This week in county government; Update from BOS meeting; CTB discusses Shannon Hill Regional Business Park; Louisa 2 polling place moved for Dem primary
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, May 24-29)
Monday, May 24
CANCELLED: Louisa County Health Center Commission, Public Meeting Room, 1 Woolfolk Ave., 4:30 pm. (public notice) No agenda was available at publication time.
The Health Center Commission's primary purpose is to acquire, construct, and operate health care facilities to support the public health and welfare of local residents, to carry out the business of such facilities, and to establish rules and regulations that govern their operation.
In 2019, the commission gave its primary asset, the Louisa Memorial Medical Center, to Louisa County. Last month, it gifted the remainder of its assets to Louisa County, Louisa County Public Schools, and the Louisa County Resource Council. Commissioners recommended that the group disband, contending that its model is no longer practicable. The power to dissolve the group lies with the Louisa County Board of Supervisors.
Wednesday, May 26
Lake Anna Advisory Committee, Public Meeting Room, 1 Woolfolk Ave., 7 pm. (public notice) No agenda was available at publication time.
The Lake Anna Advisory Committee (LAAC) is a joint administrative organization among the counties of Louisa, Spotsylvania, and Orange. It is tasked with addressing matters of joint interest pertaining to Lake Anna and its shores. LAAC meets every other month and meetings rotate among member localities.
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.
Additional information about Louisa County’s upcoming public meetings is available here.
Supervisors hear updates from Blue Ridge Health District, Chamber of Commerce
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors gathered for its second May meeting on Monday, May 17 with all members attending in person. The board heard presentations from the Blue Ridge Health District and the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce, and held two public hearings. (video)
News to know from the meeting:
Vaccination efforts continue in Louisa County: Dr. Denise Bonds, Director of the Blue Ridge Health District, updated the board on Covid-19 vaccination efforts. Bonds told the board that, as of Monday night, 38 percent of Louisa residents 16 and over are fully vaccinated while about 50 percent have received at least one dose. Louisa ranks last among the district’s 6 member localities in percentage of residents vaccinated. Click here for BRHD’s latest vaccine numbers.
Bonds said that the health district is ramping up efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations and curb vaccine hesitancy. In Louisa, they are hiring additional community health workers as well as partnering with county leaders and organizations including the NAACP and the Louisa Interagency Council. The NAACP has already helped facilitate several clinics targeting communities of color.
BRHD unveiled a mobile vaccination unit and a “Dose-on-the-Go” program for place-based outreach. In addition, Bonds noted that children 12 and up are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and Louisa County Public Schools will host two vaccine clinics targeting students in June. The district is also partnering with UVA Health to reach homebound residents.
Several board members asked about the difference between the number of residents who are fully vaccinated and those who have received only one dose. Bonds said receiving both doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine is critical to protect against the virus and some residents have not returned for the second round. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot). She said BRHD is reaching out to those people.
Bonds thanked Louisa County officials for their efforts and implored board members to encourage their constituents to get vaccinated. She directed folks to the CDC’s searchable website to find a vaccine in their area and also said residents can call the BRHD hotline at 434-972-6261.
Chamber of Commerce promotes Louisa businesses, tourism: Louisa County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tracy Clark shared an update on the organization’s work to promote businesses and tourism in the county. Clark noted that the group continues to grow and expand its outreach. It has 242 members, recently added 42 new members, and boasts an 85 percent member retention rate. Nearly 40 percent of its membership are classified as small businesses.
Clark highlighted several of the group’s programs and milestones over the last year including its Unplug and Play campaign, a tourism marketing initiative that allows folks to sign up for deals at participating restaurants, retailers, and other businesses across the county.
These are busy times for the chamber. Clark said the group is in the process of moving into its brand-new office on West Main Street in the Town of Louisa and preparing for its annual Business Person of the Year banquet. That event will be held in person at Callie Opie’s Orchard on June 24 at 6 pm.
Board amends powers of IDA: The board voted 6-1 to amend county code as it relates to the powers of the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority. Code will now specifically address the IDA’s role as the owner and operator of the Louisa County Airport, stating:
“including the authority pursuant to Va. Code § 15.2-4903 (A) to acquire, own, operate and regulate the use of airports, landing fields and facilities, and other property incident thereto, including such facilities and property necessary for the servicing aircraft.”
In 2017, then-Delegate Peter Farrell passed legislation allowing Louisa County to empower the IDA, via ordinance, to own and operate the airport.
Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie Gentry opposed the amendment, pointing to recent discussions among board members about severing the airport from the IDA.
Board approves expansion of Ferncliff Growth Overlay District: The board unanimously approved the expansion of the Ferncliff Growth Overlay District to include 20 additional parcels, 19 of which lie within the Ferncliff Business Park. For more information about the expansion, check out the May 16 edition of Engage Louisa.
Adams expresses concern about tractor-trailer traffic on Chopping Road: Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams voiced concerns about through tractor-trailer traffic on Chopping Road (Route 623). Adams said that large trucks use the road as a cut through from Interstate 95 to Route 29, noting he gets countless calls from constituents about the trucks.
