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T he POSTAL CUSTOMER Colonial Beach • Westmoreland Page 14 Volume 37, Number 49 helping you relate to your community New Westmoreland Judicial Center to open by March 1 Richard Leggitt The new $9.3 million Westmoreland County Judicial Center is scheduled to open on or before March 1, according to Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi. “The project has gone very well,” said Risavi. “We are well within the budget and actually may have a surplus.”    Risavi said official opening ceremonies for the new juridical center will be scheduled as the actual completion date for the project nears. “I would say it is about 80 percent complete now,” he said. Workers are painting and doing interior work to finish up the new building, which has been built just north of the county’s currently overcrowded George D. English Building. Risavi said county officials are working to determine the furnishing needs of the new judicial center. “We are buying some new furniture and using some of the furniture from the offices of those who will be moving into the building,” Risavi said. The new judicial center will be home to the Westmoreland County Sheriff ’s Office, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Circuit Court Clerk, The new Westmoreland County Judicial Center is scheduled to open before March 1. County Administrator Norrm Risavi said the new $9.3 million facility and its enhanced security is about 80 percent complete. the General District Court Clerk and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Clerk.  The building will also house the offices of the Probation and Parole department as well as the Victim’s Assistance Office. The new 40,000 square-foot building will have vastly improved security from the English Building, which currently houses the county courts and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s offices. The need for improved security was one of the primary reasons for the construction of the new judicial center. “There have been a number of security concerns about our present situation,” said Risavi. “So we are pleased that this is going to solve that problem.” Risavi said the opening of the new judicial center will also allow those offices remaining in the English Building to remodel and expand so they can operate more efficiently for the taxpayers.   The clerks and judges who will work out of the new building are especially pleased with its construction. “This will be the heart and centerpiece for this community for decades to come,” said Circuit Court Judge Joseph Ellis. Wednesday, December 4, 2013 50 Cents New proposed grass ordinance will raise cost of town mowing If passed, the amended grass ordinance will allow only one notification to be sent each year to violating property owners and will impose an extra administrative fee for each time the town must have properties in violation of the ordinance mowed. Town Manager Val Foulds briefed the council on actions taken so far on the Colonial Beach grass ordinance in Article 1 of the Building and Zoning Ordinance. Foulds said the amendment first came to staff on Sept. 1, 2011. “Last time we brought it before you, everyone was in agreement. We talked about sending a certified letter to property owners first, then subsequent notices would be sent by regular mail.” The ordinance restricts property owners from allowing their grass to grow too tall during the growing season to reduce rodents and other hazards associated with overgrowth within the town. Violators are given notice by the town to correct Colonial Beach Peddler’s Market is ready for holiday shopping Single-family dwelling restrictions challenged separately by council and property owner bear a striking resemblance >> (From left) Manya Ball of Fredericksburg and Helena Jacobs of Caroline are hoping for a good holiday season as vendors participating in the recently opened Peddlers Market in Colonial Beach. Amended Colonial Beach sign ordinance set for public hearing at council level An amended sign ordinance will allow neon signs without requiring a conditional use permit (CUP) for them, but will restrict sandwichboard signs in public access areas. At the Nov. 21 Colonial Beach Town Council work session, town staff briefed the council on the circumstances surrounding the amendments to the sign ordinance in Article 12 of the town’s Building and Zoning Regulations. Discussions revealed that the ordinance came under fire after business owner Ed Blunt visited the building and zoning office last year, seeking permission to use a neon sign in his place of business. When staff told Blunt that it was not allowed, Blunt questioned how another business in town, the Beach Service Center, was allowed to use one. Gary Mitchell, Director of Planning and Community Development for the town, admitted that in looking at the current sign ordinance, it was hard to interpret, which made it difficult for business owners to follow and for staff to enforce. Mitchell also reported at the meeting that he had a letter from the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce endorsing the proposed amended sign ordinance. Mitchell said there had been a previous council member who had some concerns about digital billboard signs requiring a CUP, and “That was the only bone of contention between the planning commission and the chamber. The chamber thought it should be no CUP,” Mitchell said. Mitchell said that prior to that councilman’s departure, they amended the ordinance to take out the requirement of a CUP. Mitchell went on to state that he was neither for, nor against, the use of a CUP. He wanted to get the ordinance passed because other changes in the layout of the ordinance made it easier to understand, as well as being more lenient, and therefore easier for business owners to follow. Councilman Gary Seeber stated that he had previously had a conversation with a member of the planning commission and the chamber, and Seeber learned that the chamber’s disagreement with the CUP was simply the cost of it. Seeber said he had a problem with not requiring a CUP, “Because without it, people could do whatever they want.” Mitchell advised that the cost of a CUP was $800, but the advertisement for a CUP costs the town about $1000. This is because an advertisement has to be run twice for the planning commission stage and twice at the town council level. Seeber clarified with Mitchell that the ordinance requirements for signs could be enforced with the way it is written in the proposed version. Mitchell confirmed they could. Seeber concluded that although it would be a matter of watching and See mowing, page 11 BZA denies appeal on single family home in Resort district The recently opened indoor Peddler’s Market in Colonial Beach is ready for what it hopes will be a successful holiday shopping season. The Peddler’s Market is located in a newly remodeled 10,000 square foot space where the