Cumberland Supervisors Stick With Status Quo
Published 5:29 pm Thursday, January 24, 2013
CUMBERLAND – While discussion of the Cumberland Board of Supervisor's Code of Ethics and Standard of Conduct brought changes, the board stuck with the status quo when it came to other organizational matters during January's annual meeting.
Besides reelecting Supervisor David Meinhard, District Four, as chairman and Supervisor Lloyd Banks, District Two, as vice-chairman, the board also re-approved its goals from the previous year and the legislative priorities which had been approved by the previous board.
Meinhard was reelected as chairman of the board by a three to two vote. He was nominated by Banks, who voted along with Supervisor Kevin Ingle, District Three, in reelecting the former chairman.
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Ingle was nominated to be chairman by Supervisor Parker Wheeler, District Five, but immediately declined. Wheeler and Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, voted against reelecting Meinhard as chairman.
A year ago, during the first annual meeting of the current board, the vote was similar, with Banks, Ingle and Meinhard voting for Meinhard as chairman of the board and Osl and Wheeler voting against.
After being nominated by Meinhard, Banks was unanimously reelected as vice-chairman of the board. Banks garnered an additional two votes this year, with Osl and Wheeler, who had originally opposed his nomination as vice-chair the previous year, now voting for his reelection.
Board meetings were also unanimously approved to continue occurring on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
After Ingle sought to discuss some of the board's goals, it was decided to approve the previous year's goals and priorities without change.
Ingle had questions about goals regarding updating the comprehensive plan and seeking out grants for expanding the water and sewer system. However, it was pointed out that the Comprehensive Plan update is still ongoing.
Wheeler and Osl added that there is also an ongoing need for water and sewer system expansion, especially to such areas as the new industrial park on Poor House Road, so continuing to seek grant funds for those projects was also advantageous.
Ingle then stated that he felt comfortable with the goals, unless any needed to be added, and moved that the previous year's goals be accepted for 2013 as well, which passed unanimously.
The board's goals, which include 16 points, also cover such items as attracting business and industrial development; encouraging both Southside Virginia Community College and Longwood University to expand within the county; establishing park and recreation areas; leveraging High Bridge Trail for economic development; developing senior programs; encouraging volunteerism; and pursue all of the goals without increasing the citizens' tax burden or county indebtedness.
The board was presented with the legislative priorities that had been approved by the previous board on September 13, 2011.
Meinhard moved that the priorities be adopted, but mentioned a newspaper column he read which stated that rural counties have become irrelevant. He was afraid that this was true, “We're the poor little runts at the trough getting what the urban areas leave for us.”
He concluded, “Somewhere, somebody has got to get a stronger, better lobbying interest in order to make the rural areas relevant.”
Osl then suggested that the board could do more to make themselves relevant, pointing out that the legislative priorities in the board packet had been adopted in the fall, allowing enough time before the upcoming legislative session to meet with delegates in order to review the priorities and ask them to carry legislation to the general assembly.
He thought it was too late now to have much impact, but added that he felt that any of their representatives would be happy to carry a number of the items included in the list of legislative priorities into the general assembly.
Osl went on to suggest that legislative priorities be taken care of during the year and not at the time of the annual organization meeting. He added that the priorities could be revisited when the Virginia Association of Counties, which lobbies on behalf of local governments, sends out its request for county input on its own legislative priorities.
The legislative priorities were approved by a unanimous vote. The eight priorities were primarily in relation to state funding and taxation.
County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Giles later reported to The Herald that January 31 was a day specifically designated for localities to visit and lobby their delegates, an event she plans to attend.
During her report to the board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amy Griffin also mentioned that she would be lobbying the legislature later in the month on behalf of the school system, inviting any board members who so desired to join her.
Over the course of three motions, $4,350 was unanimously appropriated by the board for the recreation department.
Before voting, Banks confirmed that the appropriations were not for the spending of additional funds, but the allocation of monies that were a source of revenue to the recreation department earlier in the year. The monies were simply now being specifically earmarked for the recreation department.
The majority of the funds, $4,200, were moved from the recreation department's concession revenue to the recreation department's food and food service supplies line item.
The remaining $150 was revenue, which came from rentals. One hundred dollars was from the rental of the press machine. Fifty dollars came from renting the old elementary school gym.
