To the Editor:
The Board of Supervisors extended the moratorium on industrial solar development at their May 16 meeting. They also directed the county’s part-time attorney to just check the ordinance (which has been in his office for almost a month) for zoning compliance and immediately return it to the Planning Commission for public hearing. Mr. Helm, the attorney, stated that he has not had time to review this essential ordinance; however, he has had time to work as a Warren County substitute judge. We need an attorney skilled in land use and zoning who is able to meet the needs of the county and its citizens.
Mr. Helm did not elaborate on the reasons for this delay, other than to state that he had numerous other fires to put out. Personally, I do not understand why the county staff did not contact him and ask for an update after a week or so. Or why Mr. Helm did not inform the staff of his challenges regarding timing. Why didn’t he ask what, specifically, the BOS needed him to do? All that was required was to check the code. What else was he expecting to do?
At that meeting, I praised the work of the Planning Commission, which chose to discard the proposed ordinance submitted by one BOS member, with no review by the other supervisors. They had regarded it as inadequate and asked one member of the Planning Commission to come up with something that worked to protect the county. That is the ordinance that they reviewed and discussed at two meetings, ultimately sending it to legal review on April 19, where it has languished.
For some reason, everyone was OK with the BOS sending an ordinance to the Planning Commission without complete BOS review (and written by one supervisor), but there was an issue with the PC agreeing that the ordinance development should be led by one member (using all of the previous ordinances provided as reference and content points) and then completely reviewed and modified by the full committee. Double standard anyone?
Sadly, the Planning Commission has only five members, although two from each district (a total of 10) can be appointed. The current commission does an amazing amount of hard work and would be less burdened if the supervisors appointed additional members. Right now, there is excellent representation of farmers and homeowners. What about individuals representing the interests of tourism, small business owners, and large employers in the county?
The meeting also addressed the school district’s funding requests. Sadly, no citizens showed up to support the district and speak on its behalf — as has been true throughout the budgeting process. The state is, it seems, providing a 5-percent, across-the-board pay increase for all teachers. That is not enough. Virginia currently ranks near the bottom in terms of teacher pay, and Page County is near the bottom of the state’s ranking in teacher pay.
This means that teachers in Page County can go almost anywhere else in the country and get better pay. We cannot expect to attract — let alone retain — highly qualified teachers if we don’t pay them the salaries they deserve.
Our teachers are too important to risk. Let the supervisors know that you support our educators and their request for a 7-percent pay increase.
Cathy Herbert ~ Luray, Va.
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