old Rankin’s Hardware store was located before it moved to the other end of Colonial Plaza. Market Manager Fred Mills said the colorful booths in the market are featuring furniture, crafts, Christmas ornaments and gifts, jewelry, clothing, shoes, antiques and sports items. “We are looking forward to a good holiday season,” said Mills. The new indoor market features 32 booths for local artists, craftsmen, antiques, collectibles and gift items. The spacious market still has space available for vendors. “Space is available by the month,” said Beverly Alspaugh, the owner of the market. “We hope to have a number of additional small business owners participating.” The Peddler’s Market, located at 501 Euclid Avenue, will be open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. And open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers or vendors can call 804-224-0750 for more information. Linda Farneth the problem. If the grass is not cut within the timeframe given, the town will hire a contractor to cut the grass and bill the property owner. Foulds said that Councilman Gary Seeber requested a clean copy around April. Then, it was put on the backburner during a busy schedule for the council. Current practice, according to the ordinance, is that violators will receive a certified letter and a first-class letter at the beginning of the growing season. State code says that notification is up to the locality’s determination. Staff proposed sending only these notices at the beginning of the season, and no more for subsequent violations. Director of Planning and Community Development Gary Mitchell advised that the paperwork and workload is enormous every time the town has to oversee the mowing for those violations. relying on complaints, the ordinance could stand without the requirement of a CUP. After some clarifying questions from Councilwomen Wanda Goforth and Linda Brubaker, no other council members objected to leaving out the requirement of a CUP. The amended sign ordinance will, however, affect sandwich-board signs. Currently, sandwich-boards advertising products and services are allowed on the corner of Washington and Colonial Avenues, as well as in other public areas around town. The new ordinance will only allow directional sandwich-board signs in that area, and must contain no advertising. It will, however, continue to allow sandwich-board signs with advertising in front of the property of its advertiser. For example, a sign which reads “oyster roast” with a directional arrow would be allowed off the property of the business or non- profit group holding the event. However, a sign reading “Lions Club Oyster Roast” would be considered advertising, and therefore not allowed anywhere but on the Lions Club property or directly in front on the sidewalk. No other changes where discussed. The council approved staff to send the ordinance on to advertisement for a public hearing on the ordinance. Interested parties should contact the building and zoning office for a copy of the proposed ordinance and attend the advertised public hearing. Foulds follows up on audit report with an update on the budget Although auditor Billy Robinson of Brown Edwards & Company, LLP issued the Town of Colonial Beach a clean opinion for fiscal year 2013, at the Nov. 21 council work session, he cautioned the council, “The town really needs to examine more closely, how far off the tax projections were to the actual taxes collected. For property taxes, it was $122,000 less than budgeted (or projected), for other local taxes, it was $82,000 less than budgeted.” Robinson told the council that the town’s budget showed a negative balance of $245,000 in the General Fund, “Which is an area of concern.” Robinson said that if this continues, the budget will continue to deplete the fund balance. At the end of the work session, Town Manager Val Foulds addressed these warnings during an update of the status of the budget. Foulds told the council that in the 2008/2009-audit report, the town’s expenses came in fairly high over the town’s revenues. Starting with the 2009/2010 Budget cycle, through the current year, Town Finance Director Joan Grant and Foulds have worked together. Foulds reported, “All budgets since, have always had revenue over expense.” Foulds went on to say that during the 2012/2013-Budget cycle, the town had fallen short for the first time since fiscal year 2009. Foulds advised, “A couple of things are noteworthy; Joan has been extremely conservative in projecting tax revenues. We have been conservative in spending, as the auditor attested to this morning. We really try hard to be conservative.” Foulds told the council that the 2012/2013-Budget was the first where she and Grant felt like they had no control. “We got huge recommendations [from council] based on data on what the tax revenue should be. We got a lot of input without a lot of feedback. It was not a two-way conversation about the 12/13-Budget.” Foulds added that the 2012/2013 Budget was the first that she did not present to the council. Foulds said that she has, in the past, presented the budget, going over each line item and explaining any variances and why they are above or below the projected amounts. Foulds wants to return to that practice. Sometimes staff has valuable information that explains why revenues are projected higher than what they may seem to be on the surface. See budget, page 11 Now you can follow local breaking news daily on our website at On Nov. 19, Colonial Beach property owner Sharron Fortier appealed the decision of Colonial Beach Building and Zoning Director Gary Mitchell, who had determined that, according to Article 7 of the zoning ordinance, her property, located in the town’s resort commercial district, could not be used as a single-family dwelling. Coincidentally, in September of this year, amendments to Article 7 were put on hold at the town’s council level by now-former council member Tim Curtin, and three other council members. The changes proposed to Article 7 did not affect the section of the ordinance that covers the disallowance of single-family dwellings within the Commercial Resort District. At the Nov. 14 regular town council meeting, the council unanimously passed Ordinance 635, approving amendments to Article 7 of the building and zoning ordinance, after it had been tabled back in September. Tim Curtin had been the driving force behind the motion to table the matter at the September meeting, claiming that restrictions in the ordinance would limit uses such as single-family homes. Councilmen Gary Seeber and Tommy Edwards and Mayor Mike Ham had challenged the motion to table it, but the remaining council members Jim Chiarello, Linda Brubaker, Wanda Goforth and Tim Curtin successfully voted to table the matter. Article 7 lists and describes See BZA, page 11

Dec. 4, 2013 Colonial Beach/Westmoreland County Virginia Journal

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