This week in county government; New General Assembly, congressional maps approved; Adams announces state Senate run; Supervisors to hold two public hearings, choose chair and vice chair
Engage Louisa is a community newsletter aimed at keeping folks informed about Louisa County government. It’s free, non-partisan, and powered by volunteers. We believe our community is stronger and our government serves us better when we increase transparency, accessibility, and engagement.
This week in county government: public meetings, Jan. 3 through Jan. 8
Monday, Jan. 3
POSTPONED: THE BOS WILL MEET ON MONDAY, JAN. 10. (Organizational meeting: 2 pm. Regular public meeting: 3 pm.)
Louisa County Board of Supervisors, Public Meeting Room, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 5 pm (organizational meeting), 6 pm (regular meeting) (agenda packet, livestream) The Board of Supervisors will conduct its annual organizational meeting at 5 pm including electing a chair and vice chair. The regular public meeting, with two public hearings, will begin at 6 pm. See below for more information.
Tuesday, Jan. 4
Louisa County School Board, Central Office Administration Building, 953 Davis Hwy., Mineral, 7 pm. (agenda) The School Board will meet for its annual organizational meeting, electing a chair and vice chair, Tuesday night then conduct its regular monthly meeting. Currently, the board’s meetings are not available via livestream and only accessible by attending in person.
Additional information about Louisa County’s upcoming public meetings is available here.
Interested in taking your talents to one of the county’s numerous boards and commissions? Find out more here, including which boards have vacancies and how to apply.
New General Assembly, congressional maps approved
The Supreme Court of Virginia approved new state legislative and congressional districts Tuesday that reshape the political landscape in Louisa County and beyond.
After soliciting public comment, a pair of special masters appointed by the court presented final maps to its seven justices that tweaked previously released drafts. The court unanimously approved the maps, which carve the state into 11 congressional districts, 40 state Senate districts, and 100 House of Delegates districts, using data from the 2020 census.
The new district lines separate Louisa County from its current representatives in the General Assembly and the House of Representatives. The special masters, one recommended by Democrats and the other by Republicans, moved all of Louisa County from the 7th Congressional District to the 5th and split the county into two new House of Delegates and state Senate districts.
New congressional districts
Louisa County’s future home, the 5th Congressional District, is currently represented by Republican Bob Good. Under the redraw, the district remains friendly turf for Republicans based on results from recent elections. It includes Louisa along its northern border, stretches west across Albemarle and the City of Charlottesville, and reaches south to the North Carolina border, encompassing all or part of 24 localities.
Louisa’s representative in Congress since 2019, Democrat Abigail Spanberger, saw her current 7th District partially dismantled and moved north. Her Henrico County home is drawn into the right-leaning 1st Congressional District, which includes a large section of Virginia’s tidewater.
After the final maps were released last week, Spanberger announced plans to run for re-election in the new 7th. Though she could move to the area, members of Congress aren’t required to live in the district they represent. Residency in their districts is a requirement for Virginia’s state legislators.
State Senator Bryce Reeves, a Republican who represents most of Louisa County in Richmond, also announced plans to run in the district. His Spotsylvania County home and a large part of his current Senate district is included within the 7th’s new boundaries.
Spanberger will continue to represent Louisa County until a new Congress is seated in January of 2023. All 435 congressional seats are up for grabs under new maps this November.
Under draft maps released in mid-December, special masters Bernard Grofman and Sean Trende placed Louisa in the 1st Congressional District, which stretched east to the Chesapeake Bay. About 10 Louisa residents spoke during two public hearings to oppose the draft map. Many said that the county didn’t belong with the tidewater region and asked the court and special masters to place it in a central Virginia-focused district.
In a 63-page memo that accompanied the final maps, Grofman and Trende noted that they listened closely to citizen feedback and reviewed written comments, using local knowledge to inform the final districts. They specifically acknowledged the voices of Louisa County residents.
