, 2015

White Stone facelift begins

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

WHITE STONE—The process to give White Stone a commercial and residential facelift has begun.

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The town has been offered two grants totaling $40,000, including up to $30,000 for planning and development from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and $10,000 from the Virginia Housing Development Authority.

Some $3,000 of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Planning Grant has been reserved and will be reimbursed to the town for completing five requirements for further funding. The first two of those requirements were met last week, according to town manager Patrick Frere and Jerry Davis of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission (NNPDC).

The first was to hold an initial public meeting informing citizens about a housing assessment and rehabilitation program within the project. That was part of the town council’s monthly meeting last Thursday. The second was to form and hold an initial meeting of the management team, which was also done last Thursday.

“This all came about really quickly,” said Frere.

According to Frere, the town must also complete a neighborhood survey to assess needs and demands of the residents, complete an infrastructure assessment of existing water, sewer and road conditions and complete a second management meeting.

A second management team meeting will be held at 5 p.m. July 29 in the Town Hall, 433 Rappahannock Drive, White Stone.

Members of the team include Davis and John Bateman of the NNPDC, council members Irving Brittingham, David Jones and Randy Reeves, mayor Lloyd B. Hubbard, Frere, Lancaster building official Steve Daum, planning commission chairman John Taliaferro and White Stone resident Hope Waters.

“Congratulations are in order,” Davis told council last week. “You all should feel good about getting some of this money. It’s a very good program but it’s a very competitive program.”

The first area to be assessed for improvements is a residential block of town along Chesapeake Drive and Irvington Road.

“There appears to be a need for improving the houses in that area,” said Davis.

“We’ll also be looking at the roads, utility, sewer, to see if the infrastructure is adequate for housing,” he added.

Neighborhood and town-wide assessments will take place over the next few months, continued Davis, who has been working closely with Frere during the planning grant application process. The NNPDC works closely on grant proposals and funding applications with all four counties of the Northern Neck and its 15 towns, according to Davis.

Councilman Joe Sliakis questioned whether the grants would cover drainage field improvements and Davis assured him that all areas of housing needs from electrical to sewage will be assessed. If the housing units don’t meet minimum housing standards and residents qualify financially, the houses will be brought up to the standards, he said.

“I’m glad to hear it covers more than I thought it would,” said Sliakis.

After completing the five requirements, the town must submit a summary of the assessments and management meeting minutes to the DHCD by August 8.

Jones wanted other members to be aware the DHCD grant is a reimbursable contract, meaning “you spend the money first,” he said, “and then we are reimbursed by the state.” The $10,000 Virginia Housing Grant, however, is money awarded “right up front,” he said.

In other business, Frere told council that Kelly Moss had responded to its welcome letter and officially accepted her write-in election to council. A swearing-in ceremony for Moss, the new town mayor and other council members will be held in September.

Following a brief executive session, council unanimously, 6-0, accepted the resignation of part-time deputy Bruce Coor. Reeves made the motion to accept his resignation and Jones made the second. Reeves, Jones, Brittingham, Sliakis, William Hubbard and Blair Kenyon voted in favor. Council member Jennifer Hodges was absent.

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