With council members continuing to voice concerns on the Halifax Town Code involving “Health and Sanitation,” Halifax Town Council tabled the matter until their December meeting when they met Tuesday evening.

This decision was made after council held a public hearing on the code in which no one spoke and after reviewing amendments to the code.

The proposed amendments to the Halifax Town Code “health and sanitation” include adding sections on “weed and debris” and “running bamboo” as well as containment measures and penalties.

Council members Mike Trent and Jack Dunavant had voiced concerns about the amendments at previous meetings, and on Tuesday, Trent presented modifications he’d like to make.

Changes to the weeds amendment he presented included adding the wording “only if planted by, actively cultivated or negligently maintained by owner,” and under notice of violation to include it should be the duty of the town manger “whenever practical, to within two working days,” notify the owner of the violation.

Under the section “duty to contain running bamboo; exception,” Trent proposed adding, “A landowner on whose property running bamboo has either spread to or is discovered on shall not be required to install or implement a containment measure to prevent the spread of this running bamboo so long as no intentional action, such as planting or cultivation of the bamboo, contributed to the presence and/or spread of the running bamboo.”

In discussing the code, Council member Bill Confroy said he was concerned about the portion that reads, “should the owner fail, refuse or neglect to comply with such notice within 10 days, the town manager or his duly authorized representative shall cause the weeds to be cut and debris removed from there at the expense of the owner.”

“It’s 10 days. I don’t think that’s long enough. You can’t get a contractor in 10 days to remedy any situation you have. I think they should have 30 days,” said Confroy.

Town Manager Carl Espy said as long as a landowner contacts the town to let them know they are in the process of remedying the situation then that would suffice, but Confroy pointed out the code does not state that.

In voicing his concerns about the code, Dunavant said, “This doesn’t do anything. It’s more bureaucratic talk… We need an ordinance that’s going to help people get rid of this problem. This doesn’t do it. I’d like to meet with Mike (Trent) and Carl (Espy) to see if we can come up with something that gives some teeth.”

Dunavant, Trent and Espy plan to meet to discuss further changes to the code and to address Confroy’s concern.

In other action, council approved the purchase of a Ford Utility SUV at a cost of $35,205.84 for the Halifax Police Department. The police department has been down a police cruiser since one was involved in an accident on Aug. 27.

The town will receive $11,000 from the VML Insurance Company to put toward a down payment. The first payment of $9,298.42 will be due on Nov. 29, 2019.

Council also heard the police report from Police Chief Stuart Comer who said one felony arrest was made and that one was for strangulation, and four misdemeanor arrests were made, with five protective orders being served. Officers also responded to 504 calls for service, 82 traffic summons and one minor traffic accident during the month of October.

He said he attended the DUI (driving under the influence) Banquet along with Officer M. Bowen, who won the DUI VASAP award.

Prior to their monthly meeting, council convened in work sessions to hear reports from chairs of the business development, finance and current affairs committees.

Business Development Chair Mike Trent and Assistant Town Manager Dennis Barksdale reported on Halifax Farmers Market activities including the Family Nutrition Program 5K Fun Run/Walk in which roughly 100 individuals participated, the fall festival held on Oct. 20 and events planned in November and December.

Upcoming events include a Kid’s Town Children’s Gift Giving Bazaar held on various dates in November and December, pictures with Santa at the farmers market on Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22, holiday market hours, Shop Small on Nov. 24 that also will feature kids’ workshops at the Cozy Cottage, the Christmas Open House on Nov. 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. that also will feature a pop-up vendor fair and the children’s Christmas float parade on Nov. 25.

The theme this year for the mini-float parade is “Christmas at our House,” and children will line-up at 5:30 p.m. with the parade and tree-lighting ceremony beginning at 6 p.m.

Trent also presented Halifax Village Association activities, and HVA Community Development Committee Chairman Tom Shepperd gave an update.

Confroy suggested Espy invite the HVA committee and Sandra Turner of Virginia Tourism to come to a town council meeting to give ideas to help market the town.

Finance Chair Bill Covington presented the October 2018 finance report, the status of the 2018 personal property tax notices and tax deadline, the status of the Creedle Jones & Alga, PC annual audit and June 2018 financial statement.

Current Affairs Chair Confroy outlined the status of the VDOT Six-Year Improvement Plan Smart Scale application for highway safety improvements, derelict/nuisance properties and maintenance code enforcement and planning commission’s recommendation on the ordinance amendment for invasive plant species and the postponement of the Banister River Flotsam Flotilla. The flotilla will coincide with the 2019 Earth Day Extravangaza.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com