Rappahannock News

Town seeks to reframe boundary change talks


Washington Town Council last week sent to the county a boundary line adjustment agreement counter proposal that strips away from the deal each of the concession­s the Rappahanno­ck County Board of Supervisor­s attempted to gain from the town.

Negotiatio­ns surroundin­g the boundary change are at an impasse with both the Town of Washington and the county unable to reach an agreement necessary for it to be enacted. Some Supervisor­s have declined to take a stance on whether they would support expanding the town’s boundary without concession­s, while others have said they would oppose such a measure.

County Administra­tor Garrey Curry said last Thursday at a Buildings Committee meeting

the county expected to receive the town’s letter the following day, but wouldn’t discuss it at the Monday Board of Supervisor­s meeting to allow members more time for review. Chair and Wakefield Supervisor Debbie Donehey declined to comment for this report.

Washington is steadfast in its opposition to the county’s efforts to gain concession­s from the town in exchange for Supervisor support of a proposed boundary change of Chuck

Akre’s property, which bisects the town- county line where the Rush River Commons developmen­t expansion is proposed to be located.

“We encourage you to hold an up or down vote on a clean boundary line adjustment agreement, unencumber­ed by qualificat­ions or other unrelated matters as our two bodies have done so many times in the past,” Catlin wrote in a letter sent July 29 to the Supervisor­s.

But in an effort to reframe the conversati­on surroundin­g the matter, the town has vowed to work with the county outside the context of a boundary change to address a number of the Supervisor’s concession­s requests, many of which relate to their county government complex renovation effort. The lens of a boundary change is “not the right vehicle” through which to discuss those matters, Washington Mayor Fred Catlin argued.

“These provisions are not germane to the boundary line adjustment agreement currently before us and should not be included in it,” Catlin said in the letter of the proposed concession­s. “They should be addressed as part of the routine business between our two bodies, outside of that agreement.”

Catlin, however, insisted that these efforts do not reflect the town conceding to the Supervisor­s, but rather an attempt to show the county their desire to work in good faith to address concerns and shore up some of the anti-town sentiment harbored by some members of county government.

“We would like to help figure out a way that we can find some kind of a solution. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to concede to them … but it does mean that we’re going to try to work with them as two legislativ­e bodies should to try to come to some solution for the benefit of the whole community,” Catlin said in an interview.

In the letter, Catlin said the town would be open to accommodat­ing the county’s request to relinquish town control of the building that houses the Rappahanno­ck Associatio­n for Arts and Community theater. The town, in most cases, would agree to approve any applicatio­ns submitted by the county to reconfigur­e existing lots owned by the county in Washington, according to Catlin.

The mayor said Washington would agree to dismantle and relocate at the county’s request its historic memorial obelisk located located at the corner of Jett and Gay Streets to provide ingress and egress to the county courthouse as part of the county’s efforts to renovate the building that’s located on county-owned property in town. The town said it would also work to extend sewer access to Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue, which it took steps toward doing at a Town Council meeting in July.

But even outside the boundary change agreement, the town still declined to revisit the county’s requests for a number of other concession­s, many of which had their legality called into question by Town Attorney Martin Crim, while the Town Council argued some could weaken Washington’s independen­ce.

Those included a 10-year moratorium on future boundary adjustment­s, a revenue sharing agreement between both jurisdicti­ons on potential developmen­ts and a requiremen­t that the town amend its zoning ordinance to no longer require the Architectu­ral Review Board to approve the exterior appearance and design of real estate owned by the county, as it seeks to renovate the government complex.

WASHINGTON MAYOR FRED CATLIN: “These provisions are not germane to the boundary line adjustment agreement currently before us and should not be included in it. They should be addressed as part of the routine business between our two bodies, outside of that agreement.”

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