AT THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HELD ON THE 7th DAY OF FEBRUARY, TWO THOUSAND AND ELEVEN AT TWO O'CLOCK P.M. AT THE COURTHOUSE IN WASHINGTON, VIRGINIA
Roger A Welch, Chairman
S. Bryant Lee, Vice Chairman
Ronald L. Frazier
I. Christopher Parrish
Michael J. Biniek
John McCarthy, Co. Adm.
Peter H. Luke, Co. Attorney
Margaret R. Ralph, Clerk
Chairman Welch called the meeting to order.
MINUTES: On motion of Mr. Parrish, seconded by Mr. Lee, the Board unanimously approved the minutes, as corrected, of the January 3, 2011 Board meeting.
REVISED AGENDA: There were two additions: Moment of silence for Christine Timbers and Appointments to the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee. On motion of Mr. Frazier, seconded by Mr. Biniek, a motion to adopt the revised agenda was passed unanimously.
The Board observed a moment of silence in remembrance of a Christine Timbers, a long-time county employee.
ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS: Mr. Welch introduced Dr. Boone.
On February 8, Dr. Boone will present the first segment of the FY12 Budget Process to the School Board and to the Public. This will be a preliminary budget. The Board and members of the community are welcomed to attend. The next Budget work session will be on February 22. The goal is to request local level funding.
The SOL testing is complete and the winter sports program is coming to an end.
There are two important things that are coming up 1) a meeting on the establishment of the goals for the Schools and 2) a meeting of the School Calendar Committee. Dr. Boone is recommending the establishment of a 2-year calendar.
Dr. Boone asked for questions from the Board
Mr. Lee inquired about the progress of the school's energy projects. The process is going well and the committee has submitted a plan that will be presented to the School Board at the next meeting. One issue is still in question – that of asbestos abatement. Mr. McCarthy reported that this subject would be taken up later in the meeting.
FIRE LEVY BILLS: Mr. McCarthy presented a Memo, approved unanimously by the Fire Levy Board, for the payment of the fire companies' bills. Mr. Frazier reported that there were no unscheduled costs this year.
Mr. Parrish expressed concerns about the high utility bills in some companies. Mr. Frazier and Mr. McCarthy gave brief explanations.
Mr. Welch congratulated the Washington VFD on the response to 306 of the total of 309 calls requested.
On motion of Mr. Lee, seconded by Mr. Biniek, the Board unanimously approved the Fire Levy Board request for payment as presented.
Mr. Lee congratulated all the Fire Companies for their outstanding service.
VDOT REPORT: Mr. Welch introduced David Cubbage and Marshall Barron.
Mr. Barron commented that he and Mr. Cubbage would attend the Board meeting every other month. He reported that VDOT has hired Dan Painter to be the new District Planner and urged the Board to contact him with any questions.
Mr. Barron pointed out the new format of the monthly VDOT report, which he hopes will be more comprehensive and detailed.
Hr continued by reporting on several existing projects: the Route 729 replacement bridge, the Route 522 replacement bridge, the Route 640 road project.
Mr. Lee inquired about the progress on the Rt. 729 ROW negotiations. Mr. Cubbage reported that there is not complete agreement yet, but they are working on it.
Mr. Biniek asked if VDOT could change the computer directions (Google or MapQuest) to Old Rag via Route 707. This is a gravel road and the increased traffic is creating lots of dust. Mr. Cubbage said VDOT could not, but that VDOT could explore other signage options and possibilities for placement on Route 231. Mr. Biniek also inquired about tar and chipping of that road for about 100 feet after the bridge. Mr. Cubbage will look into this.
Mr. McCarthy invited Mr. Barron and Mr. Cubbage to a meeting at The Link on next Friday to discuss the issue of traffic in Sperryville. Both thanked Mr. McCarthy for the invitation but said they were unable to commit at this time.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Chairman Welch opened the Meeting to Public Comment.
Phil Irwin, Flint Hill, commented on Piedmont Environmental Council's Report concerning cell towers. He hopes that the Board will have an opportunity to review this document. He criticized the inadequacy of the applications that are the subject of this evening's Public Hearing.
There were no further comments and Mr. Welch declared the Public Comment closed.
Economic Recovery Advisory Committee: The grant team, spearheaded by Doug Shiftman (???) is interested in knowing what subjects the Board would like the team to pursue and is asking for the Board's input. These are several broad areas for grants that the committee thought the Board might be interested in:
Mr. Shiftman is just soliciting your ideas.
A brief discussion concerning Broadband, Cliff Miller's project on holistic farming and Rappahannock Brands followed.
