Tag Archives: Fluvanna

Fluvanna BOS Approves Conservation Easement – Removes 331 Residential Units; Approves Two New Zion X-Roads Industrial Operations

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna County’s once unpopular Poplar Ridge residential subdivision proposal is now officially dead.

During a February 15 meeting, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a conservation easement for the property.  Poplar Ridge was approved in August 2014 for 156 single family attached units and 175 single family detached units situated on the 232 acres. The property is just north of Palmyra, next to Camp Friendship. The conservation easement will severely restrict the usage of the property and that’s the goal of the owner. The owner receives tax benefits for conserving the land.

“The effect on this is to restrict land in perpetuity,” said the county’s attorney, Fred Payne.
Payne explained to the supervisors to change this conservation easement is very difficult because it requires action by the federal, state and local governments.  “In effect what you are doing is locking this property in the state it is now,” said Payne.  The easement restricts the lands usage so much, Payne estimated there wouldn’t be many usages available because the zoning restrictions are also in effect.
For example, the land is zoned R-3 which is for development of more village-like housing. The easement now restricts building or subdividing but allows hunting. The zoning doesn’t allow hunting.
Jack Hanssen, lawyer for the applicant, said, “[The applicant] reserved the right to donate this [land] for a public park.”

Supervisors also approved two rezoning requests in the Zion Crossroads area.

The first was for Wilson Ready-Mix Concrete plant, to be built just east of the Fluvanna Women’s Correctional Facility.  The concrete plant would have a retail area but would mainly be for creating and transporting concrete out.  Frank Gallo was the only person to speak during the public hearing. He spoke out against rezoning area in Zion Crossroads to industrial because the area should be a commercial area, especially because of the investment in water the county will be making in the coming years.

Gallo said, “If you build it, they will come. But the flip side of it is if you screw it up, they won’t.”

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) agreed with Gallo the county needs to keep in mind the investment in water would return higher dollar in commercial. “He raises an excellent point,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien did counter, “With the jail next door and certain industrial (land) nearby, this may fit in.”

Eager2016Cropped

Patricia Eager

Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) applauded an industrial company coming into the county. “I came from an industrial area,” said Eager. “We need good industries. We need concrete.”

The rezoning passed unanimously.

The supervisors also unanimously approved Foster Fuels’ rezoning request to industrial. The property is located in the Zion Crossroad Industrial Park and across from Red Rocker Candy. Foster Fuels application included a provision to have two 30,000 gallon propane Image result for foster fuelsfuel tanks on the property.  Currently Foster Fuels services propane to the area by filling delivery trucks at an Afton location. This new location will greatly help Foster Fuel service the area better.

Other action by the supervisors was appointing everyone who desired to be on the Broadband Access Taskforce. The supervisors couldn’t narrow down the applicants for the committee. The group will meet until October in an effort to improve Fluvanna’s broadband access in rural areas.

The Board of Supervisors also finalized plans to make the county more energy efficient. The money spent on the project is guaranteed to be offset by energy savings.

The next supervisors will next meet for a work session on February 22. The bulk of the time will be spent on agency updates. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Morris Room.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County, Foster Fuels

Fluvanna Goes Green & Saves Green

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Energy-Conservation-dollar-sign photo credit xconomyFluvanna’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to pay for energy upgrades via debt financing.

The annual debt payment of $560,000 is offset by the upgrade savings. Trane, the company providing the upgrades guarantees the county will save over $600,000 annually in operation and maintenance costs.

The most frequent update of facilities will be building envelopes at every county facility. The second is changing lighting at all buildings except the administration building. Other planned upgrades are programmable thermostats.

The highest dollar upgrade is at Central Elementary, a planned $3.4 million upgrade to the central plant and controls.

Also at the January 18 meeting, supervisors made a policy regarding salaries of newly elected constitutional officers. There was no current stated policy but the county was paying any newly elected officer the same as the outgoing officer.

The state mandates a salary minimum but the county often increases the salary and pays the difference. On a 3-2 vote, the supervisors made the policy to be the minimum. Chairperson Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) and vice-chairperson Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) dissented.

The salary of an incoming constitutional officer can still be increased by Board of Supervisors action.

At the next meeting the county administrator Steve Nichols will present his budget proposal as the budget season heats up. The county departmental requests for FY18 were an increase of $2.5 million over the current fiscal year. That does not include the School Board request.

