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Public Mum At Hearings On 30 AFD Applications

No one spoke at public hearings on 30 agricultural forestal district applications when the county board of supervisors met Monday night in Halifax.

Prior to holding the hearings, supervisors honored the memory of the late James Kelly McKinney who served on the county board from 1988 to 1995.

Flanked by her two sons, Gerald and James, McKinney’s widow, Mary Louise, accepted a resolution of commendation honoring the many accomplishments and efforts of her late husband.
The former ED#5 supervisor was recognized as a county native who resided in Halifax County for 84 years.

“Mr. McKinney was a faithful member of Scottsburg United Methodist Church providing outreach assistance to those in need,” Supervisor Chairman William I. Fitzgerald said.

McKinney further contributed his time and talents as a member of American Legion Post 8, VFW Post 8243 and the Clover Lions Club.

He served his country with honor earning the U. S. Army’s Bronze Star during World War II, Fitzgerald added.

In addition to serving on the board of supervisors for two terms, McKinney also served on a number of committees of the board including the solid waste and personnel committees.

Fitzgerald expressed appreciation to McKinney’s family for sharing their husband and father with the county and noted his contributions to the success of Halifax County.

Following the presentation of the resolution commending McKinney, Chairman Fitzgerald opened the floor for comments from the public on the 30 advertised agricultural forestal districts (AFD) recommended by the advisory committee and planning commission telling those in attendance that no action will be taken on any of the applications until Monday, April 19.

Hearings were held Monday night on the following 30 AFD parcels:
Burnett, 473.06 acres; Roanoke District, 1,704.2 acres with the following contingency: removal of PRN #20944 and PRN #32144 which appear to be solely residential; Crews/Midkiff, 438,82 acres; Hickory Hill, 378.81 acres with the following contingency: removal of PRN #26720 which appears to be solely residential (reference to Deed Book 1045, page 611); North Halifax Tobacco, 511.06 acres; Liberty, 713.37 acres; Hunting Creek, 334.34 acres; ED #1, 374.74 acres; Pine Ridge, 203.24 acres; Blanes Mill, 385.68 acres; Sandy Level, 1,500.15 acres; Piney Grove, 282.77 acres; Pearce-Huff, 402 acres; Slick Rock Farm, 397.92 acres; Hartland, 337.82 acres; Sandy Ridge, 347.66 acres; Halifax Properties, 250 acres; Bent Creek Farm, 443.04 acres; Wind Rock Farms 292.99 acres; Mt. Carmel, 349.71 acres; Bill Crews Conservation District, 873.83 with the following contingency: exclude PRN #28475; Buler/Conner, 599.77 acres; Tuck, 253.93 acres; Paces/Sutherlin, 400.18 acres with the following contingency: exclude PRN # 19935, PRN #21557 and PRN #20426; Hudson Road, 567.78 acres; Flintstone District, 318.54 acres; Wilson District, 229.07 acres; Pine Knoll, 339.22 acres; Snake Ranch, 451.9 acres; Millwood, 961.37 acres; and Reedy Bottom, 275.5 acres.

Later in the meeting, supervisors agreed to hold public hearings at their April 5 meeting on 20 additional AFD applications that have been referred by the AFD advisory committee.
Supervisors are expected to take action on the total 69 AFD applications received in 2009 when they meet April 19.

At the conclusion of Monday’s public hearings, Planning/Zoning Administrator Robbie Love explained the county opted to participate in the state AFD program that promotes the conservation of open space and farmland preservation.

Citizens volunteer for the program by making an application, Love explained, noting the county then holds public hearings such as the ones held Monday night on the proposed AFD applications.

Following the public hearings, ordinances will be drafted for each district.

Residents putting their properties in AFDs agree not to subdivide or develop their land in a residential or commercial manner and in return they will be granted land use taxation.
Love further explained that land use taxation offers the landowner a reduced tax value on the farmland included in the AFD but does not reduce taxes on homes or improvements to their properties.

He noted he already has taken five applications for AFDs to be considered in the 2010 application process.

Also during Monday night’s supervisors’ meeting, board members received a monthly status report from Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Residency Administrator J. D. Barkley II who said construction on the Route 360 permanent bridge over the Banister River is expected to start in the spring.

A pre-construction hearing has been set for March 12 on the project, Barkley said, adding, “I feel like we are at a point of no return, and we are going to replace that bridge.”

According to Barkley, two bridge projects on Route 659 over Birch Creek and Miry Creek on River Road were advertised in February, with bids to be opened this month and construction to begin this spring or summer.

The bridge replacement on Route 688 over Toby Creek on Goode’s Road is expected to get under way this month with completion anticipate June 10. A detour is being provided on Routes 659, 662 and 658, Barkley explained.

Construction on Route 716 over Clardie Creek on Falkland Road is expected to be complete next month, Barkley said, adding that VDOT also is anticipating starting its surface treatment and plant mix schedules in April.

Barkley also informed supervisors this year’s Six-Year Plan process will be unique because in the residency administrator’s words, “The funding is not a lot.”

He explained only about $500,000 is budgeted for the six-year period.

Barkley asked supervisors to set a public hearing on the Six-Year Secondary Road Plan.

In years past, he said VDOT has done Six-Year Plan presentations and then a priority listings of roads presentation and then received requests for rural additions.

“We don’t have a lot of funds, so I didn’t think the board would want to do the priority listing or roads or rural additions because we’re not adding anymore,” Barkley added.

