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VDOT At Cumberland Meeting

CUMBERLAND – Kevin Wright was back in Cumberland representing the Virginia Department of Transportation last month during the County's Board of Supervisors meeting.

Wright noted to the Board that he has returned and is back to being a residency administrator within VDOT and a liaison to the Board concerning road matters for the area counties in the Lynchburg District, which includes Cumberland.

“I will be the Board's representative from VDOT,” he said, “from this point forward.”

During the meeting, he gave a few updates to the Supervisors concerning several road projects in the County.

“We've gotten quite a lot of work done here in the county,” he offered about the past year.

Route 631 patchwork, Davenport Road, is complete, he said, but he did note that the maintenance crews would be going back with tar and gravel over that work that was just finished as a security measure.

“We will come back and surface treat over top of that to make sure that asphalt stays in place,” he noted just in case Supervisors get questions about the project.

On Route 624, Jenkins Church Road, the rural rustic project that has been on Cumberland's Six-Year Plan for almost that many years and delayed for sometime, Wright noted that state forces would be completing that work instead of contracting it out at “some pretty high prices.”

“Come late spring we'll get in there and do some of the rural-rustic part of that road and it should save some of the County's VDOT funds,” he said, “from your Six-Year Plan and it should get the project finished a lot sooner. I was all for that when they gave me that opportunity.”

Board Chairman Van Petty, District Three, expressed, “I'm just glad something is about to happen on Jenkins Church Road…

“It was concerns about the delay and to see something happen within the next few months will be a wonderful surprise,” offered Petty, “to the residents on that road.”

According to Wright, the VDOT crew will do heavy work on the ditches and pipes on the road this winter in preparation for the project.

“At least the people will see us down there working,” he added. “It will get the ball going. I'm glad to do that.”

Supervisor Tim Kennell, District Two, added, “To compliment you, I've been on this Board of Supervisors for four years and you are the first person in VDOT that makes sense to me and I'm really glad you're back!”

Contract Recommendations

In other Board news, Cumberland's County Administrator, Judy Ownby, provided the Board with a listing of recommended lists for contracts with architect and engineering firms.

According to Ms. Ownby, Cumberland issued a RFP for general A/E services as required under the procurement law and received more responses to the RFP than three years ago.

“Jill (Matthews) and I spent time both individually and together to review the responses…,” she said before making her recommendations to the Board.

She noted that the County should continue with Dewberry, the current firm for the waterline extension project; Draper-Aden, the firm that is used for all landfill monitoring; and Austin Brokenbrough, which is the business park on Poorhouse Road firm.

She also said that the recommendations list includes a new firm, Timmons.

“We have used Timmons in the past and were very satisfied with this firm,” she said. “Joe Hines is a principal with the firm and is a local person who has been very attentive to Cumberland County…”

One current firm under contract did not re-submit and that was Burgess & Niple, she said.

“We separated the firms as to the ones we currently work with and are satisfied with; firms we have done business with in the past and were satisfied with; firms that are unknown, but have working relations with firms we have worked with; and firms that we have no direct experience with,” she noted in her recommendation.

The County Administrator also expressed to the Board in the list that the administration, for smaller jobs that do not require extensive engineering, would work with County staff and, if needed, reach out to the firms.

Afterwards, the Board approved the recommended listing for general A/E services.

Old Jail/Visitor's Museum

Jill Matthews, Cumberland's assistant administrator of finance and human resources, requested that the Board approve a request for abatement services for the old jail museum and visitor's center project.

The project was restarted earlier this fall with the Board's approval after Supervisor Oertel brought the project's status back to the table.

The request is to solicit bids, according to Matthews, for qualified contractors for removal of bat guano, ozone odor treatment, re-infestation deterrent measures, lead-based paint removal, and asbestos containing materials abatement.

According to Ms. Matthews, after the question was raised by Chairman Petty about some of these measures already being taken in the past when the project was originally started five or six years ago, bats were able to enter the building due to the project not being carried forward once the work was done in the past.

In other news related to this project, Greg Baka, the County's community development director, requested that the Board approve a resolution reinstating the Board's dedication to the project, which is a requirement from VDOT since the County has begun working on the project again with grant funds received from the state.

