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Clarksville Council rejects Grace Stone request
SoVaNow.com / November 24, 2010Clarksville Town Council at its November meeting turned down a request for relief from out-of-town connection and facility utility fees for Grace Stone Manor.
Instead, they advised developers Mike Lyon and Gregg Gordon to seek a boundary adjustment from the county so residents of the development can qualify for in town water and sewer rates. Becoming part of the town would entitle Grace Stone property owners to pay in-town utility rates which, like the fees, are half the amount charged to areas outside the town boundaries but served by town utilities.
The turn-down is an indication that Clarksville officials have given up hope of speedily winning a more sweeping boundary adjustment that would bring a total of more than 3,000 acres, including Grace Stone, into the town.
Also at the November meeting, Council decided to stop asking the county to discuss its boundary adjustment request. Instead, the town will seek relief from the Virginia Commission on Local Government in a quest to annex the land. The commission could broker an end to the town/county dispute, thus avoiding a court battle.
Mayor Kevin Allgood and Town Manager Melinda Moran previously met with commission representatives to seek information and advice on how to proceed.
A major sticking point is the county’s policy, put in writing last month, that towns show evidence that 75 percent of property owners in an area to be boundary adjusted want to become part of the town.
The policy leaves the door open for towns that lack 75 percent backing to apply for a boundary adjustment.
“The board will consider all information submitted by the town and the Board will request any additional information it needs,” the policy states.
According to the Commission, Virginia criteria for a boundary adjustment include:
n Would the change in boundaries benefit property owners throughout the area;
n Would the revenue loss to the county be minimal and would the county be compensated?
n What would be the cost of the town extending services and how would the town pay to do so?
When the commission receives a filing, it has six months to achieve resolution or recommend a solution to a 3-judge panel. The deadline can be extended.
A settlement can involve the removal from the boundary adjustment proposal of properties where the owners claim they wouldn’t benefit from the change.
Following the written submission in Dec. 2009 of Clarksville’s request to Mecklenburg County for a boundary adjustment, residents of several areas including Noblin Farm Road produced petitions asking that the town’s request be denied. They cited a desire to preserve their semi-rural environment and keep their wells and septic systems rather than face the prospect of paying for town services.
Attorneys Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, representing the county, on Jan. 21, 2010 informed Clarksville attorneys Sands Anderson Marks & Miller that the county would need more information before negotiating with the town.
The county wanted answers to some of the same questions the Commission on Local Government asks. In addition, county officials asked how many property owners in the affected areas support the town’s proposal.
Clarksville’s staff and attorneys prepared a packet of information addressing the board of supervisors’ concerns.
Local officials continued to request a meeting with county officials to discuss the proposal. After several turn downs Allgood spoke to the board in September.
He again asked for talks, stating that a boundary adjustment would help the entire area to grow and urging a voluntary agreement to avoid the cost to taxpayers of a court battle.
In October, the Board of Supervisors adopted its policy governing boundary adjustments.
Town manager Moran said that she received a copy of the policy by e-mail and later received a hard copy with no accompanying letter.
At the regular meeting of Town Council Nov. 16, the mayor and council revisited a resolution adopted Nov. 17, 2009, that authorized all procedures necessary to accomplish annexation of all the areas on an attached map.
The areas include the EDS and Burlington properties on Burlington Drive and the nearby Kinderton Technology Park, as well as areas of potential commercial development on U.S. 15 north and south and U.S. 58 east of town.
The resolution directs the manager and attorneys to notify the Commission on Local Government that the town wants to negotiate, but directs them to take further action “to accomplish the objectives of this resolution and the annexation of the Annexation Areas into Town.”
Moran told council they did not need to pass an additional resolution this year, since the original one authorized all necessary action.
She said she would provide a letter and supporting data to the Commission, and “continue to evaluate what needs to be done to work with the Commission.”
“Lack of productive dialogue with the county” led to the decision to move forward with annexation proceedings, Moran said following the meeting.
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