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Voting Property Is For Sale

CUMBERLAND – County Supervisors recently decided to authorize the disposition and sale of the Brown's Voting Precinct property at a public auction. The decision came during the Board of Supervisors' September 14 meeting.

Brown's Voting Precinct is located on John Randolph Road and the proposed sale of the property is to be determined at public auction, according to the Board's adopted resolution. The building must also be demolished as a condition of the sale.

A public hearing was held and there were no speakers.

The removal of the building on the property must occur within 180 days after closing and the posting of a bond or other form of security to ensure the removal is required, according to the County Attorney, Howard Estes.

“Anybody purchasing the property will then be responsible for the removal of the building from the property within six months of the date after closing on the property…,” described Estes about the sale.

Supervisor Elbert Womack, District Four, commented that he felt it was necessary that the building be removed from the property.

“I was very instrumental in getting that portion into the resolution that this building be removed by whoever purchases this property,” he said. “And the reason I say this is that this piece of property is set so small that this building could end up being an eye-sore and I feel very strongly that whoever purchases this property that the building needs to be done away with.”

Supervisor Bobby Oertel, District Five, requested if a date had been set and where the auction would be held?

The date is to be determined by the County Administrator after notices are issued.

“When we auction property, there is usually a required notice period,” said Estes. “We'll have to still follow state code for notice requirements and notices in the like…As far as the placement of the sale that would be here at the Courthouse.”

VDOT

Kevin Wright, representing Virginia Department of Transportation, introduced the new local government liaison that will be dealing with Cumberland directly. Jorg Huckabee-Mayfield was introduced as VDOT's new liaison – the liaison position is in response to the agency's reorganization this summer.

She's been with the agency for over 20 years and will work with the County through its road needs.

“I'm going to be your county liaison,” said Ms. Huckabee-Mayfield. “…I hope to be meeting with you all shortly to talk about what the frequency of these meetings should be and…to also talk about how we can best serve you.”

Wright will still be around as the area's maintenance manager.

“I do hope to continue to come around and come see you and don't forget who I am,” he said. “…You can always feel free to call me at the office for maintenance needs.”

Related to updates, Wright explained that gravel roads were mowed for the first time in a few years and primary roads should also be completed soon.

“We are working on our secondary hard surface roads now,” he said. “We have contractors coming in and doing that work for us so we can concentrate on some other things. They are halfway through the County and are doing a great job for us.”

VDOT is also working to get ready for snow removal, he noted.

“The rest of it we'll just be doing some patching and some brush cutting,” he added. “I've asked all of our crews to focus on that this fall and winter at this time…The rest of it is business as usual.”

Supervisor Womack noted that an intersection in his district needs attention.

It is located near Cottontown Road and Angola Lane, he said.

“When you come out of Angola Lane out of Route 638, the bushes are so bad looking to the right and there's a sharp curve and you cannot see around. The bushes are all the way up and on the pavement. Something needs to be done there bad. I saw one of the accidents and it was pretty bad…,” said Womack about the safety concern.

Before moving on, Supervisor Osl told Wright, “You were a breath of fresh air for us…”

School News

Superintendent of Cumberland County Public Schools, Dr. Amy Griffin, announced to the Board that the High School was the recipient of the 21st Century Grant in the amount of $180,000.

“In order for us to be awarded this we have to ask you for the additional appropriation of federal dollars to your budget for us so at the end of the year we don't end up saying we have this extra federal money,” said Dr. Griffin.

The Board approved the additional appropriation and the grant will provide after-school enrichment and tutoring opportunities for students at the High School throughout this academic school year.

Maintenance Position/Exterior Work

In other county news, the Board approved to advertise and appropriate the supplemental appropriation needed to hire an additional maintenance employee.

The Board discussed the need for the position during an August work session.

Figures were also presented representing the estimated cost of a Maintenance Worker II position for eight months (effective November 1). The salary would be $23,334; FICA $1,786; VRS $3,288; hospital/insurance $3,800; and group life insurance $67, according to information included in the packet.

Also, Jill Matthews, assistant county administrator of finance, requested that the Board appropriate funds for work and painting on the exterior of the administration building. This project was also discussed during the same work session and bids had already been received.

“The low bid $10,582.50 with the high bid being $56,000,” she noted about bids received on the project.

Supervisor Womack requested if the County Administration received information related to Piedmont Regional Jail assisting with County projects?

“I'd just be interested to know if there were any conversations between our administration and Nottoway's or between Piedmont Regional Jail prior to receiving these bids?” asked Womack.

According to Ms. Matthews, the Piedmont Regional Jail described that detainees could be provided “from time-to-time” but that the frequency and length of time is still undetermined.

Staff would be “unsure about whether they would be able to be here long,” she said.

“I feel like that before we close on this that that be followed through,” said Womack about the work. “As I understand with the County Administrator of Nottoway, they are very well pleased and asking for additional work and here we are not even checking on this… I feel like this should be looked into before we award this job.”

