This week in county government; School Board appoints Runnett to Mineral District seat; Supervisors talk budget, tax relief program; BOS roundup
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, March 28 through April 2
Monday, March 28
Board of Building Code Appeals, Public Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 5:30 pm. (agenda)
Thursday, March 31
Board of Zoning Appeals, educational training work session, Extension Meeting Room, Louisa County Office Building, 1 Woolfolk Ave., Louisa, 4 pm.
Other meetings of note:
Wednesday, March 30
Community meeting on proposed amendments to Zion Town Center’s Master Plan, hosted by Emerson-Roper Companies LLC, Best Western, Jefferson Ballroom, 135 Wood Ridge Terrace, Zion Crossroads, 6:30 pm. For more information, call Emerson-Roper’s representative, Jeff Geiger, at 804-771-9557. This meeting is not formally affiliated with Louisa County government.
According to a public notice, Emerson-Roper will host a community meeting to discuss proposed amendments to its previously-approved Planned Unit Development Master Plan for Zion Town Center. The development, which is expected to include single-family and multi-family housing as well as commercial space and recreational amenities, is slated for construction on 113.8 acres at the end of Camp Creek Parkway behind Walmart and Lowes. The proposed amendments would change the design and layout of some parts of the development and increase the number of housing units from 599 to 723.
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.
School Board appoints Runnett to Mineral District seat
The Louisa County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to appoint Lloyd Runnett to fill the Mineral District seat through December 31.
Runnett, a Louisa County native who spent much of his career in public safety and now directs the Louisa County Resource Council, assumes the position previously held by long-time board member Sherman Shifflett, who died in mid-February. A special election is set for November 8 to fill the remaining three years of Shifflett’s term.
“I am very excited to be able to serve. My grandmother was an educator and she believed that education was the great equalizer so I am serving in honor of her and all the teachers that invested in me, particularly my dear friend, coach, and mentor, Sherman Shifflett,” Runnett said after the meeting. “(Shifflett) left some enormous shoes to fill and, hopefully, I will be able to do justice to that.”
Board Chair Greg Strickland said just prior to voting for Runnett’s appointment that he and his colleagues wanted to select a candidate who shared Shifflett’s mission. That included prioritizing community service and career and technical education, supporting faculty and staff, and advocating for students of all backgrounds. The board agreed that Runnett fit that bill.
“Mr. Runnett loves Louisa County and has spent an extraordinary amount of time on projects and initiatives to demonstrate that passion. My fellow school board members and I are thankful to have someone joining our school board who we know can – and will – continue the mission of Mr. Shifflett through November,” Strickland said in a statement.
Runnett brings a wide-ranging background to the board. Before joining LCRC as its director, he served as Chief of EMS and Special Operations in Henrico County. According to a statement released by Louisa County Public Schools, he volunteers as a firefighter in Louisa and has worked with the school division to organize various projects including its annual Homecoming parade and Lion Pride Run. Runnett currently serves on the division’s Safe Schools Task Force and acted as interim athletic trainer during the 2020-21 academic year. Through his position at LCRC, Runnett partnered with the division on its Community Meals Program, which provided food to students during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The board chose Runnett over four other applicants: David Rogers, Dr. Kimberly Fitchett-Bazemore, Jerry Reynold, and Shane Dittman. A sixth person submitted a letter of interest but later withdrew.
The board advertised the position via a public notice in The Central Virginian and on the LCPS website. Several board members thanked the applicants for their willingness to step forward and Strickland noted that each gave the board permission to share their name at the meeting.
State code empowers school boards to appoint an interim member to a seat vacated outside the normal electoral process but doesn’t lay out a specific protocol for doing so. Some school divisions have prioritized citizen input, holding public hearings where applicants were invited to speak and community members could weigh in. Louisa’s board opted for a closed-door process, declining to release the names of applicants until Tuesday night and choosing not to include a public comment period during the called meeting, a routine feature at the board’s regular monthly meetings.
In an interview prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Strickland said the board used a similar approach when they appointed an interim member to fill the Green Springs District seat in 2014 after its occupant died in office. During that process, several potential applicants suggested they’d only apply if they could quietly “put their name in the hat” versus publicly standing for the office, according to Strickland. He said the board feared turning off some applicants if they opted for a public process.
Strickland noted that Virginia law grants school boards the power to appoint an interim member and he and his fellow board members took that duty seriously. He said that Mineral District residents will have a chance to weigh in at the ballot box this November.
