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Golf Course Road speed limit reduction approved by council

Halifax Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to request the Virginia Department Of Transportation (VDOT) reduce the speed limit on Golf Course Road (Route 783) to 35 mph. Council took that action during its regular September meeting in Halifax Town Hall. In a letter to Town Manager Carl Espy, VDOT Halifax Residency Maintenance Manager Joe Barkley said the district traffic engineer had completed a review of Golf Course Road, and the department had determined the current 45 mph speed limit to be more appropriate.

Barkley also said in his letter that the town has the option of utilizing Section 46.2-875 of the Code of Virginia that states, “The maximum speed limit shall be 35 miles per hour on highways in any city or town, except on interstate or other limited access highways with divided roadways and in business or residence districts.”

On a motion by Councilman Jack Dunavant, seconded by Phil Hammond, council approved exercising its option under state law to have Golf Course Road posted at 35 mph.

Council also set two public hearings for its October meeting.

Council is seeking public comment on the proposed change of the town’s municipal election date from May 2012 to November 2012. Low turnout at the town’s most recent municipal election and rising costs prompted town officials to seek a change of date to the general election date in November 2012.

Council members also set a public hearing on proposed changes to the town code relative to yard sales within the town, upon recommendation from the town’s planning commission.

The Halifax Police Department has recommended additions to the current policy on yard sales within the town limits. Currently any town resident who wants to have a yard sale must secure a permit from the town prior to the sale. The first four permits are free, but subsequent permits require a $30 processing fee.

One proposed change would be in the information to be provided when securing a permit, “The date, or dates of any other yard sales within a 12 month period starting within the first permitted yard sale.” The current policy states, “within the current calendar year.”

The second proposed change would add to the section on hours of operation, “Each day shall constitute a separate yard sale.”

The third proposed change would add to the section on advertising signs, “Snipe signs prohibited. No off-premise sign of any material shall be tacked, nailed, stapled, pasted, painted or attached in any way to a post, tree, utility pole, tower, antenna, fence, wall or other supporting structure.”

And the fourth proposed change in the section on exemptions from Article III would read, “Any sale conducted by a licensed merchant of the town from or at a place permitted by the town manager or his designee.” The current policy reads, “permitted by chapter 14.”

In other business, council unanimously approved a proclamation proclaiming Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week in the Town of Halifax.

During council’s work session prior to the monthly meeting, Assistant Clerk Denise Barksdale reported on Halifax Village Business Association’s (HVBA) inaugural “Soiree in the Hills” held Sept. 24 at Paul Greenwood’s Vineyards in Vernon Hill.

Barksdale said final totals were not complete as of Tuesday’s meeting, but attendance at the event was over 200. She said the auction and raffle went well, with 18 items in the auction and 20 in the raffle.

Barksdale also updated council on upcoming HVBA events, saying the organization would make plans for Halloween activities in downtown Halifax at its Oct. 12 meeting. Barksdale said Halloween would be observed in the town from 6 to 9 p.m. the night of Saturday, Oct. 30.

Espy said the August “Friday Night Jams” was a success, but there would not be one in September because of the South Boston Harvest Festival scheduled for this weekend nor in October because of “Grills and Thrills” on Saturday, Oct. 23.

Barksdale said Halifax Farmers Market activities have been put on hold until the beginning of the year. She and Erin Shaughnessy, town events coordinator, plan to prepare a calendar that would outline a full season of events in order to help get vendors to the farmers market, she explained.

Espy updated council members on the August 2010 finance report, and Barksdale explained the real estate and personal property online payment option. Paymentus Corporation is handling the online payments, and town staff does not have access to residents’ credit card information through the online system. She said residents also could make payments through Paymentus over the telephone.

Barksdale explained a service fee is incurred of 2.85 percent of the tax bill. She said each resident would see the amount of the fee prior to completing the online payment, and they would have the option of backing out of the online payment if they choose.

She said residents have access to online tax payments on the town’s website www.townofhalifax.com. She said the link is located in the upper right corner of the homepage.

Council’s next work session and meeting are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct.12.