On June 28 Mayor Betsy Davis presided over her last official meeting of the Middleburg Town Council, a regular work session at Town Hall.
Davis departed from the day’s agenda to thank Council, Town Staff, and the Middleburg Community for their support and, especially “for the wonderful farewell party they held for her on Tuesday, June 26.
She had brought presents of her own. Davis presented Council members with candy in a special box “emblazoned with the Town Seal” and gave Mayor-Elect Bridge Littleton a Magic 8-Ball similarly decorated. “I thought Bridge should have my secret solution to when I can’t make a decision,” Davis joked.
Council unanimously adopted resolutions extending its appreciation to:
Betsy A. Davis “for her service to the Town of Middleburg as a member of the Town Council from July 1, 1998, through June 30, 2006, and as Mayor from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2018,” and
Mark Snyder, “as a member of the Planning Commission from December 24, 1996, through June 30, 2006, and as a member of the Town Council from July 1, 1998, through June 30, 2018.”
Town Council has launched a search to replace long-serving Middleburg Town Administrator Martha Semmes, who recently announced that she would retire at the end of 2018.
A 25-year veteran public service, Semmes has served as Middleburg’s senior staff executive for more than eight years, beginning in November 2010.
Her tenure was marked by some of the most important changes to the community in living memory: the opening of Salamander Resort & Spa and the resulting transformation of the Town’s wells, wastewater and water treatment facilities; the Route 50 Traffic Calming project; multiple public safety and utility upgrade projects, and the preservation/stabilization project that has rescued historic Asbury Church
Semmes announced her plans early, “to allow the Town time to hire her replacement prior to her leaving.” “The opportunity to serve the Town of Middleburg has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” she said.
Council agreed to hire Springstead/Waters, an executive search firm with special expertise in the field of local government to help with the recruitment process, with a budget, not to exceed $21,000.
After a closed session to discuss the merits of four applicants to fill the Council seat vacated by Mayor-Elect, now Mayor Bridge Littleton, Town Council selected former Town Council Member and long-serving Middleburg volunteer Bundles Burdock as an interim member.
A Special Election to formally fill the seat through June 2020 is set for Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
In order to avoid the appearance of favoring one candidate over others in November, Council had expressed a strong preference for candidates who would not seek to fill the seat permanently. Murdock had promised not to run
Council unanimously elected Darlene Kirk Vice Mayor for another two-year term.
Fox 5 in Town
Visit Loudoun announced that August 3 has been set for a 6 AM until 11 AM “Fox 5 Zip Trip” visit to Middleburg and environs.
Tentative “Must stops” for the TV team included the National Sporting Library and Museum, Salamander, Aldie Mill, Mount Defiance, Goodstone, and the Red Fox Inn.
Interviews are tentatively scheduled with the Mayor, Police Chief and a representative of Windy Hill Foundation.
“Dangerous Structures” Ordinance
Council adopted a new amendment to the Town Code of Middleburg that requires property owners to “remove, repair or secure any building, wall or any other structure that might endanger the public health or safety of other residents of the Town at such time or times as the Town Council may prescribe by resolution or ordinance.”
If property owners or lien holders cannot or will not act to remedy such problems, the Town itself, after “reasonable” notice, “through its agents or employees may remove, repair or secure any building, wall or any other structure . . . . “
Go Green Report
Chairperson Rebecca Poston and Go Green Committee Members Lynne Kaye and Kathy Jo Shea reported to Council on their activities for the past year.
Poston presented the annual report, reminding Council that the Committee ”strived to raise awareness of environmental issues and did so this past year through the Health Eating Active Living Fair/5K; the Middleburg Spring Clean-Up; a project to secure cigarette butt containers throughout the town; a battery recycling day, which was held in conjunction with the drug-take back event; and, a paper shred day. Ms. Poston reported that during the coming year, they planned to address reducing waste, including plastic and cigarette waste and electronics.”
Go Green, she said, plans to increase recycling and eliminate plastic straws, the latter of which was part of a worldwide campaign.
Also in the works: a movie night at The Hill School on plastic waste; work with Ayrshire Farm to develop a scrap food recycling program for restaurants; and research on the placement of a car charging station in town, possibly in the Liberty Street Parking Lot.
Council then appointed Kathy Fisher and Tonya Taylor to Go Green for two-year terms, ending in May 2020.
Sale of the Health Center Building
Vice Mayor Kirk reported that the ad-hoc real estate committee was reviewing bid responses for the Town-owned Health Center property and would make a recommendation to the Council in July.
Rents received in excess of the annual costs of running the building were long used to fund the Town’s annual contributions to local non-profit organizations. Those donations are now part of Middleburg’s regular annual budget and are funded by local taxes
Dissatisfaction with Envision Loudoun
Councilmember (now Mayor) Littleton reported that he met with County Administrator Tim Hemstreet and Deputy County Administrator Charles Yudd regarding the Envision Loudoun 2040 draft plan.
Hemstreet and Yudd, Littleton noted, “had not appreciated” a lot of the views put forward by the county’s small towns.
The Coalition of Loudoun Towns (COLT), according to Littleton, “unanimously agreed they did not like what Middleburg did not like about the draft plan.”
Hemstreet and Yudd, he said, “understood the towns’ concerns” especially those regarding the transition area, and recommended the towns adopt resolutions outlining the key concerns and issues and present those to the Board of Supervisors.
They also suggested that the Towns and County planning commissions “get together for a meeting.”
MHAA Letter of Opposition
The Mosby Heritage Area Association has also expressed concern in a formal letter to the County. MHAA “views with alarm the vague and general language in the draft Envision Loudoun 2040 plan,” noting that it “does not sufficiently protect the historic and rural landscape in western Loudoun County.” The full text of the MHAA is reprinted in this edition of the Eccentric.
Beer and Wine at Middleburg Exxon
Town Planner Will Moore reported that the owner of Cooke’s Car Care/Middleburg Exxon had “applied for an off-premise ABC license to sell beer and wine, which would be a part of the accessory retail component of their business.”
Moore noted that “this was not something the Town would get involved in from a zoning standpoint as retail was retail . . . and the property was zoned C-1 Commercial, which allowed for retail use-by-right.
New Church in Aldie
St. Pope Cyril Coptic Orthodox Church has received approval from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to build a new, 19,000 square foot, church building on Old Carolina Road in Aldie.