In its statement, Louisa County Public Schools said that the board “diligently reviewed” candidates’ applications. The process, however, did not include formal interviews, according to Strickland. Board members were given applicants’ submissions and were free to reach out to them on their own, he said.
About 30 people attended Tuesday’s meeting including members of the Louisa branch of the NAACP, which supported the appointment of an African American to the post. Two African Americans applied for the position, Rogers and Fitchett-Bazemore.
Rogers expressed frustration with the appointment process after the meeting, noting that Strickland was the only board member to reach out to him. He said Strickland called him on the Sunday prior to the meeting and they talked for about 25 minutes. Runnett said that two board members reached out to him to discuss the position.
Rogers said that he decided to apply for the seat because he thought he could bring a perspective that the all-white board currently lacks. He said that lack of diversity is a serious concern, pointing to the division’s challenges attracting people of color to its faculty.
“If you want to get some strong minority candidates to come here and teach—let’s say you go to (historically Black colleges and universities) and you are looking for somebody—they don’t see anybody that looks like them, nobody that can relate to them, that can talk to them, so why would they come here?” he said.
Rogers said that he’s considering running for the seat this November. Runnett, who was sworn in Wednesday morning, confirmed that he plans to seek election to the seat.
While the appointment was made based on the Mineral District’s current map, the district will take a different shape this November as part of the decennial redistricting process. A draft map of the Mineral District removes its southern end around Yanceyville and stretches its northern end beyond the western edge of Lake Anna. The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on a redistricting map that reshapes the county’s seven voting districts on April 4. Mineral District residents have until August 19 to file to run in November’s special election.
Board holds public hearing on real estate tax assessments, talks tax relief for some residents
Supervisors held their first public hearing of the FY 2023 budget cycle, allowing residents to weigh in on a potential real estate tax increase. While the county proposes to keep its real estate tax rate at 72 cents per $100 of assessed value, real estate assessments increased 12.2 percent excluding new construction and improvements, meaning most property owners will see their tax bills rise. The hearing was statutorily required because assessments rose more than one percent and the county didn’t propose lowering the rate to offset the increase. (meeting materials, video)
Four residents spoke during the hearing with three explicitly asking supervisors to lower the rate.
Mineral District resident Ronnie Laws, who assesses real estate for the county, told the board that inflation is running rampant and impacting home values. He asked the board to keep in mind how inflated costs are impacting residents and consider lowering the rate.
“(There are people here) that have to make some really tough decisions. They don’t have the ability to go out and increase their money. They have to live off what they have and we are taking more,” he said. “That makes them have to make even tougher decisions. ‘Do I eat? Do I buy gas? Do I get my medicine?’”
Chris Liles, another Mineral District resident, said that expenses are increasing for everyone, and supervisors have an opportunity to “show some compassion” by lowering the rate. He said that, if they don’t, they’re voting for a tax hike.
“When you say you are not doing a tax increase, you are keeping the rate the same, let’s be honest, that’s fudging the words around. If you vote for that (tax rate), you are absolutely raising taxes on everybody in Louisa County,“ Liles said.
Both Liles and Laws suggested that county departments find ways to cut costs.
In response, Mineral District Supervisor and Board Chair Duane Adams said he thinks the budget is “pretty lean” but recognizes that supervisors need to “watch out for our citizens,” adding “I think there are a lot of options that we still have on the table.”
Adams and Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams make up the finance committee, which plays a leading role in crafting the budget. Both men are Republicans and considered two of the board’s most fiscally conservative members.
Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes pointed to one way the county could lighten the tax burden on some residents. He suggested that the board make additional changes to a program that provides tax relief to elderly (65 years old and over) and totally disabled residents whose income falls at or below $40,000 a year and whose net worth, excluding their home and 10 acres, falls at or below $200,000.
Supervisors revamped the program last year, raising the net worth cap from $100,000 to $200,000, doubling from $1,000 to $2,000 the amount of tax relief allowed, and adjusting the sliding scale that determines how much relief residents qualify for. The board decided against raising the income cap.
County Administrator Christian Goodwin suggested that the board consider adjusting the income cap, which hasn’t been changed in at least 14 years. But Barnes said he wanted to consider both income and net worth.
Mountain Road District Supervisor Tommy Barlow said that the tax relief program is “the best thing I have had any association with” since joining the board but called the sliding scale “pretty dern confusing.” He wondered if the county could simplify how it allocates relief and said that the board should again double the eligibility threshold and maximum relief allowed.
Adams appointed Barlow and Williams to a working group tasked with collaborating with county staff on recommendations that could broaden the relief program.
