Bath Board of Supervisors holds July 2015 meeting

The Bath Board of Supervisors met Tuesday evening the 14th of July. After the standard procedural items that opened the meeting there was at time for public comment. Board members listened as some residents voiced concerns about the Planning Commission’s approval of a conservation easement.

Later in the meeting, Faye Cooper, a conservation easement specialist, explained the process by which property owners can protect their land, or part of their land from future development.   Such land is then taxed at the current agricultural rate.

The concern over this particular easement was due to the fact that it is in a designated growth corridor. Beside the fact it is not the supervisors’ role to approve or disapprove of an easement, more careful reading of a section of the county’s comprehensive plan indicated that growth corridors can include “fingers” of undeveloped, or farm land. Therefore no revision of the comprehensive plan is necessary. While such plan revisions were used in the past, where a growth corridor was concerned, it is probably not necessary in every case.

Growth corridors are identified as places where new business or residences would fit in well.

Even though the part of Bath County along Route 220 between Hot Springs and Warm Springs contains a mix of beautiful farms and successful small businesses, it’s unlikely future growth there (if there were interest) could ever be truly restricted. Sherry Ryder, County Planning and Zoning Administrator explains,

“We’ve got very little public infrastructure, considering the size of our county, and that’s what dictates growth areas, and when I say public infrastructure, water and sewer.   It took public money to put it in there.”

In the second presentation during the board meeting, Carrie Chenery , Executive Director, Shenandoah Valley Partnership explained how her organization works with localities in the region, which includes Bath County, to develop workplace education, market the area to companies who might consider relocating here, and work for legislative changes to enhance economic development.

County Administrator, Ashton Harrison, proposed that pool fees be dropped for next summer because they don’t generate enough revenue to offset the expense of administering such fees. The board is also hopeful that if the fees are waived there will be an increase in residents using the county pools.

In addition to the Supervisors unanimously approving the fiscal year closeout for 2015, another action of note was the county’s acceptance of a radio tower which is on forest service land and is being decommissioned by the state police who have a new tower. The Duncan’s Knob tower, which is critical to the county’s emergency services radio system, will be transferred to the County’s ownership.

Also, there was a request from Bath County schools to appropriate funds from some 59,000 dollars in unanticipated money.   The board was in support of the Schools receiving this money, but did want to qualify funds of that size should not be counted on for reinstating unfunded positions, but could be for one time capital outlay items.

In closing comments, Supervisor Cliff Gilchrest commended the Forest Service for its successful development of the Lower Cowpasture project. This plan is a precedent- setting collaboration between of 13 or more groups with stakes in natural resources. It took just over three years to complete, and will take many more to put into action. It covers an area of 100 thousand acres.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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