Few things are guaranteed in life. The energy savings might be, but all departments getting their full request in the Nichols budget is definitely not.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Photo Credit: Xconomy.com

Fluvanna Approves New Townhouses

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors approved a 40-unit townhouse community near Lake Monticello at its last meeting of 2016.

Rivanna Heights, approved on a 4-1 vote, is situated on land on South Boston Road (Route 600). The development is up the hill on South Boston, up the hill from the intersection with Lake Monticello Road (Route 618).

Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) raised concerns about where the community sits on the road. “My primary concern is of the people that will live there,” said Eager.

The road’s speed limit is 45 mph and will now add a community in between the intersection with Lake Monticello Road and the Riverside section of Lake Monticello.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) said, “I’d rather see this further up the road than it is right now.” He also mentioned the county might have to lobby the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to lower the speed limit of the windy road in the future.

The community will have a separate entrance and exit. The homes will form a triangle with two way traffic allowed on two sides but all traffic will have to funnel through the entire community. VDOT required to have one way traffic for a certain distance from entrances and exits.

Developers are giving the public safety officers an area to run radar and will also have emergency entrance.

Rivanna Heights is expected to have townhouses with 1,300 square feet, priced between $180,000 to $240,000. Representatives of the applicant repeatedly called the development “affordable housing.”

“You can get a free standing house for $200,000,” said Eager.

Eager was the lone vote against the development.

In the first meeting of 2017, the supervisors are keeping status quo of board leadership with chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) as chairman for 2017.

In an primer to the FY18 budget season, supervisors were updated by staff. The reassessment equalized real estate rate will be $0.882 per $100 assessed. The current tax rate is $0.917 per $100.

The county’s savings account, known as the “Fund Balance”, has an unrestricted balance of $8.4 million. In June the unrestricted balance was $9.1 million. The county also keeps an additional 12 percent of the budget ($8.1 million) as a reserve.

County administrator Steve Nichols will formally present his FY18 budget on February 1.

The next supervisors meeting is January 18 at 7 p.m.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

2016 – A Year of Exits (Executive and Grade Separated)

By. Neil Williamson, President

https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/top-ten-list.jpg?w=179&h=161At this time each year, I take time to look in the rearview and see what issues we have covered that have garnered the most attention.  As usual, I am amazed, and thankful, for the large number of people who read and financially support our work.

Here are the Free Enterprise Forum Top Ten 2016 Shaking My Head (SMH) Moments

#10 Is Charlottesville the $17.86 Million Court Jester?

Imagine you are a mayor or a City Manager, if a major employer and economic driver in your city was poised to leave, how would you respond?Image result for Court Jester

Perhaps its just me, but I would likely fight like heck to keep them in the city.  It is much easier to retain a major employer than to attract one.

But what if the employer is actually an arm of a neighboring government, should that matter? …

If Albemarle decides to bring $17.86 million of ‘County’ economic activity back to Albemarle, Charlottesville may end up looking as wise as the Court Jester this Halloween.

 

#9 Bananas and Albemarle’s Outdated Economic Opportunity Map

Imagine being in the banana business — and you have no way to obtain fruit.Image result for Albemarle county development area

That is Albemarle County’s current economic development sales position: “Yes, we have no bananas.”

“If a manufacturer calls interested in locating near a highway, we tell them, ‘We have nothing for you,’. Prospect businesses are looking to move within three to six months if they are not looking to build. We tell them, ‘We have no product ready to go today.’” – Faith McClintic, Albemarle County’s economic development director

#8 Greene Supervisors Approve Overspending FY17 Budget

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In just the second month of the new budget cycle, the Greene County Board of Supervisors discussed clip_image002two issues last night (8/23) that would allow the county to spend nearly $33,000 over the approved FY17 budget.

The first issue that County Administrator John Barkley explained was that several positions are needed to be brought up to market value. He further explained that supplemental funds are being requested to fund the $27,250 for the reclassification of positions. Surplus funds from the FY16 budget will allow the county to be able to fund this request.

#7 C’ville’s Hydraulic Houdini

What would you call it when Charlottesville works to make a primary pillar of an integrated

Trafficit knot  @ Proff Rd             Trafficlymead Town Center             @ Hol                       knotTrafficLakes ...

transportation program disappear?

The Hydraulic Houdini.