The Board decided to make a decision next month if Piedmont Regional Jail was not able to assist by sending detainees (free labor) to do the painting and repair work.

The exterior repair work would include the administration building; old clerk's office; old courthouse; and new courthouse.

“They might not be able to do the entire project but it sure would cut down on the dollars,” said Womack.

Planning and Zoning

In planning and zoning news, the Board reappointed Randy Bryant, District One, to serve a complete term on the Planning Commission. He was previously fulfilling the term of Ken Respess would moved out of state.

An update on the draft subdivision ordinance was also provided. The Planning Commission, according to Michael Cooper, assistant county administrator of community development, is still in the process of finalizing the updated ordinance before it is presented to the Supervisors for approval.

The Board of Supervisors also referred a conditional use permit related to the veterinarian hospital and commercial kennel proposed by applicant Gary Groneweg.

Since Cumberland has never addressed veterinary hospitals and commercial kennels before, the uses have been “inadequately” addressed in the zoning ordinance.

According to Andrew Sorrell's letter to the Board, planning and zoning administrator, the Planning Commission felt the best way to address facilities with outdoor animal confinement was through a conditional use permit in the zoning district such a proposed use is within.

“The Commission felt that in business and industrial zoning districts if animal confinement was solely indoors, then such uses could be permitted by-right,” he said in the letter. “Since the applicants are proposing indoor/outdoor animal runs, the applicant has submitted the attached CUP application. Since the use is running concurrently with the other zoning actions…no additional application fee was required.”

According to Groneweg's application, there are plans 12 outside dog runs as patient recovery and client short-term boarding space. Inside space would also be available during inclement weather.

“This facility is not designed as a kennel and will not be expanded beyond space for 12 outside animals,” the application states. “There will be many times that these outside areas will house no animals.”

The conditional use permit was up for review and a public hearing was scheduled for Monday, September 27.

County Business

County Administrator Judy Ownby requested that the Board decide on an alternate voting delegate for the VACo 2010 annual meetings since Chairman Kennell would not be able to attend the entire conference.

The Board decided to appoint Van Petty, District Two, as the alternate voting delegate.

Ms. Ownby later asked that the Board review its 2010 legislative priorities before new 2011 ones were set.

According to Supervisor Osl, the past priorities are still relevant and still need to be worked on in the General Assembly.

These positions are sent to VACo for consideration during the 2011 Legislative Program.

Cumberland's priorities include amending Urban Development Areas so that localities with a population of 50,000 or less have the option of creating UDAs. Others are listed below:

*Taxes: Request a JLARC study to understand and analyze the value and lost revenue of property owned by a political subdivision that is tax exempt in another political subdivision.

*Transportation: Require VDOT to implement a Plan with the local governing body to establish maintenance priorities.

*Situs for Taxation: Amend the Virginia Code section requiring that situs for assessment and taxation of personal property, merchants capital, and machinery and tools be in the county, district, town, or city in which the property is normally used, located or held out for sale instead of where the property is physically located on tax day.

*Comprehensive Service Act: The General Assembly should provide that court-ordered children be classified as “mandated” for the purposes of receiving state reimbursements.

*School construction and debt service: The state should provide recurring money for school facility debt service on a per pupil basis and in addition to Standards of Quality funding to establish a permanent revenue source and formula for distributing school construction and debt service funding to localities.

*Increase in the current level of school construction funding from the Literary Loan program to $15 million per project and provide to localities on a sliding scale based on the composite index.

*Funding for state mandated positions: Provide adequate funding for magistrates, sheriff, and other constitutional officer staffing. Cumberland County has a small population, but too large land area and the five deputies funded by the Compensation Board are not adequate to perform 24-hour law enforcement, court security, and other legally required duties.

The Board decided to continue working towards the previous priorities and to set them as this year's goals.

“The priorities stay the same, mostly, because there was little done in the General Assembly session,” said Supervisor Osl about the legislative priorities. “They need to be carried over but they are still quite appropriate issues.”

Drought Designation

Related to the drought designation request submitted to the Governor's Office last month, Ms. Ownby noted that additional information was provided in the Board's packet.

According to the letter from Todd Haymore, secretary of agriculture and forestry, the review of the damages is being coordinated with the United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency to obtain formal, up-to-date reports of the damages in the County for assessment.

“I will share with you any correspondence our office sends to the United States Secretary of Agriculture on behalf of Cumberland County,” states the letter received by the County Administrator.

The letter was also forwarded to Cumberland Extension Agent, David Smith.

Erosion and Sediment Contract

Cooper explained to the Board that the person, Kelly Jones Snoddy (certified plan reviewer), who reviews the County's erosion and sediment control plans from the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District, would be on maternity leave starting in November and that the County had been recently notified.

“As you are aware, we do not have a certified E&S plan reviewer on staff," said Cooper. “Therefore, we will need to make other arrangements for the review of E&S plans during this period.”

