By Matt de Simone
Botetourt County Senior Planner Drew Pearson requested to advertise for a public hearing about a “convenience store highway” for Buchanan Crossing, LLC. This request was continued over from the board’s November meeting.
Staff considers the current “convenience store” definition to modify to “convenience store highway” due to the high-flow diesel pumps and parking for larger vehicles. The public hearing will also consider the electric vehicle charging stations and the applicant’s request.
The store would be located on a lot with a minimum area of 10 acres. Pearson presented a map of parcel interchange analysis. A store built off of I-81 Exits 150, 152, 162, or 168 were considered by Pearson as possible locations of interest during his presentation. He pointed out there would be better opportunities to build off of 162 or 168.
Fincastle Supervisor Dr. Richard Bailey raised questions about “loading areas” cited during Pearson’s presentation. Pearson explained those areas were typically more like “unloading areas” used by delivery trucks for the store. The board raised concern over which exits would be able to handle the larger vehicles.
The supervisors stated they would like to know more about the 10-acre request before a public hearing. Buchanan representative Amy White stated that holding a hearing before all of the information about the commercial truck parking, high-flow diesel, and electric vehicle charging stations is out there could be putting “the cart before the horse,” but wanted to move forward with a public discussion suggesting looking at the proposal piece by piece. White raised concern over environmental repercussions in terms of gas pumps and construction of the “convenience highway.”
Following the presentation, and a lengthy discussion, the board approved to send the applicant’s request to advertise for a public hearing to the Planning Commission for consideration.
Deputy County Administrator David Moorman gave an update about the Botetourt County Courthouse renovation project. He asked the board for a ratification of the recent engineering contract of architectural workers.
“Work is moving forward in good fashion,” Moorman stated to the board. The occupancy of the new courthouse is scheduled to now take place during the first quarter of 2025. The board ratified the engineering contract.
Botetourt County Director of Elections Traci Clark requested a new personnel addition for the Registrar’s Office (an assistant county registrar) due to the changing political climate, the “heightened awareness” of voters about the election process, and the increase in calls and emails which cause confusion for some voters.
Clark stated that since 2017, 141 new election-related laws were passed by the state. These laws included new processes in voter registration, contacting voters whose absentee ballots contained errors, pre-processing those ballots, and early voting. Clark told the board she expects “more voting changes are on the way.”
Between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, there was a 533% increase in absentee voting and a 683% increase between the 2017 and 2021 gubernatorial elections.
The new assistant registrar position requires the new employee to be: the “point person” for early voting and election officers, assisting the deputy registrar with vote-by-mail, responsible for maintaining and packing security carts for use on Election Day, and maintaining electronic poll books.
The board approved Clark’s request to add an assistant county registrar.
Jonathan McCoy of the Planning & Zoning division requested the abandonment of a 0.75-mile portion of Route 690 at Buttons Bluff. The board approved to authorize a public hearing to be advertised on this abandonment.
The board adopted the resolution of Thornblade Way from Route 460 and Hickory Ridge Court (approved by VDOT) to be added to the secondary system of highways.
The board approved amendments made to the Chapter 25 Zoning of code to allow second accessory buildings as a by-right use in certain zoning areas.
Botetourt County Auditor Corbin Stone went over the recent “successful” audit of Botetourt’s revenue increases and decreases for FY 20-21.
Assistant County Administrator Jon Lanford provided an update for the board on the VWCC expansion project at Greenfield. Relocation of the existing modular classrooms began on Dec. 18 and will be complete in time for classes to resume for spring semester in January 2022. Additionally, a contract has been approved by the EDA for construction of a new 8,600-sq.-ft. facility for VWCC to Avis Construction in the amount of $3.130 million. This project is fully funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia through an appropriation to VWCC specifically for the purpose of having a facility located at Greenfield.
Lanford’s next item was requested approval of a contract to build a new access road to serve Munters. VDOT industrial access funds of $600,000 will be used to fund this project in addition to a local required match of $150,000.
Additionally, the board granted Lanford’s next request for the approval of the 2022 Recreation Incentive Fund. The approval grants the installation of swings for children to provide an inclusive form of swinging play at Greenfield in cooperation with the Addy Grace Foundation; installing one enclosed automated external defibrillator (AED) at the soccer fields; a batting cage replacement at Lord Botetourt High School; six new picnic tables at Blue Ridge Park as part of an Eagle Scout project; Buchanan Town Park improvements to trash cans and the basketball court; and adding senior fitness equipment at Troutville Town Park. These projects cost $52,860.61 in total, with the county matching the cost with $26,123.38.
For more information on last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, visit https://www.botetourtva.gov/documents/bos/bos_agenda_122121.pdf for a look at the advertised agenda package.