, 2014


Northumberland administrator
previews 2013 county projects

by Shannon Rice

HEATHSVILLE—Northumberland County administrator Kenny Eades last week offered citizens a heads-up on projects they should expect to see in the coming year.

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County administrator
Kenny Eades

Included in the list of undertakings are the emergency services radio system upgrade, building improvements to the sheriff’s department, a decision on the disposition of the old high school, zoning updates, the comprehensive plan and the reassessment.

Projects that should see completion in 2013 include the reassessment, the Light Street project and the final engineering stages of the Reedville sanitary district upgrade, said Eades.

Additionally, Eades said MetroCast will start running fiber optic lines for improved cable and internet in the near future.

“They’re (MetroCast) telling everybody they should be turning on homes in August,” said Eades.

On the financial side of things, Eades noted that end-of year construction totaled $21 million, a $5.7 million decrease from the previous year. Eades said this follows a downward trend of the past few years.

Alluding to budget planning, Eades said, “I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a rough year in the General Assembly … As far as the county’s concerned, I think we’re in good financial shape and I hope that continues.”

Keeping their seats

During a reorganizational session, Ronald Jett retained the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors chairman’s seat following a motion by District 3 supervisor Jim Long, a second from District 2 supervisor Richard Haynie and a 4-0 vote, with Jett abstaining.

Haynie also retained the vice chairman position following a motion from District 1 supervisor Joe Self, a second from Long and a 4-0 vote, with Haynie abstaining.

Schools

Superintendent of schools Rebecca Gates addressed school safety concerns in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting. Gates said she has been at the elementary school every day since the tragic event and noted an increased police presence at the school buildings the week before the holidays. The schools have been receiving comments from the public about procedures, equipment needs and access to the buildings.

“I was pleased to learn that the classrooms at the elementary school all have a phone in the classroom and they can even dial 911,” said Gates. “We’re doing everything that we can to look at our schools’ situation to see if there are any updates we can do. You’ll probably hear some things in our budget, some suggestions about updates and trying to reassure parents that we are doing everything to keep our students safe.”

Hearings

During the public hearing portion of the January 3 meeting, the board voted to carry over once again a request from Patrick Boone, Cheryl Karcic and Maurice Johnson for a conditional use permit to establish a tourist home at 150 East Harbour Drive near Sunnybank.

The board tabled the request last month in hopes that the applicants might resolve differences of opinion on tourist homes with the local homeowners association.

Homeowners association member Richard Anderson said the subdivision has 65 lots and when the issue of a tourist home came up, the association members voted that this not what the community wants.

Boone however, insists that only 31 property owners out of the 65 lots voted in favor of an amendment to the HOA’s covenants prohibiting tourist homes. He claimed that a 2/3 majority is required for approval of an amendment.

When asked if any headway had been made between the two parties, Boone said he attempted to make contact but the HOA board couldn’t meet because of the holidays. With no progress made towards reconciliation, Self said the board isn’t ready to make a decision and then made the carry over motion.

While Jett, Self and Haynie voted in favor of the motion, Long and district 4 supervisor Tommy Tomlin were opposed.

“Honestly, I could support granting this with the suggested conditions …covenants are something the board does not recognize,” said Tomlin. “There obviously are problems between Mr. Boone’s possible use of this property but that’s what you buy into a subdivision for, to enforce a set of restrictive covenants. That’s not our responsibility. Restrictive covenants can impose conditions that we cannot or would not want to (enforce) … To personally vote not to grant this, I feel would be arbitrary and capricious.”

Tomlin was the odd man out in another vote which ultimately granted the Corneil B. Nelson Revocable Trust an easement to allow a well to remain on county property at 61 Lodge Landing Road near Callao.

Although the board agreed that the placement of the well was a good-faith mistake due to a poor property description in the deed, Tomlin, the only supervisor in opposition to the motion made by Self, said, “We are stewards of this property for every citizen in the county. If somebody drills a well on my property, I’ve got a little concern about that. I don’t necessarily have a problem with them using an easement or even a consideration of granting them land for some minor consideration. I think we have to make sure people respect our property boundaries since we are holding it as stewards to others.”


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