Enterprising Discussion

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – County Supervisors, following a discussion at their March 13 meeting, will again weigh a possible expansion of the Enterprise Zone.

The County sought, and was granted, a boundary adjustment from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in 2010 (adding about 303 acres) to the Enterprise Zone but has received requests for inclusion.

A portion of the Rice area was considered to be added to the Enterprise Zone in 2010, but after much opposition that area was not included in the expanded Enterprise Zone.

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The state-sponsored Enterprise Zone program encourages commercial and industrial development. Properties in the zone-though there is no effect on property values-may be potentially eligible for certain real property or job investment grant incentives from the state.

Economic Development Director Sharon Carney asked the board for permission to prepare an Enterprise Zone boundary amendment.

“In preparation for the boundary zone amendment, a lot of the people that were coming forward were from the Rice district,” she told the board, “and so I…have spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks talking to the residents in the Rice district who own commercial properties and have one person that has a residential piece right on 460 that's asked to be included.”

There is even further potential to expand into other areas, it was noted.

“I don't feel that these are decisions that I should put out on my own,” Ms. Carney told the board, “and, therefore, I think that I could use the assistance of the board in helping to make the recommendations to you on who to put up to be included and how you want to go about it.”

Chairman William “Buckie” Fore suggested he and a couple of board members as well as staff prepare a draft map extension and bring it back to the board. Lockett District Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones and Vice-Chairman Howard Simpson were tapped.

School Board Appointments

Supervisors held a public hearing on school board appointments with several speakers using the time to laud current Leigh District representative Harriett Fentress, who is currently the only announced candidate for the seat.

One speaker offered that they believe she has the knowledge, skills and ability to do an outstanding job “and has done an outstanding job.”

“She's a wonderful person,” another speaker, a retired school worker, cited. “We all love her and everybody here is in support of her.”

Supervisors will also consider candidates for the Buffalo District seat, currently held by school board chairman Russell Dove. There were no nominations presented from the floor.

“The committees will seriously consider from this point all applicants who are requesting appointment to the school board from now until…our April meeting, at which time those applicants will be named to the board by the (citizen) committees,” explained Fore.

Another Hearing

Supervisors also held a public hearing, and approved, a request from Richard Raymond Jr. and Robert Raymond Sr. to amend a site plan to allow for an accessory building on a 1.5-acre parcel on Farmville Road. The site is zoned General Commercial (C-1); the site is currently used for auto rental and general offices uses.

“Because it was an addition it wasn't included with the original site plan, our zoning ordinance requires an amendment to the site plan,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett commented on the placement of an accessory building.

Other items added to the site plan are the possible placement of a flagpole, sign for the truck rental, and a trash dumpster.

While the planning commission voted to recommend approval, Richard Raymond took issue with their treatment through the process at the planning commission.

“…Somewhere in the planning commission, I feel that they have lost what they are really there for. I think that they think…that they are you, the board of supervisors. Instead of helping and guiding…to provide what businesses need to make their recommendation to you, they are acting like they are the finished product-here we made the motion, now let the board of supervisors second it,” Richard Raymond said.

The planning commission needs start being part of the solution and not become a part of the problem, he cited.

He later added, “What my brother and I need is for all this nit-picking to stop. If we want a dumpster, a flagpole, a picnic table, a gazebo, a small fishpond, I think we should be able to have it. Who or what is it hurting?”

Public Comment

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Sam Campbell asked if Robert “Bob” Fowler of Prince Edward Development had secured the loan for the hotel in the Granite Falls project.

“Not that I know of,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett said.

Still, he likened closure on that to that of a house. The county administrator reflected, “I think he said it would take him two months, probably, for him to complete all the paperwork once he has the term sheets from the banks.”

Campbell also asked if construction would start on the road before the loan is secured.

“Yes,” Bartlett confirmed.

“What happens if he don't get it?”

“This road has nothing to do with the hotel,” Bartlett said. “The road was, in the resolution that the board of supervisors approved to go on that, was due to the congestion surrounding the schools.”

