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Mecklenburg supes buy South Hill Y site, wipe out tax debt

SoVaNow.com / February 10, 2016


The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors on Monday agreed to bail out the now-shuttered South Hill YMCA by advancing the organization $15,000 and also purchasing a 20-acre plot of land off Plank Road for $20,000. The land was gifted to the YMCA several years ago.

County Administrator Wayne Carter said the county has no current need for the property, but it is valuable timberland and with all the new development occurring in South Hill, it could become useful in the future.

The South Hill YMCA lost its charter at the end of October and closed its doors on Dec. 31. At the time it closed, it had a debt of nearly $30,000 owed to the IRS for unpaid employment taxes.

Carter said the money paid by the county will be used by the YMCA to offset its debt to the IRS, and the $15,000 advance will be repaid once the YMCA’s assets are liquidated.

Board Chairman Glenn Barbour abstained from voting on this matter as he served as the accountant for the South Hill YMCA, and his son Chad Barbour was the chair for the organization’s board of directors.

Supervisors also approved the expenditure of an additional $30,000, plus closing costs, to purchase 1.434 acres next to the Hudgins Courthouse complex in Boydton. The property will become part of a plan to expand parking at the Courthouse complex, which also houses social services offices and other departments.

In other action by the supervisors:

Bill Blalock recapped a recent meeting of the Agricultural Development Committee during which Dr. Jim Parkhurst, associate professor of Wildlife and Extension Specialist for Wildlife at Virginia Tech, Mike Fies, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Chad Fox, United States Department of Agriculture, and Kyle Waters, United States Department of Agriculture, discussed various strategies for controlling coyote populations in and around Mecklenburg County.

The consensus among the experts, according to Blalock, was that coyotes are here to stay and attempts to eliminate them through a bounty program “have been ineffective” due to the canines’ ability to successfully reproduce at any level needed to maintain the pack size.

Blalock said he was frustrated that “the experts” offered no definitive plan for eradicating coyotes. David Brankley responded that both Fox and Fies said they would come to the area and work with local farmers who are experiencing coyote problems. “The biggest problem is that people are not using that resource,” Brankley said.

Gregg Gordon added that educating the public was an important component in reducing coyote depredation.

Claudia Lundy thanked fellow board members for attending a joint supervisors/school board dinner. The dinner, which was a first for the county, took place over dinner at Brian’s Steakhouse in South Hill on Jan. 27.

It was an opportunity for members of both boards to get to know each other and cement their shared commitment to move forward with plans to upgrade school facilities in the county. Joined by consultants Hal Hart and Elaine Fogliani, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, officials reviewed the memorandum of understanding and the scope of work for the public input study. This includes naming a steering committee to head the study. They also reviewed the proposed six-month timeline for conducting the public input study.

The report generated from the study will be used to formulate plans for Mecklenburg’s school facilities.

Hart, Fogliani and their team created a survey, which they said would serve as the baseline to gauge public sentiment about the school facilities.

As of Monday, Carter said 199 members of the community, 10 school staffers and 27 students have responded to the survey. Noting that the consultants want at responses from at least 50 percent of the public, Barbour encouraged everyone to participate. “You have until Feb. 25 to respond. Anyone who wants a hard copy mailed to them should contact Jenny Warren at 738-6191.”

It can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCPS-C1 (for the public regardless of whether you have students in the school), http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCPS-STAFF (for faculty and staff of Mecklenburg County Public Schools, and http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCPS-STUDENT (for the students in the school division).

Barbour added, “We are moving along with this [school facilities] project. We have a timeline set up, and eventually there will be a project website so anyone can follow this process. We are trying to keep the public aware.”

Supervisors approved a recommendation from the landfill committee to hire J.R. Price Construction of Chase City to construct a convenience center in the South Hill area. The cost is $280,936.32. This convenience center will replace roadside dumpsters spread throughout nearby neighborhoods at the eastern end of the county.

Over time, additional convenience centers will be built around Mecklenburg, replacing all roadside dumpsters.

At the January meeting of supervisors, local constituent Al Freer questioned the legal efficacy of a letter from Eddie Harris, county building inspector, telling owners of RV’s and travel campers that because their vehicles were not permanent residences, it is illegal to attach non-movable permanent structures to them or encase them inside permanent structures. The letters were posted at Americamps and the River Ridge subdivision near Bracey.

Freer said he found nothing in Virginia law that supported Harris’ letter or that banned the use of recreational vehicles as a permanent residence: “I researched the building code and can’t find anywhere in state law that there is a ban on permanent living in recreational vehicles,” said Freer, who also called the letter arbitrary.

Carter promised to research the matter and report back to supervisors. He did, telling them that camper trailers are recreational vehicles under the county’s zoning ordinance. To be a residential facility, the vehicle or building must meet code requirements, which RV’s and campers do not.

If the camper has been modified, Carter added, and the owner can produce an engineer’s report saying the vehicle not qualifies as a house, then and only then will Mecklenburg County recognize it as a permanent residence.

William “Billy” Wilkinson was reappointed to the county’s Industrial Development Authority. At an earlier meeting the board approved James Jefferson as a replacement to Blaine Lenhart, longtime chairman. Lenhart resigned because he was moving away from the county.

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