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PE Supervisors Eye Route 307 Concerns

PRINCE EDWARD – County supervisors want to take a closer look at what can be done to improve the intersection at U. S. Routes 460 and 307.

Farmville District (101) Supervisor Howard Simpson assessed at the September 14 meeting that it's a “bad intersection” and noted concerns that motorists are pulling out from Rt. 307 in front of other vehicles on Rt. 460.

People, Simpson said, have been “complaining about it for years.” While they're supposed to stop at the stop sign, he estimated that 80 percent of the people don't.

Simpson asked about widening the intersection, bringing Rt. 307 straight into Rt. 460 where motorists would have to stop. (The existing entrance of Rt. 307 angles into Rt. 460.)

“If there's a problem with people running an existing intersection stop sign, then the first thing our traffic engineers would say is that you need to look at enforcement of what you've go there now,” offered Virginia Department of Transportation's Residency Administrator Kevin Wright. “It's not so much really that what you've got is dangerous or not working, it's that people aren't using it like they're supposed to. So it's how can we do it through education and enforcement to improve the safety of that intersection.”

If that doesn't work, he added, or “if we still feel like there's several options we can look at.” He suggested “forcing them to come up and make a right turn. The other is maybe there's some safety money there that we could improve and actually make a merge lane there, an acceleration lane.”

Simpson cited the existing road's close proximity to Rt. 600, assessing it's “so close, you can't do anything about it.”

“But it could be possible that we could do something,” Wright commented. “What I'll do is I'll have our traffic engineers take a look and raise your concerns to them and have them take a look, get their professional input on that.”

Farmville District (701) Supervisor Jim Wilck suggested adding a second stop sign, so there would be one on each side of the road.

“It's possible,” Wright said. “My own opinion is that I think people know that it's there, they see the stop sign, but they do see that acceleration lane and just assume they can for it. I doubt if it's that people don't know that there's a stop situation there, they're just choosing not to obey it.”

County officials during the meeting discussed having law enforcement police the intersection.

County Planner Jonathan Pickett cited at the August meeting that it's the site of the highest number of accidents of any major intersection in the County over the last ten years.

Alternate Route 628 Update

County Administrator Wade Bartlett presented an update on plans for an alternate Rt. 628. The proposed new access road would be located south of its current entrance off of U. S. Route 15 and provide access to a planned hotel, conference center and training facility and reconnect just east into the existing road.

Bartlett reported that the 30 percent engineering plans had been presented to the Virginia Department of Transportation by the engineering firm.

“…One of the big issues involved in this has been the timing between any possible…building of the 628 and then the improvements onto the highway of 15,” he told the board. “Because of the lag in VDOT, 628 was going to be done at least a year earlier than Highway 15, which under the normal process would've required work to be done at the interchange there at Dominion (Drive) and 15 at the light, and then VDOT would've come back and…tore it all up and redone it.”

Bartlett added that they've been able to convince VDOT that would not be prudent. VDOT, he also cited, agreed that they would provide funding for the county to add all the intersection improvements at the light they were going to do a year later and pay for it so it could all be handled at one time.

They have not reached a memorandum of understanding, he also cited. They are attempting to determine the costs to add to the revenue sharing agreement.

County officials have up to $1 million available in VDOT revenue sharing funds and the developer of the hotel/conference center is anticipated to fund 55 percent of the project. The County also has the option of grant funds for a portion of the cost.

Yet to be determined is whether the board would wish to pursue the project should the hotel/conference center not be constructed.

In Other News…

*New Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Alex Samuel was introduced at the meeting.

*Speakers in public comment highlighted response concerns of the sheriff's department near the county line.

Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt, responding in the Supervisors' comment time, cited that in a moment of crisis, and someone dials 911, they don't go to the County's switchboard directly.

“You call 911, they determine that you are…a county resident, then they forward you to a county operator, who then dispatches an officer,” Gantt said. “With all the break-ins, I hear it over and over and over, it's a problem, and it's a problem that I'd like to get fixed with one 911 system.”

Wilck concurred, offering that there are “some delays in there that don't need to be in there…cost-savings involved, too.”

*Supervisors, as part of their consent agenda, approved a personal property tax relief act resolution. For 2010, the personal property tax relief for County residents on personal use vehicles will be 44 percent of the assessed value up to $1,000. Personal vehicles valued at $1,001 or more would receive only 44 percent relief of the first $20,000 of the vehicle's value.

*The consent agenda also included a reimbursement from the Town for half of the cost of printing brochures ($5,028), a carryover of unexpended funds from the state in technology trust funds ($675), and the refund of an erroneous assessment ($98.13).

Other consent budget adjustments factor grant funds for the County's high school turnaround program ($499,586), USDA fresh fruit and vegetable program for the school ($71,105), and a DMV Highway Safety Grant ($20,000) for the sheriff's department, which will be used to pay overtime and training costs.

*Wright introduced the new local government liaison for VDOT.

In other highway matters, Wright reported that the Rt. 751 project (Hidden Lake Road) was about a third complete. It is expected to be completed around the end of the month. Maintenance crews are working on secondary road mowing; contractors are mowing on paved roads while VDOT workers focus on unpaved roads.

Wright also reported that they are doing some patching work and they will be resurfacing quite a few roads in the county (tar and gravel) over the next two or three weeks.

*It was reported that work is planned for the bridge on Rt. 623.

*The board agreed to approve a resolution seeking to have VDOT place children playing signs for Rts. 655 and 685.

*Supervisors tabled a request from the Department of Social Services to provide a designed space in the first floor conference room that can be used to accommodate parent-child visitations and family partnership meetings. Bartlett had recommended tabling it until state policy regarding Family Partnership Meetings has been disseminated.

*The board approved an event permit application from the Five County Fair Association. The Fair is scheduled September 24-October 2.

*The board agreed to advertise upcoming vacancies, including four slots on the planning commission (one County, three town positions) and one slot on the board of zoning appeals, and a position on the Piedmont Regional Jail Board and an alternate.

*County Planner Jonathan Pickett reported that David Simpson is seeking to operate a bakery out of a portion of his insurance building, at the corner of Simpson Road and Rt. 460. Supervisors agreed to schedule a public hearing on a special use request at their October meeting.

*County officials have long weighed how to honor an apparent promise.

In the late 1990s, as has previously been reported, the County entered into negotiations with several property owners surrounding the Bush River Watershed known as Mountain Creek Lake. Most property owners were paid for the land, but one property owner was apparently promised road access to the lake in lieu of payment for his land. County officials have checked with the individual who acted as the county's agent (there was no written documentation found) on the project, who confirmed the commitment.

The issue for the County is access to the water through the property.

Pickett noted that they could get about as far as a forest road without going through wetlands.

“After that, the amount of wetlands we'd have to travel to get them to useable water…probably would never be permitted by a regulatory agency,” he reported.

Supervisors, following some discussion, will look to get bids on a road to build it as far as they can build it.

*The board agreed to authorize the County administrator to negotiate a new lease with the contracting agent in Washington D.C. for the County's agricultural building (the previous lease had expired and was extended to Sept. 30). The County can add the cost of improvements and repairs to the structure, located south of Farmville.

*A committee of supervisors McKay, Campbell and Simpson will meet with the county attorney to develop an itinerant merchant/peddler's license tax ordinance for the board to consider.

*The board agreed to authorize a position and an alternate to serve on the Old Dominion Resource Conservation and Development Council. The County has a policy to advertise all citizen appointment positions even when an incumbent is interested in re-appointment. The current member is the current Chair-elect.