Board of Zoning Appeals member Bill Tieckelmann speaks at Monday's public comment session.

‘If you delay it, it’s never going to happen’

Supervisors considering county employee bonuses

At a continued meeting on Monday night the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors decided to remove the controversial village maps from the drafted comprehensive plan and revisit them at a later date.

“I have had phone calls all day long and I’ve had a lot of emails,” said Stonewall-Hawthorne Supervisor Chris Parrish, “and I have yet to talk to anybody personally that is in favor of these maps that are presented to put a boundary around the villages.”

“We can go ahead and move forward without adopting something that is literally half-baked and come back to it in the near future after we move on with our zoning ordinances,” Parrish said.

Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier concurred, saying “I actually think it’s a perception problem, but if it’s a problem I guess we have to deal with it. I could agree to that.”

After a productive discussion, the board reached consensus and approved an addition to page 48 of the comprehensive plan, which specifies that the aerial maps included in the draft are “intended to illustrate a generalized vicinity, and do not necessarily indicate, nor correlate to specific zoning or other boundaries or delineations.”

“We put the document on the record to protect us,” said Hampton Supervisor Keir Whitson. “Let’s revisit it when we can dig into the maps.”

The board made several other substantive revisions to the comp plan at the meeting. Here’s what happened:

Cultural resources

Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community board member Barbara Black contributed four paragraphs praising the county’s “lively artisan and gallery scene” and “back roads dotted with potters, painters, sculptors, printmakers, jewelry makers and photographers” to be inserted on page 72.

Broadband towers

Supervisors agreed to incorporate suggested language pertaining to wireless communications infrastructure on page 100, making an allowance for special exception permits to be issued for “administrative review eligible projects” and broadband towers not to exceed 80 feet in height.

Supervisors agreed to remove the requirement that such facilities be made of timber but preserved the language requiring camouflage.

Country stores

At Parrish’s behest, County Administrator Garrey Curry drafted Principle 7 Policy 11 on page 92, which will “recognize the value of country stores to the citizens’ way of life and encourage their continued operation or re-establishment in cases where they have closed.”

“I know you’ve had issues in the past where some country stores have closed that don’t meet the underlying zoning so after two years they lose their vested right to reopen,” Curry said. “This would signal to the world that … the county thinks they’re important. But these [country stores] are kind of by definition not in your growth areas.”

Sperryville sewer study

Board Chair Christine Smith communicated with the Rappahannock County Water and Sewer Authority to draft language regarding an ongoing study into the sewer’s capacity. Together, they drafted language that will be inserted on page 71 of the comprehensive plan which will read:

“Additionally, The Rappahannock County Water and Sewer Authority, which operates the facility in Sperryville, has engaged consultants as of November 2020 to assess future and current plant capacity, address the existing infiltration and inflow situation and assess pipeline system capacity and adequacy within the current service area. The result of these assessments are expected to be received soon in 2021 and may impact a future revision of this plan.”

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Bonuses for county employees

Near the end of the evening, the board discussed the possibility of offering bonuses to county employees this year. The commonwealth has earmarked $4,000 for the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Department for bonuses this year, but whether or not all county employees will receive a bonus is up to the supervisors.

“I guess I’ll be the first one to take heat on this,” Frazier said. “I understand that we didn’t give county employees a raise this year but … I just have a hard problem giving our dedicated county employees a raise when they haven’t missed a paycheck.” 

“In my mind I feel like this is a law enforcement-related initiative,” Whitson said.

Wakefield Supervisor Debbie Donehey asked the county administrator whether any CARES funding remained. 

“There is cash available for purposes such as this,” Curry said. 

“From a business standpoint,” Donehey said, “we didn’t give raises, we froze that money saying we didn’t have money to give raises … [but] we’ve proven we’re okay financially at this point and to give employees that work for us this $500 bonus is very positive for morale … and it’s a great way to say thank you to your staff.” 

No decision was made during the work session but a public hearing will be announced in the Rappahannock News in the coming week.

Public comment

The board heard two public comment periods during the night, one at the beginning of the meeting and one at the end. During the first comment period the board heard comments from nine members of the public, some of whom wished to adopt the plan as-is while others expressed continued apprehension about the inclusion of the village maps.

“If you delay it, it’s never going to happen,” said Yoko Barsky.

“We have talked about taking out verbiage that talks about promoting growth and encouraging growth … we’re not obligated to encourage growth but we certainly should be managing growth and I think it’s important for us to realize that there is a distinction,” said Sallie Haynes.