Acting on a motion by ED#8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne, supervisors unanimously approved setting a public hearing on the Six-Year Plan for their April 5 board meeting.

ED#1 Supervisor J. T. Davis was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

In other action Monday evening, Douglas Powell, chairman of the War Memorial Oversight Committee, presented the committee’s annual report that offered two current recommendations requiring board action.

The first seeks $2,050 for light replacement at the park, and the second gives County Administrator George Nester the responsibility of reviewing the appropriateness of requests to use the park facilities and authority to approve or deny such requests.

Supervisors agreed to both requests.

According to Powell, since the completion of the park, the general properties staff has wrestled with a continuing problem with the failure of the installed lighting to illuminate the flags on the three flagpoles.

The lights provided by the park landscaping plan are recessed in the ground beneath the flag poles in a depressed area, Powell said, adding that these lights stay covered by wind blown leaves and debris.

County Properties and Maintenance Director Bill Wolfe has developed and presented a proposal to have a qualified electrical contractor replace those lights with fixtures that will be above ground and with a design that will complement the existing features, Powell told supervisors.

Supervisors approved the War Memorial Oversight Committee suggestion to pay the $2,050 expense using funds from the project account that currently contains $16,993 and is retained for such park non-maintenance expenses.

Powell, who also serves as chairman of the board of equalization along with members Sam Watts and Clifford Somerville, reported that barring any further issues, that board’s work is complete after meeting for five days to hear appeals.

According to Powell, the board of equalization heard appeals from 31 owners involving 63 parcels. Five additional owners cancelled their appointment, and one was a no-show.
“The number of appeals this year was significantly less than in some previous reassessments,” Powell said. “My observations were that the three of us brought to the table a very diverse background, and I can report that every decision in every case was a unanimous decision among the three of us.”

He said several changes were made with some assessments going down and one went up.

“What we found is that a number of landowners don’t understand the process of tracking,” Powell explained. “It is surprising to many people that we have a number of people in the county who do not know where their property is.”

In other action Monday night, County Administrator George Nester reported on a request to discontinue a portion of Christie Circle Road (Route 862) in Virgilina.

By concensus, supervisors authorized the county administrator to notify affected property owners by registered mail that VDOT is being asked to discontinue seven-tenths of a mile on Christie Circle Road.

Supervisors also took the following actions during their meeting Monday night:

• Agreed to participate in a Regional Hazardous Mitigation Plan with Southside Planning District Commission at a cost not to exceed $2,800;

According to the county administrator, the plan will assess and identify what type of natural threats this community faces such as wildfires, snow and icy conditions, tornadoes hurricanes, etc.
Southside Planning District is updating its Regional Hazardous Mitigation Plan document that it adopted in 2006, and the county can participate through this regional plan that is currently in place, Nester explained.

• Set a public hearing for the April 5 meeting on a conditional use permit for an RV campground in ED-7;

H. Reed and Leigh Edwards have submitted an application to locate an RV campground with three additional camper hookups on the north side of Ramble Road (State Route 730) at 3132 Ramble Road in Virgilina.

• Approved a revised FY 2011 budget calendar that calls for a budget work session to be held next Monday, a reassessment public hearing set for March 11; a public hearing on both the county and school budgets to be held on March 22 at 6:30 p.m. and adoption of the county budget and tax rates set for March 29;

• Authorized the county school board to carry over the current year’s appropriation from the county into the next school year allowing the schools more flexibility on how to spend their share of county funds; 

• Recognized Donnell Correll who they contracted with to serve as the fair committee chairperson and consultant charged with working with the fair committee and county staff to coordinate the 100th anniversary of the Halifax County Fair;

“She’s got quite an impressive resume’,” according to County Administrator Nester. “She helped coordinate the Sundance Festival for some movie star named Robert Redford. She does have a lot of experience in that area.”

Correll was one of two applicants for the position, but she was deemed to be “the most responsive to the needs of the board,” Nester said.

Correll will work with a budget of $56,000 to promote and market the Halifax County Fair as well as add two new programs to be held at the fairgrounds on an annual basis, the county administrator said.

Correll will use the budgeted appropriation to cover such expenses as maintenance, security, marketing, promotion, advertising and to sell sponsorships for the event, Nester added. She will be allocated $4,200 per month through November to cover these expenses.

According to Nester, the county already has committed $35,000 to provide three nights of entertainment in the grandstand, $6,000 for lighting and $2,800 for management of the exhibit hall.
• Made appointments to fill vacancies on the following boards and commissions:

• Airport Commission – Appointed Will Solomon to fill the unexpired term of the late Kenneth Cassada that ends Jan. 31, 2011;

• Improvement Council – Appointed Willie D. Blakey to fill the ED#3 vacancy for a term that expires Jan. 31, 2011.

• Library Board – Appointed Bee Espy to fill an at-large vacancy with a term that ends June 30, 2011;

• Recreation Commission – Appointed Woody K. Bane to fill a two-year term that expires Feb. 28 currently held by Catherine Duffer in ED#4, and reappointed Harrison Conner in ED#6 and Ed Owens in ED#8.

• Heard a request from Carlyle Wimbish for the board to appoint an alternate to replace James Edmunds on the Old Dominion Resource Conservation and Development Committee; and

• Were invited to attend a week of events April 5-11 culminating with the pre-installation ceremony for the Rev. Frank Coleman, pastor of First Baptist Church on Ferry Street.