Sidewalk Cafés

At Town Council’s September 28 Work Session, Town Planner Will Moore suggested that Middleburg, for the first time, consider seriously the idea of allowing sidewalk cafes on its streets.

According to Moore, “he had been approached by a couple of businesses that were possibly interested in sidewalk dining.”

There was much to consider in what might appear to be a simple request, Moore noted, including liability issues and ensuring non-interference with passable rights-of-way.

Nevertheless, the Town Planner noted, sidewalk cafes could do a lot to add life to a street, citing Winchester’s experience with their pedestrian mall, and Leesburg’s sidewalk dining.

If Council thought the matter worth further consideration, Moore volunteer to craft a draft ordinance for their review.

Councilmembers Daly and Leonard-Morgan were enthusiastic about the idea.  Councilmember Mark Snyder was somewhat skeptical, but expressed interest in seeing Town staff “work out a way so it could happen.”

Moore promised to have something for Council to review, “within the next couple of months. “

Quarterly Messages from the Mayor

Mayor Betsy Davis reported that “someone [had] suggested that time is allocated” for a formal quarterly “message” to the citizens, written by the Mayor and/or a member of Council, and published once per quarter on the Town website and in the newspaper.

Councilmember Leonard-Morgan said he thought it would  “be nice if a different member of Council suggested a theme each time a message was done.”

Councilmember Mark Snyder, who already writes a column once a month for the Middleburg Eccentric said he thought the topics covered should be “the Mayor’s preference” and suggested, “if she wanted input, she would have it. “

Councilmember Littleton said he thought that such a “message” “would increase citizen engagement and transparency.”

Since “the next quarter begins on October 1st “ Littleton suggested the Mayor’s first “message” appear before Thanksgiving and take advantage of all free media coverage available

Mayor Davis agreed.

Water Tower Issues

Mark Alvarez, of Stonewall Court Homeowners Association, appeared before Council at its regular monthly meeting on October 12 to advise Council that his residents had received a notice that work on the water tower there was in progress and would continue until November 9th.

Heavy equipment, he noted, was parked in the lot near the tower, including two heavy-duty trailers, and sandblasting supplies and equipment that were doing serious damage to the pavement.

Though it was both true and reasonable that the Town had an easement, guaranteeing access to the site, he noted, the small Homeowner’s Association had to bear the burden of any repaving required, currently estimated at around $40,000-50,000.

Alvarez also noted, “that there was heavy equipment parked in the emergency fire lane, including a truck and two heavy-duty trailers.”  Alvarez expressed serious doubts about whether an emergency vehicle could respond under those conditions in the event of a life and death situation.

He then asked Council for help.

Mayor Davis said Town Council “would discuss his concerns and have the Town Administrator get in touch with him.”

Town Administrator Martha Semmes noted that she had “tried to contact Mr. Alvarez; however, his voice mail was full.”

Town Planner Stuart Will and the Town’s Maintenance Supervisor, she said, had looked already at the equipment and reported that some items had been moved.

Ms. Semmes expressed appreciation for Mr. Alvarez’ concerns and noted that the Town would do what it could to address them.

Honor Oath

Police Chief A.J. Panebianco administer his department’s Oath of Honor to three officers on October 12: newly promoted Lieutenant Jay Hollins and Corporal Heather Fadely, as well as a new part-time Officer, Mark Davis.

Hollins, he noted, had been with the Town for five years and brought twenty-three years of law enforcement experience to the position.  The new Lieutenant currently serves as the department’s training officer and firearms arms instructor and will be taking over criminal investigation duties.

Corporal Fadely is the first female officer to be promoted in Middleburg.  She has served here with distinction for six years and brought with twelve years of experience with other departments

Mark Davis, Panebianco noted, brings thirty-five years of police work experience with him to the job and is a lifelong resident of Middleburg.  He is married to Mayor Betsy Davis.

Before a Middleburg Police Officer is truly added to the local force he or she swears, in addition to the oath sworn before the Clerk of the Loudoun County Circuit Court, the following:

On My Honor,

I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust.

I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. 

I will always uphold the Constitution, and the community I serve, 

So Help Me God.

New Assisted Living Facility

According to Town Planner Moore Middleburg’s Planning Commission has been in discussions with a developer hoping “to construct an assisted living facility in Middleburg.”  A formal presentation to the Commission is expected as early as November.

Moore noted that “there was a multitude of issues associated with this request,” among them the Town’s “constrained use” regulations “defined in the zoning ordinance for assisted living facilities that were for six or fewer persons.”

There was, he continued, “no use defined in the Town Code for something on the scale that was being proposed,” a facility of some 75 to 120 units.

Councilmember Mark Snyder observed that “this would have a huge impact on the town.”

Gas Masks

Police Chief A. J. Panebianco reported that in recent meetings Middleburg’s “partners in law enforcement in Northern Virginia” they had often discussed “pop-up protests” similar to the recent unfortunate events in Charlottesville and elsewhere across the Commonwealth.

Panebianco suggested that his department “needed additional equipment to protect the officer” during such events, namely gas masks, costing less than $5,000 for both equipment and training.

If something like the Charlottesville event happened in Middleburg, Panebianco observed, he thought it was important that local officers, Middleburg officers, be present and active.

Without gas masks that might well be impossible.  Indeed, under such circumstances, the Middleburg Force ran the risk of being kept away from events happening in the Town they were sworn to protect and serve.

Murdock Appointed

On a motion by Mark Snyder moved, seconded by Vice Mayor Darlene Kirk, Middleburg’s Town Council unanimously agreed to ask that the Circuit Court appoint former Council Member Bundles Murdock to the Town’s Board of Zoning Appeals to serve the remainder of the term vacated by Kathy Ribaudo.