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Supervisors delay rezoning Shepherd’s Gate community

Halifax County Supervisors wasted no time Monday night tabling action on Mary Blakeslee’s request to rezone the Belt Subdivision in the Shepherd’s Gate community to allow single-family residential dwellings.

At the start of the board meeting as supervisors were approving agenda items, ED-5 Supervisor Barry Bank hastily offered a motion to “postpone indefinitely” taking any action on Blakeslee’s request.

As part of his original motion, Bank said the issue should be postponed indefinitely until the ED-5 supervisor sees fit to place it back on the agenda.

However, ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman took exception to only one supervisor being allowed to bring it back for board consideration.

“I know it’s in Election District-5, but it sounds like to me this is an attempt to postpone it indefinitely, and I’m not sure we should do that. Personally, I think it should be addressed, but I don’t think it should be addressed tonight due to some more information that we have gotten,” Bowman said, adding, “I don’t personally think it should be tabled indefinitely.”

The board voted 7-1, with Bowman opposing, to table the Shepherd’s Gate rezoning request indefinitely.

It was in August the planning commission held an advisory public hearing on the rezoning request, and supervisors held a public hearing in September. At that time, they also delayed acting on the request.

According to County Administrator Jim Halasz, rezoning of the parcels in question to R-1 would restrict the properties to single-family residential, instead of allowing commercial and industrial development.

However, he said exisiting and future land use map in the comprehensive plan depicts this area as residential by use.

For the second time this year, supervisors agreed Monday night to take no action on the rezoning request.

In other board action Monday night, supervisors held a public hearing and then adopted an ordinance to change due dates of local business licenses.

Prior to Monday night’s vote, the licenses were due by March 1. However, business owners told supervisors accountants have until March 15 to get businesses their last year figures.

Because figures are not available to many business owners until after the March 1 due date, owners are estimating their gross receipts, the county administrator explained.

By unanimously voting to change the due date to April 1, business owners now will be able to provide more accurate numbers when renewing their local business licenses.

Also Monday night, supervisors took the following actions:

Heard status reports from the Virginia Department of Transportation and were reminded of a joint meeting to be held Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mary Bethune public meeting room to discuss possible Six-Year Plan projects and other items of interest regarding transportation;

At that meeting, the public will be allowed to make requests that certain highway projects be included in the Six-Year Plan and give any reasons for their requests.

 Recognized 54 past volunteer fire chiefs for their service to the community;

The Halifax County Fire Commission, which consists of 12 volunteer fire departments and the Halifax County Rescue Squad, provided the opportunity for board members to recognize the former department chiefs for their leadership, dedication and commitment to county citizens.

The 54 former chiefs have contributed over 475 years of service to Halifax County at no cost to the citizens.

Supervisors adopted a resolution of appreciation that was presented to each former chief by the Halifax County Fire Commission.

 Approved the revised Emergency Operations Plan after Halifax County Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders presented the updated plan;

The plan defines authorities, responsibilities and a structure that should be followed during an emergency within the county.

According to Saunders, 98 percent of emergencies in the county are handled without using the plan, but the state-mandated plan has been instrumental in four local disaster declarations and two presidential declared disasters.

The Code of Virginia requires localities to adopt and maintain an Emergency Operations Plan every four years, Saunders said. The current plan has been revised to reflect updates to federal and state guidelines, as well as lessons learned from incidents and events throughout the last four years. 

Major changes in the plan include reformatting, formal inclusion of the Emergency Support Function structure, an updated hazard analysis, inclusion of additional resources and consolidation with the Town of South Boston Emergency Operations Plan.

Prior to its adoption, Saunders pointed out citizen involvement and participation is key to making the plan work.

A copy of the Emergency Operations Plan will soon be available for citizens to review online at the Halifax County website.

 Approved participation in the Virginia Association of Counties sponsored Local Disability Program beginning Jan. 1 for new employees of the county;

The county opted out of the Virginia Retirement System long-term disability plan for new employees hired after Jan. 1.

Both the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties have created and sponsored competing plans for local governments.

However, County Administrator Halasz told board members the Virginia Association of Counties’ plan has slightly more advantageous costs and terms.

Acting on Halasz’s recommendation, supervisors approved participating in the Virginia Association of Counties sponsored local disability program for new county employees effective Jan. 1.

 Received a brief summary of the 2013 Halifax County Fair from Todd Moser in his capacity as fair general manager;

According to Moser, 600 to 700 more people attended the 2013 county fair in October over the 2012 fair, and moneywise the fair made $400 more than it did last year as far as intake and expenditures.

Moser praised the volunteer efforts of civic groups for making the fair so successful this year.

He individually named the civic groups that volunteered at this year’s fair including the Heritage Festival group, Scottsburg Volunteer Fire Department, Bethel Ruritan Club, The Worship Center, Olivet Baptist Church, Lions Club, Halifax County Cancer Association, Halifax County Humane Society, SPCA, JROTC, Halifax County High School 4-H and several softball and baseball organizations.

Next year, Moser said plans are already in the works for bringing “two bigger acts as far as entertainment,” and the fair will be using the assistance of Ticket Master for tickets to be purchased for the two grandstand shows trying to be booked.

“Hopefully everything will work out, and it will be bigger than it was this year,” he said looking ahead to next year’s fair.

 Were reminded the annual planning session where supervisors will meet with school board members has been set for Thursday, Dec. 12;

 Approved a resolution provided by the Route 501 Committee establishing a project priority list for consideration by the Virginia Department of Transportation for inclusion and funding in the Six-Year Plan;

The U. S. 501 Committee represents a collaborative effort of localities in the area working to improve the 501 corridor. 

Included in the 501 Coalition project priorities are two Halifax passing lanes including right of way funding of $2.5 million and construction funding of $12 million.

 Approved the 2014 event schedule for South Boston Speedway including a fireworks display permit conditional upon confirmation and adherence to requirements of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code;

 Heard a report from Finance Director Stephanie Jackson on attempts to collect solid waste annual fees of $48 from all households;

She explained she has crosschecked several databases to make sure the county has an inclusive listing, and supplemental bills for households that do not receive a personal property tax bill also are being sent out. 

 Heard public comments from Michael Hudson of Virgilina and his cousin, Thomas Hudson, who asked the board to reconsider its recent contribution to Virginia Coalition to continue fighting the efforts to lift the ban on uranium mining;

Michael Hudson questioned the supervisors’ use of public funds in this manner asking for a public response regarding the legality of this action.

Thomas Hudson said he paid $3,600 in county taxes entrusting supervisors to use that money “for necessary things” the county is required to fund like trash collection, sheriff’s department, etc.

“But spending that money for lobbyists is inappropriate use of those funds I entrusted to you,” he added.

On the other hand, Buster D’Amato and Bernard Mitzler each offered a differing opinion telling supervisors to keep fighting the uranium battle, noting if “uranium mining comes here, we won’t have a county.”