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CRC Amends Bylaws

FARMVILLE – The Commonwealth Regional Council, under the direction of its new Chairman, William “Buckie” G. Fore Jr., amended its by-laws last week in an effort to increase participation by member localities.

The bylaw amendment request was originally made by Buckingham County earlier this spring due to difficulties securing a representative from its Board of Supervisors to sit on the Council.

The current Buckingham appointment has not been attending meetings and is in “non-compliance with attendance rules set out in the CRC's by-laws.”

The Council approved amending the bylaws to state that the primary representative be an elected official of the member locality and the alternate be either an elected official of the member locality or a member from the County's administration staff such as a County Administrator or Assistant County Administrator.

According to the CRC's Acting CEO and President Mary Hickman, she had been in contact with Rebecca Carter, Buckingham's county administrator, before the meeting.

Ms. Hickman noted that Ms. Carter expressed that she would bring this to her Board's attention at its next meeting and would be able to be appointed to fill the alternate position to the CRC so that Buckingham would be represented at the monthly meetings.

“We're having difficultly getting the members, the elected officials, to attend the meetings,” explained Chairman Fore. “So the next step would be to offer a…staff member as an alternate. We discussed it last month and determined that the person appointed as an alternate should be a staff member because they would constantly be in contact with the Board. That's where we are…”

Gary Walker, representative from Charlotte County, made the motion that the Council amends its bylaws to allow the alternate to be a county administrator representative and it was approved unanimously.

“I think that will help us,” said Ellsworth Bennett, representative from Amelia County.

“I think you're right,” added Fore.

Cumberland's First Meeting Back

The July meeting was the first for Cumberland County.

Cumberland's representative on the CRC is Bobby Oertel and the alternate is Timothy Kennell.

At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Fore welcomed Oertel to the Council and Cumberland back to the table as a participating locality to the planning organization.

“Thank you,” said Oertel. “I appreciate being here and I've always been pretty impressed with this organization. Even more so since having the redistricting and Melody (Foster, regional planner) just walked us right through it and I'm glad to be here.”

Afterwards, the Chairman noted that a new secretary, treasurer, and vice chairman needed to be elected for the upcoming fiscal year.

The members of the Council then discussed that since Oertel lives the closest to the CRC office he could serve as treasurer. He agreed and the CRC unanimously appointed him to the position.

Next, David Wingold, representative from Lunenburg County, was re-appointed to the secretary seat, and Bennett was appointed to fill the vice-chairman position. Those appointments were also approved unanimously.

End-Of-Year Report

For the first time in a long time, the CRC finished the fiscal year off in the black. According to the budget report that was provided for information, there was $940.04 left over.

“It's been a long time coming,” said former chairman Walker.

“Actually, it would have been a little bit higher,” responded Ms. Foster. “It was for a project but we weren't able to get it to the bank by two so it wouldn't have counted for the end of the fiscal year and it was actually a substantial check so it was a pretty good amount.”

Reduced Dues For Eligible Towns

Although a motion was made last month to set a reduced fee of $5,000 to encourage participation in the CRC from eligible towns, The Town of Farmville and Blackstone due to a population of over 3,500, it was brought to the Council's attention by the Chairman that the CRC Charter outlines that there shouldn't be a discrepancy between membership dues amounts.

According to Fore, no institution, member locality, or organization shall pay more dues than the other members.

“So, if we lower our dues then that makes somebody else pay more than,” he said.

To fix the issue, the Council will have to bring a Charter amendment before each member Boards of Supervisors so that the proposed change can be finalized and approved.

“Then we'd need to change our bylaws after we get permission to change our Charter from the Boards of Supervisors,” said Fore.

An explanation of why the CRC wants to change the due amount is more “difficult” than the “change itself,” offered Fore about getting that many people to agree on something.

Walker noted that he shouldn't have any problem getting Charlotte County to agree to the change once he explained that it's because the CRC is “trying to increase participation.”

“I think that would sell to any Board of Supervisors,” he said. “All we can do is run it by them and if someone squawks then we'll have to come back and come up with another plan.”

Because of finding this information in the Charter, the letters were never sent to Blackstone or the Town of Farmville related to the potential of a dues decrease and have been put on delay until the CRC concludes the amendment to the Charter and then to its bylaws.

“The letter was not sent,” notified Ms. Hickman. “If the letter was sent it would have been going against our bylaws so it wasn't.”

“We're trying to get them back in,” noted Walker.

“I'd be glad to pitch it to our Board,” offered Oertel.

Later, the CRC decided that the decrease in dues would also be pitched to Longwood University, Hampden-Sydney College, and Southside Virginia Community College once the amendments are finalized.

“We need their… participation,” said Walker.

He then made a motion to approach the Boards of Supervisors to change the CRC's Charter so that the Council would have flexibility when it comes to setting membership dues amounts.

Fore then requested that Ms. Hickman first write a letter notifying the member Boards of Supervisors of the possible change and then each representative could go into further detail during their upcoming meetings.

It was noted that each member county's dues would not change from the current amount but that the decreased offering is just being tossed out there to increase participation from towns over 3,500 in population and with the educational institutions.

Park And Ride Study

In other CRC business, the Park and Ride Study was adopted by the Council.

The study has been an ongoing project by the CRC staff. According to Ms. Foster the draft has already been approved by VDOT.

The study identifies proposed areas for park and rides throughout the district because at the moment there is only one identified in Amelia County for the entire region.

“This is a Park and Ride Study that we did for our entire district,” said Ms. Foster. “As you know, we received funds for our district. This was the reason for the study is that there are none-hardly any. There is one and that is in Amelia on 360. They asked us to look for obvious places and one thing we did was contact the localities and ask for information…”

The areas suggested to VDOT include Duck's Corner in Buckingham County at the intersection of Routes 56 and 60, which is already being actively used, according to Ms. Foster.

The next place identified is at the Lowe's parking lot in Prince Edward County that would sustain those traveling back and forth that area. The next is another in Amelia at the parking lot where Food Lion is located.

One in Cumberland County is suggested for the parking area of the Southworth Equipment because of its location along Route 60.

Then one park and ride area is suggested for the 460 Self Storage parking lot in Blackstone, which, Ms. Foster noted, is already in use.

The final area was identified in Pamplin at a vacant lot owned by the state near the High Bridge Trail State Park along 460.

These areas would promote public/private partnerships, she offered, in the region and assist those who travel outside of the areas they live.

“Any one that is suggested in this report, it is not saying that it will be established,” she offered. “Obviously, if it is privately owned they would have to be contacted and agree to any improvements to it but this is just suggestions from the study.”

Chesapeake Bay Data Delivery Meeting

Ms. Hickman notified the Council that the CRC's staff had assisted the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and worked as a liaison with the delivery of the Chesapeake Bay Phase II implementation plan data delivery on June 21.

Staff from the localities impacted attended as well as representatives from the Piedmont Conservation District, Peter Francisco Conservation District, the Department of Health, and the Department of Forestry, she said.

“DCR gave an overview…,” she said about the reduction plan that must be implemented at the local level by those within the watershed.”