Please let me explain.

Those with even decent short term memory can remember the argument over the now defunct Western Bypass and the Route 29 “Solutions”.  Rather than building a limited access bypass around Charlottesville’s congestion (The Free Enterprise Forum supported), Bypass opponents proposed a series of integrated “solutions” would increase the existing roadway capacity.

My friend Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) even had a nifty PowerPoint Presentation regarding the  congestion

#6 Albemarle’s Executive Exodus x 2

Albemarle Executive Foley Finds Greener Pastures

Thomas FoleyWith rumors flying around Albemarle County (and Social Media) all day, a 4 pm Stafford County announcement made it official; County Executive Tom Foley is leaving Albemarle County to take up the same post in Stafford County.  In the announcement Stafford highlighted Foley’s service and temperament as key qualities they were looking for in their new administrator:

Albemarle is Losing Faith

leavingyourjobAs anticipated as the sun rising in the east, it is with absolutely no surprise that Albemarle County’s first Economic Development Director, Faith McClintic, will be leaving her position later this year.  In her short  18 month tenure, McClintic often found herself at odds with Planning Commissioners, some members of the public, this writer, and some elected officials.  In addition, she found herself without product as she said in August of this year:

“If a manufacturer calls interested in locating near a highway, we tell them, ‘We have nothing for you,’. Prospect businesses are looking to move within three to six months if they are not looking to build. We tell them, ‘We have no product ready to go today.’” – Faith McClintic, Albemarle County’s economic development director

#5 Albemarle and VDOT Create US29+Rio Lemonade

While the Free Enterprise Forum lost the battle against the US29/Rio Grade Separated Interchange (GSI), we have found Albemarle County (and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)) to be working exceedingly well together and significantly positively impacting the challenging business environment due to the roadway construction.

rio gsiIn the most recent Route 29 Solutions Project Delivery Advisory Panel meeting, former VDOT Commissioner and PDAP facilitator Philip Shucet indicated the next phase of the Rio GSI project, where the intersection will close for up to 103 days,  “Isn’t going to be a birthday party”.  This might be the understatement of the year.

#4 SOMEONE’s Shameful Sensationalism

Over the last dozen years, I have read literally hundreds of Albemarle County staff reports.  I tend to find the reports to be professional, concise, factually correct and devoid of generalizations or editorial commentary – until last week when I determined that SOMEONE  improperly and sensationally  used a tragedy to further an advocacy position in what was presented as an impartial staff analysis.

In an attempt to sensationalize the need for closing of Earlysville Road to truck traffic, SOMEONE has stooped so low as to cite a terrible teenage 2002 drunk driving accident as justification to overrule the technical analysis of professional traffic engineers.

#3 ‘Snob Zoning’ Crozet Master Plan in the Works?

Recently, C-ville magazine cover story posed the question, “Can Crozet maintain its small town charm snob-zones-640-for-web-194x300.jpgas its population increases?”

Perhaps the question should be “After millions of dollars of planning and infrastructure spending, should Crozet residents be allowed to stifle population and economic growth by hijacking the master planning process?”

We’ve recently learned such a plan is in the works.  And it is a bad idea….

The reality is the CCAC is opposed to density in the development area that is critical to achieve the philosophical goals of the Comprehensive Plan. The community vetted plan calls for densely populated development areas filled with amenities and services surrounded by less populated rural areas that are supportive of agriculture, forestry and open space.

In her seminal book “Snob Zoning”, Liza Prevost, exposed what happens when NIMBY zealots are able to change plans and regulations

#2 Fluvanna Land Use Fireworks

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

OBrien2014-photo-credit-Fluvanna-County_thumb.jpg

“I’m a little surprised board members are so happy to push this under the rug,” said Supervisor Tony O’Brien. . .

O’Brien said there were supervisors who should recuse themselves from the vote because they should know they aren’t compliant with the program.

Eager asked O’Brien to name who he thinks is not compliant as she has done everything to be compliant. He replied he never thought she wasn’t but questioned if Supervisor Don Weaver and chairperson Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) were compliant. He also thought Supervisor Mozell Booker might not be compliant but she was in a different arm of the program.

Sheridan said he asked a cooperative agent if he was in compliance and was told his practices were.

Fred Payne, county attorney, gave a legal opinion that supervisors do not have to recuse themselves just because they participate in the program.