“We heard a substantial number of residents of Louisa County testify that they were unhappy to be placed in a district with the Tidewater area,” they wrote, adding that, “the inclusion of Fluvanna, Louisa, and Goochland counties in the tidewater area is indeed not a natural fit.”
Grofman and Trende opted to revamp the map. Among other changes, they moved Louisa, Goochland, and Fluvanna to the 5th, which, they wrote, “aligns the agricultural portions of their economy more with other piedmont areas, and not with the distinct economy of the tidewater.”
New General Assembly districts
The final state legislative maps separate Louisa into two new state Senate and House of Delegates districts. The special masters didn’t include any of the county’s precincts in Senator Mark Peake, Senator Bryce Reeves, or Delegate John McGuire’s new districts. The trio of Republicans currently represent all or part of the county in Richmond.
The Senate map places a portion of western Louisa, the current Zion and Mechanicsville precincts as well as the southern part of the Patrick Henry 1 precinct, into the Democrat-friendly 11th District, which includes the City of Charlottesville, and Albemarle, Nelson, and Amherst counties. Currently, no incumbent lives within the district’s boundaries.
According to Bob Gibson, a former reporter for The Daily Progress, Sen. Creigh Deeds plans to “establish residency” in the district and run for the seat in 2023. Deeds represents the 25th Senate District, which stretches from Bath County to Charlottesville. His Bath home was drawn into the conservative 2nd District, which also includes two Republican incumbents.
The rest of Louisa is drawn into the 10th Senate District, which includes all or part of 10 localities. The strong Republican district stretches east into Hanover and encompasses Fluvanna and Goochland while reaching as far south as Appomattox. No incumbent currently lives in the new district. Shortly after the maps were released, Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams announced plans to run for the seat in 2023. (See the article below for more information).
The House of Delegates map also splits the county, placing the Zion and Mechanicsville precincts as well as the southern part of the Patrick Henry 1 precinct into the 55th House District. The district leans Democrat based on previous elections, and includes most of Albemarle and a slice of northern Nelson. Republican Delegate Rob Bell resides in the district.
The remainder of Louisa falls into the 59th House District, which reaches across western Hanover and grabs a slice of Henrico around Glen Allen. The Republican-friendly district currently has no incumbent within its boundaries.
On the draft maps, the current Patrick Henry 1 precinct was included in the 11th Senate District and 55th House of Delegates District but Trende and Grofman opted to split the precinct along the South Anna River on the final map with residents living north of the river heading to the 10th Senate District and 59th House District.
“The precinct lines in Louisa County create an odd-shaped appendage and split the community surrounding the county seat. To eliminate this feature, we split a precinct and utilized the South Anna River as a boundary between districts,” the map drawers explained.
Peake, Reeves, and McGuire will find themselves on altered turf though all remain in Republican-friendly districts. Peake, whose current 22nd District stretches from west of his Lynchburg home to eastern Louisa County, has been drawn into the new 8th District, which reaches south and west from Lynchburg. The district is also home to Republican Senator Steve Newman.
Reeves’ Spotsylvania home is included in the new 28th Senate District, which encompasses a significant part of his current 17th Senate District. McGuire’s Goochland home remains in a redrawn 56th House District. The district includes western Goochland and Fluvanna and extends south to Appomattox.
McGuire previously announced he’d run for the Republican nomination in the 7th Congressional District but the new maps could shake up those plans. In the redraw, the 7th loses much of his political base and his home falls into the Fifth, Good’s district. McGuire’s campaign continues to send fundraising emails and, at publication time, he’d made no formal announcement about his plans.
For now, Louisa’s current legislators will continue to represent the county in Richmond. The State Senate will run in the new districts in 2023. The House of Delegates should’ve run in new districts last November but delays in census data prevented a timely redraw. Court action could compel House members to seek election under the news maps in 2022.
Voters revamped Virginia’s redistricting process last year, passing a constitutional amendment aimed at limiting partisan gerrymandering. The amendment established the bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission, tasking its 16 members with crafting new districts. Bogged down by partisan bickering, the commission failed to reach consensus, leaving the Virginia Supreme Court in charge of drawing new maps.