He asked county staff to “look at” the issue, pointing out that the trucks could potentially travel along Route 522 to Route 20.
Localities can request that VDOT bar through truck traffic on primary and secondary roads but must propose an alternative route, hold a public hearing, and meet other requirements. Requests are subject to state approval.
Green Springs District Supervisor Bob Babyok added that through truck traffic is also an issue on Route 15, saying that the large trucks are a safety concern and a detriment to Louisa County’s infrastructure.
Barnes requests public hearing on “dogs at large” ordinance in Reedy Creek: Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes requested that the board schedule a public hearing to consider extending a beefed-up “dogs at large” ordinance to cover all of Reedy Creek subdivision.
Currently, Reedy Creek I falls under a more stringent “dogs at large” policy, which prohibits dogs from roaming off leash, beyond the property of their owner and out of the owner’s control, any time of year.
The remainder of Reedy Creek is governed by the county-wide “dogs at large” ordinance, which only prohibits roaming dogs during the months of April, May and June.
A number of subdivisions fall under the more stringent policy. Barnes said he expects the board to hold the public hearing at its June 21 meeting.
Commonwealth Transportation Board discusses design funding for Shannon Hill Business Park
At its May 18 meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board heard a presentation from VDOT’s Russell Dudley regarding Louisa County’s request for funding to design transportation improvements at the proposed Shannon Hill Regional Business Park. The 700-acre site sits just north of Interstate 64 off Shannon Hill Road (Route 605). (meeting information) (video)
The county requested funds through the Economic Development Access program, which allows localities to apply for up to $650,000, including a $150,000 local match, for the design of transportation infrastructure and improvements.
Dudley explained that Louisa County would use the funds for the design of 8000 feet of improvements along Shannon Hill Road beginning at the west bound ramp off I-64 and extending to the northern border of the business park. Those improvements would include 12-foot wide travel lanes with a 5-foot paved shoulder and sections of full-depth pavement. In addition, the project proposal includes the design of a 3500-foot access road into the facility with four 12-foot wide lanes and a 16-foot median. The project’s design is expected to cost just over $787,000.
Dudley said that Louisa County is currently in talks with “an undisclosed business” that is interested in setting up operations at the park.
In October, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership named the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park as a Major Employment and Investment project (MEI). That designation is reserved for developments where private industry is expected to make an investment exceeding $250 million and create at least 400 full-time jobs. Dudley explained that the MEI designation also opens up an opportunity for the county to apply for construction funding.
By 2025, the park is expected to generate 2300 additional trips per day along Shannon Hill Road with 300 of those being truck traffic, Dudley said. At full build-out in 2035, he projected those numbers would rise to 9,000 and 900 respectively. A second entrance off Shannon Hill Road is proposed for full build-out.
The CTB will vote on approving the design funding at its June meeting. Several board members expressed excitement about the business park with one noting she had visited the site.
Louisa County Economic Development Director Andy Wade last publicly briefed the Board of Supervisors on the project in March when he requested and the board approved a $2.5 million appropriation to plan and design utility infrastructure for the park.
Since it was proposed in 2018, the park has sparked controversy. The county originally planned for a much larger development stretching from just north of I-64 to Quail. Many local residents strongly opposed the project, pushing the board to reject that proposal and settle on a scaled-down development.
Some community members continue to oppose the project, questioning the county’s due diligence regarding traffic, the topography of the site, and other issues. At the March meeting, two residents spoke in opposition to the facility.
Louisa 2 polling place moved for Democratic primary
Voters who live in the Louisa 2 precinct and normally cast their ballots at the Trevilians Volunteer Fire Department will instead vote at Trevilians Elementary School for the June 8 Democratic primary.
The Virginia Department of Elections approved Louisa County’s request for emergency authorization to move the polling place for the primary as the fire station undergoes repair work.
Trevilians Elementary School already serves as the polling place for the Patrick Henry 2 precinct but lies within a mile of Louisa 2. State law permits polling places to be located a mile or less outside a precinct’s boundaries.
General Registrar Cris Watkins said her office would notify Louisa 2 voters of the change and place a banner at the fire station directing voters to the elementary school. Her office will set up two separate polling places at the school to accommodate Louisa 2 and Patrick Henry 2 voters.
Watkins indicated that the move is only temporary and Louisa 2 voters will again cast ballots at the fire station for the November 2 General Election.
Early and absentee voting is underway for the June 8 primary where the Democratic nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general will be chosen. Click here for more information about voting in the primary. Click here for a sample ballot.
The Republican Party of Virginia chose its candidates for statewide office at a May 8 unassembled convention. The party nominated Glenn Youngkin for governor, Winsome Sears for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares for attorney general. Check out a full breakdown of the results.
In accordance with Covid-19 guidelines, in-person attendance at Louisa County public meetings is limited. Click here for the county’s public meeting protocols.
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.