O’Brien also suggested Mike Sheridan should recuse himself because Mel Sheridan is his brother.

Payne’s said Mike Sheridan had no need legally reason to recuse himself. He continued supervisors can always recuse themselves if they feel it is necessary but there was no legal reason to do so.

Weaver, who was quiet for the discussion, called for a vote which ended the discussion.

O’Brien said under his breath after the vote, “Embarrassing.”

#1 $52.5 Million Dollar Indecent Proposal – Albemarle Backs Off Threat to Wedding Industry

Last Tuesday evening, a rare joint meeting of the Albemarle County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors heard a great deal from both wedding venues and the vendors that support them.  Albemarle staff had prepared a proposed ordinance that, among other things, would limit the ability of wineries, breweries and distilleries to 24 events a year.  In the end the supervisors backed away from the most restrictive portion of the ‘indecent proposal’.

The testimony Tuesday was insightful and passionate.    Wedding Photographer Jen Fariello asked pointedly “Why are weddings being attacked?”  Wedding planner Adam Donovan-Groves [name correction 9:01 6/20 nw] told of one recent wedding whose local fiscal impact exceeded $250,000 musicians, gift packs, invitations, transportation, jewelry, photographer, etc.

Yes, 2016 has been a year of executive exits, speedy construction and threats of overregulation.  Through it all the Free Enterprise Forum continues to blog, tweet (@neilswilliamson) and Facebook about local issues of significant importance.

The year ahead is filled with promise: the promise of a national search for a new Albemarle County Executive, the promise of so called “Solutions” 29 being completed earlier than scheduled (looks like June), the promise of new form based code development in Charlottesville, as well as the promise of elections across all localities.

seats available2016 will also bring us the opportunity and privilege of attending and participating in  many more government meetings where important policy decisions are made and #SeatsAvailable.

Thank you for your support!

 

Happy New Year

Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

Real Estate Assessments (and E-911 Tower) Going Up In Fluvanna

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

As a part of its November 16th meeting the Fluvanna County  Board of Supervisors heard a report that Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal (BRMA) is finishing up a full assessment of the county.  It is expected properties with improvements (houses or buildings) will see an increase of 3 to 4 percent.

BRMA sent out notices to property owners on November 4th and to date has received less than 100 telephone calls. The Board of Equalization was appointed to hear official appeals.

Supervisors also approved change orders to the E-911 project. The most significant one being the least expensive. The supervisors approve the county purchasing a 100 feet by 100 feet square from Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC). The cost is $10.

CVEC is providing the land only for a public safety communication tower. If the county no longer needs the tower, the land would revert back to CVEC.

Besides how inexpensive the land transaction is, CVEC will also provide electrical service for the tower. Fluvanna can lease up to three additional spots on the planned 300-foot tower. The county will maintain the shelter for equipment but CVEC will provide the access road.

Other change orders were to continue using a company to provide project management, moving the Columbia School tower in a different location on the same property, elimination of requirement of grading that is not needed anymore and installation of fiber cable by Motorola.

In other business, the Supervisors expressed hope that more people will find their way to Pleasant Grove farm and museum.  The supervisors approved a funding request to apply for two directional signs on Route 15 South. The signs would help tourists coming from the Zion Crossroads I-64 exit to Pleasant Grove.

The application to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  would request the first sign be before the Routes 15 and 250 intersection saying how far and direction to the county owned park. The second sign would instruct drives to turn on to Route 53 in Palmyra.  The application is $100 per sign. There is an annual cost of $450 per sign.

Supervisors will have two public hearings regarding county code amendments at the December 21 meeting. The first is to correct referenced state code in an ordinance regarding solar panels. Don Weaver (Cunningham District) has solar panels on his property and abstained for the vote. Legal counsel said he didn’t need to but he could if he felt necessary.

Supervisors will also have a public hearing regarding the deadline for businesses to file for personal property taxes. Currently the deadline is February 1 but the Commissioner of Revenue can move it to March 15 without issue.

The first phase of the Palmyra Rescue Squad building is nearing completion. The county has increased lighting in bays, installed an HVAC building, improved the living area and improved the exterior.

Currently the squad houses the paid professional crew 24-hours a day. Volunteers also operate out of the building.

Supervisors will next meet on December 7 at 4 p.m.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Fluvanna Examines Energy Savings to Fund Infrastructure Improvements

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors are looking at energy savings through infrastructure improvements.

