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Chase City to seek grant funding for rehab project

SoVaNow.com / March 15, 2017
Chase City Town Council will apply for a community block grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to rehabilitate 10 housing units and replace a deteriorating sewer line on Endly Street. If awarded, the money will also be used to upgrade a nearby basketball court recreation area and demolish an old derelict warehouse.

Council members authorized Town Manager Angela Lawrence to prepare and sign all the documentation involved with the grant application. The grant amount is not to exceed $1.25 million.

The action was taken Monday night during the regular monthly meeting of Town Council.

Following the vote, Mayor Eddie Bratton shared news that councilman Winthy Hatcher “is back on his feet and on his way to a full recovery from his recent illness. He has returned to his duties with the Public Works Department.

“Today, he has undergone an additional medical procedure to help him complete his recovery. We wish him the very best,” said Bratton.

Bratton also updated Council and members of the public present at Monday night’s meeting on ongoing cleanup efforts stemming from an oil spill in Little Bluestone Creek (aka Church Creek) that occurred late last week.

Bratton said members of the town’s Public Works Department became aware of the spill on Friday. They noticed an “oily substance in the creek water that passes our waste treatment plant.” Public Works director Jeffery Gurley and Chief Jay Jordan were both made aware of the problem.

By the time Gurley and town employees located the source of the spill, what appeared to be fuel oil had been flowing from a storm drainage ditch into the nearby creek for more than 12 hours.

Bratton said the Chase City Volunteer Fire Department Hazmat Team was dispatched to the location and began procedures to control the release. Bratton also said appropriate environmental agencies were contacted about the discharge.

Cleanup efforts began around 10:15 a.m. Friday and about 4 p.m. the first of two recovery teams contracted by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management arrived to begin the containment and extraction of the substance. A downstream investigation turned up a natural barrier — a beaver dam — “which contained the substance at the dam and prevented any further dispersion of what is believed to be fuel oil,” said the mayor.

“We were informed by the Regional Hazardous Materials Officer that complete cleanup might not occur until we have benefited from two or three significant rain events. This is because the oily substance has been deposited all along the water edges of Church Creek for a quarter mile or more. The contracted containment company skimmed off the trapped contaminant at multiple locations and the creek will be revisited again this week. The magnitude of the release seems to have a limited number of possible gallons of the substance so the surface cleanup will be effective,” Bratton said.

Bratton also gave a brief update on the solar farm proposed by Geenex Solar at the property currently owned by Mac Bailey. “The concern over the impact of the Geenex Solar Farm remains unresolved,” said Bratton. “The company has indicated they have a response to the concerns over the impact of their project on the revenue the county receives from the state for educational funding. Geenex has offered to appear at one of our meetings as soon as the county establishes a time to hear their rebuttal to the revenue concerns posed at the previous joint public hearing in Boydton.”

So far, that meeting has not been set by the county.

A proposed change to the town’s ordinance, clarifying the deadline for submission of payment of taxes and water bills, failed on a vote of 3-2. The proposal would have made clear that payments of taxes and water bills would be late unless received at town hall or postmarked by Jan. 31 of the year they were due.

Two members of Council, Charles Willis and Brenda Hatcher, supported the change, but James Bohanan, Marshall Whittaker and Lisa Gillispie voted against it. Hatcher was absent from the meeting.

Two other changes to the town ordinances were approved. Instead of sending notices by registered mail to property owners whose property has been deemed “dangerous or dilapidated,” the change allows the town to send these notices by certified mail. The other change no longer requires the town’s Planning Commission to hold regular meetings every two months. Instead, the commission must meet at least once a year.

A request for a conditional use permit to open a food truck business on private property in an area of town currently zoned for business was referred to the town’s Planning Commission for review. The next meeting of the Planning Commission is set for March 23.

Three additional changes to the town ordinances received a first reading. The vote to adopt the changes will take place at the April meeting of Council.

The first ordinance change deletes from the code, section 4-2-14, which sets a pricing structure for out-of-town commercial garbage pickup. Currently the town has no out-of-town residential or commercial garbage customers.

A proposed change to section 4-2-18 of the code would set a dumpster fee for out of town commercial or industrial customers who are within one mile of the town limits and request service, and gives the town staff flexibility to schedule trash pickups outside the regular schedule, based on staff and equipment availability.

The final proposed change identifies materials that the town will not collect as refuse or garbage. They include hypodermic needles, biohazards, construction and building demolition materials, tires, hazardous materials, and materials of excessive weight.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Angie Dickenson who serves as president of the Chase City Events II committee, asked council to consider giving the group $2,000 each year to help pay for town events.

It was also announced that too few children came out to sign up for Little League play so there will be no baseball this year.

On April 5, the Mecklenburg County Business Education Partnership will hold its annual adult spelling bee fund raiser at Chase City Elementary School.

This is the final year that county residents must purchase and display decals for their vehicles. They are currently on sale at the town offices and other designated sites.

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