The Alleghany County Board of Supervisors voted 7-0 on all business items on its agenda, including the approval of the waiver of a building permit fee for the Town of Clifton Forge’s Love Sculpture.
After G. Matt Garten, chairman, called the meeting to order, Shannon P. Cox, the supervisor representing the Boiling Springs District, led those present in the invocation and “Pledge of Allegiance.”
A public hearing was held to discuss an application from William Terry Daily to conditionally rezone Lot 21 of the Dressler Estates Subdivision, listed on the agenda as 140 Maple Lane. The property is located in a “Residential Transition Area” as contained in the “Comprehensive Plan.”
Daily, a retiree from WestRock, noted that he has a private entrance separate from the four-bedroom portion of the home that he proposes to convert to a bed and breakfast homestay. He explained that often there is a shortage of suitable housing in the area, especially for workers from outside of Covington who need a clean place to stay near the paper mill.
Council discussed the matter, and Garten spoke on Daily’s behalf, revealing that Tommy Garten, Matt’s father, was one of Daily’s neighbors and that he, himself, grew up next to Daily.
Garten concluded that no one could ask for a better neighbor than Daily.
The vote was 7-0 to allow for the property to be changed from a Residential R-1 zone classification to a Residential R-2 zone.
Ms. Delores Quarles made a presentation during the public comment time allotment, and she reported that good progress is being made at the historic Wrightsville project in certain areas, but she expressed her concern that certain permits may expire prior to the completion of some of the construction work that has been hampered due to complications that have developed from the construction companies involved not being bonded.
Later in the meeting during Reid Walters’ “County Administrator’s Report,” Alleghany County Administrator Walters noted that he and Quarles have met two times concerning the problem and that he will continue to work with her to help get the project back on track.
Ms. Lorri Saville, a middle school teacher, asked why a change could not have been made before July 1, to keep the Clifton Middle School where it is rather than busing students to Covington where Covington High School will transition to Covington Middle School following the current school year.
Stephen A. Bennett, who represents the Jackson River District, explained that the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors is no longer in control of the schools, rather on July 1, the Alleghany Highlands Public Schools became a new consolidated school system, having combined Covington City Public Schools with Alleghany County Public Schools.
Bennett noted that while the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors has some sway in that it is in control of the consolidated school system’s funding, the Alleghany Highlands Public Schools leases the buildings from Alleghany County and determines the way the building will be used.
He also noted that Alleghany County has no legal power to take over school buildings from the school system but that the school system can return a building back to Alleghany County if the school system so desires.
Ms. Susan Hammond, VDOT resident engineer, reported that there are no construction projects underway currently, and she discussed with the supervisors potential problems of trees that may present dangerous situations to motorists traveling in the county.
Cox reported to Hammond that erosion on the edge of the highway near her home needed to be repaired, and Hammond agreed to have VDOT fix it.
The Board also approved supplemental appropriations for FY 22 (refuse disposal and CSA).
Walters reported that he is working on completing the “Five Year Plan,” and he called for questions after his report but none were asked.
During the supervisors’ comments, each took turns thanking their guests, Mayor Jeff Irvine of the Town of Clifton Forge, Charles “Chuck” Unroe, town manager of Clifton Forge; Kim Halterman, superintendent of the Alleghany Highlands Public Schools; and Jonathan Arritt, vice chair of the system’s school board.
Supervisor Cletus W. Nicely, who represents the Sharon District, opined about the decision to move the middle school to Covington. He remarked, “It’s never good to trade down, a new building for a 110-year-old building.”
Dr. Ronald S. Goings, of the Clifton Forge East District, noted that he is for green energy and expressed his opinion that solar panels would help reduce heating costs in the school system.
James M. Griffith, who represents the Covington District, addressed the problem concerning the shortage of teachers and bus drivers after thanking those who attended the meeting for their interest in community affairs.
Cox encouraged everyone to attend the celebration at Mountain Gateway Community College for the 200th anniversary of the formation of Alleghany County. The festivities are scheduled to take place on Sat., Sept. 17.
Gregory A. Dodd, representing the Clifton Forge West District, welcomed those present and thanked those who made presentations.
Garten noted that the meeting room needed to be cleared for a closed session that was to take place pursuant to Sections 2.2-3711 (A)(1) and (3) of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended, to discuss: (1) personnel matters; and (2) property acquisition.
The supervisors remained seated while those not involved in the closed session vacated the room at 8:00 p.m.