Fluvanna Supervisor Don Weaver

Supervisor Don Weaver

Don Weaver (Cunningham District) is on a committee along with deputy county administrator Eric Dahl to explore potential energy savings. It is a program the state has implemented to encourage localities to make infrastructure improvements to lower energy costs.

Recommendations include items such as changing light bulbs to LED and improving HVAC systems. Dahl told the Board the contractor guarantees energy savings are greater than cost to do the improvements, otherwise the contractor pays the difference.

Dahl received an update from the contractor just before the meeting that estimates infrastructure improvement costs at $7.7 million. The estimated yearly savings is $500,000.

Also at the October 5 meeting, the board accepted a ‘gifted deed’ from Fluvanna Rescue Squad for the Palmyra Rescue Squad station. The station will need improvements.

Supervisors paid $1 for J. Andrew Graff of Old Albemarle Surveying to survey the property. Graff essentially did the survey as a gift, unbeknownst to the county until the invoice came.

Supervisors unanimously voted a parcel in the Zion Crossroads area to be in violation of the garbage, refuse and waste ordinance. Staff showed pictures of garbage mounds at the property, located at 21708 James Madison Highway.
package2016-10-05
If the owner does not comply to remove the garbage, staff has the authority to clean the property. A tax lien will be placed on the property to recover the cost of trash removal.

Also at the meeting the supervisors upgraded the Clerk of the Board position to a pay band that moves the clerk to an exempt position. The Children Services Act position had a description change and pay band downgrade as the current employee is retiring.

Supervisors approved the FY17 pay band schematic. The biggest change is with exempt employees being moved to the new federal salary minimum of just over $47,000.

The consent agenda had eight open space contracts up for approval. Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) thanked the residents for filing the contracts. He noted ones that he viewed were in the wrong designation previously. No other supervisor commented other than Weaver wanting full names of the contracted residents in the motions.

The next supervisors meeting is Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. There is a 4 p.m. work session prior.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Photo Credits: Fluvanna County 

Fluvanna Projects $1.6 Million Budget Surplus

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors approved keeping the pay plan as it passed earlier in the budget season.

Because of state shortfalls the county will cover the $13,421 from the board’s contingency fund. The item was discussed on three separate times, had three motions and recorded two votes. The final approval vote was 3-2 with Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) voting against it.

Also at the September 21 meeting, the supervisors received two items of good news about last year’s budget.

County staff is projecting a $1.6 million surplus as they finish closing out the books. All departments expended 90 percent to 100 percent of their allotted budget.

“I think it is a great reflection of the job you all are doing,” said Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District).

Weaver suggested next year the county could lower the tax rate because of the surplus. Departments have already requested over $100,000 of carryover items that the supervisors will have to approve.

Also, for the first time in a long time the Fork Union Sanitary District ended the year with a slight surplus, totaling almost $13,000. FUSD even accomplished the task while paying back $18,000 worth of the no interest loan the county gave the water system over the years.

“This is really a time to celebrate,” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).

The water rates were increased over a year ago. Last fiscal year was the first full year of the increased rates. Staff also discouraged customers of continually accumulating late fees by shutting off water service sooner. The issue with continual late fees is the bill becomes insurmountable.

The supervisors did approve a timber management plan for 94 acres behind the Fork Union Community Center and 96 acres at the old landfill.

The county will sell the timber. Both tracts were previously harvested and replanted. After being clear cut, there will be another replant of the loblolly pines. In about 15 years the county could thin the forest to help it grow. In 30 years the land will be ready for another full harvest.

During unfinished business, the supervisors waived their attorney-client privilege in regards to the lawyers used for the Davenport case. In 2015 lawyers, including county attorney Fred Payne, were sued by Davenport. The county waived the privilege for 35 specific questions.

The next Board of Supervisors is October 5 at 4 p.m.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Fluvanna Supervisors Deadlocked On Staff Raises

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors are still undecided about a staff pay plan for the current fiscal year.

Before the previously reported land use action [Fluvanna Land Use Fireworks] on September 7 occurred, the short handed board was tied up (2-2) figuring out how to deal with the void of state funding for a staff pay raise.  The supervisors agreed during the FY2017 budget calendar to a sliding pay increase for staff. The scale was based on getting staff members who are currently paid below comparable market value closer to market value in an effort to stop the continual turnover. The vast majority of staff are at market value and were scheduled to receive a two percent increase.

