Urbanna Town Council discusses variety of issues
by Larry Chowning
The Urbanna Town Council held its monthly work session on Friday, August 9, at the town hall and discussed the Urbanna Oyster Festival, town boat ramp, proposed fee changes, delinquent water bills, proposed lease for the old Payne’s Crab House property, and possible renovations of the town hall building. No action was taken on any items.
Five council members were in attendance: Joe Heyman, Bill Thrift, Joanie Ward, Lee Chewning and Boyd Wiley. Council member Barbara Hartley and mayor Don Richwine were not in attendance.
The group discussed:
- Changes in the proposed Oyster Festival Master Plan, which includes shifting the Friday night Fireman’s Parade to Virginia Street and taking it off Prince George Street.
Last year, the festival’s Community Row was moved from Prince George Street to Virginia Street, and Prince George Street became part of the parade route on both Friday and Saturday. The festival’s Saturday parade route will continue to use Prince George Street.
When Saturday’s parade was on Virginia Street, State Police required the Oyster Festival Foundation pay for expensive barriers to keep people off the street. The Oyster Festival Foundation moved both parades last year from Virginia Street to Prince George Street to eliminate that cost. Barriers, however, are not required on Friday for the Fireman’s Parade.
- Insurance money that is available to fix an upstairs room in the town hall that was damaged by a leak in the air-conditioning duct.
In a related discussion, town administrator Holly Gailey encouraged council to find a new location for her office. Her office is currently in the front reception room.
• Instituting new fees where there are currently none in areas such as: water discontinuance fee for delinquency of 60 days or more; water restoration fee after discontinues; meter removal at owner’s request; reinstallation of meter at owner’s request; request for a new meter found faulty or registering high, meter found accurate or registering low; and tampering with or damaging a water meter. Council members wanted more study done on the new fees because they felt some might be unfair to customers.
Also, there was discussion on the town’s aggressiveness with regards to collection payments on delinquent water bills. The discussion ranged from turning water off immediately after 60 days of delinquency, to having some consideration for the customer who attempts to make payments.
Council member Joanie Ward said she did not want the town to cut water off on “struggling widows” in town who are trying to pay their bills.
Council instructed town attorney Andy Bury to look into the legal aspects of having different rules for renters and property owners with regards to cutting off water. Also, council wants to know if it is legal for the town to have a payment installment program.
- A lease that has been drafted, but not signed, between the town and individuals wanting to lease the Payne’s Crab House property at the foot of Virginia Street. Heyman reported that part of the lease proposal is for the leasees to build a 120-foot pier from the property into the creek, which would put the end of the pier about in line with the new floating docks recently installed at Port Urbanna Marina, he said.
Wiley voiced concern that the end of the pier “might” be too far into the creek.
Heyman said town council has to agree to the pier length in order for it to be approved by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Although the use of the property was not explained at the meeting, Bury said on Tuesday that council wants the property to reflect the history of its previous use as a small crab shedding facility and crab house. The proposal to lease the crab house was brought to council several months ago by local businessman Lawrence Fuccella. After Fuccella made the request in open session, town council went into closed session to discuss a lease agreement, said Bury.
- Whether to accept a proposed grant to build a 60-foot boat ramp at the town marina. The ramp would be larger than the current marina ramp and be built at the same site.
Council members questioned whether the bigger ramp would be “a good fit” for the town marina. Due to lack of parking at the waterfront, a larger ramp that encourages larger boats and larger trailers may not be in the best interests of the town, it was noted.
Town council will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, August 19, at 7 p.m. at the town hall.