Supervisors reintroduce contentious concessions sought in Town-County boundary change
The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors met for their monthly meeting on Monday, where they voted 3-1-1 to send an updated boundary line adjustment agreement to the Town of Washington as negotiations on the proposal continue.
Hampton Supervisor Keir Whitson revised the previous agreement to sever the county’s list of sought-after concessions with the town from the boundary line adjustment proposal so each agreement might be approved separately. Whitson said that after discussions with town officials, he believes the bifurcated process could allow the county to have their concerns addressed before taking a vote on a boundary line adjustment.
Still, many of the concessions the county continues to seek in exchange for their support of expanding the town’s boundaries to accommodate an expansion of the mixed-use Rush River Commons development have been vehemently opposed by the town in the past. There’s little indication the town is suddenly willing to budge on the county’s most contentious requests.
Mayor Joe Whited in an interview said he still opposes many of the concessions reintroduced by the county, but he called the Supervisors bifurcating the concessions from the boundary change agreement a step in the right direction in the ongoing talks. The Town Council will potentially discuss the matter at its upcoming meeting next week and return to the county a definitive list of compromises they’re willing to make, Whited said.
Whitson, Chair and Wakefield Supervisor Debbie Donehey and Stonewall-Hawthorne Supervisor Van Carney voted to send the revised agreement to the town, Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier voted against the measure and Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith abstained.
Frazier and Smith argued that the revised draft should have been sent to other members of the body prior to Sunday evening, the night before the Board of Supervisors meeting. Whitson said this revised agreement is nothing the body hasn’t already discussed, and that he stated his intentions to revise the draft at their January meeting.
“I raised this as a discussion item [last month] and I explained that the town was likely willing to agree to our request if they were separated from the document,” Whitson said. “So I presented you a clean document, a clean boundary line adjustment agreement.”
The county is seeking a list of concessions from the town in return for the county approving a four-acre boundary line adjustment to accommodate an expansion of the mixed-use Rush River Commons development that currently sits on the county-town border. A boundary line adjustment would bring the development under one jurisdiction.
The concessions that the Board of Supervisors sent to the town on Monday include:
► A reciprocal release of covenants on the town hall and the building that houses the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community theater, which the town has verbally agreed to.
► A limitation on the final land use of the parcel so as to not allow for the construction of any residential dwelling units, another request the town has verbally agreed to honor.
► Sharing any meals and lodging tax revenue generated from any businesses that ultimately might be based on the current-county owned portion of the
parcel, a concession that town officials have opposed in the past.
► An agreement to realign parcels along Courthouse Row in cooperation with the county if and when needed, a request the town has verbally agreed to.
► An agreement on the part of the town to connect Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue to the town's wastewater treatment system, a request that the town has taken steps toward making reality.
► A 10-year moratorium on additional boundary line adjustment requests, which the town has opposed.
► An agreement to exempt the new county courthouse from Architectural Review Board (ARB) oversight by the town, another request the town has opposed, arguing it may be illegal to do so and would weaken the town’s independence. To enshrine the ARB’s authority, the town has taken steps toward ensuring that all property in the town’s historic district remains subject to its review by law.
The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing before taking a final vote on the boundary line adjustment proposal. A date for a public hearing has not yet been scheduled.