March 2011

Minutes from the Sunday Supper Club
March 13th, 2011

Five Minute Flash Reports:

Treasurer’s Report- Treasurers Anne Tennant and Joe Swift reported that we collected $17 at our last meeting, bringing our bank balance to $334.55.  We have no immediate upcoming expenses.

Website- Andrea thanked Lynn Chinnis for taking on the job of webmaster from Linda Swanson.  Lynn is investigating different, and perhaps less costly, web-hosting options for us.  As we look at revamping the site we want to know if you visit our website and if so, what features are important to you?  Members at the meeting expressed interest in the calendar, the recipes and the minutes.  If anyone else has features they want to see preserved, please email me and let me know.

Partnership for Warrenton-  Jennifer Heyns, executive director of the nonprofit, Partnership for Warrenton Foundation, encouraged us to get involved with this organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Warrenton.  The Partnership has a monthly newsletter which is distributed to about 1100 and goes out on the first of the month.  If you would like to receive the newsletter please email Jennifer@PartnershipforWarrenton.org and type “subscribe me” in the subject line.  To see past and current issues, visit www.partnershipforwarrenton.org/newsletter.  If are an Old Town Business or organization or any nonprofit operating in Fauquier County, you are welcome to submit items for posting in the newsletter.  Email to the above address by the 25th of the month.

As some of you may remember, Jennifer is also the author of “Bargaining for Our Lives,” a book about navigating our health care system without health insurance.

Study Group on Nonviolence-  Linda Swanson would like to hear from folks who are interested in undertaking the study of nonviolence beginning with two books: The Search for a Nonviolent Future by Michael N. Nagler and Gandhi the Man: The Story of His Transformation by Eknath Easwaran.  If you are interested, please contact Linda at linda@baldwinridge.com.  The group will be limited to 10-12 participants who can commit to attending a two-hour session each month at a time to be determined by the group.  Ideally, the group membership will be complete at the time of the first session since each session will build upon previous ones.

Energized Vint Hill- Michael Rainger

Vint Hill Sustainability / Energy Conservation Strategies / Status – March 2011 – Warrenton VA 20187

1) Energy Conservation review resulted in multiple existing commercial / office buildings being analyzed for grid-based electrical energy usage: Electrical energy cost savings to date are between $3000 and $5000 over the winter period
• Education / awareness encourages staff to take initiative / move to more sustainable policies and best practices

2) Upgraded (More) Sustainable Development Strategies with positive environmental benefits:

• LID – Low Impact Development where 5 retention ponds are eliminated avoiding land area wastage (LID water goes direct to aquifer)
• Traffic Circles – Double savings include NO lights and less gas usage in vehicles
• Critical Success Factor: (Active) Board of Directors and Principal support / provide community leadership

3) VISIT NOW: Experience the under appreciated Fauquier JEWEL in the CROWN that is VINT HILL

• Walk trail / visit the Village Green Community Center for Gym, Racquetball, Tennis and take pets to the dog park next to the new commuter parking lot (Aiken / Kennedy)
• Support environmental businesses located at Vint Hill such as Resole America, GRC Direct, Farmer Girl, and Energized Fauquier www.energized-fauquier.com
• Vint Hill has the largest / most technically advanced Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) complex in the USA

www.vinthill.com

Recycling News- Trish Ethier passed along the following information from the Fauquier Department of Environmental Resources:
Beginning Sunday, March 13 with the change to Daylight Savings Time, all of the REMOTE residential waste and recycling sites will have summer hours on Mondays and Thursdays of 11am-7pm.  All the other days, the remote sites will be open 7am-3pm.  The Remington Recycling Site will also see later hours of operation on Mondays only – 2pm-7pm.  The Corral Farm facility that houses the main collection site, bulk recycling area and landfill will have no change in hours.

Old Home Site Tour- Patty Knight invited us to attend the Old Home sites Walk at Bull Run Mountain Conservancy on Sat. April 9th at 8;30 AM.  You’ll get the history of the area, stories of Beverly’s Mill and other homes, AND a hot breakfast and champagne for the bargain price of $25/members, $30/non-members.  For details visit: http://www.brmconservancy.org/calendar.html#ohs2011

Feature Presentation
“The State of Warrenton”

We were very pleased to welcome Warrenton Mayor George Fitch and town Council Member Yakir “Yak” Lubowsky as our guest speakers this evening.  They provided a lot of great information on the past, present and future of Warrenton and graciously answered many questions from our meeting attendees.   Our thanks go out to both speakers!

Opening Remarks- Mayor Fitch
•         The town of Warrenton is in good shape financially and continues to run a surplus.  At the moment, most of this surplus goes to WARF (Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility).
•         Warrenton has the lowest tax rate of any full service community in the country.

WARF
•         WARF is doing well- revenues are increasing each year.
•         The one remaining component of WARF, the lake, is highly controversial.  We need to make sure the cost/benefit analysis supports going ahead with construction.
•         The soccer fields at WARF are a great example of a successful public private partnership.

Growth
•         Mayor Fitch and Councilman Lubowsky believe their job is to manage growth in a slow and attractive way.
•         There was a proposal for a 1 million square foot development in Warrenton; for reference, a million acres would begin at Sheetz/Giant, come past Borders into Blockbuster, go through Walgreens/Harris Teeter and then back to the Hampton Inn.
•         We don’t believe this is the direction we want Warrenton to go in but it’s going to be a big challenge to keep this sort of development out.

