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Continuity ordinance adopted

In an emergency Cumberland County Board of Supervisors meeting held 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, the board voted unanimously to adopt a continuity of government ordinance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ordinance causes temporary changes in certain deadlines and modifies public meeting and public hearing practices and procedures to address continuity of operations associated with the coronavirus outbreak.

County officials held the meeting via a Zoom video conference. After a quick roll call and approval of the agenda, the board moved to amend its declaration of local emergency originally declared March 16 to include the designation of a disaster in accordance with Virginia Code § 15.2-1413.

The board then voted to adopt the emergency continuity of government ordinance, which among other things permits public bodies under certain circumstances where it is dangerous or impractical to meet in person to hold meetings by electronic means without a quorum in one physical location.

The ordinance states that the public body must notify the general public of this electronic meeting three days in advance and identify how the public can participate and comment, among other requirements.

The move also allows any deadlines requiring action by a public entity or its officers/employees to be suspended during this disaster, although it is encouraged to take such action as is practical and appropriate to meet those deadlines.

The ordinance states that non-emergency public hearings and action items can be postponed to a later date, provided the public is given notice of how and when to present its views.

It is also ordained that each incorporated town within the county is encouraged, authorized and/or directed to declare its own state of local emergency and disaster and to adopt its own ordinance for the continuity of town government.

The ordinance will remain in effect for 60 days unless amended, rescinded or readopted by the board.

In no event will the ordinance remain in effect for more than six months.