The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors is holding two public hearings about recommended county code changes and a third to consider rolling over $1.13 million in appropriations from the FY17 to the current FY18 fiscal year when it meets October 24.
The two code changes are proposed to clarify how county officials deal with unsafe structures and revisions that are considered “technical changes” to the code section dealing with parades and demonstrations.
According to county staff, the county code references to “unsafe structures” and enforcement action are vague. Including additional language from the state code should provide clear definitions and appropriate action the county should take if a structure is determined to be unsafe.
The proposed revisions exclude “certified historic structure” and “farm buildings and structures.”
The current county code implies a complaint about an unsafe structure be made by the tenant. The proposed change would clarify that the county building official is required to investigate and resolve any complaint of an unsafe structure.
An unsafe structure is defined as “any building, wall, or any other structures that might endanger the public health or safety of its occupants or other residents of the county.”
The proposed revisions also lay out remedies and the timeframe for property owners to correct any situation where the building official has determined a structure to be unsafe.
The proposed changes to the county code about parades and demonstrations follows a review of the current code by the county attorney Michael Lockaby. The current regulations date to the 1960s and changes to the state code have made some provisions obsolete.
While the revisions follow a regular review of the county code, the proposed changes do come in the wake of demonstrations about Confederate statues in Charlottesville and other communities around the state and country.
Earlier in the year, Botetourt County and Town of Fincastle officials had inquiries about a possible demonstration at the Confederate monument in front of the county courthouse in Fincastle, but no official application was made at the time.
The proposed county code changes would not apply in any of the three incorporated towns in Botetourt. Each town’s code applies within the town limits.
While the proposed changes are considered technical, they do change who grants a permit from the Board of Supervisors to the county administrator. It does require the county administrator to provide copies to the supervisors and the sheriff.
The proposed new provisions also add some requirements to the application for a demonstration or parade and define a riot, spontaneous event and unlawful assembly.
There are a number of exemptions noted in the proposed code update such as spontaneous events, recreational activities that do not involve closing public streets, funeral processions, students going to class or participating in educational activities, government, government agencies with the scope of their functions, and certain labor demonstrations,
The proposed changes to the county code section also delete the prohibition against carrying “any dangerous weapon” and strike “insult” from the provision that restricts others from hindering, molesting or harassing persons lawfully parading or demonstrating.
The supervisors will also hold a public hearing on rolling over or re-appropriating $1,128,626 for the continuation of a variety of projects carried over from the previous fiscal year.
That’s part of about $3 million that went unspent in FY17 that ended June 30.
The supervisors’ budget committee met in early September to go over the carryover and how it would be appropriated.
Committee Chair John Williamson III asked the county administration to bring the proposed rollovers for unfinished projects to the full board, then have the budget committee consider proposed new spending in separately.
Half of the rollover is for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP)— $631,322— and most of that is for new tax software to replace the outdated system. That appropriation was in the FY17 budget but is not complete.
Other CIP and rollover funding is scattered throughout the county’s various departments.
The county is required to hold a public hearing on the proposed rollovers because the amount is more than 1 percent of the county’s $95 million FY17 budget.