- Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:23
- Published on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:23
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Several accusations were tossed around during the October 10 Colonial Beach Town Council meeting, and two items were approved.
The council passed a resolution to recognize and support the 2014 Downtown Revitalization Management Team. The resolution recognizes that more stakeholders, such as property and business owners, within the revitalization and downtown area, as well as representatives from both Dominion Virginia Power and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), should be included.
The council also recognized the offer of help from the Northern Neck Planning Commission, who will oversee the implementation of the Community Development Revitalization Block Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, if awarded.
The council also passed a proclamation to allow Trick-or-Treating on Halloween, Thursday, October 31, from 5 – 8 p.m. Council, town staff and the Colonial Beach Police Department ask that motorists use extra caution while driving that evening.
The first accusation came when Supervisor Larry Roberson stated that the county informed the supervisors that the highway department has threatened to pull funding if the Meadows Ave. paving project does not show some advancement. Roberson also said that the supervisors were informed that the town allowed the work to be stalled in the first phase of paving, but could not name a specific source for that information.
Roberson said, “Meadow Ave. should have been done in June. The highway department wants to know if it is ever going to get done. And they have threatened to pull the plug if it keeps taking too long. Which means if they take their money, the county’s money goes, too.
I don’t blame you all for trying to get more done. But we should have paved the first section that was originally decided on, and moved on from there.”
Town Manager Val Foulds responded at last Thursday’s meeting, “I spoke to Mr. Robertson, he’s new to VDOT, and I do have a meeting with him tomorrow morning at 10 here.”
Roberson added, “There’s a lot of money floating around, and I don’t want see the county or the town lose any funding from the highway department.”
Foulds explained that on that part of the contract (referring to the first section of paving), the town did not manage that portion of the contract.
Councilwoman Wanda Goforth asked Roberson if VDOT gave him a deadline date for finishing the work.
Roberson indicated they did not. “There was a gap where nothing was being done, and now they see something is going on. They just want it to get done in a timely fashion.”
Roberson urged the town to finish the first section of the road.
Councilwoman Linda Brubaker brought up that there was some delay due to installation of cable lines.
Roberson responded, “There has been cable lines, drain lines and this and that, but there was also a break for quite a while....”
Brubaker cut in, to ask Foulds if these items had been finished.
Folds responded, “Part of the issue, to my understanding, the contractor wanted to finish the project he was working on in the county before he finished the work on Meadows. Roberson broke in saying, “Somebody let him do that!”
The council continued discussing the matter for several minutes.
Foulds explained the way revenue sharing programs with the county work, “The town sent the check for the 25%, which is the town’s share, to the treasurer of Westmoreland County. To her understanding, the town does not sign that portion of the contract and had no leverage to have a say in the work.”
Roberson stated that the county was told that the town allowed the work to stop, but could not identify where that information came from, other than to say “The County.”
The town had scheduled on their agenda to meet with Westmoreland County Sheriff C.O. Balderson.
Although the agenda did not state the nature of the meeting, nor did attendees speaking on the matter offer up the reason, Mayor Mike Ham stated in a phone interview on Monday, that the a few council members have requested Balderson meet with them in an open meeting to discuss consolidation of the Colonial Beach Police Department and the Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office.
Supervisor Roberson began to address Balderson’s absence by saying, “Someone has put the cart way before the horse on the issue that you have. He can’t get involved in that.” Roberson said the town has to vote on the issue and provide information to him [Balderson] before he will come and speak. Roberson also informed the board that if the issue requires any money, the town must go through the Board of Supervisors first.
Councilwoman Linda Brubaker addressed Roberson stating she thought that Balderson could just come and speak with the council on the issue, and she said she was told that the Board of Supervisors (BOS) told Balderson he could not come out and speak with the council. Roberson denied any knowledge of that and stated that the BOS had no authority to control Balderson’s actions, but that the BOS does control the purse strings.
Councilwoman Wanda Goforth took the old business portion of the meeting to ask for updates from Town Manager Val Foulds.
Goforth spent a considerable amount of time to share with Foulds and discuss a complaint from a citizen and property owner.
The property in question, according to Goforth, is located at 21 Maryland Ave. The property owner has been visited by the town and cited for having overgrown brush. According to Town Attorney Andrea Erard, the property owner in question has been in litigation with the town previously. Erard would not elaborate, but asked to discuss the litigation with Goforth in greater detail outside of the council meeting.
Goforth stated that the property owner claims the overgrown brush is part of an English Garden. Goforth said, “I went by and said it is definitely an English Garden.”
Town Manager Val Foulds said she has spoken to the property owner and explained that there are other issues and complaints, including compliance. “ Theresa [Code Compliance Officer Davis], according to Planning Department Director Gary Mitchell, is acting on a complaint from a neighbor.”
After some discussion regarding the property owner’s claim to Goforth that town is using a portion of his property, and there is no right-of-way, Foulds asked Goforth and the council for direction. “Do you want us to cease and desist?” Foulds explained that she needs to be able to follow up with the complainant.
Goforth said the owner of the property is stating that the town is using his land without a right-of-way, and that an awning was damaged by some big truck. “I think that it’s a problem that we have in many places in town, not knowing our right-of-ways, not knowing, not knowing our land.”
Goforth said, “I can only go by what he tells me. I didn’t ask him for a plat. I’m sure he probably has one.”
Foulds again asked for direction, “What is your direction, what would you like me to do?”
Goforth responded, “I can’t tell you what to do, you’re the town manager. I want to know that we have citizens that are not being harassed for no reason.”
Goforth continued to dispute what Foulds said, based on what information was given by the property owner, and distributed pictures to the council of the property.
Erard offered to get a full history of the litigated incidents and recent situation for the property at 21 Maryland Ave., and she offered to help give the town staff direction on how to handle the situation. Councilwoman Linda Brubaker expressed concern that she did not want Code Compliance Officer Theresa Davis to halt all investigations of citizen complaints, but she offered no direction on the matter, either.
Next, Goforth asked for a copy of Whitestone’s report. The council hired Whitestone earlier in the year to evaluate town employees and the way the town is being run.
Foulds explained that the invoice and contract did not list a report, and that everything that was paid for by the town was delivered. A debate (over whether there was a report) continued for several minutes, resulting in Foulds offering to get in touch with Whitestone and request a copy of any report they have.
Goforth then stated that the council requested a list of town properties, and what Foulds had provided was not a complete list. Foulds responded that she checked the minutes of the meeting when the request was made, to clarify what was requested. Foulds said from the minutes, she understood Goforth’s request to only include full build-able lots for the purpose of deciding on whether to hire a real estate agency to sell town-owned property.
Foulds added, “I was also under the impression that the county had provided you and Ms. Brubaker with a list that was complete.”
Goforth said, “[County Administrator] Mr. Rasavi did give me a list, but it is not complete, and it’s not totally accurate. Because under the property tickets, the way they are filed, a lot of them may say ‘The Town of Colonial Beach’, but the school owns them. It may say ‘The Town of Colonial Beach’, but the Rescue Squad owns it.”
The Town of Colonial Beach rents the School Board Office for $10 a year, and the Rescue Squad for $1 a year.
Brubaker expressed discontent over the absence of Interim Police Chief William Seay who was on vacation. Brubaker wanted to discuss three citizen complaints with Seay, and a recent home invasion.
Finally, Councilman Jim Chiarello asked the council to review his work on a draft document for a “request for proposal for a real estate agent.”