The resolution states that “the County of Cumberland is diligently working to move forward on the Museum and Visitors Center and whereas, the Board of Supervisors understands this to be a critical step in maximizing Cumberland's ability to develop its economic potential by attracting visitors, tourists, and guests…”

It also states the Board's dedication to reuse the old jail as a visitors center to “promote the history of tourism in Cumberland County.”

Tobacco Commission Resolution

The Board also approved a resolution request from the IDA to apply for Tobacco Commission funds in the amount of $176,300 for the purpose of assisting with an agri-business program.

Wireless Authority

Concerning the Wireless Authority and its status in Cumberland, Baka was given the task in October by the Board to provide an update on the status of the authority. The Board noted at that point that the authority had not met recently and wanted to know what it needed to do in order to move forward.

According to Baka, his office spoke with Petty, and several other staff members to get insight into the past efforts of the authority and its previous attempt to seek grant funding for a large-scale countywide broadband initiative.

After doing a little research, Baka noted during this month's meeting to the Board that the authority should remain intact and be charged with pursuing a “comprehensive initiative to bring broadband to Cumberland.”

Now, according to Baka, the authority should re-examine potential sources of funding for a large-scale countywide broadband system.

The vision, he said, is that the authority needs to continue to meet and “to re-focus efforts to provide a comprehensive approach to provide wireless broadband to the county.”

He also noted that to staff's knowledge there are no current grant sources that will pay for the full deployment of broadband county-wide but that there is a new broadband program in the “infant stages” that enhances 911 services provided by USDA-it is a loan program not a grant program.

Baka noted that the authority is set to meet again this month to begin talking about this loan program and other wireless broadband systems.

Business Licenses

Baka was also asked last month to bring back to the Board input regarding the idea of raising the threshold for the minimum annual gross revenues before a business license fee is required by the County.

According to Baka, who received assistance from Jennifer Roberts, the County's economic development and planning coordinator; the Commissioner of Revenue, Anita French; and Julie Phillips, deputy commissioner of the revenue, he recommends to the Board that the threshold for annual gross revenues remains at $3,000 per year and also recommends keeping the business license fee at $30 per year since the numbers are consistent with other nearby counties.

But, this recommendation seemed to cause quite a stir between the Board members and it was decided to just let this information sit “out there” for a while before a decision is made since the information was just presented as “information.”

In the comparison list were the Counties of Amelia, Goochland, Greensville, Powhatan, Middlesex, and Nottoway.

According to Baka, Ms. French noted that raising the threshold from $3,000 to $10,000 would have resulted in a loss of $3,960 from 132 businesses based on 2010 revenues.

Planning And Zoning</b>

Bret Schardein, Cumberland's planning and zoning director, requested that the Board refer a conditional use permit for Green Creek Baptist Church.

The church, according to Schardein, proposed a fellowship hall addition that will be approximately 2,293 square feet in area and the church property is currently zoned agricultural and new churches or expansions to existing churches require a CUP. The church property is located on River Road.

The Board unanimously referred the request to the Planning Commission for review.

The Supervisors also approved a waiver for the $300 conditional use permit application fee for Great Works Christmas Church and reappointed Irene Wyatt to the Planning Commission.

Earlier in the meeting he gave an update on planning activities that are happening throughout the county.

Schardein offered, “The new Dollar General is moving forward. We got approval from the local Soil and Water Conservation District…last week so the only thing we are waiting on now is the VDOT approval which sounds like we are pretty close to that…They have said they are going to address that and hopefully we will have full approval on the new Dollar General Store.”

Public Hearing

At the beginning of the November meeting, the Board held a public hearing to allow for a NCT, LLC telecommunications tower near the intersection of Cumberland Road and Holman Mill Road.

The applicant proposed to construct and maintain another telecommunications tower approximately 195 feet tall on a portion of property being leased by Fred and Julia Tipton.

According to Schardein, access to the leased area would be from a 30-foot access easement that would begin at an existing unnamed private drive north of Holman Mill Road.

During the Planning Commission's review of the application, several citizens submitted input, according to Schardein.

One resident stated that he had no opposition to the application but suggested that space be reserved on the tower for locating VHF or UHF antennas for use in national emergency communications.

Once Chairman Petty opened the public hearing, C.H McHenry addressed the Supervisors and questioned if the tower would fall on his property?

Afterwards, the applicant, Al Doss, answered McHenry's question and explained that the tower is designed with “break-point technology,” which would see the tower fold over on itself within the leased area.

The Board later approved the conditional use permit for the telecommunication tower.