Board discusses business for the new year

Published 9:37 pm Friday, January 28, 2022

In the first monthly meeting of the new year, the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors met on Monday, Jan. 10, to discuss new business and hold four public hearings.

Two major discussions focused on an alternative learning environment and a commercial sawmill.

Dr. John Keeler, interim superintendent of Buckingham County Public Schools, brought forward an idea for a proposed alternative education off-campus site. He worked with a program in other locations that took suspended students to an off-campus location where students earned their way back to school. This gives the students a place to focus on their schoolwork and does not burden parents as a bus takes them to and from this location on school days.

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“I have seen this work so good that some of these kids do better in a program like this in school than they do in regular school because they’re focused,” said Keeler.

He wants to rent one of the back rooms in the newly renovated community library for the off-site program. The board moved to form a committee to pursue the program, hoping to find a more permanent solution than the library as many parents who bring their young children there have voiced concerns.

Also discussed was a public hearing for a Special Use Permit for the purpose of operating a commercial sawmill. John Yoder, who lives on Allens Lake Road, requested a permit to operate the small sawmill on his property. 

“A good number where I think would be three to five truckloads a week,” said Yoder. “Right now I have a portable sawmill and that’s as big as I expect to get. I don’t plan on any expansions.”

A few of his neighbors spoke at the hearing in support of his sawmill. They said the noise would not be an issue and the trucks would not be an issue on this road more than others.

However, many other neighbors voiced safety concerns about log trucks on the road. Allens Lake Road is a dead-end where many kids and adults walk and ride bicycles, opponents said. Also, the road has tight curves, already has a sinkhole and is very narrow to host the trucks. The board voted 5-1 in favor of denying the permit with Supervisor Donald Bryan voting against and Supervisor Joe Chambers Jr. abstaining.

Other business:

• A new bylaw was adopted for 2022, allowing supervisors to still vote when virtually attending a meeting.

• Scott Frederick of VDOT was unable to attend the meeting to give his regular update. Instead, he asked the board to pass along concerns to him to take into consideration until the next meeting. The board members raised concerns about Allens Lake Road where part of the road is starting to cave in, a big hole at the intersection of Well Water Road and Gunman Road, cleaning up storm damage as many trees are still in the road, a pothole at the intersection of Rosser Road and Ransom Road, problems with Old Mill Road as well as fallen signs and wash boarding on some roads.

• David Blout gave a presentation on behalf of the Department of Conservation and Recreation Scenic Rivers Designation. The board voted to preserve two designated areas that bookend part of the James River that was named scenic in 2019.

• Kelly Snoddy gave an annual update from the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District.

• The first public hearing discussed the Transient Occupancy Tax. This came as the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1398 amending the Virginia Code, revising the transient occupancy taxes to provide for tax reporting when a room is booked through a third party. No one signed up to speak and the board adopted the new ordinance unanimously.

• The second public hearing discussed a new burn ban ordinance. This ordinance gives the county administrator authority to set a burn ban in an emergency without board approval and will only be good for 90 days. No one signed up to speak and the board adopted the ordinance unanimously.

• The fourth public hearing discussed a rezoning of Rock Wood Products of Dillwyn Inc. to change from Agricultural 1 to Industrial Light for the purpose of zoning consistency. No one signed up to speak and it was passed unanimously.

• Two solar projects from Impact Power Solutions were approved to continue in their process on Gravel Hill Road and on South Constitution Route. These locations were discussed in a previous public hearing in the Dec. 13, meeting. 

• The board set numerous public hearings for Feb. 14, for rezoning for three separate Airbnbs that would like to also hold events or campsites.

• A donation was appropriated from Kyanite Mining employees to the Animal Control Department.

• EMS supervisor Cody Davis gave updates from the past weeks. The EMS team has faced shortages due to COVID-19, but many are recovering and should be back to normal soon. He also recalled the hard work the staff went through during the winter storm, including the volunteer fire department and many others who stepped in.