The pay increase was built with money coming from the state government. When the state had less revenue then projected, the money the county is dependent on will not be given.

To keep the plan as was originally passed, the county would need to chip in $13,740 or 0.16 percent of the total budget. The county’s budget for $78.3 million includes a $50,000 personnel contingency fund and a $150,000 supervisor contingency fund.

Eager2016Cropped

Patricia Eager

“It’s not a lot of money coming out but it is cumulative,” said Patricia Eager (Palmyra District).

Eager and Don Weaver (Cunningham District) would not budge past what the county originally allocated for the pay plan.

Staff gave an alternative that decreased the raise by 0.25 percent across the board but the county would have to contribute $6,034. If the raise is decreased by 0.5 percent the county would not have to contribute anything additional.

“It is not [the staff’s] fault the state had less revenue. Why penalize them?” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).

Chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) said, “I want our employees to feel appreciated.”ger said, “I think it will take more than $13,000 to make them feel appreciated.”

Sheridan made an effort to compromise at the $6,034 contribution but Eager and Weaver would not add any funding.

“I’m sorry, staff. I’m really sorry that we don’t care enough about you,” said Booker.

Booker made a motion to contribute the $13,740 to keep the plan as originally agreed to but it failed to gain a second.

Eager moved for no additional contribution and Weaver seconded. The motion failed on a 2-2 vote.

The pay increase is scheduled to be discussed again September 21. Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) arrived to the meeting after the item was discussed. The pay raise for County Administrator Steve Nichols was also deferred.

In other business, supervisors also agreed to lease a spot on the NCT tower slated to be built at the VFW site in the Cunningham District. The tower was originally to be 199 feet. The county needs it to be 250 feet.

NCT will build the tower at the height needed and own it for a lease of $18,000 a year. The county gets a discount of $250 per month for each of the first two cellular carriers. It passed 5-0. The supervisors waived county fees to adjust the tower SUP for the new height.

Supervisors also agreed to buy a new ambulance and re-chassis another ambulance to help the Fluvanna County Rescue Squad reliable ambulances.

The Board next meets on September 21. Besides discussing the pay increase plan again, they are also scheduled to have a public hearing on vehicle license fees.

Supervisors will start the 21st with a work session on “ordinances, policies, procedures, revenue enhancement, and expense reduction discussion.” The fun starts at 4 p.m.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County

Fluvanna Land Use Fireworks

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The past few months, the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors have discussed how the land use program works and information regarding it. On September 7, the supervisors voted to keep the program as is. The vote was contentious at 3-2 with Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) and Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) voting against it.

The program helps keep the county rural by reducing real estate taxes for property owners who use the land for agricultural, horticultural or forestry uses. The fourth section of the land use program is called open space.

Last month, the supervisors had a work session regarding the program but didn’t vote on it. On September 7th in the regular session the supervisors returned to the subject during unfinished business.

As soon as the item came up, Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) immediately moved to reaffirm the program as it currently is stated. Don Weaver (Fork Union District) seconded the motion. O’Brien then requested the item be discussed.

OBrien2014-photo-credit-Fluvanna-County_thumb.jpg

Tony O’Brien

“I’m a little surprised board members are so happy to push this under the rug,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien said he wanted the item to be tabled until he could get answers to 17 questions he had sent to Commissioner of the Revenue Mel Sheridan. Mel Sheridan was not at the meeting.

O’Brien requested the supervisors hire a third party to investigate if residents utilizing land use are complying with the rules of the program. The third party could rule if residents qualify.

From there the residents could make amends to become compliant, change to a section of the program they do comply with or just pay full taxes and no longer be in the program.

Booker said she had no problem having an audit performed by a third party saying residents might not know they aren’t in compliance, herself included.

“We want land use. This county wants to be rural,” said Booker.

O’Brien said there were supervisors who should recuse themselves from the vote because they should know they aren’t compliant with the program.

Eager asked O’Brien to name who he thinks is not compliant as she has done everything to be compliant. He replied he never thought she wasn’t but questioned if Weaver and chairperson Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) were compliant. He also thought Booker might not be compliant but she was in a different arm of the program.

Sheridan said he asked a cooperative agent if he was in compliance and was told his practices were.

