The August 18, 2008 Ron Wolff’s County Forum meeting was held in Atlantic, VA at Wolff’s Sandwich Shoppe. No agenda was available for County Forum and there was no guest speaker. There is no audio for this meeting.
Present: Ron Wolff, Chairman, Accomack County Board of Supervisors; Mark Taylor, county attorney, Phil Hickman, Chairman of Planning Commission. County Forum was attended by approximately 25 citizens.
The County Forum meeting began at 7:10 p.m.
Public Comments: Ron Wolff
Ron Wolff welcomed all the attendees. He discussed the following topics:
Captain’s Cove Sewage Permit: Court of Appeals overruled Judge Tyler decision for allowing permit. Although Ron Wolff did not read the entire brief, it was related that there were 6 issues that the Appeals Court disagreed. The court decision was 2 to 1 to overturn decision. According to Mark Taylor, further appeal by Captain’s Cove will go to the state’s Supreme Court. Ron Wolff indicated due to the info on the financial situation at Captain’s Cove, no future appeal is expected. In summary, the permit as it stands is denied.
Legality of BOS Health Insurance: An opinion was sought on the legality of the Board of Supervisors (BOS) of Accomack County to have health insurance provided to them. The state attorney general (AG) concurred that the BOS are entitled to health insurance from decisions made in 1979.
Lawsuit on Tax Levy from Chincoteague against Accomack County: Decision was found in favor of Accomack County based on the proper purpose of the state’s code to form a petition for the tax levy purpose. Mark Taylor indicated an appeal might be made but that is not known at this time.
Assessment Structure: Mark Taylor discussed the overview of the assessment process. If a citizen has questions about assessment, one can still bring the issue to the Board of Equalization.
Public Service Authority (PSA): The water and wastewater authority as defined by the PSA has been tabled and in its place the BOS have formed a Utility Cost Commission (UCC) to explore the feasibility of PSA and to explore water and wastewater treatment needs in the county. The UCC is not an independent authority, and requires the BOS to approve contracts.
As a side bar, Onancock has started enhancement of their sewage system from 500K to 750K gallon facility. Onancock has secured $5M to $7M in loans and federal funds. There is concern that Onancock citizens cannot handle overall costs due to enhancements and the final price tag estimated to be $17M.
New Convenience Center: The center will be located near Saxis and contract is being bidded now. Expected to open January 1.
Wallops Island Research Park (WIRP): Birthday of the Navy is coming soon; planning Navy appreciation day. WIRP is developing and formation of Wallops Research Park Service Authority is ongoing. Northrup Grumman is starting new construction.
Broadband circle has been given $2M by state that will link DC-Richmond-Virginia Beach-Wallops. How to trunk out fiber optics is a concern.
Wallops and NASA: Spaceport and private company (Orbital) is enhancing facilities. There is need to build payload processing facility and other construction to support space effort. This translates to new jobs for area.
On Thursday August 21 in early morning (3 AM to 6 AM) there will be a rocket launch depending on weather.
Strategic Plan for County: Plan was adopted. There was a motion to adopt Cheasapeake Bay Act (CBA) county-wide for Accomack (currently it does not apply on seaside). One big issue is the cutting of woodlands near wetlands. This part of CBA would aid in protecting clam beds. NOTE that incorporated towns are not required to follow CBA. Comment was made that federal funds are needed to restore dunes on Assateague Island due to erosion.
With respect to beaches, a discussion followed where nude beaches can enhance beach business and revenues in coastal areas of the nation. Current county rules do not allow nudity on beaches.
Public Safety: The study for county public safety was reviewed recently. A motion was made for each volunteer fire department to list issues that were common with each in regards to their needs. Ron Wolff stated that more appreciation should be given to our volunteers and other means to support them should be sought.
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) agency was discussed. A training drill will be held county-wide on September 6. Ron Wolff encouraged citizens to become CERT certified. All BOS members are currently certified.
Question and Answers Highlights:
Concerns from the attendees included:
1) Lawsuits against County: Concern was expressed about time (money) spent on handling tax levy lawsuit. Time (money) would have been better used in policing against crime.
2) Planning Commission: They will work on getting CBA county-wide.
3) State Fiscal Cuts: Cuts will translate to lost of some county staff. Ideas were discussed to offset state cuts.
The County Forum ended at 8:40 PM with the attendees applauding Ron Wolff and other county staff for their time and discussions.
Notes by Tim Getek
N.B. These notes do not constitute the public record of this meeting. The information contained herein is offered in good faith, is presented as accurately as possible, is thought to be a complete account of the proceedings. These notes are intended to be a public service devoid of political commentary for those who are interested in following the civic affairs of Chincoteague Island. Notes of the meeting are recorded, transcribed and distributed by volunteers who receive no financial compensation for their efforts.