Su­per­vi­sors name new county ad­min­is­tra­tor

New pick’s high ‘in­tegrity’ cited; vet­eran of Glouces­ter County govern­ment Zon­ing amend­ments sent back to county plan­ners

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By Patty hardee Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

On the morn­ing af­ter Elec­tion Day, the Rap­pa­han­nock County Board of Su­per­vi­sors named Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr., as the new county ad­min­is­tra­tor. Curry, who hails from Glouces­ter County, will be­gin his em­ploy­ment on Jan. 1, 2018, nearly six months af­ter for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tor Deb­bie Keyser re­signed.

The an­nounce­ment was made in a con­tin­u­a­tion of the BOS’ reg­u­lar meet­ing be­gun Mon­day, Nov. 6.

“Dur­ing the in­ter­view process I was ex­tremely im­pressed with Mr. Curry’s high level of in­tegrity and ca­pac­ity to ap­proach prob­lems in a calm man­ner,” newly re-elected Stonewall-Hawthorne district Su­per­vi­sor Chris Par­rish told the Rap­pa­han­nock News on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

A press re­lease is­sued by in­terim county ad­min­is­tra­tor Brenda Gar­ton states that Curry was “se­lected from a pool of highly qual­i­fied can­di­dates.”

Curry has worked for 13 years in Glouces­ter, where he served first as the di­rec­tor of pub­lic works, and for

the last four years as as­sis­tant/deputy county ad­min­is­tra­tor. In the lat­ter role, he was re­spon­si­ble for su­per­vis­ing sev­eral de­part­ments, in­clud­ing pub­lic util­i­ties, pub­lic works, plan­ning and zon­ing, build­ing in­spec­tions, and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams.

Be­sides also serv­ing as in­terim di­rec­tor of sev­eral de­part­ments as va­can­cies oc­curred, Curry served mul­ti­ple times as the in­terim emer­gency man­age­ment co­or­di­na­tor. And he man­aged the cap­i­tal im­ple­men­ta­tion of a $16.2 mil­lion pub­lic safety/pub­lic ser­vice trunked ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tion project in Glouces­ter County.

Ad­dress­ing the BOS af­ter the an­nounce­ment of his hir­ing, Curry ac­knowl­edged the tur­bu­lence the county has ex­pe­ri­enced in re­cent months.

But, he said, “I am look­ing for­ward to tack­ling the board’s ex­pressed pri­or­i­ties.”

On a per­sonal note, he told the BOS and oth­ers at the meet­ing that he has en­joyed Rap­pa­han­nock County as an out­door des­ti­na­tion for many years. And now that he will be a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity he is look­ing for­ward to “see­ing the more cul­tured side” of the county.

Af­ter BOS chair Roger Welch of­fi­cially wel­comed Curry, other mem­bers ex­pressed their plea­sure at hav­ing him on board.

Hamp­ton su­per­vi­sor John Lesin­ski praised Curry’s “pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm for his pro­fes­sion” and said he knew that Curry’s eyes “are wide open to the chal­lenges fac­ing the county.”

Par­rish piped in, “Thank you for com­ing to help us all out.”

Gar­ton, who has known Curry for years, said: “I am telling you with­out reser­va­tion that you won’t find some­one with more in­tegrity. Per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, I wel­come Mr. Curry to the county.”

Gar­ton said the BOS has not yet de­ter­mined how Curry’s ten­ure will over­lap with hers.

AMEND­MENTS TABLED

The BOS, in its evening pub­lic ses­sion last Mon­day, voted unan­i­mously to ta­ble a pro­posed set of con­tro­ver­sial zon­ing or­di­nance amend­ments rather than adopt them.

The mem­bers of the BOS had made its de­ci­sion ear­lier in its af­ter­noon ses­sion. Stonewall-Hawthorne district su­per­vi­sor Chris Par­rish told the meet­ing at­ten­dees, “We are plan­ning to turn this back to the plan­ning com­mis­sion, but we ad­ver­tised for a pub­lic hear­ing, so we wanted to hear from you.”

And hear from the pub­lic they did: Seven speak­ers ex­pressed ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed amend­ments, as well as the process by which they are be­ing con­sid­ered.

The amend­ments, re­flected in a marked-up copy of the 191-page county zon­ing or­di­nance, would dras­ti­cally change the process for con­sid­er­a­tion and ap­proval of ap­pli­ca­tions for per­mits for such uses as tourist homes, B&Bs, fam­ily apart­ments, and event venues. They would also af­fect min­i­mum lot sizes for tourist homes, board­ing houses, and B&Bs; ex­pand the au­thor­ity of the BOS and zon­ing ad­min­is­tra­tor; and limit the pow­ers of the board of zon­ing ap­peals.