Fred Payne, county attorney, gave a legal opinion that supervisors do not have to recuse themselves just because they participate in the program.

O’Brien also suggested Mike Sheridan should recuse himself because Mel Sheridan is his brother.

Payne’s said Mike Sheridan had no need legally reason to recuse himself. He continued supervisors can always recuse themselves if they feel it is necessary but there was no legal reason to do so.

Weaver, who was quiet for the discussion, called for a vote which ended the discussion.

O’Brien said under his breath after the vote, “Embarrassing.”

Following the vote O’Brien made a motion to put the full rules of the land use program on the county’s website.

Payne then gave a legal opinion the motion was out of order because the issue was already voted on. Mike Sheridan then ruled the motion out of order thus not allowing it. O’Brien asked for a clarification of the opinion.

Payne said the motion was continuing an item that was discussed and voted on therefore a second vote was not necessary. The original vote was to ‘reaffirm and retain current Fluvanna County Land Use Program ordinances, policies, and procedures.’

O’Brien then asked the county administrator Steve Nichols who makes decisions regarding information on the website. Nichols said staff does not make decisions on content on the portions regarding the constitutional officers. Commissioner of Revenue is a constitutional officer.

As checked on the evening of Sept. 7, the Commissioner of Revenue’s portion of the website has a land use program section. There is a brief description of the program and another PDF page of instructions of the program.

As part of the PDF, there is citation of the exact county ordinance regarding land use and told to look for the ordinance on the county’s website. The PDF also says residents can call the commissioner’s office for further information.

Mel Sheridan was unavailable for comment regarding the Board of Supervisors meeting.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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

Fluvanna Busy But Quiet Supervisors Meeting

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

After a rather uneventful summer, the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors stretched out a bit with a busy meeting on August 17th.

Supervisors approved four public hearings without a single resident speaking.

First the developer of Nahor Village on Route 53 requested to lower the density of the subdivision. The development is eliminating additional attached units to make them detached units. The approved amendment to the zoning lowers the approved dwellings from 103 to 78.

Image result for hydrangaA new commercial greenhouse on Haden Martin Road was approved. The greenhouse will have retail operations and an annual hydrangea festival.

It is located on a private road that currently is maintained by owners of property on the road. The applicant, Silver Lining Flowers LLC, will take over maintenance of the road.

Supervisors cleaned wording in the other two public hearings. First was an amendment to a county ordinance, eliminating the need for the county to pay itself to review any property the government is trying to subdivide for the use of the county.

The other wording change was for an assisted living facility to be located across from the Lake Monticello main entrance. The facility will be in the Village Oaks community and was originally approved in 2005. The 2016 amendment brought the facility to be within the same understanding as the current county ordinance for assisted living facilities.

In action items supervisors approved advertising an amendment to the vehicle fees schedule. Currently if you have a titled vehicle, you are required to pay the vehicle ‘sticker’ fee (the county no longer issues stickers but the fee exists).

The proposed amendment is to only require vehicles registered with the DMV to pay fee. Meaning, if the car is not registered to operate on public roads it is exempt from needing a ‘sticker’.

During the budget process the supervisors briefly discussed hiring a full time county attorney instead of contracting legal services to Fred Payne and his law firm.

Staff noted supervisors budgeted $168,140 for the fiscal year for legal services. It is expecting additional funding will be needed to pay for full cost of services.

Supervisors waived the fees typically required for erosion and sentiment control for the Louisa County water line. One rationale being Fluvanna will have benefit of the pipeline via hydrants and the availability to pipe its own raw water through the line. Both things are being paid for by Louisa.

VDOT logoThe biggest surprise in the meeting was the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) update when the Fluvanna/Louisa residency administer, Alan Sanders, announced the speed limit on Route 53 will lower from 55 mph  to 45 mph between Route 618 and Route 619.

Various times the county has lobbied VDOT to lower the speed limit but it has been rejected each time. In 2010, then chairman Gene Ott sent a letter on behalf of the board requesting the change. Sanders said he spoke to Ott after receiving the speed study determining the lower speed.

The speed change will occur within the month and as early as 14 days. The regional office is responsible for the new signs but if not completed by the 15th day, the local office will schedule the new signs.

Supervisors will next meet on September 7th at 4 p.m.

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bryan-rothamelThe 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

Photo Credit: www.Hydrangamania.com