Council planning informal ‘listening session’ Oct. 14 and other news briefs from Luray

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Ruffner Plaza
Luray's Ruffner Plaza is the site of concerts and other public events with ample seating and murals adjacent to the Hawksbill Creek and the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway.

~ PVN staff report

LURAY, Sept. 30 — At Tuesday’s special meeting, members of the Luray Council continued to discuss plans for an informal public meeting to solicit ideas and feedback from the community from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 at Ruffner Plaza.

“I think we need to make it as comfortable and informal as possible,” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer told the council.

Town officials plan to cook up about 200 hot dogs and offer free food and drinks as they sit back and listen to anything their constituents want to share — from praise or complaints about their actions, to ideas on how to spend more than $4 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds.

“I think it shows the public that we’re open,” Councilman Ron Vickers said during Monday’s meeting.

The event being billed as a “listening session” has been in the works for months, but has been delayed due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The opportunity for citizens to weigh-in on various town issues provides an atmosphere outside of the formal council meetings, as well as being set in an outdoor venue that allows for social distancing.

The town has received about 400 responses to a survey on how to spend the federal ARP funds, and council members hope the Oct. 14 event will draw even more input on that and other issues. A sound system will be available for the mayor and council members to address the crowd, as well as a mic provided for citizens to address the council. Town officials also hope the informal atmosphere will encourage one-on-one discussions as well.

The event is free and open to all citizens of the Town of Luray. There is no sign-up sheet to speak, and hot dogs will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.

In other news, the Luray Council took the following actions at its Sept. 28 special meeting:

• Following a public hearing that drew no speakers, the council unanimously approved a Special Use Permit from Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative to construct a 45’x75’ storage building at 2 Mechanic Street. The parcel is zoned Light Industrial (M-1) and sits in a flood zone, so a special use permit was required to construct the storage building. The applicant indicated the structure will be flood-proofed through raising all mechanical and electrical equipment at least one foot above base flood elevation. The Luray Planning Commission recommended approval of the Special Use Permit on Sept. 15 by a vote of 6-1.

• Following a public hearing that drew no speakers, the council unanimously approved a request from Baker Development Partnership LLC to rezone parcels 42A17-1-10,11,12, & 13 from Business (B1) to Planned Neighborhood Development District (PND) and to reincorporate into the Luray Landing Planned Neighborhood Development. The parcels were originally included in the Luray Landing development (behind Walmart) but removed for commercial development. The owner is updating their development plan for the site. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning at its Sept. 15th meeting.

• Following a public hearing that drew no speakers, the council unanimously approved a request from Baker Development Partnership LLC to amend the conditional zoning previously adopted for the Luray Landing Planned Neighborhood Development. The amended Developer’s Agreement will 1) establish payment of $100,000 towards a water tank by the Town on property donated to the Town to replace the 12” waterline; 2) establish payment of $300,000 towards construction sanitary sewer lift station by the Town on a lot donated to the Town; 3) payments shall be prorated per lot as each Zoning Permit is issued; 4) design and construction of all stormwater facilities per Page County Code Chapter 97; 5) eliminate off-site street improvements that have been completed by the developer; and 6) elimination of Town’s option to purchase property that the Town has already purchased.

• The council unanimously voted to appoint Meredith Dees to the Page County Economic Development Authority. The motion was made by Councilman Jason Pettit, who praised Dees in her role as program director for the Luray Downtown Initiative, a position she left in February after four years in that role. The EDA term expires Jan. 31, 2023.

• The council unanimously authorized Town Manager Steve Burke to advertise town events and notices on the Page Valley News website under a one-year agreement not to exceed $8,000 with funding to be used from ARPA federal funds. The Town of Luray started using their sponsorship of “Today in History” on the PVN website this week to promote the upcoming “listening session” at Ruffner Plaza from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 (front/home page ad) and the “Trick-orTreat on Main Street” event (inside pages ad) planned for 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30.

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