Opening Remarks- Councilman Lubowsky
•         Yak was honored to be chosen to replace Denny Sutherland on the Council.
•         One of the objectives of Yak’s supporters was to have a reliable vote for smart growth.
•         It has been an interesting transition from civic activist to government service.
•         Things look very different when you are on the inside of government- it is much easier to have strong opinions when you aren’t accountable to anyone.
•         Motto- “First do no harm, next, don’t let anyone else do harm.”

Yak came in believing he could be the “finger in the dike” of public policy but has discovered that he has the opportunity to do good things and to be responsive to the citizens of Warrenton.  Case in point:
Speed Limits in Neighborhoods•         Number one mission of town government is public safety.
•         Strong necessity for providing safer neighborhoods by reducing speeds on side streets.
•         The town wants speed limits of 25mph through the neighborhoods but as judges won’t enforce limits unless the driver is going more than 10mph over the speed limit, the posted limits had to be set at 15mph.
•         Because Virginia operates under the Dillon Rule (see October minutes for details) the county cannot set local speed limits without the approval of the General Assembly.
•         Yak plans to run for re-election in 2012.

Q & A

John Anderson asked about the possibility of developing the Saturday Farmer’s Market into a big event (bringing in artists, musicians etc.).
•         The mayor responded that he hadn’t thought of this but that it is an interesting idea to explore.
•         Yak would love to see this happen.

Board of Supervisor Peter Schwartz brought up the current struggles over the county’s sign ordinance. He believes the town’s sign ordinance is equally bad and wondered if the town would be willing to coordinate with the county so both ordinances would be consistent in goals.
•         George commented that this is a controversial issue with the business community.  He believes signage as large as the JD Handyman sign should never have been allowed.  He thinks coordination with the county would be a good idea.
•         All things considered, Yak believes the signs aren’t as bad they are elsewhere, though there is always room for improvement.
•         The suggestion was made by someone in the audience that if businesses were required to post street numbers on their businesses, giant signs would not be necessary.

What is the status of the trash to energy program? (I’m sorry but I can’t give credit for this question as I neglected to write down the name of the questioner)
•         Unfortunately this is not going to happen, at least not for the time being.
•         Peter Schwartz was a champion of this plan on the BOS, but the Board voted against it.
•         Peter commented that George did a great job of trying to push the concept forward but he was fighting a lot of bureaucratic resistance.
•         The Board expressed some discomfort with the developer and with the risks of the technology.  The developer was unwilling to underwrite the risks himself which would have put all the risk on county taxpayers.
•         While this type of system probably is the wave of the future, local governments do not tend to want to be the first to do something.  They are more comfortable with the status quo.
•         The mayor wants to believe this will happen in our community; once Fauquier sees other counties implementing this successfully, we may be willing to look at it again.
•         One problem in pushing this plan is that our landfill has capacity for a very long time, probably 40-50 years.  It is hard to get politicians to invest money today for something that won’t be a problem for decades.
•         The town is trying to become more energy efficient and reduce its carbon footprint.

Linda Pranke asked what it will take to make Warrenton a more pedestrian friendly place.  She wondered why the town can’t make this a higher priority.
•         George agreed that this is an important priority; they put funding for additional sidewalks in the county budget each year.
•         There are 40 miles of walkable paths in Warrenton.
•         In terms of problems with people failing to shovel snow off their walks, George commented that this is a tough call; at what point do you confront a private homeowner and threaten to fine them?  The rights of a private property owner have to be balanced with the greater good.
•         Yak is personally very interested in this.  He hopes that our next comprehensive plan will address this issue.  Within a few years, he would love to see a person be able to walk/ride a bike from any part of Warrenton to any other part of Warrenton.
•         Peter and Yak have talked about coordinating with the county on this.

Are we doing anything to make Warrenton more handicapped accessible?  We have an inadequate number of handicapped parking spots in Old Town and many of the lots are not negotiable for someone in a wheelchair.
•         The town just had a federal inspection and did have to make some changes.  We are trying to be conscious and mindful but there is always room for improvement.

What is happening with the Mosby Mansion and Museum?
•         The mayor believes that the economic development we want won’t come from strip malls, but rather from historic niche tourism and sports tourism (soccer fields at WARF bring in a huge amount each year.)
•         Using conservative estimates of 35,000 tourists a year (brought in by attractions such as the Mosby museum), tourists revenues in Warrenton could amount to 2.2% of our GDP
•         The museum is 98% complete and the doors could be opened now but there is a complication with the sale of preservation tax credits (with state and federal credits we’d receive $200,000) We’re working to get everything in place so we can get these credits as this amount of money would cover operating expenses at the museum for a few years.

We’re very grateful to Mayor Fitch and Councilman Lubowsky for a great presentation; we so appreciated their willingness to answer all our questions.  Thanks also to BOS Peter Schwartz for joining us this evening.

Save the Dates
You won’t want to miss the interesting meetings we have planned!

April 10th-  Dr. Jonathan Lewis, superintendent of the Fauquier County Public Schools.

May- no meeting due to a conflict with Mother’s Day

June 10th- Tom Wood of Environmental Studies of  the Piedmont