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South Boston urged to donate $5,000 to Coalition campaign

SoVaNow.com / October 03, 2013
South Boston Town Council will consider a recommendation by its finance committee to donate $5,000 to the Virginia Coalition, a local business group that is working to keep the ban on uranium and milling in Virginia.

Finance chairman Coleman Speece noted that several citizens had questioned him about the wisdom of using taxpayer money to fund the Coalition’s lobbying efforts in Richmond.

“In general I agree with them” said Speece said, “but I consider this a special case. We could be completely ruined if it (uranium mining) is allowed. It is also a real threat to any economic development and we need to be able to respond.”

The $5,000 donation, if approved by Council during its regular October monthly meeting, will have to come from surplus funds since it is not included in the current year’s budget.

Committee members also added they will consider a supplemental donation later if the Coalition still needs more money.

John Cannon, president of the Coalition, appeared before Council to ask for a $10,000 donation, which is the amount South Boston contributed during the past year. Cannon stressed the Coalition needs to raise $150,000 to continue to fight the battle against Virginia Uranium, which, he said, spent over $1 million last year trying to convince legislators and the governor to lift the state’s mining ban.

In other business during Monday’s work session, Current Issue Committee members recommended that the proposed rental rates for the use of the Washington Coleman Community Center be accepted. Those rates are set at $75 per hour, plus $100 set up fee. Renters will also be required to advance a $200 security deposit which will be refunded when no damage is inflicted to the property.

Guidelines for the use of the newly renovated facility were also recommended for approval which prohibit any use of alcoholic beverages and smoking. No pets are allowed except those that might be assisting a disabled patron. The wearing of shirts and shoes is required in all parts of the building.

The Current Issues Committee members also received revisions to the Town’s zoning ordinance. During a lengthy power point presentation Town Manager Ted Daniel explained that the revisions are needed to provide for easier administration of the zoning ordinance as well as for easier use by the public. The changes, Daniel said, are mainly to clarify definitions and they will also help to align the ordinance with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Four new districts are proposed to be included in the ordinance: a rural residential-agricultural zone which will apply to larger parcels of land. Uses allowable in such a district include agriculture, farm produce stands, forestry operations, public parks and recreation, cemeteries, accessory buildings, animal shelters, churches, public utility facilities as well as single family and two family dwellings and home occupation businesses.

A second new district is that of the Dan River District which will protect property investment and the public welfare and safety in the flood hazard areas adjacent to the Dan River. Uses are compatible non-residential in the floodway and will support regulations of FEMA and the Federal Flood Insurance program. It will also facilitate the gradual transition of developed areas of the town that lie in the floodway to more appropriate land uses.

The Mixed Use, Education/Institution District is the third new grouping and provides for the orderly development of large scale education or institutional campuses with multiple buildings. Single family and multiple family homes as well as townhouses are allowed as are churches, schools, day care centers, convenience stores (without gas), restaurants, hotels and museums.

The final new district — the Historic, Neighborhood Conservation Overlay — includes those neighborhoods which have special architectural or cultural features that need to be preserved.

Daniel said the zoning changes will go to the Town’s Planning Commission at its October meeting with the expectation that a joint public hearing can be scheduled for council and the planners to hear comment from citizens sometime in November.

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