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Last updateWed, 27 Dec 2017 12am

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County mulls in-lieu money for wetlands

The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 8 on a proposal...

County board tables Beach road proposal

The Westmoreland Board of Supervisors, representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportatio...

Montross using state grant to spruce up town

Linda Farneth

Revitalization took center stage at the Oct. 28 Montross Town Council meeting.
The To...

Supervisors cite proximity to nearby home as reason

Supervisors cite proximity to nearby home as reason

The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors has voted to deny permission for  giant farming op...

Oldhams man gets 20 years for shooting

A Westmoreland County man entered a plea of no contest Oct. 17 to seven felony counts in Westmorelan...

Appalachian Cherokees open museum and culture center

Appalachian Cherokees open museum and culture center

The Appalachian Cherokee Nation, one of the largest non-federally recognized Indian tribes in the Un...

 

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Office-for-rent Jrnl Bldg 20130925

Supervisors, residents address the Phase 2 Washington District sewer project

There have been Phase 2 Washington District sewer meetings this time of year for at least the last four years, but the November 2009 Phase 2 sewer meeting is the last of the series of annual events. Work on the project is scheduled to begin in a matter of weeks.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we can now look forward to this project moving forward as expeditiously as it can. We’re almost there,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Darryl Fisher told this Monday night’s audience.

“Although we ran into obstacles, we have been committed to seeing the project through. Nobody gave up,” Fisher said of the project’s unexpected delays.

Read more: Supervisors, residents address the Phase 2 Washington District sewer project

Oops! Error will cost taxpayers $90,000

Action taken by the Westmoreland Supervisors on Oct. 8 to establish the current year’s personal property tax relief rates will be rescinded and new numbers will be approved later this week.
An Oct. 22 special meeting was announced before this Monday’s close of meeting. The session will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the A.T. Johnson auditorium.
“The purpose of the meeting,” the announcement stated, “will be to rescind the resolution previously adopted by the board on Oct. 8, 2009, concerning the personal property tax relief rate for the current year and to adopt a new resolution establishing the personal property tax relief rate for tax year 2009.”

 

Read more: Oops! Error will cost taxpayers $90,000

Special meeting clears the way for county tax bills to go out

The Westmoreland Supervisors met in special session on Oct. 8. Action taken that morning will allow the county’s tax bills to go out.
The supervisors had to set the personal property tax relief rates for the 2009 tax year, but the action could not occur until new sets of numbers were in hand.
The business resulted from Virginia’s Personal Property Tax Relief Act, a measure that is gradually being phased out of existence. The Commonwealth sent Westmoreland a total of $1,139,678 to replace the reduction in taxes charged to the owners of motor vehicles used for private transportation.

Read more: Special meeting clears the way for county tax bills to go out

Supervisors, sheriff to discuss potential terrorist threats

Assistant County Administrator Karen Lewis had no answers last Friday, but the Oct. 14 evening meeting of Westmoreland County’s Board of Supervisors will begin several hours earlier than the evening session’s customary starting time.
The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. in order to allocate a 60-minute interval to a closed-door discussion of reports or plans related to the security of any governmental facility.
According to the agenda released on Oct. 9, at 5 p.m. the supervisors will go into “Closed Session with Sheriff C. O. Balderson, et als (by invitation) Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 2.2-3711.A19 RE: Discussion of reports or plans related to the security of any governmental facility.”
A search of Virginia code lends additional insight, but raises multiple questions left open by the agenda item’s language. The referenced Paragraph 19 reads as follows:
“Discussion of plans to protect public safety as it relates to terrorist activity and briefings by staff members, legal counsel, or law-enforcement or emergency service officials concerning actions taken to respond to such activity or a related threat to public safety;
“Or discussion of reports or plans related to the security of any governmental facility, building or structure, or the safety of persons using such facility, building or structure.”
The closed door-discussion comes one month after county government moved its designated meeting place from the G. D. English Building courtrooms to A. T. Johnson auditorium.
The change in location was adopt ed by the Westmoreland supervisors in order to bring the local government into compliance with Virginia Freedom of Information Act requirements.
Residents had been denied video camera access to local government meeting proceedings that were held in facilities it traditionally shared with the Westmoreland courts. The sheriff’s office had determined that the presence of cameras during local government meetings compromised the courts’ security.
When the Supervisors met in the A. T. Johnson auditorium on Sept. 14, Board Chairman Darryl Fisher advised the public that the move would likely hasten Westmoreland’s plans to construct or locate a new building for the local government.
The English Building’s courtrooms had been the supervisors’ preferred local government meeting places due to the convenience provided by their immediate proximity to the local government offices.
As long ago as October 2005, the Westmoreland Supervisors publicly acknowledged local government’s need for additional office space. Construction of either a new county government office complex or a new judicial center already had been listed as a priority in the adopted Capital Improvements Program.
During the same public discussion, officials acknowledged plans to build a new high school. The supervisors reasoned that the existing high school could then be adapted to house county government offices.
In October 2006, the Westmoreland County School Board adopted a resolution stating its intentions to move forward with plans to construct the new high school. The resolution advised that continued maintenance of the old Washington and Lee High School facilities “may be an unwise investment,” that the high school is landlocked and cannot grow and that “plans shall commence” to provide for future needs.
The Public-Private Education Act was cited as the “means to create plans” and get proposals.
After the supervisors’ October 2005 discussion, the board commissioned a space needs assessment whose focus was the judicial center and the county government and local emergency and law enforcement offices.
Wednesday’s 5 p.m. closed session might revisit the space needs assessment, or it might address a new directive from the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Such a directive would result from threats of terrorist attacks.
Another possible consideration would be the supervisors’ security inside the recently designated A. T. Johnson meeting place.
A sheriff’s deputy attended the supervisors’ Sept. 14 meeting, but no metal detectors had been installed on those premises. The supervisors began subjecting their public to metal detectors following the June 29 meeting of the Industrial Development Authority, when residents reportedly became disorderly after raising questions that the authority was unwilling or unable to address.