With the state maps now in place, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors will take on the task of redrawing local voting districts and precincts. The board hasn’t publicly discussed redistricting in several months. They’re required to advertise and hold a public hearing before adopting new districts.
Adams announces run in new 10th Senate District
Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams announced Wednesday that he’ll seek the Republican nomination in the newly formed 10th State Senate District. The district includes most of Louisa County.
Adams made his announcement via social media less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court of Virginia approved new state legislative and congressional districts as part of the decennial redistricting process. All 40 seats in the Senate will be on the ballot in 2023 using the new districts.
“As a husband, father, and community leader, I’ve watched what’s gone on under Democrat one-party leadership in Richmond for two years. Governor-Elect Youngkin’s victory in November was historic and I want to go to Richmond to partner with him on getting Virginia back on track,” Adams said in a news release.
First elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2017, Adams currently serves as its vice chair. He ran unopposed last November to retain his seat. A former executive with a major insurance company, he and his wife, Susan, live at Lake Anna where they own LKA Watersports, a jet ski and boat rental company. In his announcement, Adams amplified his conservative credentials and touted several accomplishments from his first four years on the board.
“I’m proud to have never voted for a tax increase and I successfully led the effort to partner with Louisa County Public Schools and the Louisa County Sheriff Office to put a School Resource Officer in every school in Louisa County. I have significantly expanded broadband connectivity in the county and eliminated the Conceal Carry Permit Fee. I also organized the effort to make Louisa County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County and opposed government mandated closure of small businesses,” he said.
The new 10th District is friendly terrain for Republicans, according to results from previous elections, and doesn’t have an incumbent living within its boundaries. It encompasses all or part of 10 localities, including most of Louisa at its northern edge. The district stretches east across part of Hanover, reaches as far south as Appomattox, and includes Louisa’s immediate neighbors to the south, Fluvanna and Goochland. (See the article above for more information about redistricting).
Louisa’s current representatives in the state Senate, 17th District Senator Bryce Reeves, and 22nd District Senator Mark Peake, have been drawn into the new 28th and 8th districts, respectively. The 28th includes a significant slice of Spotsylvania County where Reeves resides while the 8th includes part of the Lynchburg area, Peake’s home. A large portion of the new 10th is included in Peake’s current 22nd District. Members of Virginia’s General Assembly are required to live in the district they represent.
Adams is the first Republican to announce plans to run in the 10th but the race is expected to attract other candidates who are eager to vie for a solid Republican seat with no sitting incumbent. In an “Issues” section on his website, Adams highlighted talking points and policy goals that have animated the Republican Party’s base.
Adams called himself “a pro-life Christian” and said he applauds states like Texas and Mississippi that have enacted highly restrictive abortion laws. He added that he looks “forward to working with my colleagues and the new administration to take such steps here in Virginia.”
He accused “the left” of vilifying “our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day for our safety,” saying he’s “100 % pro-police.” He said he’ll fight funding cuts and efforts to remove qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that shields government officials from lawsuits for alleged constitutional rights violations.
On education, a topic that fired up Republicans in November’s election and helped propel Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin to victory, Adams criticized what he claimed is a “woke leftist movement” pushing critical race theory, noting that he’s “opposed such movements in Louisa and I will do so in Richmond.”
Supervisors to hold two public hearings, choose chair and vice chair
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors will hold its first meeting of the new year Monday night, kicking things off at 5 pm with its annual reorganization. Supervisors will select a chair and vice chair, set their meeting calendar for the coming year, and approve bylaws. Supervisor Rachel Jones will join the board, taking over the Green Springs District seat, formerly held by Bob Babyok. Jones defeated Babyok in November’s election.
After the reorganization and a brief closed session, the board will convene the remainder of its public meeting at 6 pm with two public hearings on the agenda. Supervisors will hold a statutorily-required hearing to appropriate over $3.65 million in federal pandemic relief funds, courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act. They’ll follow that with a second hearing to consider a commercial rezoning for property adjacent to the Louisa County Industrial Air Park.
