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Virus sets new high, vaccines trickle in / January 13, 2021

Mecklenburg County is facing its most dire period yet with the coronavirus pandemic.

Emergency Services Coordinator Jon Taylor told supervisors on Monday that Mecklenburg has 173 known active cases of the disease, none of which are tied to an outbreak. The Virginia Department of Health reported 107 new cases in the county in the past seven days, with two patients newly hospitalized.

Taylor added that Mecklenburg County now has 41 reported COVD-related deaths, an increase of two people in the last week. On Tuesday morning, Taylor said 27 more cases of the virus were reported the day he spoke to the board.

On a positive note, Taylor told supervisors that vaccines are being administered to healthcare workers and first responders as the doses become available. As of Friday, approximately 120 of the county’s first responders — police, fire and EMS workers — were vaccinated. Taylor did not specify how many healthcare workers or residents at long-term care facilities were also vaccinated, though that is ongoing.

In other business at Monday’s monthly meeting in Boydton, supervisors rejected a request by attorney John Janson on behalf of the Friends of the Meherrin River to modify the county zoning ordinance related to solar utilities.

Janson, representing property owners living near Scotts Crossroads, the site of a potential fourth solar facility in Mecklenburg County, presented 29 points he said would “strengthen and clarify county ordinances on large scale industrial solar utilities.”

Several of the changes he proposed are already addressed in Mecklenburg County’s existing solar ordinance — for decommissioning and mitigation bonding provisions and mandatory baseline environmental, archeological, and historic studies. Others are outside the authority of the county to regulate, such as stormwater management, which is regulated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Other changes that Janson proposed that lie outside the scope of the county’s authority pertain to who can erect transmission lines, and whether products used with utility-scale solar facilities, including software, must be U.S. made.

While noting that some of Janson’s points were worthy of review and consideration, supervisors accepted the recommendation of the Mecklenburg County Planning Commission to deny his request.

In other business, Glenn Barbour and Glanzy Spain were re-elected to their posts as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Board of Supervisors.

A 14-acre tract within what County Administrator Wayne Carter described as the Microsoft campus was rezoned from Ag to M-1. Carter said earlier rezoning of this “residual piece” of land had not occurred. Now Microsoft would be constructing a circular cloud processing warehouse on the property. The new facility would he used to support the existing data center and serve as a shipping and receiving center

Supervisors issued two resolutions, one to Jeff Hinkle upon his retirement after his longtime service as superintendent of the Roanoke River Service Authority. The second resolution honored Denise Hight who retired Dec. 31 after more than 30 years with the Farm Service Agency, the last 15 as executive director of the branch in Mecklenburg County.

Supervisor David Brankley asked Carter to take steps needed to construct additional convenience centers for trash in the county. There are two centers planned, one on Pen Road near Clarksville and the other near Ivy Hill and the “Trading Post” site. Brankley said the amount and manner in which trash is being dumped near the roadside trash collection sites is both unsightly and burdensome to the landfill operators who have to clean the areas.

Lisa Gillispie was reappointed to the Mecklenburg/Brunswick Regional Airport Commission.

Larry Bradfield with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notified Carter that VDACS will be treated four isolated areas in Mecklenburg County where low levels of gypsy moths have been found. The areas are near Clarksville around Bluestone Creek and west toward the Charlotte County line, in the Baskerville area around Allen Creek and Antlers Road, near Nelson around Highway 49 and White House Road and around Kerr Lake Dam, Liberty Hill and Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area.

Bradfield said treatment will take place between April and June, weather permitting, and will be administered via aircraft during daylight hours.

Construction in Mecklenburg County continues at a strong pace, according to a yearly report from Robert Hendrick, Mecklenburg County’s Zoning Administrator. His office issued 667 building permits in 2020, an increase of 90 over 2019, which resulted in an additional $20,000 in fees. The total cost of construction rose by $4 million over 2019 to $25,057,828.

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