 

Betsy Ficklin
The Journal
 

Litigation would halt O’Gara site activities

A complaint and motion filed on Sept. 29 in Westmoreland Circuit Court are the most recent in a series of efforts by plaintiffs George and Susan Ripol, Harry and Bonnie Boyden and Mary Porter Hall to compel Westmoreland County’s public officials to follow what they believe is the letter of the law in matters pertaining to establishment of O’Gara Group’s for-profit tactical training base on land it bought from county resident Bryan Chandler.

Read more: Litigation would halt O’Gara site activities

Westmoreland signs up for high-speed Internet plan

The Westmoreland Supervisors have voted to join their neighbors from Richmond, Northumberland and Lancaster counties in the formation of a Northern Neck Broadband Authority intended to hasten creation of a fiber-optic grid capable of making high-speed Internet services available throughout Virginia’s Northern Neck.
The action follows multiple years of effort from the region’s Economic Development Partnership. Needs assessments were previously conducted and the newly created authority is poised to receive as much as $17 million in federal stimulus funding to support the ambitious project.
Northern Neck Planning District Director Jerry Davis has met with every member jurisdiction’s Board of Supervisors in recent weeks to secure the action needed to proceed.

 

Read more: Westmoreland signs up for high-speed Internet plan

Appeal filed with Board of Zoning Appeals in O'Gara application

On Friday, September 18, a formal zoning appeal was filed with the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), which contests the right of The O'Gara Group to build their school on the A1 land that they purchased, and also on the IDA shell building property.  The filing of this appeal forces construction to stop until the BZA resolves the issue.
 

 

BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
Owner/Applicants seeking review of Zoning Administrator decision:
1     George J. Ripol and Susan Hoge Ripol 3103 Cople Highway Montross, Virginia 22520 804-493-0895
2     Mary Porter Hall 14201 Kings Highway Montross, Virginia 22520 804-493-9394
3     Harry and Bonnie Boyden

P.O. Box 234 Bel Alton, Maryland 20611 301-934-9422
BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
1. Memorandum, Gary Ziegler to Board of Supervisors, September 17, 2008, subject "County Shell Building" and "Tax Map #35-106," with attachments.
2. Recorded Plat, SDZ easement on O'Gara site, recorded July 30, 2009.
3. Proposed O'Gara Gun range Evaluation and Recommendations, William Thornton, Ph.D., P.E., August 10, 2009.
4. Letter, Robert Fink, ZA to Peter Henderson, Site Plan Approval for Phase A-l, Training Facility and Academy, The O'Gara Group, Tax Map ID #35-106, dated August 24, 2009.
5. Letter, Robert Fink, ZA, to Carline Peters, Esq., Re: August 31 letter requesting zoning interpretation regarding the O'Gara Training Facility and Academy, Tax Map ID #35106, dated September 8, 2009.
6. Aerial Photo (Google) showing site and surrounding landowner parcels, April 2006.
7. Real Estate Purchase Contract between the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Authority and The O'Gara Group, Inc., dated January 12, 2009.
8. Real Estate Purchase Contract between Westmoreland County Industrial Development Authority and the O'Gara Group, Inc., undated but believed to have been executed on June 22, 2009.
9. Letter, David Bailey, Environmental Law Group, PLLC, to Robert Fink, ZA, Request for Contract Compliance Opinion, June 9, 2009.
10. Training Facility and Academy Phase 1A Site Plan, Bury+Partners, Inc., dated July 7, 2009, 10 sheets, incorporated by reference due to size of documents.
11. Training Facility and Academy Phase IB Site Plan, Bury+Partners, Inc., dated June 29, 2009, 13 sheets, incorporated by reference due to size of documents.
12. Letter, Robert Fink to Peter Henderson, O'Gara, site plan review for Phase IB, dated September 14, 2009.
13. Website company identification, The O'Gara Group.

NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE APPEAL
This appeal, brought on behalf of two adjacent property owners and one owning property in the same district, Exhibit 6, seeks review by the Westmoreland Board of Zoning Appeals ("BZA") on several grounds regarding the Westmoreland County Zoning Administrators' approval of a site plan submitted by The O'Gara Group, and the Zoning Administrator's reliance on a zoning compliance opinion written in September 2008 as the basis for his determination of compliance with Westmoreland County Land Use Ordinances. Jurisdiction for this appeal is found in Va. Code § 15.2-2311 and the Westmoreland County Land Use Ordinance, wherein any "person aggrieved" may appeal to the BZA "any" decision of the zoning administrator regarding zoning decisions, requirements or compliance thereof. The appeal forms and fee have been enclosed.

Read more: Appeal filed with Board of Zoning Appeals in O'Gara application

 

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