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Supervisors not interested in joining regional library study

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By John Barnhart

Bedford County will not be joining Lynchburg and Campbell County in a study to determine what savings a regional library system would bring.
    Monday's meeting began with a work session with a presentation by Bob White, deputy director of planning and core services for Region 2000, on a regional library study. The study would cost $66,000 and look at the potential for cost savings if the three localities consolidated their libraries into a regional system. According to Deputy County Administrator Frank Rogers, Bedford’s library system already has the $22,000 in its budget that would pay Bedford County’s share of the study’s cost.
    The supervisors debated the issue during their regular meeting. District 7 Supervisor Tammy Parker noted that the issue before them was not whether to join a regional library system., but rather was only to gather preliminary information and she was not opposed to joining the study.
    District 4 Supervisor John Sharp noted that Bedford County would still retain ownership of its libraries and the study is needed to see what the savings a regional system would bring actually are. Board Chairman Steve Arrington felt the study is needed to determine the savings that would be achieved and what impact a regional system would have on the libraries’ quality. He noted that Campbell County has already voted to participate in the study.
    Other supervisors disagreed.
    “I’m not in favor of the regional library,” District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard said.
    District 2 Supervisor Curry Martin, who strongly opposes Bedford County relinquishing control of its library system, said that the primary beneficiary of a regional library system would be Lynchburg. He said that, in joining a regional library system, Bedford County would be giving up a system that cost $7 million to build and is the model library for the region.
    “There is no way I’m going to vote for it,” he said.
    District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson said that savings for Bedford County would be minimal and not worth giving up the county’s libraries for. He made a motion to deny the request to participate in the study.
    Thomasson, Martin, District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek, and Pollard voted in favor of Thomasson’s motion. Sharp, Parker and Arrington voted against it.
    In other business, the supervisors voted 6-0, with one abstention, to approve Sheriff Mike Brown’s request  to apply for a federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Continuation grant in the amount of $350,913. According to Lt. Michael Harmony, who heads Bedford County’s task force, the Sheriff’s Office has received this grant every year since 1998.
    Martin was the one abstention. He serves on the board of directors of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation and abstained because he felt that voting on this request would represent a conflict of interest for him.
    The supervisors also unanimously approved a request by the Bedford Historical Society to apply for a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to continue its Barns of Bedford initiative. The Historical Society is compiling a list, with photographs, of all historic barns in the county. The grant does not require a local match. According to Rogers, who made the presentation, the Historical Society must partner with the county’s government in order to apply for the grant.

Zoning ordinance changes adopted
    The supervisors voted unanimously to adopt their proposed changes to the county’s zoning ordinance. Tim Wilson, the county’s director of community development, presented them with an ordinance that reflected their changes from their May 13 meeting. The ordinance was written to take effect immediately upon adoption by the supervisors. The supervisors hope that the changes will make the zoning ordinance more business friendly and relax restrictions on property owners.
    The supervisors made one last minute change, affecting minimum lot sizes for subdivisions in AP zones. The ordinance before them set the minimum lot size at one acre, reduced from the zoning ordinance’s three acre minimum, but Sharp added language to change that to 1.5 acres, with a minimum road frontage of 150 feet. Family subdivisions would retain the one acre minimum lot size.
    Pollard moved to adopt the ordinance, as presented, without Sharp’s change. Her motion failed on a 5-2 vote with Pollard and Arrington voting for it and Parker, Thomasson, Martin, Cheek and Sharp voting against it.
    They then voted to adopt the ordinance, with Sharp’s amendment, by a 5-2 vote with Sharp, Parker, Thomasson, Martin and Cheek voting in favor and Pollard and Arrington voting against it.
    The ordinance that Wilson presented to the supervisors left one item out — a planning commission recommendation that the county adopt a private road standard for agricultural subdivisions. Wilson said that this will require a public hearing. The supervisors will revisit this issue at a later date.