Acrimony Dissolves as Board and BADA Agree to Agree on Special Use Permit Schedule

After a week of finger-pointing email exchanges and political posturing, the Clarke County School Board and the Berryville Area Development Authority (BADA) agreed, in principle, to a review schedule for approving a Mosby Boulevard easement compromise and a fire flow pump station design by April 1. Mosby Boulevard and fire flow design are the last significant hurdles to approval of a special use permit that will allow the school to finally be built.

Bada-2Sentiment at last night’s much anticipated public hearing was strongly against including Mosby Boulevard in the school traffic pattern design. Berryville resident Pam Smith, a school bus driver in Loudoun County, expressed safety concerns about extending Mosby through the school property. Smith said that she had seen many good school traffic designs but Clarke’s was not safe. “Put aside the expense of extending Mosby” Smith pleaded.

Several residents cited court rulings and case law that they believe prevents the School Board from transferring property to the Town of Berryville. Resident Craig Kern insisted that “the Town of Berryville has no authority to require easements and the Clarke County School Board should resist the Town’s unconstitutional request.”

Although the Town of Berryville and Clarke County School Board have been attempting to cooperate on the Mosby issue and sharing fire control costs, many residents feared that the process was yet again in danger of derailment. Earlier in the week email messages were circulated by School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault and Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton essentially blaming the other side for potential roadblocks to a final deal.

Bouffault’s email message suggested that the Town focus less on the “blame game” and “uneccessarily draining our limited budget with demands for unrelated town needs.” Dalton fired back with a long list of School Board missteps and planning mistakes. “But be clear, if the schools had chosen to work with the town and address this matter long ago we would not be talking about it right now” Dalton’s letter said.

The tone of the two letters raised the question of whether either side fully appreciated the public frustration with further delays to the school construction plan, regardless of who is at fault. A. R. “Pete” Dunning  (White Post), Board of Supervisors representative for BADA, sensing the public’s concern that the long-awaited approval was headed towards another roadblock asked “Why can’t we just approve this right now contingent on review of the nit-picky stuff by the engineers?” “Because we need to let the process work.” replied BADA Chairman Allen Kitselman. Undetered, Dunning continued to push BADA board members, planning staff and engineering staff to commit to an accelerated timeline.

Dunning’s persistence ultimately paid off.

BADA, Dalton and Bouffault agreed to do everything possible to complete review of the proposed Mosby easement and a shared fire flow system in time for a March 25th BADA work session meeting and potential April 1st public hearing approval, much to Dunning’s and the public’s delight.

The public hearing ended in a spontaneous burst of cooperation and collaboration with both Dalton and Bouffault publically agreeing that “we’re on the right track and everything should be able to be worked out” and potentially negating the need for future email posturing.

Comments

  1. Jerry Boyles says:

    I also attended the Berryville Area Development Authority meeting Thursday evening when a public hearing on the Special Use Permit for the Clarke County High School was held. I had the odd feeling that I had seen this show before. On the way home, it dawned on me. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show had a parody of a silent movie era. At the BADA meeting, instead of Snidley Whiplash tying the fair-haired Nell to the railroad tracks to extort the deed to the ranch, we have 750 high school students tied to this metaphorical railroad track to coerce an easement for Mosby Avenue. And for what? A roadway justified by traffic projections that are almost old enough to buy hard liquor, projections that are off on the high side of reality by several hundred per cent. If the Town had missed their budget projections by the same factor, they would be in receivership now, yet they want to use this weak sauce to justify taking the largest capital project in the county’s history to the mat.

    Multiple speakers at the hearing cited case law and precedents that indicate that the conditions placed on this school project are illegal, but the Whiplash Brigade did not bat an eyelash. The proposed downgraded Mosby construction standard makes it about one step up from the Appalachian Trail.

    When will the town of Berryville put the benefit of town and county students over the parochial and pathological obsessions of a few? Where are the Dudley Dorights that we need now? Where are you, Dudley?

    The future of this area is held with these 750 high school students and the ones who follow, not with some unnecessary slab of asphalt.

  2. What is really sad is that the Town, and the BADA, seem to be treating the school system as any other developer – such as the one who built Battlefield Estates, or The Hermitage, or Darbybrook. It is unfortunate that the extension of Mosby is such a “Rubicon River” item for the town. And look at what the “compromise” might be – a 2 lane, no-gutters-or-sidewalks road that is unsafe, unattractive, and a huge inconvenience for any students who want to walk to school. It further sends the message that Clarke County, the Town, and the School Board only are interested in doing things on the cheap.

    As for the fire flow issue, the Town should offer to cover this upgrade. After all, town kids as well as county kids will be educated at this school, and it would be a good PR move, a good way to assist with dwindling available finances, for the town to pick up that cost…especially after all of the headaches.