- Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:04
- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:02
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Colonial Beach Town Council spent a great deal of time at the June meeting on two ordinances that would vacate two town-owned parcels and approve the sale to adjoining property owners. Both of which required public hearings.
The council voted unanimously to vacate the properties, but resistance from council members caused the sale of one property to be set aside for a later date.
In question was an unused parcel of land, owned by the town, located on Hamilton Street, next to adjoining properties owned by Cameron Craig Berry and Clayton L. Shepherd.
The parcel has been offered to both property owners. Shepherd stated to council he was only interested in a small portion of the lot so the town divided the property into two parcels. One measuring 5,198 sq. ft. and appraised at $41,600 to be offered to Berry. The other measuring 827 sq. ft. and appraised at $6,600, to be offered to Shepherd.
Only one member of the audience commented, Jay Jarvis, who asked that the town make sure they get the best price for the parcel. However it was clear that Councilwoman Linda Brubaker came prepared to dispute the sale price of one of the parcels.
The 827 sq. ft. section being offered to Shepherd is waterfront property, so it requires a majority vote of at least six people to pass.
Brubaker spoke at length expressing her belief that the property had been appraised too low and felt the town should get more money for it.
Brubaker did not fully understand the steps and process of dividing, vacating, appraising and selling town owned property but did come prepared to take a stand on the issue. Brubaker quoted the guidelines for vacating alleyways and other town properties. “It says they can be charged appraised value or an agreed upon amount.”
Brubaker then asked how did the staff agree on the figures presented for the two parcels.
Town Manager Val Foulds stated that the town and parties did not customarily negotiate on a price. In the past, town staff has always used the appraised values when drafting the ordinance for the sale. Foulds stated that in the past this is what the council has instructed staff to do, but stated that if the council wishes staff to come to an agreement on price before the document is drafted, it is entirely their call.
Brubaker asked “How do you know? I mean these people have let you know that they are interested in these parcels, do they bid on it, what’s that process? I’m sorry, I’m new so I don’t know.”
Foulds was happy to explain the process and referred to the document Brubaker quoted, stating that the process is outlined step by step. Foulds said that when the document is first brought before the council staff shares the appraisal amount and asks the council to go take a look at the property. Foulds said after time has passed to review the information, staff will ask the council for permission to advertise and place the matter on the agenda. Foulds told Brubaker that is the time when council should bring up any items they want to change or discuss further, before money is spent on legal advertising.
Councilwoman Wanda Goforth spoke up saying, “I would like to defer this, I think the second portion of this property is way undervalued.”
Both properties are appraised at $8 a square foot, but Goforth feels that the property is worth much more because it is waterfront property.
Shepherd argued that the property is worthless alone.
Brubaker called Shepherd out stating that his pier is on town property.
Shepherd stated it was a foot and a half and argued that he paid for and installed a bulkhead that sits on town-owned property to avoid erosion. Shepard said that Pete Bone, who was mayor at the time, told him if he got approval from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and paid for it, he could.
Brubaker indicated she was not responsible for what went on in during past administrations.
Finally, Councilman Gary Seeber asked for a show of hands from members on who would vote in favor of selling the smaller parcel at the appraised price.
Without having a majority vote, councilman Seeber motioned to separate the two sales to allow the first parcel of land offered to Berry to be approved for sale.
The council then acted on Goforth’s motion to set aside the sale of the second parcel and unanimously passed the sale of the larger parcel.
The council agenda included announcements by council and department heads, approval of meeting minutes and handing out awards as well as citizen input.
Aside from these matters, the agenda included passing two resolutions; one to amend the fiscal year budget to include adding money from the state of Virginia to fund road maintenance and a resolution to institute a hiring freeze.
Council voted unanimously to pass a hiring freeze for the town staff in Colonial Beach but amended the resolution to exempt road workers. That request for amendment came for Councilman Seeber who stated that the road money is state funded and if it isn’t spent it does not get reimbursed.
Seeber cautioned council that if any road workers quit or became ill, the town should not have to go through the council to replace these positions.
Councilman Tim Curtin said, “My concern is where we will be six to eight months from now. There are employees that if they choose to resign we can’t do without.”
The resolution passed with a vote of four in favor. Mayor Ham and Vice Mayor Tommy Edwards voted against the hiring freeze and Councilman Seeber abstained without giving his reason.