Update: Supervisors


County Administrator Steve Nichols rolled out mock-ups of forms for proposed voluntary contributions to include in personal property tax bills and all real property tax bills not sent directly to a mortgage holder institution.  Citizens who wish to donate may, according to the draft discussed last night, designate their money to one of six areas: the county government general fund, Fluvanna public schools, the parks and recreation department, the social services special welfare fund, the sheriff’s department, and the county library.

Any money donated will need to be appropriated by the Board to the department or agency for which it was intended.  Nichols proposed that the Board appropriate any accumulated funds twice a year, in January and July, after each tax billing cycle.  Although donations may be made via the forms included in tax bills, citizens may donate any time of year by mailing contributions to the treasurer’s office, donating in person at the treasurer’s office, or donating online at the county website.  Nichols expected both the online and in-person options to be up and running by Sept. 1, with the tax bill enclosure ready by Oct. 1.

The voluntary contributions program comes with a cost.  Between printing the necessary flyers and stuffing them into envelopes, the annual price tag is $5,417, estimated Nichols.  This does not include the cost of staff time needed to process the contributions.  Given the comparatively small sums of money generated by similar programs in other localities, Nichols stated that voluntary contributions “will be a program that, in my opinion, will not break even.”

After this, supervisors turned their attention to Allyson Finchum, planning and zoning administrator, who led the Board in a discussion of growth in Fluvanna’s Community Planning Areas (CPAs).  As Fluvanna walks through the process of growth and development, Finchum explained, certain aspects of its policies are revealed to need tweaking.

One such proposed change would be the requirement for residential development to be phased in over time.  Finchum suggested a schedule in which small subdivisions with two to three units may be built at once, but those with four to six units would need to spread out the building over two years.  In the same fashion, subdivisions with increasing numbers of units would be built out over an increasing number of years.  This requirement, Finchum said, would help residential growth keep pace with requisite expansion of community services.

Another idea was to require that Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) be connected to “public” water and sewer – a change from the current requirement of “central” water and sewer.  As Finchum explained it, requiring “central” water and sewer results in small, developer-built central systems in several locations.  “From my experience in other counties,” Finchum warned, “I can tell you – we will end up getting calls when something fails.”

Obviously, most areas of the county do not currently have public water and sewer, which is why this idea would “preserve the rural character” of the county.  Finchum noted that the Planning Commission found this proposal potentially too restrictive for growth.

Finchum led the Board in discussing several other aspects of growth policy, including possibly resizing and reshaping current CPAs, requiring developers to pay for fiscal impact analyses of their projects, scooting up the time frame for required hydrogeologic studies so as to provide rezoning decision-makers with more information up front, and adjustments to cash proffers policy.

Lastly, economic development director Bobby Popowicz presented the Board with information about how he and his team approach economic development in Fluvanna.  Firstly, they recognize that they are marketing Fluvanna County as a whole.  “Feeling welcome in a community is as important as [liking] the site,” Popowicz said of potential businesses.  “We are selling our community, not just a plot of land.”

With that in mind, Popowicz has put together a visitation program.  Potential businesses considering locating to Fluvanna meet not just with Popowicz, but also with the county administrator, planning and zoning administrator and staff, building official, and public works director.  That way any information the business seeks is readily forthcoming and foundations for relationships are developed.  This visitation program “creates a sense of professionalism and team-oriented structure that is not a part of other counties’ recruitment tactics,” Popowicz stated.

Popowicz also informed the Board of other initiatives, including fast-tracking zoning and other procedures for certain sites to make them more attractive to businesses, putting together a database of available commercial properties within the county, and working on improving the “site readiness” of properties by putting in place needed infrastructure such as water and sewer.  That last piece of the puzzle falls on the backs of supervisors, who are actively seeking the best solution for the county.

The next meetings of the Board of Supervisors will be Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, not in the county courthouse.  The evening session will include a public hearing on Aqua Virginia’s proposal to bring water and sewer to Zion Crossroads.

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