Council recognizes Mathews for 45 years of service and other news from Luray

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Luray Council with Lynn Mathews

Five new short-term rentals approved at Luray Landing

LURAY, June 10 — In the early goings of a three-hour meeting on Monday night, the Luray Council recognized Superintendent of Public Works Lynn Mathews for 45 years of service. Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer read a proclamation noting Mathews’ many roles, leadership and professionalism since he started with the Town on June 18, 1979. Mathews has served as superintendent since 2002.

Following Mathews’ recognition, the Luray Council then held five public hearings for five special use permits to operate lodging houses all along Baker Drive in the Luray Landing development on the west end of Town behind Walmart. The issue of short-term rentals spurred a lengthy discussion among council members.

All five SUP applications received a 5-1 vote of support from the Luray Planning Commission to recommend approval to the council. All five applications then received approval from the council by a vote of 4-2. Voting in opposition, Council members Jason Pettit and Alex White expressed concerns over the growing number of short-term rentals in Town and its effects on the local housing market. However, others on the council felt that the current applications to operate a lodging house did not differ from previous applications that were approved.

In terms of the impact of short-term rentals, Councilman Ligon Webb pointed out that among Luray’s 2,200 housing units — including homes and apartments — only 40 are short-term rentals. Of course, that figure grew by 12.5 percent in one night after the approval of five new units. Prior to Monday night’s meeting, the Luray Council had approved 11 short-term rentals in the past 16 months. Yet, even with the new additions, short-term rentals still represent less than 2 percent of the local housing options within Luray’s corporate limits. There were no speakers — for or against — at any of the five public hearings held on Monday.

During their June meeting, the Council also approved its $12.9 million spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Total funding for FY25 represents a reduction of nearly $700,000 in spending, due in large part to the end of federal ARPA funding. Three key increases were included — raising the meals tax from 4 to 5 percent, increasing the lodging tax (or Transient Occupancy Tax, TOT) from 6 to 10 percent (similar to what the county did this year) and a slight increase to trash service fees to absorb increases from contracted trash collector Waste Management. The biggest increase in departmental spending is seen in the police department, where funding grew from just under $1.7 million to more than $2.2 million — an increase of $538,628, or one-year jump of 32.3 percent.

In other business at its June 10 meeting, the Luray Council took the following actions:

• Unanimously approved an ordinance re-adopting portions of the Code of Virginia to reflect changes made by the General Assembly this past year that will take affect July 1.

• Unanimously approved allocating $60,000 to help fund a more in-depth archeological study on a portion of the proposed extension of the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway trail to Yagers Spring. The Greenway Foundation has pledged to reimburse the Town for half of the cost. The study will run about $75,000, but $15,000 remains leftover from a previous study.

• Unanimously approved taking about $260,000 from current water and sewer fee funds to replace three generators — one at the wastewater treatment plant, one at the Hite Spring raw water pumping station, and one at the West Main tank booster station. The transfer of funds will require a budget amendment and a public hearing.

• Unanimously approved a pedestrian improvement project that will connect the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway with the train depot, train museum and current Visitors Center. Page Alliance for Community Action is partnering with the Town to create a more walkable community. The projected cost of $5,760 has already been included in the FY25 budget.

• Unanimously approved Steve Cave and Rick Black as new members of Luray’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Cave was re-appointed after serving the remainder of a shorted term that ends this month. Black is replacing Bill Fisher, who moved outside of Town limits.

• Heard an update on the transition that the Chamber of Commerce will be going through after handing over operations of the Visitors Center to the county’s Economic Development and Tourism office. Luray Council members voiced their concern about the change at the Visitors Center. It was one of the topics of discussion in a one-hour closed session, in which council members said they were “going to see how we can help” the Chamber during the transition. The Chamber currently holds a three-year lease with the Town for office space (and to operate the Visitors Center) in the former train depot.

• Reviewed a proposal for a future Corporate Boundary Limit adjustment on Reservoir Avenue to enable further subdivision and development of the property. A total of 73 lots would be added to the Town, with 12 already developed and plans to build on the remaining 61. Town Manager Brian Chrisman told Council that the process would be similar to the one to accommodate the construction of new housing on Fairview Road. The Council plans to continue discussing the issue at its next meeting.

For more information on the Town of Luray,




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