County approves amendment to ordinance on political and temporary signs

By Heather Michon


The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday (Aug. 21) to amend a county ordinance regarding political and temporary signs.


Previously, the ordinance restricted signs to be displayed no more than 60 days prior to an event.

In late June, the county received a letter from The Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville on behalf of Dr. Elizabeth Alcorn, Democratic challenger to incumbent Delegate Rob Bell for the 58th District House seat. The Institute argued that the 60-day limit restricted her First Amendment right to political speech and impaired her ability “to promote her candidacy and establish name recognition in her campaign.”

At the July 2 supervisors meeting, County Attorney Fred Payne recommended that rather than risk possible litigation, enforcement of the ordinance be suspended while the Planning Commission explored a Zoning Text Amendment to remove the 60-day limitation.

The commission voted unanimously on Aug. 13 to approve the text saying signs may only be put up “a reasonable time” before an event or election.

“I have a question,” said Supervisor Don Weaver. “What’s a ‘reasonable time’ Two months, three months, four months, five months…?”

“It’s going to be determined by the facts,” explained Payne. Political signs put up for a primary in the spring could now simply be left up until the general election in November.  “Donald Weaver for President 2047, I wouldn’t consider a reasonable time,” he joked.

A sign with no clear time limit would still need special permission and all signs still need to be removed within 10 days of an event or election.

Supervisors approved the change 4-0, with Tony O’Brien absent for the evening.

Ambulance 49

Supervisors also resolved an issue left over from their Aug. 7 meeting: what to do with Fluvanna Rescue Squad’s Ambulance 49.

While the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) budget allocated $190,000 to remount the current box on a new vehicle chassis, the squad later asked that the county approve the purchase of a new, smaller, gas-fueled ambulance within the same price range.

Faced with a dizzying array of price options, a number of pros and cons, and funding issues, the supervisors finally decided to defer any decision until the Aug. 21 meeting.

Chief Crystal Mayo was on hand to argue in favor of a new vehicle. Her feeling was that a gas vehicle was easier to maintain and better able to navigate the area’s narrow driveways. She also advocated for a Power Load device to automate loading and unloading stretchers.

After a lengthy discussion, the supervisors voted 3-1 to purchase a new ambulance, with Supervisor Trish Eager voting no. Eager did join the majority in separate votes to accept up to $48,000 in grant money for the Power Load, and in shifting the budgeted $190,000 from unassigned funds to the capital improvements project (CIP).

Strategic initiatives update

“This is a little different,” Kelly Belanger Harris, who was until recently clerk for the Board of Supervisors, said as she made her first appearence as Assistant County Administrator to update the members on the status of the 2018-2019 Strategic Initiatives and Actions list.

The county has identified areas for improvement in service delivery, communications, project management, economic development and tourism, and financial stewardship and efficiency. “There’s been a lot completed,” Harris told the supervisors and county staff has been working hard to meet their objectives.

“I really look at much of what I’m doing as community engagement,” she said, “and many of the things here [on the list] have to do with how we are keeping citizens informed on things.”

Among the completed projects she highlighted was the recent broadband expansion agreement with Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC), several new digital media channels to alert citizens to county meetings and events, and Municode, a program accessible through the county website that allows the public to look at local ordinances.

She’s also hoping to conduct both internal and external communications surveys in near the future, and said a 2020 citizens survey was likely next year.


Anyone who has ever been driving down Rt. 53 and had a hankering for barbeque might soon be in luck.

Supervisors approved a special use permit for Wahoo BBQ to set up a small restaurant at the former Cunningham Market. Applicant Kevin Smith also plans to put in some outdoor seating and eventually to reopen the gas pumps.


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