Caroline County – August 8, 2017
The Caroline County Board of Supervisors, minus the traveling Supervisor Underwood, considered a number of issues tonight of relative importance to Caroline County residents. There was a vote on emergency access to Lake Land’or which would provide EMS, Fire, and Police easier access to over 100 homes in the back of the Western Caroline community. There was a vote on approving a special exception for a large Swaminarayan religious resort on the boarder of King and Queen County which will bring meaningful revenue, property improvements, and a considerable degree of peaceful serenity to a property that has had it’s share problems in the past. And there was a vote on Golf Carts – a topic divisive enough that we could probably start new political parties on the basis of our passionate disagreements.
We’ll begin with the result of the Lake Land’Or emergency access project. Chairman Jeff Black, a Lake Land’or resident and potential beneficiary of the vote abstained from the vote while Vice-Chairwoman Nancy Long (Port Royal) presided over the debate. Three Lake Land’Or residents, including the president of the HOA, spoke in favor of the project, arguing that the project would increase the speed of response times up to six minutes – a significant period of time if you are having a heart attack, experiencing a home invasion, or witnessing child abuse. No Caroline County residents appeared to oppose the project.
The Lake Land’Or emergency access project was made possible by a property owner willing to grant the county access to the easement on the land between Land’Or and Durrette Road (which runs just a few hundred feet behind Crump Dr in Land’Or). While this project had been considered in the past, Durrette Road used to be a dirt road which county services preferred not to use due to safety concerns. Now that Durrette is paved and the owner of the land between Durrette and Land’Or is willing to provide an agreement to easement, the county has the opportunity to respond more quickly to residents. This could save lives.
Supervisor Floyd Thomas (Mattaponi) worried that the project, which would provide matching funds with the Land’Or HOA of $35,000 for the project, was creating precedent for future projects which would only benefit a few residents at the entire county’s expense saying, “I’m not sure it’s fair to ask the people in Port Royal or Sparta or Sunshine Road to pay for that.”
Supervisor Thomas admitted that the project should take place, but that the residents of Lake Land’Or, through their HOA, should pay the county back for the $35k investment.
Supervisor Jeff Sili (Bowling Green) pointed out that the County had paid millions of dollars into projects (i.e. YMCA, Ladysmith Village Library, Dawn Wastewater Plant) that only provided benefits to specific sections of the county at the expense of the rest of the county. The improvement plan had the support of Fire Chief Loftus and Sheriff Lippa. Supervisor Nancy Long (Port Royal) argued that if $35,000 aided in the saving of a single life or in the protection of a single child, then the county was getting a great deal for the price.
Supervisors Forehand (Madison), Sili, and Vice-Chairwoman Long all voted to approve the project. Supervisor Thomas voted against it. Chairman Jeff Black abstained.
A Hindu organization looking to build a camp for children and a place of worship for believers across the United States is seeking to secure a special exception permit to build on 345 acres in Caroline County. The property currently produces $54,000 in real estate taxes and has been the home to several camps and organizations which have caused various problems for communities and law enforcement. The Hindu resort, which will not permit tobacco or alcohol, and will be established as a place of tranquility and meditation is absolutely perfect for current zoning of the property and the environmental preservation of the land. The prospective owners seek to invest $7.2 million in improvements to the property and the real estate tax value is expected to more than double. Improvements will even include a Cricket field – a sport (somehow) growing in national popularity.
While the entire Board agreed that this organization was perfect for Caroline County, Supervisor Thomas wanted a second public meeting and Supervisor Sili wanted clearer language regarding the possible future transfer of the property before approving the project. Jeff Sili’s question about the transfer of the property resulted from Supervisor Clay Forehand bringing up Noah’s Ark in Kentucky.
The issue started in late June after Ark Encounter LLC sold the parcel to its non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon for $10. The deed continues to describe the property as worth $18 million even though the Grant County PVA has assessed the land for $48 million. LHL
By selling the land to a non-profit, the owners hoped to avoid the excessive tax-burden. Mr. Forehand simply wanted to make sure that nothing of the sort could also happen here. The Lawyer representing the applicants assured the County that the prospective owners would be happy to include a condition that the special exception applied only to them and not to some future non-profit. This project will double the value of 350 acres of land inaccessible to high-speed internet and WiFi. This will secure a large portion of the county from crime and pollution, but it could expose Caroline County Residents to Cricket. I’m not saying that is a deal breaker, I’m just saying.
Sheriff Lippa and County Administrator Charles Cully simply wanted to solve the problem of excess signs in Caroline Pines as they related to the county ordinance on Golf Carts there. Seriously… Just There. I’m not kidding.
However, as word began to spread around Caroline County that a new ordinance for Golf Cart Communities was being voted on at tonight’s Board of Supervisors, Golf Cart aficionados and (they don’t exist… yet) Caroline County Residents Against Golf Carts on an Existential Level (CCRAGCEL for short) began letting their Supervisors know where they fell on the issue. The Supervisors looked worried. The Golf Cart issue has no doubt brought down many a campaign.
There was a great deal of discussion.
To be perfectly honest, there was so much discussion about Golf Carts that I don’t know what happened with Caroline Pines. Maybe Caroline Pines can use less signs. Call a Supervisor and ask. I don’t know.
By the time the Board Meeting began, the Supervisors had clearly heard from their constituents – many for, many against Golf Carts spreading like the Zika Virus across our great subdivisions.
All I know is this – Lake Caroline ain’t Colonial Beach. We’ve got thin roads. We’ve got hills. And I do not want to have to explain to Sheriff Lippa how I accidentally drove over a 14 year old kid who stole his parents golf cart and tried to make it to his girlfriends house after dark.
Honestly, I apologize for the levity, but the debate over this Golf Cart thing caught me by surprise. I don’t know how it ended up. I believe there was a motion to develop a policy relative to golf carts and that this policy had something to do with preventing The Jets (pro-carts) and The Sharks (not-pro-carts) from rumbling under the bridge by the river.