Jerri Morton presented fliers on a planned 100 miles of yard sales event, scheduled for Saturday, July 7 along the Route 460 and 360 corridors. The event will include portions of Prince Edward and include sections along U.S. Route 460 near Rice, Route 360 near Meherrin and Green Bay, and Route 15 between Farmville and Keysville, as well as a portion of U.S. Route 460 west of Farmville. Other localities include portions of Amelia, Burkeville, Crewe and Blackstone.

Highway Matters

Supervisors listed several highway issues they would like to be addressed. Among the concerns: a section of State Route 626 near the Appomattox County line and Route 627; a pothole near Dowdy's Corner; and a list of unpaved roads in the Leigh District in need of gravel.

Lockett District Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones asked about the resurfacing schedule for some of the secondary roads.

In Other News…

*The board approved a consent agenda that included several appropriations including $185 from the DMV from the sale of license plates used to support dog and cat sterilization and $731 received for the Clerk of the Circuit Court from the Technology Trust Fund to purchase a printer.

Also included- $120,000 for the Prince Edward Firefighter Association from the County's Capital Equipment program for the Darlington Heights Volunteer Fire Department to purchase a fire truck (which is to be repaid over five years) and $100,000 for the Rescue Squad to purchase an ambulance (with the funds repaid over three years).

*Paul Hoffman, field representative for Congressman Robert Hurt (R-5th), was in attendance and offered that they are there to help. He also detailed the Congressman's number one goal is to try to balance the budget with a second goal to help create jobs in the district.

“To those ends, anything we can do to help, we're here to help,” Hoffman said.

*Commonwealth Regional Council acting President and CEO Mary Hickman presented an annual report.

The CRC provides local and regional planning services, local and regional economic development services, and regional government services and activities.

The CRC, among its services, authorized the purchase of redistricting software last year and provided redistricting mapping services to member and non-member localities in the region without charge.

*Justine Young, a community health educator with the Massey Cancer Center for the Piedmont Health District, presented an overview on (funded by the Tobacco Indemnification grant) a comprehensive community health assessment and to mobilize resources into the underserved area.

The district was chosen to participate due to a high incidence of cancer and mortality rates. (The Herald will publish a separate story on the report in a coming edition.)

“…What I am hoping to do at this point with bringing further resources into the district, is to develop a district task force looking at all these health issues and basically sharing information on potential grants that are out there, getting the grants written so we can bring the health care resources here because we truly do not have them here,” Ms. Young said.

*Supervisors agreed to hold a public hearing to update the County's animal control ordinance (in response to a re-codification of the state Code). The proposed changes include a shift from the sale of kennel tags for those who own five to 20 dogs to 10-20 dogs as allowed in the Code. The County administrator has also recommended deleting a section citing a dog operating fund, which the County does not use in its budget process.

*The board agreed to authorize Fore to execute an agreement with each constitutional officer (sheriff, treasurer, commissioner of revenue, clerk of the circuit court and Commonwealth's attorney) where they agree to essentially follow the County's personnel policies and workers in those offices (with some slight differences) are treated like county employees.

*Supervisors agreed to hold a public hearing on a special use permit request by Amanda Wells to allow the operation of a commercial kennel in the Agricultural Residential (A-2) zone from Four Paws Bed & Biscuit. The planning commission recommended approval of the application.

*The board, following a report from the County attorney, agreed to advertise a repeal of the existing fireworks permit ordinance. The repeal would mean the State Fire Marshal's office would provide oversight and enforcement. Currently, the County has its own permitting process, but in researching changes in state fireworks regulations, it was learned that the State Fire Marshal now requires at least one person at each fireworks display to be certified by the State Fire Marshal's office as a pyrotechnician.

*Bartlett reported that, with the resignation of the deputy animal control officer, it was his plan to leave one of two positions open-a part-time or full-time position-in animal control until at least July 1.

*The county administrator also cited he did not believe they would have any specific agenda items for a joint Board-Town Council meeting scheduled later this month. They have lunch planned and then go to High Bridge. Construction of the bridge, the centerpiece of the State Park, is nearing completion.

*Board members, weighing the option of joining with the school system and having a self-insurance plan, delayed taking action on insurance renewal.