Just before the public hearing, Finance Director Wanda Colvin provided the board and the public with a brief overview of where the FY23 budget currently stands. Supervisors will hold a public hearing on a proposed budget and accompanying tax rates at their April 4th meeting. They’ll vote to adopt a final budget on April 18.
Colvin cautioned that the budget is still preliminary as the county awaits a final state budget and supervisors and staff work through last minute changes. The General Assembly will convene a special session on April 4 in hopes of passing a biennial state budget which could impact local revenue.
Colvin said that the county’s draft budget, including capital projects, totals $146.1 million. Operating expenses rose about 11.5 percent, or about $13.8 million, over FY22 expenditures while revenue increased nearly 13 percent or just over $16 million.
The operations budget includes a $6.6 million surplus, Colvin said, which the board can use toward $10.9 million in capital spending. That leaves a roughly $4.3 million budget shortfall, but the county has nearly $10 million in its unrestricted fund balance, $8.26 million in capital project reserves, and $3.13 million in school capital reserves from which it can draw those funds.
Colvin said the budget is based on the same tax rates as FY22 including a real estate tax rate of 72 cents per $100 of assessed value and a personal property tax rate of $2.43 per $100 of assessed value. She pointed out that the real estate rate is one of the lowest in the area while the personal property rate is the lowest among surrounding counties.
Of the county’s roughly $141.7 million in revenues, about 53 percent come from general property taxes with about 33 percent drawn from state and federal sources, Colvin said. She pointed to several “revenue highlights,” noting that revenue from general property taxes is up 11.2 percent, or $7.6 million, and revenue from other local taxes, including sales tax, is up 15 percent or $1.3 million.
Colvin said that Louisa County Public Schools’ roughly $81.7 million budget accounts for 56 percent of county expenses and public safety accounts for 13 percent, about $19.45 million. She cited several proposed changes that are driving operating expenses upward including a more than 12 percent hike in health insurance costs, a five percent raise for employees in accord with proposed increases at the state level, and 12 additional staffers, including 6 new positions for the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office.
Spending on outside agencies increased by $221,000, Colvin said, including a $146,000 hike in jail and juvenile detention center funding.
The county’s $10.9 million capital budget, which includes long-lasting tangible assets for purchase or construction, includes nearly $3 million for Firefly’s Regional Internet Service Expansion Project, $2.3 million for buses, technology upgrades, career and technical center design and other Louisa County Public Schools projects, $1.3 million for fire apparatus replacement, and $1 million for an emergency communications tower in eastern Louisa County, among other expenses.
Colvin said that LCPS will tap its capital reserves to cover school projects and the emergency communications tower is included as a placeholder pending further study by staff. Looking ahead, Colvin said that the county currently has nearly $50 million in capital spending slated for FY24 including significant school construction projects. The county is expected to issue bonds to pay for that construction.
BOS roundup: Board plans public hearing on dogs running at large ordinance, gets update on county-wide fiber project, and more
The Board of Supervisors met in public for about three hours Monday night. Aside from budget talks, supervisors touched on several community concerns, from reining in roaming dogs and community clean-up initiatives to Firefly’s efforts to bring universal broadband access to the county and proposed transportation upgrades at Zion Crossroads. Check out highlights from the meeting below. (meeting materials, livestream)
Board agrees to public hearing for revamped dogs running at large ordinance: After hearing from concerned residents at several recent meetings, the board took its first formal step toward cracking down on roaming dogs, voting unanimously to hold a public hearing on a revamped dogs running at large ordinance. The proposed ordinance would bar roaming dogs year-round and implement an escalating penalty structure aimed at habitual offenders.
Dog owners who allow their canine to run at large would receive a written warning for their first offense. A second violation within one year of the first violation would result in a second written warning. A third violation within two years of the second violation would result in a $100 fine. A fourth violation within two years of the third violation would result in a Class 4 misdemeanor. Animal control would pick up roaming dogs and return them to their owner, if possible, under each tier of the penalty structure.
Under state and county code, a dog is considered running at large when its “roaming or running off the property of its owner or custodian and not under its owner's or custodian's immediate control.” The draft ordinance includes a specific exemption for dogs “engaged in lawful hunting” as required by state law. Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes proposed an amendment to the ordinance that also exempts hunting dogs when they’re training prior to hunting season.
Residents have repeatedly asked the board to crack down on roaming dogs, arguing that the current ordinance doesn’t provide animal control officers adequate tools to remedy the problem. Several residents have complained that dogs regularly cross their property, at times endangering their pets.
