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EcoMod houses nearly finished

Neighbors may be “green” with envy, once two EcoMod houses in the Poplar Creek Subdivision are complete, and that day is fast approaching, South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel told council on Monday.

Although construction has been somewhat delayed due to a wet spring, final landscaping and construction of the ramps and decks should begin soon, according to Daniel.

Screening for tenants should begin in July, and a formal ribbon cutting and open house are scheduled for August.

One of the houses, referred to as the “passive” house, is built with SIPS (structural insulated panel) technology, 12-inch walls insulated with Styrofoam in addition to energy efficient windows and doors.

The other, referred to as the “code” house, conforms to existing building codes, including the use of 2x4 studs and batt insulation, Daniel said.

Both houses have wood frames and the same basic footprint, including a membrane roof.

University of Virginia architecture students will monitor both houses for energy usage.

The project is a cooperative effort between the Town of South Boston, University of Virginia, SIPs of Blairs, SVHEC and Cardinal Homes of

Southside Outreach Group, a non-profit organization that assists low-to-moderate income persons in obtaining affordable, safe housing, will begin a vetting process to find families to make the houses their homes.

Both houses will be “rent-to-own,” and families have to meet a certain income guideline earning 80 percent of the median income for the area.

Future plans call for the town to apply for a Community Development Block Grant this fall for development and construction of streets, sidewalks and water and sewer services for the Poplar Creek subdivision.

Southside Outreach Group is looking to acquire grant funding for rental homes to accommodate low- to moderate-income families for the Poplar Creek development, in addition to the development of Miller Homes at Poplar Creek.


Annual police report

Simple assaults rose slightly in 2012 over 2011, according to Police Chief Jim Binner, who presented his department’s annual report to council on Monday.

Statistics contained in the crime index prepared by his department revealed declines in murder/attempted murder (1-0) from 2011 to 2012, rape (4-1), robbery (14-9) and burglary (99-81).

The index reported increases in felonious assaults (325-331), larceny (325-331) and motor vehicle theft (11-13).

His department reported 1,250 offenses in 2012, with 566 of them being cleared, and South Boston Police Department reported clearance rate of 35.6 percent through arrest and cleared by exceptional means.

A total of 154 simple assaults were reported in 2012, resulting in 71 charges, with 39 of them remaining active.

That was the biggest increase of any of the 1,250 offenses reported to his department, Binner told council.

A total of 153 incidents of vandalism were reported in 2012, resulting in 13 charges, with the low number of charges due to difficulties experienced in catching perpetrators “in the act,” explained Binner.

A total of 81 burglaries and breaking and enterings were reported in 2012 resulting in 11 charges being filed, and there were a total of 51 drugs/narcotics violations reported, resulting in 40 charges.

There were 90 reports of shoplifting, resulting in 69 charges, according to the police report.

Calls for service increased from 21,966 in 2011 to 22,916 in 2012, a somewhat deceiving number, according to Binner, who told council that number includes requests for police services, requests for assistance from rescue services, assisting fire calls and officer-initiated calls.

South Boston Police Department saw a decline in traffic citations in 2012 from 2011, from 2,043 to 1,965, and it issued 596 speeding violations and 57 warnings in 2012, compared to 730 speeding violations and 47 warnings the previous year.

South Boston Police investigated 405 traffic accidents in 2012 compared to 364 in 2011.


Drug, gang task force 

The Halifax/South Boston Drug and Gang Task Force, of which South Boston Police is a member, logged 79 arrests in 2012, compared to 121 the year before, and it lodged 115 charges, 102 of them felonies.

The task force seized drugs with a street value of $659,650 in 2012, $646,200 of that number representing the street value of marijuana plants.

The drug task force seized $6,663 in cocaine and $5,727 worth of crack cocaine in 2012.


Zoning ordinance rewrite status

Daniel updated council on the status of a zoning ordinance and zoning map revision.

Town staff is presenting a working draft of the town’s zoning map to be reviewed by the planning commission at its June meeting.

The revised ordinance has the same layout as the existing ordinance with 10 articles in Chapter 114 of Town Code.

The rewrite has a substantial increase in definitions of terms to enhance ordinance administration and improve user understanding.

A revision of district standards for zoning purposes included definitions for a rural residential agricultural district, one for land adjacent to the Dan River, one for planned development districts, one for a newly designated historic district and one for a neighborhood conservation district.


The final draft ordinance, along with a draft zoning, should be complete and ready for a public review and input meeting at the July meeting of the planning commission.