The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors has delayed once again filling two vacancies on the county’s Planning Commission. For the second BOS meeting in a row on June 4, Jackson supervisor Ron Frazier asked the board to delay a vote on filling the Planning Commission position in his district left vacant by the expiration of Raymond Brown’s term in April.
Before the May BOS meeting, Jackson district residents Rick Kohler and Page Glennie submitted applications for the position. Despite strong recommendations for Kohler expressed by community members at that meeting, Frazier moved to table consideration of the candidates until the vacancy could be advertised. Piedmont supervisor Christine Smith immediately seconded. Frazier said he also had not had an opportunity to speak with Kohler before the meeting.
At the June meeting, Frazier said he still had no chance to speak with Kohler and asked to table the vote for yet another month. His request was met with visible frustration on the part of some other board members.
In an email this past Monday afternoon, Frazier said: “After the May meeting, Rick was supposed to find out what happened to the brief resume he turned in when he submitted the little application form. I wanted to meet with him and have a discussion, but it didn’t work out, probably my schedule. So, no resume/experience from Rick.”
Kohler explained in a phone call on Tuesday that he had sent Frazier a letter explaining his background and interest in the position. He acknowledged that he and Frazier had emailed each other back and forth many times and expected to meet next week.
Smith also decided to defer a vote on a Planning Commission vacancy in her district. The position was vacated in March when former chair Gary Settled resigned to become Virginia’s superintendent of the state police.
In April, the BOS overruled Smith’s selection of Tom Junk for the position and voted in former Piedmont supervisor Mike Biniek to fill out the term, which expired Tuesday, June 5. Biniek is interested in being re-appointed.
In asking for the delay, Smith pointed out that the public notice of the vacancy went out late in May, perhaps not giving prospective applicants a chance to respond.
In a phone call Tuesday, Stonewall-Hawthorne supervisor Chris Parrish said he agreed to the delay “as a courtesy to Mr. Frazier,” and explained that the Planning Commission is a large board with seven members total.
“They can still get a quorum,” said Parrish, “so [having two vacancies] is not an emergency.”
Hampton Supervisor John Lesinski was the most outspoken about the delay both at the meeting and in a later phone call.
“We’re letting the citizens of Rappahannock County down,” Lesinski said. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be voting. We take an absolute beating every month from people who take us to task over the fact that the Comprehensive Plan hasn’t been completed and our response is, ‘Oh, that goes back to the Planning Commission.’ And then we have the audacity to kick the can down the road when it comes to appointing people to the Planning Commission.”
Golf range misses putt
The BOS also conducted a public hearing about a zoning ordinance change regarding the classification of golf driving ranges. And they discussed deteriorating telephone landline service and approved the FY 2019 budget and tax rates.
The board voted unanimously to send a request for a zoning amendment back to the Planning Commission for further study.
The amendment, requested by Sperryville resident Cliff Miller IV, would allow driving ranges in agricultural and some rural residential zones. Currently, driving ranges are allowed only in general commercial and highway commercial zones.
During the public hearing for the measure, several county residents spoke in opposition to the amendment. Piedmont resident Tom Junk called the proposal spot zoning. Terry Dixon of Stonewall-Hawthorne district agreed and even read a definition of spot zoning:
“Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with a city’s master plan and current zoning restrictions. . . . The small size of the parcel is not the sole defining characteristic of a spot zone.”
Other speakers warned of additional development in agricultural zones if the amendment is approved.
Only Miller spoke in favor.
“I am asking for a practice area to be in a reasonable place,” said Miller, referring to pasture land across 522 from the Sperryville Cemetery. “[Even if the amendment were passed,] I would still have to apply for a permit.”
The board voted to send the amendment request back to the Planning Commission, advising the planners to include it in the list of additional zoning amendments being considered by the county.
Several community members expressed concern about deteriorating telephone landline service in the county. At its last meeting, the BOS authorized Chair Roger Welch to sign letters to the State Corporation Commission, Senator Mark Obenshain, Delegate Michael Webert, Verizon and CenturyLink.
County Administrator Garrey Curry reported that “the letters are starting to bear fruit” and that he is meeting with representatives of Verizon within the week. State Delegate Webert also wrote to express concern, but there has been no response from Senator Obenshain or CenturyLink.
Curry also reported that the SCC received over 70 responses from county citizens offering information and details of their experiences.
The board voted unanimously to adopt the FY 2019 tax rates and budget allocation. Levies for the 2018 tax year are set at $0.67 per $100 of assessed value of real estate and $4.25 per $100 of assessed value of tangible personal property. In addition, there is an additional levy within the countywide Fire and Rescue District of $0.06 per $100 of assessed value of real estate and $0.20 per $100 of assessed value of tangible personal property.
In other action, the BOS:
- At the request of Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Compton, approved one-time bonuses for full time staff of the RCSO. Compton told the board the funds would come from budget overages to compensate staff for overtime due to staff shortages.
- At the request of the 911 Coordinator, voted unanimously to approve the purchase of two Trimble GPS units needed for the 911 GIS mapping project. Funds had been budgeted for this purpose.
- Voted unanimously to authorize reallocation of school budget funds, which had been held for reimbursement for one School Resource Officer, for school capital needs.
- Postponed until the BOS July 2 meeting the public hearing on amendments to Chapter 30 of the Rappahannock County Code having to do with the conduct of local government meetings.
- Discussed possible ways to proceed with the Bragg v Board of Supervisors case, now that the Virginia Supreme Court has remanded the case back to the local court.
- Voted unanimously to ask Community Wireless Structures to seek a new location — on the same property — for the proposed Woodward Road tower.
- Voted unanimously to authorize Welch to sign a letter of support for the Rappahannock County Recreation Facilities Authority Dark Sky project.
An unedited video of the 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.