Fincastle Town Council will hold a public information session Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Central Academy Middle School about the its proposal for a boundary adjustment to enlarge the town’s corporate limits.
The information session will be from 7-9 p.m.
Town Council and county officials will be present with a map and information about the proposal and will answer questions and discuss the proposal with the public during what will be an open house style meeting. Representatives from the Western Virginia Water Authority will also be present.
Town officials sent an eight-page letter to county residents and property owners who may be affected by the proposed boundary change. That letter included a question-and-answer section about the purpose and effects of the proposal.
The letter also announced that Town Council intends to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its Thursday, Jan. 11 meeting at 7 p.m.
The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors will also have to hold a public hearing on the proposal should it choose to go forward with the proposal.
According to the letter from the town, the proposed new boundary line will encompass the majority of the town’s established and planned water and sewer service areas.
The letter says the boundary change— which has to be approved by both council and the Board of Supervisors— will allow the town to “better manage growth and revitalization in a manner consistent with the Town’s unique and historic character and the needs of the both the Town’s citizens and the Affected Property owners.”
The letter also says the change will allow better planning, management and coordination of water and sewer services, and will provide the town with a broader scope of input into commercial and residential development in and around the town’s existing boundary.
The letter outlines things that will not change for those that would come into town under the proposed boundary change.
Those include county services such as police, fire, rescue, building code enforcement, tax assessments and collections, public school service, social services, trash collection, libraries and parks and recreation facilities.
Taxes and fees would not change. The town does not collect real estate or personal property taxes, but does collect the same $20 vehicle decal fee that the county collects. That fee goes to the town rather than the county for town residents.
The town would collect food and beverages taxes in lieu of the county collecting those taxes. Businesses affected by a change would likely pay lower Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) Taxes because town rates are lower than the county’s. Also, the lodging tax is lower in town than in the county.
Residents and non-residents pay the same water and sewer rates, but new connection fees are cheaper for in-town than for connections in the county.
The town’s subdivision ordinance is modeled after the county’s ordinance, so they are “substantially similar,” the letter says.
Any changes to town ordinances would go through the same process as is required now— public hearing(s) and adoption by Town Council. Should there be any proposed ordinance changes, those who were incorporated into the town with a boundary change would have the same opportunities to make public comments as current residents— to “participate in the democratic process,” the letter says.
Also, residents affected by the boundary change would be able to serve on town commissions and run for election to council and/or mayor.
Fincastle Mayor Mary Bess Smith announced in November the town was interested in pursuing a boundary change, and at that time outlined the reasons for the boundary adjustment and a map of the proposed area that would be included in the request council plans to present to the supervisors.
That map is available on the town’s website at https://www.townoffincastle.org.
The proposed new town boundary essentially includes the areas now served by the town’s water and sewer systems that are operated by the Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA).
Council plans on having a public meeting about the proposal in the coming weeks.
According to town estimates, approximately 294 parcels, representing about 220 separate owners (residential and commercial), would be included in the boundary change. Eighteen of these parcels straddle the current town boundary. About 200 distinct and completely new residential and commercial property owners are included in the proposed change.
That would bring the town’s population from about 340 today to an estimated. 570 residents
The town’s geographic area would go from 151 acres to 1,381 acres.