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Board OK's land purchase for new school

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But denies rezoning request in Moneta

    The Bedford County Board of Supervisors, last week, unanimously turned down a request by Patricia Bailey to rezone a four-acre tract on Va. 122 in Moneta. But the supervisors did approve a request by the school board to purchase property next to Liberty High School to build a new secondary school.
    Bailey’s property is zoned R-1 (low density residential) and she originally sought to have it rezoned general commercial. The planning commission had earlier unanimously recommended that this request be denied, stating that Bailey’s intended use is not compatible with adjoining uses and that her request, if granted, would be spot zoning.

    When Bailey appeared before the supervisors, she changed the requested new zoning to AV (agricultural village). She had wanted to build a conference center and an amphitheater for outdoor entertainment but said she would drop the amphitheater idea for now, although she said she would like to bring it up for a special use permit later. She also said that granting her request would correct a mis-zoning of the property.
    Bailey said Downtown Moneta is within two miles of her property and there is a Food Lion three miles away.
    “My intended use is very much conforming with surrounding uses,” Bailey said.
    People who own the adjoining property all spoke in opposition at the public hearing.
    Joe Hicks said that his father owns the land behind Bailey’s tract and operates a farm with cattle. He said he is not against growth, but is concerned that people attending events at Bailey’s facility would end up in his father’s pasture. Hicks said the facility would be too close to a working farm.
    Larry Beard, a trustee for Bethlehem United Methodist Church, also opposed the rezoning. He said the church’s parsonage is right next door to Bailey’s property and the pastor’s office looks right out on the parcel, which, he said is too small for the project Bailey is proposing.
    Beard said there are existing general commercial properties nearby, but they aren’t “party places.”
    “We ask you to say ‘no’ to this change request,” he said.
    Lawrence King lives on the other side of Bailey’s property. He said a fence wouldn’t keep the music from Bailey’s outdoor entertainment out of his bedroom, which is on his house’s second floor.
    “I’ve lived in my house for 22 years,” he said.
    “Nobody would want to live next door to a parking lot,” he said, adding that Bailey’s project would ruin the value of his house as residential property.
    “Would you want to live next door to this?” he asked.
    District 7 Supervisor Tammy Parker noted a problem with Bailey’s last minute modification to her request. She said the change should have been made before the meeting, not at the meeting.
    County Attorney Carl Boggess noted another problem. Bailey presented proffers at the meeting, but Boggess said these must be presented in writing before a public hearing.
    Parker had problems with Bailey’s proposal, itself.
    “We do have zoning in Bedford County,” Parker commented.
    Parker said that there are currently three single family homes in a row, one of them being Bailey’s property. She said the proposal sandwiches an intensive commercial use on a very small lot between two residences.
    “I just don’t see it as the best use of that property,” Parker concluded.

Approves land purchase for school
    A request from the school board to use money left over from the Jefferson Forest High School renovation to buy 50 acres adjacent to Liberty High School passed 6-1 with District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard casting the lone dissenting vote.
    “Every time we turn around, there is something they need,” Pollard commented.
    The land purchase is in connection with Bedford’s reversion to town status; the county agreed to build a new middle school as part of that agreement. The school board is still considering a number of options for the property: a new middle school; a new high school with the current LHS being utilized as a new middle school; or a combined campus between the high school and middle school with the sharing of some facilities. The goal is to open the new school by August. 2016.
    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas Schuch spoke to the supervisors on the school division’s strategic vision for Bedford County Public Schools.
    “As you may know, we are currently preparing students in the graduating class of 2014, our seniors, and the graduating class of 2026, our Kindergarten students, as well as every group of students in between,” Dr. Schuch commented.
    Dr. Schuch said that schools are currently set up to prepare students to enter the economy as it existed 50 years ago.
    “In the current economic climate, a high school diploma alone holds little promise for a majority of the jobs of 2014 and beyond, which is why we are committed to providing more challenging educational and workplace opportunities that will prepare all students for success in college and career fields,” he said.
    “In response to the demands of this new economy, Bedford County Public Schools has renewed its commitment to Career and Technical Education by supporting existing programs, growing new programs in the high tech sector, and increasing the importance of authentic workplace internship experiences,” he said We are also preparing more students for college, whether 2-year or 4-year, through AP programs and partnerships with our local community colleges.
    He also called for adopting new technology and teaching methods that will allow students to progress at their own pace. The availability of affordable high speed Internet access throughout the county, will be one critical factor in achieving this goal.
    Teachers will be a vital part of this process and Dr. Schuch said the adoption of new technology will not replace them. He said he would like to make it possible for “our strongest teachers can take on additional responsibilities and earn higher salaries without leaving the classroom.”
    Dr. Schuch said Bedford County Public Schools is currently participating in a state-sponsored school efficiency review and he expects to have a final report no later than June.
    In other business, the supervisors adopted a resolution honoring Delegate Lacey Putney for his 52 years of service in the House of Delegates.
    District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard asked that the supervisors adopt a resolution calling for a proposed passenger train connection between Lynchburg and Roanoke to make a stop in Bedford.
    “I know there are a lot of people interested in it,” she said.
    County Administrator Mark Reeter said that he would prepare a resolution for the supervisors to consider at their Dec. 9 meeting.