Monterey Town Council Defers Action On Water Plan
Monterey, Virginia – Monterey town council voted to defer adoption of a regional water supply plan and drought ordinance. Council considered the issue during its regular meeting on November 3.
In 2005, Virginia enacted a law requiring all local governments to develop a water supply plan, or participate as a member in a regional planning unit.
Prior to November 2, 2008, Monterey voted to participate as a member in the Upper James River Basin regional planning unit, under the auspices of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC).
The law established a deadline of November 2 of this year for regional plans to be submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
According to CSPDC program director Bonnie Riedesel, the CSPDC submitted the Upper James River Basin plan to the DEQ, prior to the deadline, but without an adoption by the Town of Monterey. Riedesel said Monterey is the only jurisdiction, out of 12 in the Upper James River Basin planning unit, that has not adopted the plan and a related drought ordinance.
Highland County, one of the 12 Upper James River Basin planning unit jurisdictions, adopted the plan and the drought ordinance during the November 1 Board of Supervisors meeting.
During Thursday evening’s council meeting, town attorney Melissa Ann Dowd told council that adoption of the plan was mandatory and that failure to do so could result in penalties.
“The statute says you shall adopt it and the penalty provided in this statute, if you don’t adopt it, it can be enforced by injunction and further penalties go up to $32,500 per each violation,” she said. “There is, in my legal opinion, a cost, a potential cost to the town, for failing to comply with the statute that says you shall do this.”
Dowd strongly recommended that council adopt the water plan and the drought ordinance to avoid problems with DEQ.
“You joined the upper James River basin and it is my strong recommendation that the town not find another way to fight with DEQ by refusing to adopt the plan and the ordinance,” she said.
Mayor Janice Warner and councilmember Francis Fenn said they saw no benefit for the town to adopt the plan and ordinance.
Warner says she received conflicting information from Riedesel about the necessity of town action.
“I would recommend to the council that we say to the Central Shenandoah Planning District that, ‘you need to come up here and talk to us,’ because she told me on the phone hat it was absolutely not mandatory,” she said.
Councilmember Francis Fenn said council had not received a copy of the plan.
“Why, if this is so, have they not sent something to town hall,” he asked. “I mean, if it’s current, we should have received something.”
Councilmember Butch Washer agreed there had been insufficient communication from the Commonwealth and agencies about water plan requirements.
“Whoever passed it and issued it should have notified somebody that, ‘hey, you all got a law,'” he said.
Council voted 4-0 to invite Riedesel to speak to council and defer action on the water plan and ordinance.
Warner informed council that she has been pressuring a local construction company to start work on a water line to a mobile home park and that a backhoe had arrived on-site. The mayor said she had located another firm that was interested in the work, if there was no progress on the project.
In other business, Monterey council:
– voted 4-0 to keep water hook-up rates unchanged.
– approved payment of bills in the amount of $5,276.34.
– heard an invitation from Dowd, on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, for council to conduct a joint meeting to approve the county comprehensive plan on December 6.
The next meeting of Monterey council is scheduled for December 1, 7:30 p.m. at the Highland County Library in Monterey.