IW supervisors table discussion of chickens, event center

Published 12:04 pm Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors voted to take no action on a proposed change to the county’s zoning ordinances that would allow residents to keep chickens on residential-zoned properties during its regular scheduled meeting on Thursday. They also tabled voting on the application of Sam and Wendy Mills for a special use permit to construct an event center at 14547 Lawnes Drive in the Hardy District following a public hearing on the matter.

The board did, however, come to a decision regarding the special use permit William Riddick filed on behalf of ROSF LLC for another proposed event center at the Aberdeen Farms property, also in the Hardy District, ultimately voting 3-2 to deny the permit. Board Chairman Rex Alphin, Vice Chairman Rudolph Jefferson and Joel Acree voted in favor of denying the permit, while William McCarty and Dick Grice voted against denial.

According to McCarty, the reason the board voted to table the chicken issue was because the current language of the proposed changes to the county’s ordinance would have permitted chickens anywhere in the county’s residential areas, without first considering homeowners’ associations or citizens’ comments.

According to Alphin, the board has been tasked with reaching out to citizens throughout the county in the mean time to get feedback on whether or not they would be agreeable to their neighbors potentially raising chickens.

“We’re exploring what we can do to enable residents to raise chickens,” Alphin said. “We want to try to look at some ways we can allow it without infringing on neighbors’ rights.”

Alphin added that while no citizens spoke in regards to the chicken debate during citizens’ time, he hopes that there will be citizen comments on this topic during the board’s January meeting.

During its financial presentation, the board announced that Fitch Rating, the agency responsible for calculating the county’s bond rating, had reaffirmed the county’s AA rating, which, according to McCarty, is the best credit rating the county can hope to achieve at this time. The next highest rating is AAA.

The board also announced that the county had recently received its third consecutive Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA), the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

When it came time for board members to suggest new business, McCarty requested the county staff to prepare a report on all ordinances currently on the books with language stating that county officials are exempt from following said ordinances.

“The board should not enforce laws we are unwilling to follow ourselves; it sends the wrong message to our constituents,” McCarty said.

The board concluded by announcing that it will again revisit potential uses for the controversial waterfront Stoup Property at the foot of the James River Bridge, which they purchased in 2008 for $1 million, a price far above the parcel’s assessed value.

The board’s next meeting will be an organizational meeting Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 11 a.m. as determined during the board’s previous organizational meeting in January 2016. The board’s next work session will also be held that Thursday at 6 p.m.