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Recycling, Collections Center Tabled

Four Forks Recycling and Collections Center was put on hold Monday night following a public hearing when one person spoke against the location of the site.
Supervisors voted unanimously to table action on locating the center on property owned by Richard Wayne and Linda Guthrie until county representatives  can meet with those opposed to the site.

The first of six public hearings held Monday night, the recycling and collections center proposed for the northern portion of the county drew opposition from Rita Fisher of Nathalie, a landowner who lives across from Rock Road where the site is proposed.

According to County Administrator George Nester, the proposed site for the recycling and collections center is located on the west side of L. P. Bailey Memorial Highway (Route 501), approximately 800 feet south of its intersection with Hickory Knoll Trail.

The planning commission held a public hearing on the proposed Four Forks Recycling Center location last week and recommended approval for the 1.68-acre site by a 7-1 vote.

However, supervisors failed to act on that recommendation Monday evening after Fisher presented a petition with 20 signatures of landowners around the proposed site who are against the location of a recycling and collection center in their neighborhood.

ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, who represents the district in which the proposed center is to be located, offered a brief PowerPoint presentation touting the benefits of recycling and collection centers as opposed to the isolated green box system.

He told of unannounced visits he made to centers in Virgilina and White Oak where he was impressed with the neatness of the facilities, noting flowers and trees had been planted, and the grounds were landscaped.

“I did not find one piece of trash at the site,” he said of his visit to the Virgilina center.

In addition to providing green boxes for disposal of trash, the recycling and collections centers also offer recycling bins, rolloff boxes for large items, Goodwill boxes, a three-sided building for “too good for trash” items as well as a small employee building at each site.

Davis offered testimonials from Virgilina Mayor Ralph Murray and White Oak landowner Jimmy Epps who built a house adjacent to the center.

“They have experienced no problems at all,” Davis said.

He acknowledged receiving a petition containing 20 signatures of persons opposed to the location of the Four Forks Center that included 14 adjacent residents.

Of the signatures on the petition, Davis pointed out only one resident would be able to see it from his house.

He said the county has “11 federal, state and local hoops we’ve got to jump through” when locating a center, and the supervisor promised the boxes would be emptied at least twice a week.

Following his presentation, Fisher read the petition telling supervisors she and the other signers are not against recycling or the collections centers, but that she is against the proposed location.

“It’s 200 yards from my home,” she added.

“I understand all the comments that Mr. Davis has made,” she said. “As far as the noise, the traffic, and the 18-wheelers that come up 501 in that location, you can’t change that.

“Yes, I understand that you will fence it in. I understand that you will make it look very attractive, but as far as the odor and the noise and the pesticide and anything else they may want to throw in there, you can not tell me that the seepage through the containers may not at some point in time create a problem with the water supply,” she continued.

She told supervisors the proposed site is in a residential area.

“Why of all locations in the county would we propose to put one right in the midst of a residential area?” she asked.
She said she is aware of the benefits to the county in the form of savings.

“All that is a true factor, but I also understand that there is another way to do this,” she added.

Referring to last week’s planning commission public hearing where she expressed her concerns, Fisher said not one of the planners was interested in her comments.

“The first comment I received from Ray Waller was ‘we have spent too much time and energy on this. We need to vote now,”’ she said.

She urged the supervisors to listen to the constituents and consider the position of those who are opposed to the location of this center.

Also speaking during the public hearing Monday night was Halifax County Improvement Council member Bill McCaleb who praised the county’s efforts to eliminate the green box system by replacing it with the recycling and collections centers across the county.

“It is expensive putting these sites in,” he said, adding, “This will help more people in the northern end of the county than it is going to do harm. We all have to do our part to improve our living conditions.”

At the conclusion of the public hearing, Supervisor Davis made a motion to table any action on locating a recycling and collections center at the Four Forks location. His motion was unanimously approved.

“I want to reassure Mrs. Fisher that this board does take its job seriously. We value the process as far as citizen input. We do realize the decisions we make will not be favorable to everybody, but we make those decisions for the betterment of constituents overall.

“However, I have read the petitions and the comments, and I am at this point ready to offer a motion to table the motion for further study. I welcome any of the petitioners to contact me or the county, and we can talk through this issue to reach some type of resolution or win-win situation.”