Chief Animal Control Officer Alyssa Ellison echoed that argument at the board’s March 7 meeting, saying that current county-wide regulations “don’t have a lot of bite.” She noted that the regulations are particularly problematic in addressing habitual offenders.
The county currently bars dogs running at large only in April, May, and June. Violators may be subject to a summons and fine. The remainder of the year, there’s no penalty for dogs running at large. Animal Control officers can pick up roaming dogs and return them to their owner or take them to the animal shelter if the owner is unknown or not home, according to Ellison.
The ordinance applies county-wide except in about 25 subdivisions, mostly around Lake Anna, and the Mineral Trailer Park. Those areas bar dogs running at large year-round and violators are subject to a maximum $150 fine. The towns of Louisa and Mineral also bar roaming dogs year-round under their own ordinances.
Sheila Bernard, a Green Springs District resident, urged the board Monday night to adopt a policy that “hits (habitual offenders) where it hurts,” criticizing an idea floated by a board member at a previous meeting to levy a $25 fine. She said that she dealt with dogs coming onto her property from a neighbor’s home four days last week.
Louisa District Supervisor Eric Purcell, who served alongside Barnes on the committee that crafted the draft ordinance, said that it’s designed to address the problem voiced by Bernard.
“This seems to be a situation where we’ve got people who are repeat offenders and that’s been addressed several times, both by members of the public and by members of our body. The thinking was when a dog gets out of your house or there’s just a mistake once or twice, just give a warning and give (the dog) back. But, if this becomes a continual problem, raise the fine to something more substantial and, if it continues, we have remedies at court,” Purcell said.
Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams wondered if the draft has “enough teeth,” suggesting that the board consider shortening the time between offenses and beefing up penalties.
“(Ms. Bernard) made a comment earlier that I agree with. If we are going to go through the process of implementing some kind of ordinance, which I personally think that we should, it (needs to have) enough teeth in it to discourage people (from letting their dogs run at large),” he said.
Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams responded that the ordinance is intended to provide leeway for folks whose dog accidentally escapes while cracking down on residents who regularly allow their dogs to roam.
“The time periods are made for the people who don’t have a habitual problem, who have an accident,” Williams said, pointing out that habitual offenders, like Bernard’s neighbor, will quickly end up in court if they don’t address the problem.
The board agreed to advertise a public hearing for the draft ordinance including Barnes’ proposed amendment. At publication time, a date for the hearing had not been set.
Firefly provides broadband update: Representatives from Firefly Fiber Broadband updated supervisors on the company’s efforts to bring universal fiber access to unserved areas of Louisa County by 2025.
Last year, supervisors committed nearly $9 million to Firefly’s Regional Internet Service Expansion Project (RISE), a key piece of the company’s plan to deliver high-speed internet to every corner of the county. The RISE project is a partnership between the region’s three major electric providers, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Firefly’s sole owner, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and Dominion Energy, as well as local governments and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. It aims to deliver fiber access to some 36,000 homes and businesses across 13 central Virginia counties. Firefly will act as the internet service provider and lease fiber lines from Dominion and REC.
In December, the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative awarded $79 million in state grant funding to the RISE project. Firefly representatives told the board Monday night that Louisa’s portion of RISE is expected to cost about $70 million with nearly $22.4 million of that coming from VATI funds. The company said the project would require 1,100 miles of fiber and provide broadband access to more than 11,000 homes and businesses.
Firefly CEO Gary Wood said that Firefly is already at work on the RISE project, tackling what he termed “soft costs.” The company has completed the design phase and is awaiting completion of make-ready work at REC’s Shannon Hill and Mount Hope substations in southern Louisa County. The company and its contractor, S&N Communications, will then move to fiber construction, first at Shannon Hill then at Mount Hope. Firefly will next begin work at the Buckner substation in eastern Louisa, Wood said. From the start of fiber construction until in home connections begin usually takes about six months, according to a Firefly timeline.
While Firefly is overseeing fiber construction in REC territory, Dominion is laying middle mile infrastructure in its territory with Firefly providing last mile service. Wood said that Dominion expects to complete its work by the end of 2022. He noted that Dominion’s portion of the project still requires approval from the State Corporation Commission, which it’s expected to receive later this year.
Outside of RISE, Firefly representatives said that the company expects to provide fiber access to everyone in CVEC’s service area by the end of this year, a project the company started in 2018. Louisa County provided $550,000 in tax abatements to aid the effort and also allotted federal CARES Act money to help Firefly connect some residents in the western part of the county.
