County eyes derelict buildings, vehicles

The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors spent most of Monday’s meeting (Nov. 4) talking trash, as they discussed amendments to the county’s trash ordinance and considered possible outcomes for the former Lombardy restaurant near Amissville.

The Lombardy site was first on the agenda, as County Administrator John McCarthy said he had sent a letter to the current property owners informing them that they might be in violation of chapter 74 of the county’s ordinance, which covers derelict structures.

The fire-damaged remains of the old Lombardy restaurant might be in violation of Rappahannock’s derelict building ordinances if improvements aren’t made.
The fire-damaged remains of the old Lombardy restaurant might be in violation of Rappahannock’s derelict building ordinances if improvements aren’t made. Matt Wingfield | Rappahannock News

Ronald Poe, one of the property owners, was in attendance Monday and said that after the restaurant burned three years ago, he’d had it covered and boarded up. He was aware, however, that some of the siding had come off and said he intended to fix it — but was waiting until winter in an effort to dispel “some of the critters” he was sure had taken up residence inside.

“It’s been in my family for 40 years, and I’d hate to have to tear it down,” Poe said. “But if it has to come to that, it has to come to that.”

Hampton supervisor Bryant Lee fondly remembered eating at Lombardy — “They made a mean steak and pork chop.” — and asked Poe if he had any plans for the structure. Poe was adamant it wouldn’t reopen as a restaurant, admitting he’d turned down a dozen offers from potential restaurant owners, but, beyond that, said he didn’t know what he’d do with the structure.

“It’s just been in my family so long . . . and it provides some buffer to my house,” Poe said. “I just hate to see it torn down.”

The building never had fire insurance, Poe said with a laugh, because it simply wasn’t worth it. Nonetheless, Poe said only one interior wall was heavily damaged in the blaze, and that he was prepared to safely board the building up again.

The supervisors unanimously agreed to give him 30 days to do just that; the matter will be revisited at the board’s next meeting Dec. 2.

The trash-talking continued with the next scheduled item, as the board debated county attorney Peter Luke’s amendment to the county’s trash ordinance. The current ordinance, McCarthy joked, is “of some antiquity” and hasn’t been modified since the county had its own landfill.

Luke said he’d amended the code to cover the removal of waste and inoperable vehicles from private property, and added an “innocent property owner” provision, which protected owners who had trash unknowingly dumped in their yards by other people.

After 30 minutes of discussion on the intricacies of the county’s trash code, the supervisors asked Luke to present a revision that better defined “motor vehicle” before the amendments were approved.

Currently, property owners are allowed up to two inoperable vehicles on their property, provided they own more than an acre of land. However, several supervisors pointed out that many Rappahannock landowners have several old vehicles they use for parts — not to mention other possible “vehicles” like balers.

Any “vehicle” that’s not self-propelled would be considered junk, Luke said, which already has a number of regulations, both county and state, to govern it. Luke did agree to better define “motor vehicle” as a vehicle that starts and can be moved. If any supposedly “junk” vehicle meets those criteria, it’s considered operable — and there are no county limits on how many operable vehicles a landowner can have.

The revisions were tabled until the board’s Dec. 2 meeting.

$1.3 million borrowed; payback is days away

Two money matters were the other major developments Monday, as McCarthy announced the county has already returned the second $1 million it borrowed from Union First Market Bank. McCarthy said the county’s debt reached $1.3 million, but only “for a matter of hours,” and is currently below $1 million right now.

That number should be back to zero within a few more days, McCarthy said, as the treasurer’s office has brought in a number of part-time employees and revenue has been flowing in from county citizens paying their taxes early.

Lastly, at its 10-minute 7 p.m. meeting, the supervisors awarded the school board more than $300,000 in grant money it received from federal and state grants. Some of those funds, McCarthy said, are rollover from recurring grants, while others are based on enrollment numbers, which aren’t available at the beginning of the school board.

The $364,845 increased the overall school budget to $12,837,121, McCarthy said.

The funds were appropriated unanimously, 3-0. (Supervisors Ron Frazier and Mike Biniek were absent from the supervisors’ evening meeting.)