Fluvanna Review

Photo courtesy of Steven M. Nichols, county administrator, Fluvanna CountyFour dilapidated properties on St James Street in Columbia may be purchased and razed soon. Funds from a $150,000 FEMA grant, awarded to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), will be added to $40,000 from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $10,000 from Fluvanna County for this purpose.
“These funds will protect vulnerable homes by reducing or even eliminating the effects of repeated flooding,” wrote State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern in a press release from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “We partner with each locality to protect lives and property through these grants.”
All work must be completed by September 15, 2017, according to a notice on the TJPDC website.
Of the four buildings involved, only one is taxed as a structure, indicating that the other three have been assigned no value by tax assessors, according to Fluvanna County Administrator Steve Nichols.
Public records indicate the Richard Harry family currently owns all of the impacted properties.
All four buildings are in a federally designated flood plain. As such, any substantial renovations or new structures added to the properties would have to meet federal flood plain requirements. The cost of meeting those requirements can be prohibitive.
“I’m not positive that the landowner is going to sell, and I am not positive they are going to sell for the price that we can offer - which is fair market value,” said Nichols. “The landowner cannot rebuild those properties without meeting federal flood plain standards which is catastrophically expensive,” he added.
Nichols described the properties as “eyesores, health hazards, and firetraps,” and added that the vacant buildings could prove particularly attractive to children, who might be unaware of the dangers posed by compromised structures, and might be tempted to explore them.
Fluvanna County Sheriff Eric Hess agreed. “They are an attractive nuisance for kids,” said Hess, referring to the four derelict properties. “If I were a property owner, I wouldn’t want the liability,” he said. “It is no different than owning a swimming pool – you can’t just leave a house abandoned where any child can have access to it.”
When asked if he believed that tearing down the four uninhabited buildings and creating green space would have an effect on crime in Columbia, Hess hesitated. “Until some other issues are dealt with in Columbia – it will help but it is not going to fix the problems,” Hess replied. “The problems lie in some of the people who live there - but mostly in the people who come to visit the people who live there. It is the intersection of three counties,” he explained, “and you get a lot of people who don’t want to drive all the way to Charlottesville or they don’t want to drive all the way to Short Pump; there aren’t many places to go for some people, so they go to Columbia to hang out.”
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Lake candidatesLake Monticello Owners Association members will vote for two new board members on June 30. Running for the two seats are Dick Cummings, Page Gifford and Charles Harrelson. The election will fill vacancies created by the expiration of the second three-year term of Don Fickes and the vacant term created by the resignation of Benita Ellen in January.

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State Sen. Tom Garrett. Photo courtesy of Tom GarrettState Sen. Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham), 44, newly-chosen Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, shared his vision for the 5th district with the Fluvanna Review.
If elected on Nov. 8, Garrett will work to “increase opportunity and preserve freedom” for residents of the 5th district, which includes Fluvanna County.
“The 5th district is very concerned with jobs and economic opportunity,” said Garrett. “Some of the district is taking it on the chin – they lost textile, furniture, and tobacco industry – those were really the job creators. If we can roll back some of the oppressive regulatory burden coming out of Washington we can re-establish jobs in the area. And that has to be on the radar of anyone running in the 5th district.”
Garrett said he sees “harsh” regulations as largely responsible for stifling industry in the area. “We now have an Environmental Protection Agency that’s trying to regulate navigable waterways that are as small as an intermittent stream or a puddle,” he said. “That’s got small property owners unable to develop their land. We’ve got an endangered species act that puts the wellbeing of insects and mice ahead of the wellbeing of working families. We have an emissions regulatory scheme that’s destroyed the coal industry and has forced us to be dependent on hostile powers abroad, when we could be producing energy right here in the U.S.”
One of Garrett’s ideas for creating jobs is to construct a bypass for Rt. 29 in Charlottesville. “Right now every time you buy up or down Rt. 29 it costs more money because trucks have to sit at a dozen-plus stoplights to stop by Target and Walmart,” he said.
A bypass would pass savings on to the consumers, Garrett said. “Not only is it time, it’s fuel,” he said. “Stoplights cost money, and that money comes from the consumer. There’s a bypass for Danville, for Lynchburg – why is Charlottesville different? The answer is it’s not, and it needs to be done. There’s been federal interference with that ever since President Obama’s been in the White House, and if I’m elected that’s something I’d work toward.”
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Without much warning, Two J’s Smokehouse closed Sept. 1.

But barbeque lovers don’t despair, Two J’s is reopening around the corner in the same building, said co-owner Megan Ball.

 

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LM BOD candidates Richard Cummings, Page Gifford and Charles HarrelsonThe Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) will hold its 40th Annual Meeting of Members on June 30. This year, the only business for member vote will be the election of two directors from a field of three candidates. Add a comment

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