Already Firefly has laid 320 miles of fiber in CVEC territory, investing about $12 million. It has provided fiber access to about 3,400 accounts with about 1,500 accounts currently active. Firefly has completed work at its Henson Store, Cash’s Corner, and Zion Crossroads substations in western Louisa. It’s currently connecting customers serviced through its Ferncliff substation and expects to begin connections for customers served by its Doubleday substation near Gordonsville in May.
Wood said that Firefly is on track to provide fiber access to all unserved areas of Louisa County by 2025. The company will also extend fiber access to areas that are already served by other high-speed internet providers but that work likely won’t be complete until 2026.
Wood said that Firefly is in the process of setting up county-specific websites with detailed maps to provide updates and information on its progress. For more information about Firefly, click here.
County again considers moving New Bridge Fire and EMS Station : County officials are once again considering a new site for the New Bridge Fire and EMS Station, according to a brief presentation by Deputy County Administrator Chris Coon.
Coon said that staff was asked “to look at ways to try and reduce the costs” of the station, which are expected to reach $2.3 million, up from the $900,000 earmarked for its construction in FY21. Coon said one option under consideration is moving the station to a parcel that he described as “2,100 linear feet” from the current site.
Coon appeared to be referencing land along Kentucky Springs Road that’s part of a 45-acre tract owned by Stillwater Equity Partners, developers of the nearby Cutalong community. Stillwater offered to trade the county a plot on Kentucky Springs Road adjacent to the Food Lion shopping center for the station late last year in exchange for the 2.4-acre parcel on Route 208 where the facility is currently slated for construction. The developers said their parcel is flatter than the Route 208 site, noting that they’re interested in the county’s parcel because it could provide visibility from a major thoroughfare for a national hotel brand interested in locating in the area.
At a March 7 budget work session, County Administration Christian Goodwin briefed the board on the station’s rising cost. Goodwin said that on top of a $1.2 million construction estimate, which the county received late last year, the lot requires more than a half million dollars in site work due, largely, to its sloping topography. He explained that the parcel needs a considerable amount of fill work to address concerns about large emergency vehicles sliding in inclement weather and water running toward the building.
That news prompted Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams to suggest that the board reconsider the land swap.
Coon said that supervisors and county staff discussed the possibility of moving the station to a new site in closed session just prior to Monday’s public meeting and that staff is awaiting additional information. The board is expected to revisit the topic at its April 4 meeting.
VDOT talks Smart Scale, proposed upgrades at Zion Crossroads in quarterly report: Supervisors heard from a pair of new faces during VDOT’s quarterly report: new Louisa Residency Administrator Scott Thornton and new District Planner Michael Barnes.
Much of the report focused on the Zion Crossroads Gateway Study, a joint project involving VDOT, its engineering consultants, Kittelson and Associates, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, and Louisa and Fluvanna counties. Considering significant development pressure at Zion, the study focuses on proposing transportation solutions for the area while also helping it develop a unifying sense of identity. The study area includes a swath of the Route 15 corridor, stretching from just south of its intersection with Route 250 to the edge of the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District.
VDOT and Kittelson held a virtual public hearing to unveil their transportation proposals last month, which Thornton admitted weren’t well-received by some Zion Crossroads residents. He said that the department is planning an in-person public hearing in April to discuss the study in more detail.
Barnes provided a brief recap of the Zion proposal in the context of Smart Scale, one of VDOT’s main funding mechanism for transportation improvements. He explained that Smart Scale uses a data-driven scoring system to recommend projects for state funding on a biennial basis. In Louisa County, the system focuses heavily on the need for safety improvements.
At the recommendation of VDOT officials, the Board of Supervisors in January tentatively green-lighted three intersections for submission for Smart Scale Round 5 funding including the intersection of Route 15 and 250 and the intersection of Route 15 and Spring Creek/Camp Creek Parkways, both of which lie in the Zion study area. Then-Residency Administrator Alan Saunders didn’t offer specific design concepts for the intersections at the January meeting but noted that the study would inform the process.
Barnes said that the VDOT study provides a broad vision for transportation upgrades at Zion Crossroads, with a keen focus on safety improvements and expected future growth, but that only two intersections—Route 15 and 250 and Route 15 and Spring Creek/Camp Creek Parkways—are currently under consideration for funding via Smart Scale. Additional upgrades, including a series of proposed roundabouts for nearby intersections, could be years away from receiving funding and their concept designs could shift as conditions change.
