Planning Commission nominations tabled
Sperryville venue application before board for fourth time
In a nearly five-hour meeting that spanned afternoon and evening sessions on May 7, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors took up several issues closely watched by the community, including the county’s FY 2019 budget, the Litigation Fund, Planning Commission vacancies, and Bill Fletcher’s special exception application to hold public events in Sperryville.
On a vote of four to one, the BOS approved the county’s FY 2019 budget. County Administrator Garrey Curry presented the Budget Adoption Resolution and the budget itself with changes agreed to by the BOS at its April 30 work session.
The budget funds pay increases for both county staff and public school teachers, and provides for capital improvements. In an email Tuesday, Rachel Bynum, Piedmont district member of the school board expressed thanks to the community.
“Yesterday the Board of Supervisors voted on a budget that will fully fund the Schools’ proposed budget!” Bynum said. “The budget also includes funds for much needed deferred maintenance and upgrades to our schools’ facilities. We’re thrilled with this result, and pleased that our efforts at transparency and clear communication, led by our Superintendent [Shannon Grimsley], were rewarded. Thank you for strong support and for letting the Supervisors know that school funding is a priority for their constituents! It was truly a community effort.”
Other changes included increasing the county’s Litigation Fund to $70,000, “with the bulk of the funding being supported by the general fund balance.”
In addition, there is a one-time allocation of $46,776.50 for a second radio console position for public safety dispatch. A total of $277,400 for the Radio Communications Contract would be funded in the 2019 budget “at initial adoption . . . as no further invoices are anticipated in FY 2018.”
“The expense is budgeted within the Fire Services Fund and would be offset with revenue from the Fire Services Fund Balance,” according to BOS notes.
Jackson district supervisor Ron Frazier cast the only dissenting vote. He explained in an email yesterday: “The schools needed their budget approved by 14 May, but the County budget could have waited, presumably, we could have worked a little more on it. Adopting [the school budget] was not necessarily contingent on the other for Monday 7 May.”
Two seats on the county’s Planning Commission will soon be vacant — those for the Piedmont and Jackson districts.
Raymond Brown, Jr., the current Jackon planner, recently announced that he did not wish to be reappointed when his term expires in early June. Realtor Rick Kohler and community activist Page Glennie stepped forward to be considered for the four-year term.
Despite strong recommendations for Kohler expressed earlier by community members at the meeting, Jackson supervisor Ron Frazier moved to table consideration of the candidates until the vacancy could be advertised. Piedmont supervisor Christine Smith immediately seconded.
Frazier said he had not had an opportunity to speak with Kohler before the meeting. In an email yesterday, Frazier clarified that statement.
“Rick went to three of the other supervisors and never spoke with me, the elected rep from the district [he] wished to represent on the P.C.,” Frazier wrote. “He applied on Monday, I never knew until Wednesday night when it came out in the paper [Rappahannock News]. He called here Friday afternoon and left a message on my recorder saying he ‘didn’t know it was going to be in the paper.’ One can only speculate as to what that meant.”
Frazier’s account differs somewhat from that given by Kohler in an email yesterday.
“When I submitted my application for Planning Commission I also included a letter,” Kohler said. “I presumed that would be adequate as it would go to each supervisor in their packages the week before the meeting. I left town that Monday afternoon and did not return until Thursday morning when I saw the article in the paper.
“I did contact each supervisor asking for their support. I left a long message for Mr. Frazier on Friday noting he had my letter, I would appreciate his support and would be pleased to talk with him. He left me a message on Saturday, but I did not retrieve it until late in the evening. Work and personal commitments took up my time on Sunday and Monday morning and I was unable to call him back.”
The Board voted four to one to table both Kohler’s and Glennie’s applications. Hampton supervisor John Lesinski cast the sole nay vote. “We had two good applicants and plenty of community input, so I didn’t agree with the delay,” Lesinski said in an email yesterday.
In taking up the Piedmont district vacancy on the Planning Commission, Smith did not nominate a candidate. Former Piedmont supervisor Mike Biniek was elected at the BOS March meeting to serve out the last months of the term of former Planning Commission Chair Gary Settle, who resigned to become Virginia’s superintendent of the State Police. The term expires in early June.
Smith moved to advertise the position and the Board voted unanimously in favor.
Sperryville venue site
For the eighth time, Bill Fletcher’s special exception permit application was before a county board, the fourth time before the BOS. Fletcher applied in April 2017 for a blanket permit to hold up to 31 events on his Thornton Hill Farm property south of Sperryville.
The application states that some of the events could draw as many as 8,000 people, more than the population of Rappahannock County itself, and thousands more than usually attend the annual Fourth of July celebration previously held at the property. The fireworks are moving this year to Ben Venue.
From the beginning, the application has drawn fierce public opposition, as well as frustration among county officials who have repeatedly asked Fletcher for more specifics about the events, such as traffic and safety measures and noise abatement plans.
Since May of 2017, the application has been before the Planning Commission four times. At the April 2018 meeting, the planners voted to recommend that the BOS deny the application.
Instead of voting to deny or approve the application, the BOS suggested that Fletcher re-submit his application.
“This application has died its own death,” said Stonewall-Hawthorne district supervisor Chris Parrish. “If [Fletcher] is smart about it, he’ll [reapply] and present everything the Planning Commission needs to have.”
Smith concurred. “It would benefit all parties to start fresh,” she said.
Lesinski, referring to community opposition, added, “I also hope Mr. Fletcher would see fit to start engaging with the neighbors as well.”
Among other business, the BOS voted unanimously on the following items:
- To accept the Virginia Department of Transportation Secondary Six Year Plan (SSYP) presented by Resident Engineer Mark Nesbit. The SSYP (2019 – 2024) and Construction Priority List/Budget (2019) for Rappahannock County involves surface treatment of several county roads, including Rolling Road, Battle Mountain Road, Schoolhouse Road, Turkey Ridge Road, Battle Run Road, South Poes Road, and two sections of Keyser Run Road.
During the public hearing portion of the evening session, Nesbit answered questions from county residents and members of the BOS.
- To adopt a resolution authorizing Curry to submit a formal request to VDOT restricting through trucks on Water Street and Sons Lane in Sperryville.
- To authorize Curry and County Attorney Art Goff to develop a strikethrough version of Rappahannock County Ordinance, Chapter 30, which has to do with the conduct of public meetings, and to advertise for public hearing to amend the current ordinance.
- To authorize Curry to release a request for proposals for professional services to conduct an assessment of county facilities and space needs planning study.
The BOS held a closed meeting to discuss and act on tower infrastructure siting for public safety systems.
An unedited video of the supervisors Monday, May 7 meeting can be found online at rappnews.com/video, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/RappNewsPlus. The meeting agenda and related documents are online at boarddocs.com/va/corva/Board.nsf/Public.