Greenway takes first step toward Yagers Spring, budget, taxes and other news from Luray

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Redwell-Isabella_Furnace
Located just north of Luray, the Redwell-Isabella Furnace Historic District bounds approximately nine acres in Page County, on the west bank of Hawksbill Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. (Photo credit: David Edwards/DHR, 2021)

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, April 11 — On Monday night, the Luray Council unanimously approved the use of $28,000 in unallocated federal ARPA funds to perform a feasibility study for the extension of the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway to the Yager Spring area.

In its request to proceed with Phase I of the expansion plan, the Greenway Foundation pledged to reimburse the Town for half of the costs ($14,000) to have Racey Engineering complete the feasibility study. Bill Dudley, who represented the Foundation at Monday’s meeting, said completing the study could help with future grant applications to help fund the project.

The $28,000 the Town will front for the study was pulled from funds earmarked for new police vehicles, which are delayed and will not be delivered until “well into the next fiscal year,” according to Town Manager Steve Burke.

The greenway expansion will extend the north loop of the existing pedestrian path about 900 feet to reach Yagers Spring and the Redwell-Isabella Furnace Historical District. The town owns the property required for the expansion — a key element, considering right-of-way issues with a previously planned expansion on the southern end of the greenway (connecting to schools and Ralph Dean Park).

The Redwell-Isabella Furnace first fired on Sept. 27, 1787. Most of its iron activities would be shut down by 1841, but ore fired at the site was used for national defense, as well as construction efforts at the University of Virginia and Monticello. Isabella Furnace, as it was later known, also helped provide the materials that created the first structures in Luray.

The historical district sits on nine acres just north of Luray on the west bank of Hawksbill Creek. The VDHP website states the “steeply-to-gently sloping site consists of pasture, woodlots, and the oblong pool of Yager Spring, the power source for the furnace and later mills. Derrick Pennybacker is believed to have established the Redwell Furnace in 1787, making it the county’s oldest iron furnace.” After it stopped firing iron ore in 1841, it was “subsequently, a forge, flour mill, and woolen factory operated at the location into the late 19th century.”

The district includes a cemetery, a stone foundation, the furnace bridge mound, the Isabella Furnace Office — a two-story stone building with Georgian interior detail — and the Yager Spring House, which pumps millions of gallons of water into the Hawksbill Creek each day. The property also contains a two-story stone structure with a large fireplace for cooking and a later 1965 stone-and-frame addition.

In other business during its April 11 meeting, the Luray Council took the following actions:

• Held a public hearing on the advertised FY2022-23 tax rates, which reflect increases in real estate (from $0.267 to $0.29), meals (from 4 to 5 percent), transient occupancy (from 5 to 6 percent), and cigarettes (from $0.15 to $0.20 per pack). Carol Cave, owner of a local eatery, was the only speaker to address the council and voiced her opposition to increasing the meals tax, which would place another burden on local restaurants. Councilman Jason Pettit spoke of how the meals tax could affect his Main Street eatery, and going over the budget in more detail at the next work session to discuss how “some departments have grown…and why is that.” Councilman Joey Sours has spoken against tax increases during the budget process, while Councilman Jerry Schiro has noted that costs are rising for the town as well and small incremental increases are better than a large one at once. State code requires the council to delay any action on the tax rates until at least seven days after the public hearing. The council unanimously voted to hold a special session on Tuesday, April 26 to discuss, and potentially set, the tax rates.

• Held a public hearing for a Special Use Permit request from Conrad Colby to operate a distillery at 622 West Main Street. The only speaker to address council was Audre King, who noted his father opened a garage in the same building in 1979. King supported the request and stated the building had been painted, which was “already bringing beauty to the west side of town.” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer told Colby that, “You’ve done this process as well as anyone I’ve ever seen,” referring to the entrepreneur’s offer of a site visit and other efforts to facilitate the process. The permit received unanimous approval from the council.

• Held a public hearing for a Special Use Permit request from Bryce Rowland to operate a lodging house at 22 North Deford Avenue. Staff recommended that occupancy be limited to six guests at one time, off-street parking be required for all guests, one 4×4 sign allowed, meals can only be provided for guests and a business license must be obtained, as well as corresponding transient occupancy taxes paid. The Luray Planning Commission held its own public hearing on March 16 and unanimously recommended approval. There were no speakers at the April 11 hearing, and council also voted unanimously in favor of the permit request.

• Held a public hearing for a Code Amendment to Section 402.8 Street Names in the Subdivision Section of the Town Code. At its Feb. 14 meeting, the Luray Council adopted a Code Amendment to Town Code Chapter 74-E-911 Addressing to more closely align with Page County’s Code related to addressing. The current proposed change aligns language in the Town Code to reflect that change. The Luray Planning Commission conducted its own public hearing on March 16 and unanimously recommended approval. No speakers addressed the council at the April 11 hearing. The amendment received unanimous approval from council.

• Unanimously approved a Code Amendment to Town Code 6-6 regarding advertisements (flyers) placed on vehicles, with a key change making it unlawful to do so “without the owner’s consent.” A public hearing was not required on the issue.

• Unanimously approved a request from Ashby Marshall to provide water service outside of Town limits to 107 Patriot Way through a one-inch water meter.

• Unanimously awarded a construction contract for the West Luray Sanitary Sewer Pump Station project to Patterson Construction Co. in an amount not to exceed $1,174, 344 with funding coming from the American Rescue Plan Act fund allocation, sewer facility fees, proffer fees and fund reserves. The Town received four bids, which were opened on March 10.

• Unanimously granted a request from Dow McGrady to donate the Town’s inflatable tent obtained from government surplus to Boy Scout Troop 100.

• Unanimously approved the public hearing advertisement for the FY2022-23 town budget, which sets the hearing for Monday, June 13. Per state code, Council can not act on the final budget until at least seven days after the public hearing. A special meeting is being considered for Tuesday, June 28 for final adoption of the FY2022-23 Luray budget.

• Unanimously authorized the Town Treasurer to transfer $20,000 from Debt Service to the Parks and Recreation capital fund for improvements to the new playground at Ralph Dean Park to include landscaped border and speed bumps. The Council also authorized the Town Treasurer to record non-salary related budget transfers among line items and between departments as needed throughout the year in amounts less than $50,000.

• Councilman Joey Sours noted that the issue of skateboarding in Town, especially along the greenway, had become a hot topic lately and he had pledged to bring up the issue at the April 11 meeting. However, Sours said he wanted to push it off to the next meeting to allow more discussion time during a work session scheduled for Tuesday, April 26.

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The Luray Council’s April 11 meeting may be viewed on YouTube at:

A copy of the agenda and council packet from the April 11 meeting may be viewed at:

https://www.townofluray.com/assets/tol_041122_public.pdf

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1 Comment

  1. Let teenagers skate on the Greenway just like people can ride bikes, push strollers, etc. There’s so few things that teenagers can do in this town.

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