At Route 15 and Spring Creek and Camp Creek Parkways, Kittelson’s top recommendation is a novel bowtie configuration, Barnes said, which seeks to eliminate left turns on and off Route 15. At Route 250 and 15, Kitteslon recommends a roundabout like the design submitted in a previous Smart Scale application that didn’t receive funding. Designs for both intersections include a shared use path, which would enhance transportation options for pedestrians and cyclists. Expanding the Wood Ridge Terrace Park and Ride lot, which Barnes said is one of the busiest in the district, is also under consideration.
Barnes provided some more details on what he termed the “innovative” bowtie design, a concept that sparked concern from Zion residents when it was unveiled just prior to the February public hearing. The bowtie would eliminate left turns on and off Route 15 and instead route drivers to a pair of roundabouts located along Spring Creek Parkway and Wood Ridge Terrace and Camp Creek Parkway and Market Street.
Barnes said that eliminating left turns would improve safety and alleviate congestion at the intersection, noting that the proximity of nearby streets like Wood Ridge Terrace and Market Street make the design possible.
To traverse the bowtie intersection, a driver wishing to turn left on to Spring Creek Parkway from Route 15, for example, would instead turn right, make a U-turn at the roundabout on Camp Creek Parkway then travel back across Route 15 to reach their destination. A driver wishing to turn left on to Route 15 from Camp Creek Parkway would instead cross the intersection, make a U-turn at the roundabout on Spring Creek Parkway then make a right on Route 15.
Motorists wishing to go straight on Route 15 or turn right on to or off the thoroughfare would proceed as they do at a normal intersection. (See video below).
Jackson District Supervisor Toni Williams asked Barnes how many bowtie intersections have been constructed. Barnes said that, if the concept is used at Zion, it would be one of the first in Virginia. A Kittelson engineer suggested at the public hearing that, to his knowledge, a bowtie had never been constructed.
“I understand the concept but I’m just curious what’s the learning curve on this thing?” Williams asked, noting that he’d finally learned to use the diverging diamond interchange off Interstate 64 at Zion. When constructed, the interchange was the first of its kind in Virginia.
Barnes said that engineers working on the project understand that it’s an innovative design and signage would be a key element in helping motorists navigate the area.
Green Springs District Supervisor Rachel Jones, who represents much of Zion Crossroads, asked if the designs Barnes’ presented for the two intersections are “set in stone” and, if the projects receive Smart Scale funding, what’s their timeline for construction.
Barnes said that designs can change slightly over time but the key concepts he presented are fundamental to what’s currently under consideration. He said that if either or both intersections are selected for funding in this round of Smart Scale, construction could be complete by 2030.
“You are working toward a concept and the concept will be based on the designs we see tonight. Obviously, there will be tweaks to the design and some things can change but the fundamental concepts of the roundabouts at those locations and at 15 and Spring Creek and Camp Creek Parkways removing the lefts, is a concept at the heart of what’s being currently considered,” Barnes said.
Smart Scale pre-applications are due April 1 with the final application deadline August 1. The Commonwealth Transportation Board will decide next Spring which projects receive state funding. Supervisors are required to pass a formal resolution in support of the county’s Smart Scale applications prior to submission.
Supervisors decide against re-forming Clean Community Commission: Trash and debris along roadsides has emerged as a hot-button issue in Louisa County with residents regularly venting on social media and, occasionally, raising their concerns during public comment at Board of Supervisors’ meetings.
In response, board members briefly considered reconstituting the county’s Clean Community Commission, which they axed several years ago citing lack of interest. But they opted for a different path Monday night.
Instead of formally re-establishing the commission, the board appointed Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes as a liaison to LouisaClean, a citizens’ group spearheaded by his constituent, Beth Ann Boone. Barnes will stay in touch with the group to see how local government can assist its efforts.
Boone spoke to the board about the group at its March 7th meeting, explaining that it’s “dedicated to organizing a movement to get the county clean and keep it clean.” She said the organization plans to hold two county-wide clean up days a year and asked the board to provide support, noting that the group would need help promoting the events.
Barnes said that Boone’s group has hit the ground running and there’s no need for the county to duplicate its efforts, suggesting that the board take a step back and let citizens lead the way.
“I don’t think we need to government it up as much as we did last time because they’ve already moved and they’ve got some clean up days set,” he said.
LouisaClean will gather for its first official meeting on Monday, March 28 at 5 pm at the Louisa County Resource Council, 147 Resource Drive.
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