Cooper explained to the Board that he had received a proposal from Burgess & Niple, an engineering firm on contract with the County, to complete such reviews until the regular plan reviewer is back in the office. The proposal provides for plan reviews to be billed at an hourly rate on a “per project” basis.

Cooper requested that the Board enter into the agreement with the firm for a period not to exceed 12 weeks.

The cost per hour would be $105 if completed by a Senior Professional Staff member or $85 per hour if completed by a Senior Technical Staff member.

Even though Cumberland does not have a certified plan reviewer on staff, it does have a certified plan inspector and administrator of the program.

“They are very distinctive and different titles,” said Cooper.

Supervisor Osl asked, “Why isn't the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District hiring this person? It goes a step further, they provide that service and they are paying for that service so now they are asking for us to pick up a service and incur the cost of doing it?”

According to Cooper, they do provide the service to Cumberland but “we have no control over it.”

“We have discussed the idea of sharing with Buckingham, potentially, the cost of a plan reviewer much like we do with biosolids…,” said Cooper. “We have proposed this position before and have not moved forward on it.”

In these instances, he continued, Cumberland is at the “mercy” of the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District because they are reviewing the plans at “no cost.”

“They get to it as best they can and Ms. Snoddy does an outstanding job,” he added.

Supervisor Womack said, “…They are going to be at our mercy when it comes to the next budget time because we contribute an 'x' number of budget dollars to them to get this job done and there is going to be another budget.”

Cooper also discussed that the County has had “very little need” for erosion and sediment control.

It is likely that the County would contract with Burgess & Niple and never have to have a plan reviewed throughout the 12 weeks.

“I would expect very minimal, if any need for this,” he said. “…If no plan reviews come in we don't owe anyone anything.”

The Board later decided to work on a long-term solution.

“I can't support this until further talk is done,” said Womack about the services being provided.

“What I've heard is that we need a short-term plan and we need to discuss with other localities about a long-term plan…,” said Chairman Kennell. “I do think we need to discuss a long-term strategy so that we have this in place so we don't have to cross this bridge again.”

According to County Attorney Estes, the County has the right to charge a fee associated with E&S plans.

“Why not look at charging an administrative fee,” he said when presenting the option to the Board. “…And then you all could set by ordinance an administrative fee to cover that cost.”

According to Supervisor Petty and Womack, the applicant would then shoulder the fee.

“The plans are required by state law and it is something that has to be done, it's just a matter of how it gets paid,” said Estes. “Right now, you all are incurring that cost hidden through the soil and water conservation district…”

Chairman Kennell's original motion was left on the table for a vote for a while longer but then withdrawn and the decision was postponed until the Board's November meeting so that additional information could be presented related to the issue.

“I don't want to make it anymore of a cost for people to build an asset in our county,” said Supervisor Oertel in opposition of introducing an additional fee.

Reservoir Update

Cooper's final item on the agenda included an update on the Cobbs Creek Reservoir Project.

According to his comments, two permits had been transferred to Henrico so far.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission and DEQ permits were transferred and the only outstanding one at the time of the meeting was the US Army Corps of Engineers permit.

“We have not heard back from them,” he said.

In the meantime, the County's staff has continued to transfer other information while working with Henrico County through the transition process.

County Attorney

Estes mentioned to the Board the need for them to review the updates that are being proposed to the subdivision ordinance.

Especially with regards to the updates involving private road standards, he said.

“That is very new for this County and it does require a different level of review-a new heightened review,” he continued. “It will require more staff involvement and that is a little different… I just wanted to make note of it…I did want to make note of it and do make the time to go through that. As we go through the public hearing process, it's going to be a pretty big undertaking. The notices are going to be a little more detailed and it's something to draw your attention to.”

The Planning Commission and planning and zoning staff have been reviewing and updating the County's subdivision ordinance for several months. The updates should result in a more user-friendly ordinance.

Bear Creek Academy

The Board recognized the volunteers from Bear Creek Academy who work within the County. Bear Creek Academy is a private therapeutic school that offers small classes and support to students in grades six through 12.

The Academy is locally owned and operated with a mission to meet educational needs and promote vocational job skills.

The Academy has partnered with the Department of Rehabilitative Services and other local agencies and businesses to provide paid internships for students and now has its first student working at Bear Creek Lake State Park assisting rangers and the staff.

Students are also challenged outside of the classroom, according to the resolution, to learn the value of physical work and volunteering to improve their community and environment.

Conservation and community project locations include Bear Creek Lake State Park, High Bridge Trail State Park, Ellis Acres Memorial Park, Cumberland County administration buildings, the Cumberland Community Center, and the Department of Social Services Office.

“…The Cumberland County Board of Supervisors recognizes and applauds the staff and students of Bear Creek Academy for the many hours contributed and valuable assistance and support provided to Cumberland County and many community groups,” read Chairman Kennell from the resolution.

Board Comments

Supervisors Oertel and Womack expressed that they would be attending the next Randolph District Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary meeting.

According to their comments, there are inspection concerns and issues related to the County that they feel should be addressed.