With a unanimous vote, the board appropriated $1,163.40 received as reimbursement from the insurance company for a claim filed for a sheriff department vehicle.
In the absence of Bret Schardein, former planning director, Planner Rachel Falkenstein presented three matters to the board.
The conditional use permit request for River Range shooting range had been referred to the planning commission by the board during last months meeting. During its December meeting, the planning commission reviewed the proposal. Falkenstein said they then “asked the applicant for more information about the design and the operations of the proposed shooting range before they opened this for public hearing.”
There will be another review and the public hearing before the request comes before the board.
Secondly, the conditional use permit for the Raines Tavern cell tower will be open for public hearing during the planning commission's January 28 meeting. It would be a 195-foot monopole tower located near Thompson Road in the Raines Tavern area of southern Cumberland.
Finally, Falkenstein requested an amendment to a previously approved conditional use permit for the Guinea Mills tower, slated to be located near the intersection of Route 45 and Holman Mill Road.
The original permit stated that construction must begin within a year from the effective date. However, since this is not likely to happen, National Communication Towers, the company granted the permit, has requested a two year extension. They also requested that a condition to the permit be modified to exclude the limitation of size of the radius of antennas.
Falkenstein has since been in communication with National Communication Towers and reported to The Herald that the permit modification will be reworded to limit the radius of dishes to three feet and the height of antennas to four feet, insuring that the total tower height does not exceed 200 feet, the limit for unlit towers.
Falkenstein's request that a public hearing on amending the permit be set for the board's February 12 meeting was unanimously approved by the board.
Later in the meeting, Wheeler asked if the position of planning director had been filled. Giles responded that Falkenstein was serving in that capacity on an interim basis.
Wheeler went on to suggest that the position be combined with the position of director of economic and community development. He stated that he felt both positions were vital lifelines to the County, helping it move forward.
He concluded that someone was already in the County with the experience to fill such a position, “It just makes sense to combine the two if you have somebody already there that has the ability to be a planning director/economic developer and save the County $65,000.”
Wheeler added that his suggestion was not a reflection on Falkenstein, adding that she was a very capable individual.
Banks pointed out that it was the job of the county administrator to fill positions for the County, “I imagine she'll take that under consideration as she determines who will serve in what capacity.”
Director of Economic and Community Development Greg Baka referred back to a report summarizing the economic progress made during 2012, which he had shared with the board during last month's meeting.
He highlighted the progress of several County projects. The Route 60 waterline extension is 99 percent complete, he said, with final testing of the waterline now being performed. The Fleming Road portion of the extension requires the acquisition of one final property easement.
Baka also announced that the Poor House Road extension and widening project for the future industrial park is also 99 percent complete with just some final stabilization and seeding being finished.
Baka concluded his report by adding that there was a possibility of a new restaurant entering the county during the upcoming year.
Meinhard questioned Baka regarding the progress of Buggs Island Telephone's wireless broadband service. Baka stated that “due to technical difficulties and issues that have arisen from the company's subcontractor” it has not yet been made available. However, because of the amount of federal and grant funding, he is expectant of their eventual success.
Baka also reminded residents that if they are interested in receiving the internet service, they should call Buggs Island Telephone at (434)689-6300, to be put on a list for future service when it is actually available.
Banks then asked if the service were designed to operate similar to Verizon's service. Baka responded that the service itself was similar but functioned at a lower frequency than the Verizon signal, allowing it to travel farther.
The service will use two towers in the county: one located on Putney Road about three or four miles south of Route 60 and another on Route 45 North about four miles north of Route 60. Because of the frequency level, the service is designed to reach all of Cumberland County, according to Baka.
During public comment, Carol Miller pointed out that unlike the other board members, neither Meinhard nor Ingle had yet posted a picture or bio on the County's website.
During board member comments, Ingle remarked on his vote to approve the allocation of funds for Madeline's House. He reiterated the large number of telephone calls he had received regarding support of Madeline's House.
Pointing out that the extra funds were allocated from excess funds originally designated for Piedmont Area Transit, “I feel like I have represented the wishes of my district without an additional expense to the County.”
“I want everybody to know that I'm not here to blow your tax dollars…I'm very far from that. But I do see the need for services that can provide such an impact, such as Madeline's House and fire departments, rescue squads and other organizations that give us service at very little cost. Service that we just cannot turn our backs on.”