Emergency Operations Plan Update: The Public Safety Committee met last week and decided not to adopt the plan they had forwarded to the State Department of Emergency Services until they have comments about the plan from that agency. This will be on the agenda for next month.
What is on the agenda today is the approval of the Rules of Procedure. These rules mirror the Rules of Procedure for the Board of Supervisors.
On motion of Mr. Biniek, seconded by Mr. Parrish, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Rules of Procedure for the Public Safety Committee.
School Energy Project: The Facilities Assessment Report prepared by Simmons, Rockecharlie & Prince Inc (SRP) was included in the Board's information packet. This group was retained by the Rappahannock Energy Performance Committee to review and evaluate the progress on recommended system repairs and renovations to the Elementary School, High School, Administration Building/Bus Garage, County Jail, Courthouse and Circuit Court Clerk's Office. The document contains projects that they reported on last year, all the fixes that have taken place, notes on problems that still exist, and identification of new problems. They have affixed a cost to each of the problems noted. The total costs of all repairs will be approximately 1.6 million dollars.
Money was put aside last year for some of these projects and there are on-going negotiations to a structure a ten-year lease purchase.
One significant issue, which was alluded to earlier by Dr. Boone, is the asbestos found in the ceiling at the high school. In the past abatement of asbestos was done on a case-by-case basis. The committee has advised that a total abatement of asbestos be done.
Mr. Frazier and Mr. Welch, who were present at the Committee meeting, commented that it was not cost effective to abatement the asbestos on a case-by-case need and that the total abatement should be done. Mr. Lee agreed.
The SRP Report is filed with the papers of this meeting.
On motion of Mr. Parrish, seconded by Mr. Lee, the Board voted unanimously to authorize the package of projects and authorize Mr. McCarthy to explore the financial procedures.
Rappahannock Civil War Sesquicentennial Local Committee: Richie Burke's name was inadvertedly omitted from the list of Members for the Committee. In addition to Mr. Burke, Mr. David and Ms. Avery Born and Ms. Angela Deavers have agreed to serve on this committee.
On motion of Mr. Frazier, seconded by Mr. Biniek, the Board unanimously appointed Mr. Burke, Mr. & Mrs. Born and Ms. Deavers to the Sesquicentennial Committee.
Out of county Residents' Use of Waste Facilities Proposal: There has been a request from Culpeper County to allow Culpeper residents to use the Waste facilities that are close to the county lines. It would be a mutual agreement – allowing Rappahannock residents to use the Culpeper facilities. Mr. McCarthy feels that this arrangement would not be a direct reciprocity situation and that this agreement should not be based on a number of residents but reduced to a dollar figure that simply pays the way.
A discussion followed. Mr. McCarthy was asked to explore the possibilities further. He will report at the next meeting.
January Building Report
VDOT monthly report
Mr. Welch opened the public comment session:
Art Candenquist asked if there were any provisions for the recycling of cardboard at either of our convenience facilities. Mr. McCarthy said there were not and gave a brief explanation.
Don Loock, PEC, Jackson district expressed his disappointment at the actions of the Planning Commission in recommending the cell towers at the school and at Sperryville. The Board needs to review these applications, which are not in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan. He hopes they will deny both applications.
Chris Miller (????)-PEC – spoke on PEC's support of local agricultural production, the development at Clevenger's Corner and it's effect on Rappahannock County, the 6-laning of Route 211 from Warrenton to Clevenger's Corner, and the cell towers in Rappahannock County and that applicants should be held to a higher standard
On motion of Mr. Parrish, seconded by Mr. Lee, the Board voted unanimously to retire into closed session pursuant to Virginia Code Section 2.2-3711A to consult with legal counsel employed or retained by the Board of Supervisors regarding specific legal matters requiring the provision of legal advice by such counsel under Section 2.2-3711A.7. Roll call vote was as follows: Ayes: Mr. Welch, Mr. Frazier, Mr. Parrish. Mr. Biniek, Mr. Lee. Nays: none.
Open Session: On motion of Mr. Parrish, seconded by Mr. Frazier, the Board voted unanimously to reconvene into open session. The following roll-call vote was taken: Ayes: Mr. Welch, Mr. Frazier, Mr. Parrish, Mr. Biniek, Mr. Lee. Nays: none.
Certification: The Chairman polled the members of the Board as follows: "To the best of your knowledge, do each of you certify that only public business matters lawfully exempted from the open meeting requirements under existing Virginia law, and only such public business matter as were identified in the motion by which the executive meeting was convened were heard, discussed or considered by the Board in the executive meeting just held?" The following roll-call vote was taken: Ayes: Mr. Welch, Mr. Frazier, Mr. Parrish, Mr. Biniek, Mr. Lee. Nays: none.
