For the second month in a row, Buchanan Town Council moved its meeting from the Town Hall across the street to the Buchanan Theatre because of the number of people attending the meeting.
Last month’s meeting drew a large crowd because of a council decision to not replace the windows on the food stands on the Carnival Grounds, a hearing on the town budget and accusations made in a letter at the April council meeting about how Mayor Larry Hall allegedly treated the town office personnel. Vice-Mayor Jamie Manspile read the letter from Jay Chambers, who was not at the April meeting.
Chambers was at the May meeting, but Town Attorney Joe Obenshain said it was not appropriate to discuss his letter or the issue since Town Council voted to investigate the accusations, and during the May meeting hired attorney Jennifer Royer to do that.
Obenshain noted at Monday’s meeting that Royer has not completed that investigation.
Council reversed its April decision and agreed 5-0 to put roll-up windows on the food-serving buildings at the Carnival Grounds after several people spoke in favor of the idea, and because of comments council members received after the split vote the month before to not change out the windows.
During Monday night’s meeting, Town Manager Mary Zirkle addressed several questions that came up during the public hearing on the town’s 2017-18 (FY18) budget.
Former Councilman Ed Tolley asked for clarification on several budget numbers at the May public hearing, and wondered Monday if council’s inability to answer some of his questions at the public hearing satisfied the requirements for a public hearing.
Obenshain said there was no problem that he saw with the public hearing meeting the legal requirements. “You had the opportunity to raise those questions,” Obenshain said.
Later in the meeting, council voted 5-0 to approve a $725,131 General Fund budget and a $533,368 Water and Sewer Fund budget.
Council also voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Lamar Advertising to lease the Main Street/Third Street billboard for one year to advertise events and businesses. The total cost will be about $3,500.
Council also decided unanimously to hire Royal Oak Farm LLC for $6,800 to grind brush at the town’s brush collection lot.
Council also agreed to hold a work session when members will discuss and decide whether to pursue possible changes to the Town Charter. Council discussed amending the charter last month to drop the requirement that the town manager live in the town limits. That idea didn’t get much traction then. Hall said the charter does need to be cleaned up anyway, and council agreed to discuss possible changes.
At the same meeting, council will also review possible changes to the town Noise Ordinance.
Obenshain said the town’s Noise Ordinance is “not legally supportable” because of a State Supreme Court ruling. Many jurisdictions were forced to change their Noise Ordinances after that ruling, including Botetourt County, which made the change in 2014. Zirkle said if the town’s Noise Ordinance can be more consistent with the county ordinance, it will make it easier for the Sheriff’s Department to enforce.
Council seemed receptive to accepting a batteau from the Virginia Canal Society that could be on display with interpretive signage at the gauge dock on the Town Park. Several people spoke in favor of the idea as long as it is covered in some fashion to protect it from deterioration.
Council also recognized Pat Jasper for her many years of service to the town and community as a teacher, carnival volunteer, Town Improvement Society member, for her work in starting the Friends of the Buchanan Library, as a member of the Buchanan Lions Club and for her service on the town’s Awards Committee.
— Ed McCoy