Bath BOS January Report
It was clear at the Bath Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, even in this slower tourism season, that the County putting its best foot forward is still at the top of many residents’ minds. Ashton Harrison, County Administrator had some opening comments.
“I just want to let the public know that it’s official, we have reached an agreement with Glave and Holmes. They will be the architect for the visitor/welcome center project, and the master-planning project. We are a little bit behind, so we hope to start scheduling that initial kick-off meeting with the public in the second part of February.” Also, in later comments, a resident and local Innkeeper, emphasized the importance of the Warm Springs, or Jefferson Pools to the area, and how the longer they go unaddressed, the deeper their loss is felt. Even having one pool house open would be better than none. Some amount of communication with the Omni-Homestead to learn more about their plans was suggested. Then two board members commented, there is no point in telling the Homestead about its business. Mr. Harrison agreed to have some information available by next month about the Pools’ current safety status from the County Building Inspector.
During the New for 2018 appointments, Richard Bird, who was absent, was reelected President, Bart Purdue, Vice President, and Stuart Hall, emergency Services Management Director. The board agreed to continue using Robert’s Rules of Order for their decision-making, and to maintain their monthly meeting schedule.
Two citizens spoke about a property in their district they feel to be in violation of its conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. They reported having learned there is very little recourse for the VOF even when a land owner/donor is not compliant. This lack of teeth in the easements is no news to landowners who enacted conservation easements in good faith their land would be protected from large utilities; and learned in the last year about the Atlantic Coast Pipe Line, and eminent domain. Since each conservation easement is very individualized, and not all information is available to all the parties involved, Mr. Harrison agreed to consult with the County attorney, and learn more about what, if any, role the county could have in monitoring or enforcing such agreements. Much conversation about deferring taxes for land in agricultural use, and for those in conservation easements took place. Stuart Hall, Williamsville District hopes some benefit can come from pursuing enforcement.
“If they can’t enforce it, then we don’t need to be deferring it. We could use that money in the taxpayers, and balance out budget, and probably cut taxes some.”
No members of the public spoke at the hearing on the proposed sign ordinance. The planning commission and director Sherry Ryder worked together for years, sometimes with additional regulations being handed to them before offering the multi-page document proscribing new signs for businesses.
In referring to ordinance 706 itself, Ms. Ryder said, “We’ve tried to make it more user friendly instead of prohibitive. Like I said, we’re not sure how that’s going to work until we actually start applying it. Any existing signs as of right now, would be grandfathered.” The board voted four in favor with one absent to approve the ordinance.