The Board reconvened into Open Session.
On motion of Mr. Lee, seconded by Mr. Frazier the Board unanimously approved the Accounts as presented.
There being no further business, the meeting was recessed until 7 o'clock p.m. to conduct the following Public Hearing: SCHOOL CELL TOWER AND THE SPERRYVILLE CELL TOWER.
Mr. Welch reconvened the meeting. He asked Mr. McCarthy to comment on the Application, which is the subject of the Public Hearing.
Mr. McCarthy reported as follows:
The Applicant (AT&T) desires to construct a 199' tall monopole located at the Rappahannock County High School – Application #10-10-04. Mr. Ed Donohue AT&T representative was introduced
Mr. Donohue reported that there have been a number of discussions with County staff and with School personnel regarding this proposal. At a meeting earlier this evening, ATT is presenting an amended proposal, that is to move the tower site 150 feet south southwest of the original location. This will increase the setback from the school building as well as the setback from route 211. This new location is well within the setback requirements for neighboring properties. Mr. Donohue believes this is a substantial improvement to the application. He recognized that this was a fairly late development and that interest parties may want additional time to review the amended application and to consider the change.
On motion of Mr. Lee, seconded by Mr. Parrish, the Board voted unanimously to table this application until the March meeting. The motion contained the following stipulations:
1. An amended site plan be filed
2. ATT provide a propagation map for a monopoles of 199, 175, and 150 feet
3. There be a balloon test at the 199 foot level
4. This new application will be advertised in the newspaper
The second application to be considered this evening is #10-10-05 – application from AT&T for the construction of a monopole on the Elizabeth Jones property located on Woodward Road in Sperryville.
Mr. Donohue spoke on behalf of AT&T and mentioned that the power point presentation included both sites but he would just address the issue of the Sperryville one.
He continued: This site is on a 56-acre parcel located in Sperryville on Route 600(Woodward Road). The application was presented to the Rappahannock County Planning Commission and received its approval to be sent to the Board of Supervisors. The set back from Woodward Road is 322 feet. There are several modifications that came as a result of discussions at the Planning Commission:
1. The size of the platform will be reduces from a 12 foot width to an 8 foot width
2. Painting of the pole and the antenna
3. When possible, cabling will be inside the pole
The power point presentation showed graphics of the coverage area, pictures from the SHIPO review, photos of the balloon test taken at different views, the challenges caused by the topography of the 56 acres, propagation maps. Each graphic and picture were explained and interpreted by Mr. Donohue.
Mr. Donohue concluded his presentation with a review of the Telecommunication Act of 1996.
Mr. Welch asked for Board comments and questions.
Mr. Parrish commented on the public's fear of the unknown and asked if ATT could complete the construction of the Boston Tower before asking for more towers so that the community could see the effects of the tower. Mr. Donohue said that would not be feasible because all of these towers are part of a Network and are interdependent.
Mr. Biniek, Mr. Lee, Mr. Welch commented on the concerns that the best location for these sites has been found and has everything been done to mitigate the visual impact of the towers. Mr. Donohue responded that many sites are considered and that extensive testing is done to see that the towers will blend in with the landscape while giving the best possible coverage. Size, set back and coverage are the main consideration.
There being no further comments or questions by the Board, Mr. Welch opened the Public Hearing.
Phil Irwin, Flint Hill, Max Davis, Huntly, Karen Hunt, Jackson District, Tim Pagano, Don Loock, PEC/Jackson District, Ashley Adams, Piedmont District, Jeff Wofford, Piedmont District, John Kiser, Frank Raiter, Stonewall—Hawthorne District, Mike Luthie, Piedmont District, Donald Porter, Washington VA, David Wilson, James Matthews, Piedmont District, Sharon Pierce, Piedmont District John Diley, Jackson District, Cliff Miller, Piedmont District, spoke against the application.
Reasons cited by the above residents were: inadequate presentation, overestimated increase in coverage, veiled threat of the introduction of the FCC regulations, road safety, view shed, provisions of the comprehensive plan, scenic impact, public concern, ingenuous attitude of ATT, lack of due diligence of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, lack of a "give and take" process, other counties use of restrictions and greater controls, the setting of a dangerous precedent, noise at the site, soil and erosion control concerns, need for a plan "tailored" to Rappahannock County, care taken to select sites, the actual effect that these additional towers will have on coverage, the threat that "we can't afford to say no to ATT", need for a re-worked plan and more in depth analysis, radiation concerns, enjoyment of "no service" by some, inadequate information, unanswered questions, issue of public safety – is it safety to the general public or to safety personnel?, is the Board more concerned with Rappahannock or with ATT?, options and alternatives, affect of towers on property value, other potential sites, need for improved technology, location vs. coverage.
