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Hearing on church sewer hook-up set for Tuesday

Centenary Methodist Church

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors has the authority to allow the owner of historic Centenary United Methodist Church in Saluda the use of the courthouse “pump and haul” sewer system.

County supervisors will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 1, to consider a request from All Saints Anglican Church to allow a sewer hook-up from Centenary to the county-owned sewer line under New Street in Saluda.

Approving the sewer connection would allow bathrooms to be built in the old church, which has been closed since 2006.

The Anglicans want to purchase the church from the Methodist trustees of the Rappahannock Methodist District. Methodist officials, however, have indicated they turned down the Anglicans’ offer, and are considering a different offer for the church.

Letter of Authority

At the supervisors’ August 18 meeting, county administrator Charles Culley presented a Feb. 11, 2009 letter from Patricia M. Duttry, Environmental Health Supervisor of the Three Rivers Health District. The letter states that the county has been issued a “permanent pump and haul agreement and general permit” by the State Health Commissioner, which includes “no restrictions on the length of time that the county can conduct pump and haul operations. This is true for the county structures . . . and extends to any structures which the board chooses to include under this agreement, whether owned by the county or others.”

Centenary Church closed in 2006 when the congregation got too low in numbers to meet the church’s financial needs and obligations. The Rappahannock Methodist District owns the church building, and district officials said they have been trying to sell the building and property since the church closed.

When it was learned recently there was structural damage to the church roof, the county building official ordered it repaired or torn down. Methodist officials then decided the church, which was built in 1882, would be razed.

This decision stirred public support for preserving the historic structure, and started a new round of negotiations to save the church. 

In addition to the roof damage, another problem is that the church has no bathrooms and church-owned land next to the building will not support a septic system.

Until recently, apparently no one realized the county had a solution to disposing of sewage from the church—a hook-up in the middle of New Street next to the church.

Supervisors voted to hold a public hearing before deciding whether they will allow the church to be connected to the county sewer system.

Special exception

In another matter at the Aug. 18 meeting, supervisors voted to approve a special exception to allow Chuck and Linda Leasure of Warner to install a mini-storage facility at the Route 17 location of the fire-damaged Leasure’s Wrecker Service Inc. and its truck storage and maintenance shop near Saluda.

The application states that Leasure’s Wrecker Service Inc. will continue to rent part of the new building and there will not be anything housed in the storage units that will be harmful or dangerous to the environment or surrounding properties. It also states that traffic to the new facility will be substantially less than in the past.

posted 08.26.2009

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