VINTON–Vinton Town Council met in Chambers on April 2, 2013, for public hearings on two zoning petitions, for briefings on a variety of topics, and for more work sessions on the upcoming budget for 2013-14.
Mayor Brad Grose recognized 1,200 National Service participants across the Roanoke Valley and local AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers in particular for their work.
Council heard a presentation from Kathryn Sowers of the GFWC Women’s Club of Vinton on Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month. Club members, along with the Vinton Police, had planted a pinwheel garden in the raised beds in front of the Municipal Building prior to the Council meeting.
Council heard budget requests from the Brain Injury Services of SWVA and the Roanoke Valley Regional Commission.
Two public hearings were held on zoning petitions. The first involved a request by Trey Boyd of Scorpion Towing and Recovery for a special use permit (SUP) to allow his business to store vehicles repossessed by financial institutions and those from a nearby automobile detailing shop on their way to a dealership, in addition to the police-impounded vehicles his company now stores on their lot on 2nd Street. One citizen spoke in opposition to the petition; two spoke in support.
Council approved the petition upon condition that Boyd screen the portion of the lot facing West Augusta Avenue and clear the chain link fence surrounding the rest of the property of overgrowth.
A public hearing was also held regarding a request from Jason Varney of Consolidated Real Estate Enterprises, LLC, for a special use permit to convert a single-family dwelling on West Augusta Avenue into a two-family dwelling.
Mayor Brad Grose opposed the action based on the size of the lot, which does not meet the standard of 12,000 square feet for two-family dwellings set by previous Councils. Grose said that allowing the SUP would set a precedent that would negatively impact Vinton neighborhoods by encouraging rental properties within the Town rather than single-family owner-occupied dwellings.
Vice Mayor Wes Nance, and Councilmen Bobby Altice and Matt Hare supported the petition, based on the fact that the dwelling had originally been a duplex property with two separate electrical services, two gas lines, and two kitchens already in the house.
“I ran for Council on the principles of being pro-business and pro-property rights,” said Nance. “There are also some unique situations on this property with it previously being a duplex.”
“This is not new construction,” said Altice. “I have no problem with the property going back to being a duplex. It needs to be a duplex to earn money. That’s its best use.”
The special use permit petition was approved by a three to one vote.
In other actions, Council approved the purchase of a new grounds tractor with accessory equipment for $40,500 from Lawrence Equipment of Cloverdale for the Public Works Department.
Council also adopted a resolution approving the budget for the Community Development Block Grant for downtown revitalization as presented by Ryan Spitzer, assistant to the Town Manager and project administrator. He plans for preliminary steps in the CDBG process to be completed so that the official contract can be signed on May 8.
Negotiations with Hill Studio are continuing on their fees for the downtown revitalization project and with American Electric Power (AEP) on lighting in the downtown area as part of the grant project.
Spitzer also briefed Council on an agreement with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office which has come into consideration due to the fact that several structures within the downtown area are at least fifty years old, have served as important economic structures, and could potentially be designated as historic places.
Town Manager Chris Lawrence announced that the Board of Supervisors has approved the contract with the Architectural and Engineering firm designing the new Vinton Library and that the first public meeting to gain input from citizens on the project will be held at the Vinton War Memorial on April 18. Details of the meeting will be announced soon.
In a work session prior to the regular meeting, Council was briefed by Courtney Rogers of Davenport and Company, LLC, on their study of water and wastewater rates in the Town and the revenue increases necessary to provide for growing expenditures and capital spending over the next five years. Increases will be needed for the water and sewer services to run as a self-supporting operation with no support from the Town’s General Fund and with users paying for the system.
Lawrence also briefed Council on Capital Improvement Projects to be included in the 2013-14 budget. Vice Mayor Nance asked that individual departments prioritize the list of projects based on their expertise.
Lawrence presented details to Council on the 9.76% increases in employee health insurance coming up. Council then discussed ways to provide additional compensation to employees of the Town and the need to remain competitive in comparison to other localities.
“We need to reward people who excel and deliver,” said Vice Mayor Nance. “Turnover is expensive.”