By Randy Arrington
STANLEY, Jan. 18 — Following a lively joint public hearing at the Stanley fire hall last Wednesday, the Stanley Planning Commission and the Stanley Council both voted unanimously to approve a special use permit application submitted by Greg Buracker, Gary Buracker and Lisa Gooden to develop a 10-lot subdivision in the 340 block of Park Road.
The housing project will be known as the Huffman Field Subdivision with the street servicing homes within the development being called Buracker Court. While there were a few brief questions about the road in the subdivision and the appearance of the homes, the key issue that several neighbors brought to the public hearing was stormwater drainage.
“I don’t want to create a situation and add to my issues,” Robbie Tate told the council. “Ya’ll dropped the ball with the Family Dollar, and I don’t want you to drop the ball on this one.”
Tate, and his wife Cindy, were extremely vocal at the Jan. 12 public hearing trying to explain current drainage issues on their property, which creates standing water in their yard that has been dubbed “Tate Pond.” They believe a portion of their problem was created after the construction of Family Dollar.
“I’ve cried some days because I can’t walk through my yard,” Cindy told the council.
“You can’t mow it,” Robbie added.
The couple spent the better part of an hour berating the council and the engineer representing the developers, Tyler Austin of Racey Engineering. Austin tried to explain that any additional work needed to control stormwater on their property would need their financial involvement, especially since earlier efforts to gain an easement from neighboring landowners to further mitigate stormwater runoff was denied.
“We’re controlling all the water on our property [as required by state law], and that’s all we can do,” Austin said. “We [will be] detaining water on our site and releasing it at a way less rate than it is now, coming off our property…we can only contain what is on our site. If we fix [the additional issues on your property] it’s going to be a joint effort.”
“No one would give me an easement,” Greg Buracker said. “Now you’re asking me to improve” your property.
Additionally, Mayor Michael Knight explained that “legally, if [the permitting agencies] sign off on [stormwater management plans], there’s not much we can do.”
As part of their approval of the subdivision, the council agreed “to hire” Racey Engineering to go out and review stormwater drainage issues on the neighboring landowners’ property to see if any remedies could be found while the new subdivision is being constructed.
One other issue that surfaced during the public hearing was the loss of the old Stanley ballfield.
“Some folks don’t like that you’re building on the ballfield,” neighbor Steve McCoy said. “It’s a part of our heritage and I thought it was something the town thought fondly of, but evidently not.”
“This ole’ boy wanted that ballpark,” Vice Mayor Bruce Stoneberger told the speaker.
“The Town had no use for it,” Mayor Mike Knight said. “I went out there after school…I used to play on that field…but it was no good to taxpayers to buy that field and do nothing with it. The current president of the Little League said they didn’t want to play on it.”
Town Manager Terry Pettit added that an individual came forward at one point with $25,000 wanting to save the old ballfield, “and then we never heard from him again.”
“We tried to keep the property as it was for 70 years,” Buracker said. “We offered it to the Town…we put it on the market for 14 months and listed it with a realtor another four months…not a single inquiry.”
At the end of the hour-long public hearing, the mayor called for a five-minute recess. At that time, Pettit called five members of the planning commission into the fire hall’s kitchen to continue its discussion of the issue. Among hanging pots and pans, the planners discussed how to word their motion and then took a vote while still in the kitchen to recommend approval of the subdivision with the caveat that the Town get Racey to review stormwater runoff issues with neighboring landowners.
Once they exited the kitchen, members of the planning commission left the fire hall and the council continued with its scheduled agenda. The vote on the subdivision was the last action taken by council that evening.
In other business at its Jan. 12 meeting, the Stanley Council took the following actions:
• Heard a report from Police Chief Ryan “Beaver” Dean about plans for a ceremony next month on the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Officer Nick Winum, who was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 26, 2021. The chief said his department plans to retire Winum’s badge number, dedicate a new memorial and dedicate the new police headquarters in the former Quarles building the Town recently acquired. The structure will be known as the Winum Building. Chief Dean noted that a number of Winum’s family members from New York plan to attend the event.
• Heard a report from Town Manager Terry Pettit that new sidewalks and railings have been completed in front of the Town Office; the installation of a charging station at Ed Good Park should begin later this month; a new quote is being sought for lights along the walking trail in Ed Good Park after an initial bid came in high; and the Town’s newly upgraded website in now online.
• Unanimously approved the use of the social hall at Hawksbill Park by the Stanley Rescue Squad for its annual banquet.
• Unanimously approved the donation of a punch card from the Hawksbill Pool as a prize for the Page Alliance for Community Action (PACA) to pass out at its upcoming Polar Plunge Feb. 19 at Lake Arrowhead.
• Heard a report that the Town will be hosting the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” event at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 at the Hawksbill Park. The Town is trying to coordinate the stocking of trout in the Hawksbill Creek that day for the police department’s planned Trout Derby.
• Unanimously approved the Town’s 2022 holiday schedule including 14 paid holidays with the addition of Columbus Day, a holiday that had been taken away from town employees several years back.
• Heard a reminder of the upcoming joint meeting with Luray, Shenandoah and the county at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3 at the Stanley fire hall. The monthly meetings are coordinated to share information among the four main governing bodies in the county.
• Heard a report that the application for a Special Use Permit for the proposed dog park at Hawksbill Park will be submitted to the county later this month.
• Adopted the Town’s Emergency Response Plan as prepared by the Town Manager and Virginia Rural Water.
• Announced that the Town is seeking nominations of town citizens who could fill appointed positions as representatives on the following agencies — Page County Economic Development Authority (Stanley representative needed); Stanley Planning Commission (one open seat); Stanley’s Board of Zoning Appeals (one open seat); William Kibler Library (volunteers needed); and the Stanley Homecoming Committee (volunteers needed).