Supervisors also delay vote on boundary line adjustment at Fairview and other county news

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~ PVN staff report

LURAY, Sept. 19 — The Page County Board of Supervisors delayed action on a boundary line adjustment at Fairview Estates following a public hearing held during last week’s meeting.

A request from Ramsey Inc. seeks to add 5.68 acres containing 14 residential lots to the town limits of Luray so the developer can take advantage of in-town water and sewer fees and rates. In addition, the developer plans to seek the Town’s R-3 zoning for the 14 lots, which allows for higher-density housing, if the boundary line adjustment goes through. The property is currently zoned for low-density housing as R-1 residential.

Last Monday, supervisors followed the lead of the Luray Council, who on Sept. 12 tabled the issue due to remaining questions over future maintenance of roads within the growing subdivision.

However, the lone speaker at the supervisor’s public hearing — who was unable to attend Luray’s public hearing the week before — shed some light on the issue of private roads.

“I own Ellis Drive all the way to Antioch Road. I own Arthur Lane,” said Chris Ramsey. “So, I have every right” to have them access and be used by the subdivision, “as long as I don’t impede [the road or access], and I don’t intend to.”

The developer said that future maintenance would be handled through a Home Owners Association, but some supervisors were concerned that the available funds may not be able to keep up with road maintenance in the years to come.

“We have seen before where there’s not enough money to maintain it” in other subdivisions in the county, District 5 supervisor Jeff Vaughan said during Monday’s meeting.

Once constructed, the developer plans to turn over the subdivision’s roads to a home owner’s association formed six months ago. He noted it was never his intention to turn them over to the town or the state. The current construction plans, Ramsey said, would “max out” the Fairview Estates subdivision and he owns no other property surrounding it.

“We’re proud of what we’re doing,” said Ramsey, who has owned the property since 2007. “It’s always been intended to be developed residential. We want to be a good neighbor.”

With public hearings held by supervisors and town council, both governing bodies now need to cast a vote on the boundary line adjustment, which is expected to be on the agenda at their next meetings.

In other business at its Sept. 19 meeting, the Page County Board of Supervisors took the following actions:

• Held a public hearing that drew no speakers on several budget amendments, including $8,834 in federal revenue, $441,051 in state revenue, $234,129 in the General Fund Balance, $531,114 in General Fund expenditures, and $152,900 in the School Operating fund. The budget amendments reflect things such as incoming grant money — like the $150,018 from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice to pay salaries and benefits for two additional School Resource Officers. This was a one-year grant, with no local match. The Sheriff’s Office can apply for additional funding for three years; however, those will require a local match. The school system received $152, 900 in ViSSTA funds to provide COVID-19 testing programs. To boost the pay of sworn law enforcement officers, the State Compensation Board provided $134,199, which includes a higher minimum salary amount. The Sheriff’s Office also requested $174,129 in local funds for additional pay raises, taxes, and benefits so that all sworn officers in the department receive the same raise of $4,179 (not just comp board positions). However, supervisors did not approve $12,557 in additional funds requested by the sheriff to raise salaries of five administrative employees, due to a 5-percent increase those employees already received this fiscal year. The budget appropriation also increased for IT maintenance services by $60,000 when the county’s IT provider merged with Vision Technology Group and rates substantially increased. The county also received $7,246 in ARPA funds for Luray; $1,588 in grant funds for the Sheriff’s Office to purchase of a mount and docking station for the new mobile data terminals; and $3,934 from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, which will be transferred to the towns’ volunteer fire departments.

• Unanimously adopted a resolution to increase the refund authority granted to the Treasurer of Page County for erroneous assessments up to $10,000. In 2000, the amount was set at $500 and raised to $2,500 in 2006. Any refund larger than $10,000 now requires the Treasurer to get approval from the board of supervisors. The change was requested by Commissioner of the Revenue Becky Smith.

• Discussed, but did not fill, two vacancies on the Social Services Board for Districts 1 and 5. Terms for these seats expired June 30, and the individuals are not eligible for reappointment due to having already served two consecutive four-year terms. The individuals appointed to these vacancies would be serving four- year terms, which will expire on June 30, 2026. The Social Services Board meets the third Tuesday of every other month at the Department of Social Services in Stanley.

• Discussed, but did not fill, a vacancy on the Massanutten Regional Library Board. The term of Linda West expired June 30, and she did not want to be reappointed. Another individual will need to be appointed for a three-year term from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2025. The library board meets bi-monthly at the main library in Harrisonburg.

• Unanimously voted to schedule a public hearing for Monday, Oct. 17 at the board’s next regular meeting to hear public comment on an application filed by HighSpeedLink and land owner IBR Corporation for a special use permit to construct a new 150-foot monopole and antennas with a four-foot tall lightning rod attached to the top of the monopole at 974 Kibler Hill Road, Luray. The parcel contains 54 acres, is zoned Agriculture, and currently houses a temporary telecommunications facility approved by the board of supervisors. This application is attempting to make that facility permanent through the approval of a special use permit application. The proposed monopole meets the minimum setbacks required from all property lines. The Page County Planning Commission held their public hearing on Aug. 30 and then recommended approval with conditions.

• Unanimously voted to schedule a public hearing for Monday, Oct. 17 at the board’s next regular meeting to hear public comment on the proposed floodplain management ordinance. In April 2021, the Planning Commission requested that the planning and zoning director review the proposed floodplain ordinance that was created by the Berkley Group. The director then prepared a draft floodplain ordinance for consideration with the intention of meeting the minimum requirements of the FEMA NFIP regulations, FEMA Region III, and the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC). The proposed “stand alone” ordinance has been written to ensure coordination with building, zoning, and subdivision requirements, and has been through a preliminary review with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to ensure compliance with NFIP regulations. If the ordinance is adopted by the Board of Supervisors, DCR will conduct a review and send the ordinance with any comments to FEMA for review. FEMA will review and make their final determination for approval. Legal review has been completed and recommended adoption. The Planning Commission has also recommended approval.

• Heard a report from County Administrator Amity Moler that final results from testing the county’s new emergency radio system should be in this week. “Some areas are better than we thought,” Moler told supervisors regarding radio coverage in some remote areas of Page County. Radio coverage across the county for first responders is expected to increase from about 60 percent to over 95 percent with the new system.

• Heard a report from Moler that the first payment was going out to All Points Broadband through the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission for the regional broadband project that will give nearly everyone in Page County access to high-speed internet. The project calls for 360 miles of fiber optic cable to be installed locally to fill gaps in service left by other providers, especially in remote areas.

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