meeting for supervisor-elect Patricia Eager. She fills Ullenbruch’s Palmyra seat. At the first meeting of the year, supervisors will elect a chairperson, vice chairperson and set meeting dates and times.
2016 will mark the first time in four years Ullenbruch will not be the vice chairman.
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Photo Credit: Fluvanna County