Work began in mid-July at an EPA Superfund cleanup site in Nathalie, Scott Simpson, county administrator, reported to supervisors at their Monday meeting.
The $250,000 Superfund cleanup targets two privately owned parcels of property once used for a salvage yard and convenience store located at the intersection of L. P. Bailey Memorial Highway and Shiloh Church Road in Nathalie, according to EPA records.
EPA sampled properties in the neighborhood and identified the need for certain cleanup actions in limited areas near the Shiloh Church Road site, and it removing and properly disposing of debris and soil that contains hazardous substances from several areas near the site.
EPA on-scene coordinator Christine Wagner, who works for the Western Response Branch of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III in Richmond, submitted the information to county officials in June 2018.
The Nathalie scrap metal yard and convenience store that had operated since the 1960s closed in the mid-2000s, and to Wagner’s knowledge, the current owner did not operate the salvage yard or the convenience store.
In a report dated June 21, 2018 and issued to former Halifax County administrator James Halasz and James Hicks of Halifax County Fire and Rescue, Wagner said a threat had been determined involving potential elevated levels of volatile organic contaminants — the hazardous substance trichloroethylene in neighboring drinking water wells, and PCBs were found in surface soils.
All residents in this area use private wells for drinking water.
To mitigate the imminent threat posed by the uncontrolled release of hazardous substances in this area, Wagner stated in a special bulletin “that conditions at the site pose an imminent and substantial threat to the public health, welfare and the environment due to the elevated levels of hazardous substances into drinking water wells.”
She initiated a removal action along with $250,000 to begin response actions to mitigate the threat posed by elevated levels of trichloroethylene in two residential wells since trichloroethylene is a “known human carcinogen” and is listed as a hazardous substance.
Halifax County Emergency Services coordinator Steve Dishman is communicating with workers at the site on a regular basis, but Halifax County is not directly involved with the project, Simpson told board chairman Dennis Witt on Monday.
Supervisors set public hearings for September, October
Supervisors set a public hearing for its October meeting to hear comment on a request from Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities for a property tax exemption on a 15,000-square foot brick and glass facility it plans to build in partnership with Microsoft in downtown South Boston, a $5 million capital investment.
Supervisors agreed to contact MBC representatives and ask them to come to the Sept. 2 supervisors’ meeting to provide more information on the project.
MBC is a 501(c)4 under the federal, internal revenue code and is thus eligible for consideration of exemption of local taxes, and the board of supervisors has the authority to modify the ordinance to allow the exemption for personal property taxes.
MBC has stated the facility would advance its charitable objectives and promote economic development and workforce training.
In other action Monday night, supervisors set a public hearing for its Sept. 2 meeting to hear comments on a proposed fee structure for its erosion and sediment control program.
Currently, county officials are required to go to a solar site each two weeks or within 48 hours of a significant rainfall event to monitor erosion sediment control, and the sheer number of projects going on at once, not only solar projects, could put a strain on county resources, according to county building official Otis Vaughan.
The permit fee for erosion sediment control is currently $100.
With the number of potential projects on the horizon, it would be prudent to adjust the fees at this time and perhaps use county soil and water employees to help with inspections, thus saving taxpayers money, according to ED-1 supervisor J. T. Davis.
The proposed permit and plan application fee would be $200 per plan plus $50 per acre of development, with no size limit ceiling, and the permit application will require a project completion date stated by the applicant for proposed permanent stabilization.
The inspection fee would be $200 per month for inspections prepaid through completion date of the project and $400 per month for every month after the proposed completion date.
Under the proposed fee structure, if a project goes over the time of completion, the performance bond cannot be released until extra fees are paid, and no refunds of prepaid fees will be made for early completion.
Also Monday night, supervisors voted unanimously to accept a $50,000 grant through USDA Rural Development for purchase of sheriff’s department vehicles.
Finance committee members, including chairman and ED-1 supervisor Davis, ED-2 supervisor Jeffrey Francisco and ED-7 Supervisor Garland Ricketts unanimously passed a motion at last Thursday’s meeting recommending the board as a whole formally accept the grant.
Simpson said that grant funds would offset a portion of a $215,000 vehicle expense line item, thus saving the county money.
Supervisors also on Monday voted unanimously to approve a request from non-profit Halifax Tri-River Habitat for Humanity to reimburse a building permit fee for a property at Wickham Street in South Boston in the amount of $426.69.
Finance committee members passed a motion recommending the board as a whole approve the request at its meeting last Thursday.
Building official Vaughan indicated the building permit fee has been waived previously for similar circumstances and that this would not be a precedent-setting decision.
Supervisors, following the recommendation of the finance committee, voted unanimously on Monday not to approve a request from the Halifax County Health Department to carry over unutilized funds from the current fiscal year to Fiscal Year 2020.
Simpson told the finance committee on Thursday the Health Department is requesting to carry over $47,000 in unutilized funds.
Simpson said he and finance director Stephanie Jackson had discussed the issue and were uncomfortable with county agencies carrying over funds from one fiscal year to another.
“It’s difficult to construct a budget and carry over funds from previous years, because you’re never following your budgets,” said Simpson. “It’s never a good idea to carry over funds unless there is a very specific purpose for those funds.”