Board Supports Scenic Byway

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CUMBERLAND – The Midland Trail scenic byway ambles leisurely, west to east, through West Virginia along Route 60. And, in the near future, it may make its way into Virginia.

During February's Board of Supervisors meeting, the board approved a resolution showing support for its extension along Route 60 into Virginia and Cumberland County, in particular.

According to a letter received from Kara Asboth of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, many localities west of Cumberland – including Alleghany County, Buena Vista, Nelson County, Lynchburg, County of Appomattox and the Town of Appomattox – have already approved resolutions in support of extending the Midland Trail as a National Scenic Byway into Virginia.

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The West Virginia portion of Route 60 was designated as Midland Trail National Scenic Byway in 2000, according to the resolution.

The resolution suggests that this multi-state byway would follow the example of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which provides visitors an opportunity “to learn the history and experience the culture of the entire multi-state region in which the Parkway meanders, while making a significant economic impact on the State of North Carolina and Commonwealth of Virginia…”

The resolution approved by the board showed their support for the Midland Trail in Virginia to be designated a Virginia Byway, an extension of the National Scenic Byway.

Although County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Giles stated that she was not an expert on national scenic byways, she was able to clarify that the resolution, is “a show of support. It's all it is. It does not bind the County to any action or any financial contribution. It just would be an indication of whether Cumberland County…supports the effort that is underway to have… Route 60 designated as a national scenic byway.”

Giles went on to say that the benefit would be of a publicity nature, so far as she could tell.

Chairman David Meinhard, District Four, was hopeful that it could possibly encourage tourism. Supervisor Parker Wheeler, District Five, then moved to approve the resolution.

However, Supervisor Lloyd Banks, District Two, was cautious, suggesting, “it may be prudent to explore what this entails. I mean, if the county administrator and attorney is saying she believes this may be the case and there's still some speculation, I think we've been penalized in the past by making some decisions, without understanding all the impact.”

He suggested the board postpone the decision until the next meeting, until it is found out if there are costs involved, pointing out that the County now has to pay an annual cost for some of its historical markers, “So, I think there is some prudence in finding out, if in fact there is cost to the County or not.”

Wheeler then “revamped” his motion, adding the board supports the resolution, only if it doesn't cost the County anything.

Banks remained unsure.

Ingle, Wheeler and Meinhard voted in support of the amended motion. Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, was not present.

Meinhard commented after the vote, “As I understand it, there's no money involved…” He went on to hope that the designation might make the widening of Route 60 more likely, although Banks suggested the designation might place additional requirements on the county in regards to alterations to the road.

CPMT Appointment

The board unanimously approved Linda Eanes as parent representative for the Cumberland County Comprehensive Planning and Management Team (CPMT). The CPMT is mandated by the state and deals with children who are at risk due to behaviors, mental health issues or association with foster care. The board is made up of representative from such organizations as the school, the juvenile court system, health department, social services and includes a parent representative.

Susan Oertel had been serving on the team for over 10 years as the parent representative, according to her letter of resignation to the board. She stated that she had enjoyed challenges of the position and serving with the members of the CPMT team, but felt it was time “for an individual to fill the position who has the current working knowledge needed to evaluate the needs of our children.”

Alice Metts, the Comprehensive Service Act program manager, later told The Herald that in regards to Oertel's service on the board, “her knowledge of the child serving agencies just was invaluable to our team.”

Metts recommended the appointment of Eanes, who had previously been serving on the team as a 4-H representative, for the position of parent representative, which the board of supervisors approved.

Waterline Easements

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the acquisition of easements and initiation of condemnation proceedings for the construction of the Route 60 waterline extension. The resolution includes effected properties on both Fleming Road and Route 13, as well as Route 60. However, Giles stated that she does not anticipate needing any easements on the eastward expansion of the waterline.

Giles also clarified that any payments for easements come out of the grant funds for the project, which are being provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.

Giles informed the board that there are three partial interests of easements owned by individuals which the County has been unable to contact, which could require condemnation proceedings. The remaining property owners have already signed easements, she said.

Giles has since confirmed with The Herald that all landowners have been located and the County does not anticipate needing to pursue condemnation proceedings.

Planning Director's Report

Interim Planning Director Rachel Falkenstein presented a status summary of County projects to the board.

She pointed out that the planning commission has set a public hearing to occur during their March meeting for a conditional use permit for the Bodatious motor sports event. She stated that she would ask the board to set a date for their public hearing next month.

Board Comments

Ingle commented on his efforts to economize in relation to the County's fleet of vehicles.

He also thanked Carol Miller for her attendance and, referencing her comments to the board during its January 8 meeting, stated he was working on having his picture and biography posted on the County's website. As of March 4, it had not been posted.

Banks stated his oft expressed concerns over the County's spending. He challenged the board to be mindful of its spending, especially while working on next year's budget. He also challenged the board regarding the renewal of the Bodatious event permit. He observed that he felt the event has not meaningfully changed its structure from the previous years to make it more family friendly.

Meinhard also stated he was working on his biography and picture for the County's website. As of March 4, it had not been posted. He also seconded Banks financial comments, saying the County needed to either find sources of revenue to offset spending or else reduce spending.