Bob Darby, Stonewall-Hawthorne District, Demaris Miller, Hampton District, Mike Mahoney, Tim Brown, Hampton, Scott Jenkins, Rappahannock County Sheriff's Department, Preston Angel, Hampton District, Nancy Dishner, Jackson District spoke in support of the application.
Reasons cited by the above residents were: for public safety and business operations, benefits to the County are greater than the visual intrusion, communication needs, benefits for emergency services and safety personnel as well as for patients and those in need. Several speakers thanked the Board for the perseverance on this issue.
There being no further comments, the Public Hearing was closed.
In a brief response to public comments, Mr. Donohue spoke of the wide range of disciplines that go into what ATT is proposing here. All pertinent regulations are followed. He continued that the mention of the FCC regulation was not to intimidate or in any way influence the Board or the public.
Mr. Welch thanked Mr. Donohue and said that he believes that there are many people who are happy about the Amended Application for the High School Tower.
Mr. Lee asked about the number of cell towers in relation to the area covered. Mr. Donohue answered that if fewer towers could accomplish better service, ATT would have done it. Positioning of the poles is key – they can't be too far apart or too close together, signal strength requires a very specific relationship between towers.
Mr. Welch asked Mr. McCarthy for his comments.
Mr. McCarthy comments were as follows:
The Board members are not children and are not rushing into anything. They are not scared or intimidated by AT&T. The proposals are in keeping with the Comprehensive and he feels will not be open to challenge. This plan is revised every five years and for the past nine years there has been no effort to amend this plan as to the 199-foot tower height. The allegations that this height is not in keeping with the Comprehensive are not true.
The Board has been criticized for not enforcing soil and erosion control laws. These are not responsibility of the County, but are under the control of the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District.
As to the review of site plans – there will always be questions and even changes. It is not a simple process and there are many steps before approval is final. Alternative sites are always mentioned and examined, but someone is always going to be offended or unhappy. He pointed out that coverage is determined not only by the location, height and numbers of towers, but by the location of the phone itself.
The Board of Supervisors has been diligent on the cell tower issue and has heard from many county residents who, like some in this audience tonight, want to have this cell service and who don't want to wait any longer. It is not fear that is making this process valid it is the desire for coverage and to balance out the needs of the community. It's not a perfect process. It has not been examined casually. There has been serious deliberation.
Mr. Frazier agreed that there has been a lot of misinformation. The issue of cell towers and phone coverage has been talked about so much that the issues have become twisted. We have been talking about this issue for years and we still have problems. As to the issue of the height of the monopole – the 199-foot height is in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan. Scenic Values and view shed are subjective.
Mr. Lee spoke about the original Sprint applications and the silos that were built. These, in his opinion, are more intrusive than the monopoles. Sprint worked with the County and ATT is doing it too. Many people have spoken to him about wanting cell service.
Mr. Parrish mentioned one of the main recommendations of the Economic Recovery Board is to have cell service and broadband. Sperryville is one of our main communities and it does not have cell service and he believes they need it. Many people want cell service – it's probably the majority of people. He continued that he would rather see a few tall poles than a lot of shorter ones. He doesn't believe that one could find a more hidden location than the one proposed for the Sperryville tower.
Mr. Biniek - The Sperryville tower site is in his district and there is no question that cell service is needed for safety and economic reasons and simply for convenience. But convenience does not alleviate all the problems – site problems, effect on scenic and property values have to be thoroughly studied. In a motion, he asked ATT to go back and rework and reevaluate this site plan. The motion failed for lack of a second.
The following motion was offered by Mr. Lee: That the Board accept the application of ATT for the Sperryville/Woodward Road Monopole in accordance with the condition set by the Planning Commission approval. These conditions are as follows:
1. If lighting is ever required, the tower's height will be reduced accordingly
2. Painting of the antenna, platform and all exterior features including the tower
3. Platform will be reduced from 12 feet to 8 feet
4. Public safety antenna will be allowed on the tower
5. Fencing and screening of the equipment (added by Mr. Lee)
The motion was seconded by Mr. Frazier (????)
The roll call vote was recorded as follows: Mr. Frazier Aye
Mr. Biniek Aye
Mr. Lee Aye
Mr. Parrish Aye
Mr. Welch Aye
The being no further business, on motion of Mr. Lee, seconded by Mr.___________, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn.
Roger Welch, Chairman