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County and Port Royal officials draw up new boundary lines

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm

MILFORD—Caroline County officials and Port Royal town officials have drawn up a new boundary line proposal that will be presented in a public hearing either in November or December.

The new proposal calls for a town made up of 406 acres, as opposed to an earlier proposal of 534 acres.

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors met with the Port Royal Town Council on Oct. 9 on a proposed expansion of the town’s boundaries that would allow the town to shift business tax revenue from the county to the town.

The new proposal would add around 26 acres west of U.S. 301. The land that would be used is made up of a boundary line that will be drawn close to 500 feet west of U.S. 301. The rest of the boundary line adjustment was unaffected by this decision.

The town will still be able to grow and increase its revenue, but won’t be getting the full 534 acres that town councilors had been hoping to acquire. A main concern of the town, and large part of why so much land had been originally requested, was so that that a service road could be built, instead of several turning lanes, which will now have to be added instead.

The county, not the town, would collect real estate taxes from residents inside the expanded town boundaries.

There was also talk between the town council and the Board of Supervisors about a possible future contract between the town and the landowners. That possibility is still being researched by the county. The next step is for the two governing bodies to take the revised maps back to public hearings. That could be in November or December.

The agricultural landowners who have a stake in this matter were still

not appeased by this new proposal. The main concern of these landowners was the possibility of taxes imposed by the town at a later time. These citizens, who were present at the meeting, adamantly opposed the boundary line adjustment as it stood, and were vocal in their wishes for their land to be excluded.

Town councilors suggested they meet in a separate room to discuss the issues between the town and landowners. After convening among themselves, and speaking with one of the land owners and Supervisor Reginald Underwood, a compromise was brought to the table.

An initial proposal to enlarge the town’s boundary called for an increase of the town’s area from 78 acres to about 340 acres and from 126 residents to 160. It would also boost annual revenue from $17,000 to $87,000 through additional business licenses, sales taxes, and food/beverage taxes from the businesses now on the fringe of the town limits, according to Town Councilor Jim Heimbach.

Increased revenue would allow the town to properly maintain its water system, turn back on the other half of its streetlights, and provide other needed town services. The town’s aging water system is in constant need of costly repairs, including replacement of pumps. The World War II era water tower is in danger of caving in and that would result in the Virginia Department of Health condemning the water system, town officials have noted.

The town applied for a federal grant to upgrade the water system this year, but was recently turned down.

In late 2012, the town council asked supervisors to allow the town to expand the boundary lines and the two governing bodies met and discussed the matter in February. In March, supervisors voted unanimously to ask the county staff and attorney to prepare a boundary proposal for the town and county to consider. In August, supervisors voted to put the boundary line adjustment on the agenda for a public hearing at the September meeting.

Councilors have said the town needs a new water treatment system, new sidewalks, and road repairs. When First Market Bank left Port Royal last year, it took with it an average of $7,000 in yearly revenue paid to the town. This was a loss of 31 percent of the town’s revenue.