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South Boston Town Council tweaks code for furnaces


South Boston Town Council continued discussion of a proposed ordinance regulating outdoor wood-fired furnaces during its Monday work session, but in the end decided further “tweaking” is needed.

Outside wood-fired furnaces currently are not addressed in town code, but they do require permitting by the Halifax County building official.


New language would require all outdoor wood-fired furnaces to be located at least 50 feet from the property line and at least 100 feet from any residence not served by the outdoor wood-fired furnace; and the chimney to be two feet higher than the peak of the residence served or not served, whichever is higher.

The ordinance would require a permit from the South Boston fire chief prior to construction of any outdoor wood-fired furnace, and a building permit would also be required to include electrical and plumbing permits.

Any person seeking a permit for a new outdoor wood-fired furnace would be required to produce a site plan to the South Boston fire chief specifically indicating the proposed location of the new outdoor wood-fired furnace.

Any new or existing outdoor
wood-fired furnace creating a public nuisance would be subject to “any and all remedies available to the town,” according to the ordinance, which would allow 90 days from the enactment of the ordinance for any person owning, maintaining or operating an existing wood-fired furnace to bring their furnace into compliance.

Councilman Bill Snead focused on language in one section of the ordinance requiring furnaces to be located at least 100 feet from any residence that is not served by the outdoor wood-fired furnace.

Snead asked that section be changed to require outdoor wood-fired furnaces be located a “maximum of 100 feet” from any residence not served by that furnace.

Councilman Mark Morris suggested the section authorizing the town to identify and take action against owners of outdoor wood-fired furnaces after identifying those furnaces as “creating a public nuisance” be further defined.

“One [furnace] doesn’t count as a nuisance to the public,” said Morris.

The ordinance is designed to address the installation of new outdoor wood-fired furnaces in South Boston as an alternative to more expensive oil, gas or electric heat for town residents, in addition to “grandfathering” existing furnaces of that nature, according to Town Manager Ted Daniel.

Daniel told council town staff would consider making changes to the ordinance in response to council’s recommendations.

Prizery seeks help for summer programs

The Prizery Artistic Director Chris Jones updated council on his organization’s fundraising efforts toward its summer program.

Jones told council approximately $25,150 has been raised in the past two weeks via an online fundraising service to be used toward The Prizery’s summer programs.

“Brochures are going out to corporations, and we’re looking at major donors at this time,” said Jones, who told council The Prizery is looking at up to a $150,000 budget to finance its summer program.

That figure includes costs for three productions, 25 seasonal workers and staff payroll plus building usage.

Jones said The Prizery would do something this summer even if it schedules only one show or two, but he told council nothing is “locked in” at present

“We’re looking at all of our programming at this point in time,” said Jones.  “We’ll not be booking any music, theatre or anything coming into The Prizery unless they’re fully 100 percent totally underwritten prior to the contract being signed.”

“We would like to have some help from the town if that’s at all possible, whatever you think you could do,” said Jones in asking for funding from the town in support of the summer program, The Prizery’s most immediate need.

The town allocated $5,000 to The Prizery from its 2011-2012 budget.

Jones, who told council The Prizery is applying for a $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant for next year, cited several statistics supporting The Prizery’s value in drawing more people to downtown South Boston.

“We did do $65,000 in revenue from ticket sales from last summer, which we think is very encouraging,” he said.

“We had 800 new patrons last summer, and almost 400 of them were from outside Halifax County, so we do look at it as a community building event.”

Information from several downtown restaurants indicate increased traffic during the shows, Jones added.

“We think it’s a positive thing for the community,” he said.

Allison Streeter, counselor and alumni director at Carlbrook School, is the new board chairman for The Prizery, according to Jones.


Council endorses Blue Star Memorial Marker project

Town council agreed to ask Town Manager Ted Daniel to sign a letter endorsing a placement of Blue Star Memorial Marker at the southern entrance to downtown South Boston.

The South Boston Garden Club is requesting permission to place the marker in the grassy median at the southern entrance to town, near the cannon at the Tucker C. Watkins Memorial Bridge.

South Boston Garden Club offered to pay the cost of the marker - $1,250 – and is asking only that the town provide for flowers, mulch and maintenance.

The Blue Star Memorial Program honors all men and women who have served or would serve in the armed services of the United States.

Since 1949, the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs (VFGC), other districts and clubs have placed over 45 Blue Star Markers along the highways and byways of Virginia, as well as at national cemeteries, parks, veterans’ facilities and gardens.


Finance report

The general fund reflected a balance of $6,783,598 in revenues and a balance of $6,236,660 in expenditures as of Jan. 31, out of a budget of $10,007,170, according to Finance Office Erle Scott’s report.

Scott said adjustments have been made to his report that resulted in month-end revenue and expenditure figures that were inflated.

To complete the transition from landfill fund to the general fund, $560,077.32 was transferred to the general fund, consisting of a certificate of deposit in the amount of $492,763.83 and cash in the amount of $67,314.49.

General fund expenditures include $210,000 to the South Boston and Halifax County IDAs, to be transferred to the South Boston IDA fund for a joint IDA loan for renovation of the Visitor Center property.

Each IDA would be responsible for repaying $105,000 of the loan to South Boston.

Moving the $210,000 from the general fund to the IDA fund resulted in a $210,000 increase in general fund expenditures for the month of January.

Selected general fund revenues reflect a year-to-date balance of $1,914,877 in categorical aid revenues or 57 percent of budgeted totals; $858,375 in real estate tax revenues (99.8 percent); $441.160 in personal property tax revenues (103.8 percent); $295,432 in personal property tax relief revenues (100 percent); $249,371 in local tax revenues (66.5 percent); $88,765 in occupancy tax revenues (77.2 percent); $618,920 in meals tax revenues (61.9 percent); and $39,806 in business license tax revenues (8.4 percent).

A total of $118,042.97 in delinquent taxes has been collected as of Jan. 31, Scott said, including $24,159.63 in personal property tax relief collections and $26,159.64 in delinquent real estate tax collections.

The town had collected $43,933.12 in delinquent personal property tax collections as of Jan. 31, $866.97 in delinquent mobile home taxes, and a total of $22,973.61 in penalties and interest as of Jan. 31.


Comcast complaint

South Boston resident Bill McCaleb told council Monday of what he considers a “downgrade” in service from Comcast, the sole contractor for cable service in South Boston.

“We started getting digital service on our brand new fancy plasma and LCD TVs, and now what it’s come down to is this, in order to get to get 1080p and 1080i on nine of the channels I have to get a set-top box that they will give you for free,” said McCaleb, who said despite that his monthly bill as a whole is increasing.

“That is a rate increase for the same amount of service I’m already getting,” explained McCaleb, who told council the signal he is receiving is not as strong or clear as it was before.

“I can get a much better signal on my laptop computer,” said McCaleb, who added he has a choice as a consumer to contract with other providers such as satellite.

“I’ve been on a chat line with their (Comcast) IT people, and I would say I’ve had good communications with them,” said McCaleb,, who pointed out the South Boston Comcast office has been very good in helping him as well.

“But, their hands are tied.  It takes that fancy high-tech high-def TV I’ve got and turns it into an analog signal,” said McCaleb.

“To me it’s a step backwards.”