Public hearing for appropriation of ARPA funds: The board will hold a public hearing and consider the appropriation of more than $3.65 million in federal pandemic relief funds, which the county received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The hearing is required because the appropriation exceeds one percent of the county’s annual budget.
According to the proposed resolution, the county plans to spend $2.1 million to purchase an office building and adjoining lot in the Louisa County Industrial Air Park. Supervisors approved the purchase at their December 20 meeting.
The acquisition includes a 5.8-acre lot (tmp 41B 1 4), home to an office building that formerly housed the headquarters of Virginia Community Bank, and a 3.95-acre adjoining parcel (tmp 41 200). Both properties are located off Industrial Drive near the park’s main entrance.
According to a sales contract, the county will pay Virginia Community Bank $2 million for the parcels, roughly their assessed value. The deal is expected to close on January 19.
County Administrator Christian Goodwin told supervisors that the office building will provide much-needed space for local government services and the vacant adjoining lot will offer room for future growth. He hasn’t publicly shared plans detailing which agencies will move into the space.
Per the resolution, the other roughly $1.55 million in ARPA funds will be appropriated as “American Rescue Funding.” No specific information is provided regarding how the county plans to use the money.
The resolution notes that localities are authorized to expend ARPA funds “to (1) respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts (2) respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency (3) government services to the extent of County revenue loss due to the COVID-19 health emergency and (4) to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.”
Louisa is expected to receive about $7.3 million from ARPA in two tranches. The first round of funding arrived last spring and the second round is expected this spring, according to the US Department of the Treasury.
Public hearing to consider commercial rezoning for self-storage facility: Supervisors will hear public comment and consider a request to rezone for commercial use about four and a half acres adjacent to the Louisa County Industrial Air Park.
Louisa Mini Storage LLC applied to rezone to General Commercial (C-2) two parcels along Davis Highway (Route 22) just east of its intersection with Industrial Drive (Route 780) in the Mineral Voting District. One parcel (tmp 41-207) encompasses 4.214 acres, currently zoned industrial (IND). The adjoining parcel (tmp 41-208) includes 0.479 acres, currently zoned General Agricultural (A-2). The forested properties are included in the Louisa Growth Area and designated for industrial use on the Future Land Use Map in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
Brandon and Darrell Payne, who own Louisa Mini Storage LLC, plan to build and operate an approximately 72,000-square foot self-storage facility. The Paynes run a similar business in Greene County.
Under C-2 zoning, the property would have more than forty by-right uses beyond the operation of a storage facility, an issue that sparked concern among some members of the Planning Commission. Planners worried that if a storage facility wasn’t built, the property could be used for another commercial purpose with significant traffic implications in an already congested area.
When planners first considered the rezoning request at their November meeting, the Paynes only agreed to exclude five potential uses in their proffers. To ease planners’ traffic concerns, the applicant returned in December and offered to exclude 13 uses.
Justin Shimp of Shimp Engineering, who represented the Paynes, told the commission that they chose to exclude uses that are likely to generate the most traffic including a grocery store, post office, commercial kennel, restaurant, and day care, among others. Shimp said that storage facilities typically have little traffic impact.
As part of their proffer statement, the Paynes also agreed to only allow access to the facility between 5 am and 10 pm, to use of dark sky-compliant lighting, to keep the facility free of trash and debris, and to plant and maintain a vegetative screening buffer along the property’s eastern boundary.
After tabling the Paynes’ application in November, planners voted 6-1 in December to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the rezoning and attached proffers.
Other business: The board’s agenda includes one discussion item: “Request to Proceed with Assistance to Firefighting Grant Application.” No additional information about the item is included in the meeting materials.
Click here for contact information for the Louisa County Board of Supervisors.
Find agendas and minutes from previous meetings as well as archived recordings here.
Click here for contact information for the Louisa County School Board.
Click here for minutes and agendas for school board meetings.