Ac­cord­ing to a res­o­lu­tion pre­sented at the Septem­ber 6 BOS meet­ing by Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Art Goff and then-zon­ing ad­min­is­tra­tor Dave Dameron, the amend­ments would “elim­i­nate the dis­tinc­tion be­tween spe­cial per­mits and spe­cial ex­cep­tions in fa­vor of a sin­gle process of ap­ply­ing for a spe­cial ex­cep­tion . . . ”

At the Nov. 6 evening BOS meet­ing, Pied­mont district res­i­dent and for­mer chair of the plan­ning com­mis­sion Tom Junk chas­tised county of­fi­cials for not hav­ing up­dated the county’s com­pre­hen­sive plan and zon­ing or­di­nance in many years.

“The whole zon­ing or­di­nance has to be gone through cover to cover,” he said. He char­ac­ter­ized the pro­posed amend­ments as a “piece­meal ap­proach.”

Alex Sharp, BZA chair, pre­sented a let­ter from the BZA op­pos­ing the amend­ments.

He read, “Pri­mar­ily we feel that such a sig­nif­i­cant change to the zon­ing or­di­nance terms should not be done with­out full con­sid­er­a­tion of the pros and cons of the cur­rent sys­tem and should be jus­ti­fied by much more than con­ve­nience of staff, stream­lin­ing of ad­ver­tis­ing and ‘that’s the way other lo­cal­i­ties do it.’”

Lo­cal at­tor­ney David Kon­ick, also a BZA mem­ber, called at­ten­tion to one amend­ment in par­tic­u­lar that deletes a sec­tion of the or­di­nance ti­tled Lim­its on Au­thor­ity.

“Delet­ing this sec­tion would al­low the board of su­per­vi­sors to ig­nore or gut the or­di­nance,” he said.

He warned that if the power to re­view and grant spe­cial per­mits is taken away from the BZA and put in the hands of the BOS, “ev­ery ap­pli­ca­tion would be a big po­lit­i­cal foot­ball.”

Mar­lena Lee of Castle­ton pre­sented to the su­per­vi­sors a pe­ti­tion signed by 50 county res­i­dents op­posed to do­ing away with min­i­mum lot sizes for tran­sient lodg­ing.

“With these amend­ments,” said Lee, “you are cre­at­ing holes in our or­di­nance. The board of su­per­vi­sors’ duty is to pro­tect the county.”

Jock Nash of the Hamp­ton district said, “I’m con­cerned about giv­ing the board of su­per­vi­sors more au­thor­ity.”

He also ob­jected to what he per­ceives as county of­fi­cials try­ing to speed up the ap­proval process on the amend­ments. “There is noth­ing I can see that re­quires the bum’s rush,” he said.

At the end of the pub­lic com­ment ses­sion, Par­rish thanked the speak­ers for their in­put.

BREAK­ING SI­LENCE

In a sur­pris­ing break with pro­to­col sur­round­ing closed meet­ings, Jack­son su­per­vi­sor Ron Fra­zier shared in a phone call Tues­day what had been dis­cussed be­hind closed doors at the end of the Mon­day BOS meet­ing. The agenda de­scribed the closed ses­sion as: “Dis­cus­sion, Con­sid­er­a­tion, and In­ter­view of Can­di­dates for County Ad­min­is­tra­tor.”

The Vir­ginia Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act al­lows of­fi­cials to hold closed meet­ings to dis­cuss sen­si­tive top­ics, such as per­son­nel mat­ters or con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions. How­ever, the of­fi­cials must cer­tify to the pub­lic im­me­di­ately af­ter the closed ses­sion that they only dis­cussed those ex­empt top­ics.

Dur­ing the roll call cer­ti­fi­ca­tion at the evening BOS meet­ing, Fra­zier de­clined to cer­tify, send­ing the rest of the board, Gar­ton, and County At­tor­ney Art Goff into a state of con­fu­sion.

In phone calls Tues­day, Par­rish and Lesin­ski were asked why Fra­zier re­fused to cer­tify. Both Par­rish and Lesin­ski re­fused to dis­cuss what had tran­spired in the closed ses­sion.

“We’re not sup­posed to talk about what hap­pened in closed ses­sion,” said Par­rish. “That’s the rea­son it’s closed.”

How­ever, Fra­zier was only too happy to talk about what hap­pened. He said that the ac­tual pro­ceed­ings of the meet­ing did not pre­cisely fol­low the stated pur­pose, which was to con­sider can­di­dates for the open county ad­min­is­tra­tor po­si­tion.

“The board had al­ready made a [can­di­date] se­lec­tion,” said Fra­zier. “We were work­ing out the terms [of his con­tract]. The mo­tion [to con­duct the closed ses­sion] didn’t say any­thing about ne­go­ti­at­ing con­tracts.”

The BOS, he said, even called the can­di­date, who had been in­ter­viewed twice ear­lier, to dis­cuss the con­tract.

“That was not in the mo­tion for the closed meet­ing,” said Fra­zier.

Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr.

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