In other business Monday evening, supervisors approved several housekeeping measures following public hearings on each ordinance amendment.

Approved was an ordinance amending the code regarding appointments by the board of supervisors to allow for appointments during the course of a calendar year at any meeting of the board.

Prior to adoption of the amendment Monday, the code had only allowed for the board to make appointments to its various boards, commissions, committees, authorities and other policy and advisory bodies during February of a particular year.

The new code amendment now allows supervisors to make appointments at any time they become necessary.

Also approved was an ordinance amending the code to allow refunds of the county’s local vehicle license fee in certain instances and amending the code regarding enforcement of the county’s local vehicle license fee.

According to the county administrator, the board has determined there are certain instances where the license fee may be paid by the taxpayer for a vehicle that is no longer owned by the taxpayer at the beginning of the license year. This amendment would allow for a refund to be made by the county treasurer.

Also the board’s action Monday allows for the county’s general enforcement of the local taxes and fees.

Following the fourth public hearing, supervisors referred to the finance committee for further study an ordinance amending the county code to create a separate classification of tangible personal property for forest harvesting and silvicultural activity equipment.

The amendment, if approved, also would set a tax rate of $1.26 per $100 for forest harvesting and silvicultural activity equipment effective Jan. 1.

Supervisors are expected to take action on the amendment at their November meeting.

The fifth public hearing of the evening was on proposed amendments to the Halifax County Code of 2006 concerning flood prevention and protection.

Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance amending the effective date of the flood insurance study and flood insurance rate maps for the basis of the delineation of floodplain districts to October 16.

By amending the code, supervisors also provided additional information regarding the delineation of approximated floodplain districts and added information regarding the delineation of floodway districts.

The final hearing of the evening was on an ordinance amending the code to permit colleges, universities and schools that maintain residential dormitories or otherwise house students, if issued, a conditional use permit.

The amendment to the code also permits facilities, activities and operations that are provided by the board of supervisors as a matter of right, in those portions of the county zoned agricultural, District A-1.

Supervisors unanimously approved that amendment as well Monday evening.

In other business Monday, supervisors heard a monthly report from Virginia Department of Transportation Residency Administrator J. D. Barkley II.

Barkley told supervisors that in the next few days, VDOT would start making its snow dry runs in preparation for winter weather.

County Administrator George Nester also updated supervisors on the 200 by 200 feet botanical gardens proposed for Edmunds Park.

ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman said he has no problem with dedicating a part of the park for that purpose because it fits in with the master plan for Edmunds Park.

A public hearing will be held at a later date on the proposal to locate the botanical gardens at the park, but in the meantime, supervisors instructed the county administrator to proceed with drafting an agreement between the county and the Master Gardeners and to advertise for the hearing.

Board members also discussed the urgent need for restrooms, well and a drain field at the park.

“It’s inexcusable not to provide restroom facilities there. I’d like to see the board move on putting restrooms out there,” said Chairman William Fitzgerald. “We need this to be a priority. We need to move on this quickly.”

Supervisors referred the issue to the building and grounds committee with instructions for the committee to present its recommendation at the November board meeting.

Nester also updated supervisors proposed work on Memorial Drive in Riverdale.

According to Nester, the county has less than $200,000 in funds that can be used for identified road projects.

Currently there are eight identified projects, and Nester said the county is seeking to develop a policy for how it will assess project applications and is reviewing the priority list of projects.

In other action Tuesday night, supervisors adopted a resolution offering consent to the issuance and sale of debt obligations by the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority to the Virginia Resources Authority that will result in substantial benefit and savings to the authority and the county.

Supervisors also heard an estimate of how much money was taken in during this year’s county fair held last week.
According to Finance Director Stephanie Jackson, gate proceeds totaled $85,000, and attendance exceeded the 18,000 that came to last year’s event.

“Attendance was up every night but Tuesday and was almost doubled from last year on Saturday night. We had everything in our favor,” Jackson said.

James Edmunds, who chairs the fair committee, expressed appreciation to county employees for their work during fair week.

Following the open board meeting, supervisors went behind closed doors but took no action when they convened in open session.