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Update 11:00 p.m. 11/10/15: The James City County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept Dominion’s request to defer the hearing on its zoning application for the Skiffes Creek Switching Station to its first regular meeting in January.
The Board did not specify which date the hearing would be held, as it has not formally set its meeting calendar for 2016.
Supervisors John McGlennon (Roberts) and Kevin Onizuk (Jamestown) voiced their support for the deferment while Jim Kennedy (Stonehouse) cautioned Dominion to be cognizant of the limited experience the two incoming board members, Ruth Larson and Sue Sadler, will have had when they are presented with the zoning decision.
“If you’re going to have two new board members, Dominion needs to be understanding and give them time if they need it,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully they don’t think someone coming in eight days after being on the Board of Supervisors can make an informed decision.”
With this deferment, neither Kennedy nor Mary Jones (Berkeley), the outgoing supervisors, will cast a vote on the rezoning.
Original post: Dominion Virginia Power has requested a third deferment of a JCC Board of Supervisors hearing on its zoning application for the Skiffes Creek Switching Station, potentially putting the decision in the hands of a board that will include two new members.
In an email to WYDaily, Bonita Billingsley Harris, Dominion’s media and community relations manager, wrote that Dominion requested the hearing be postponed to Jan. 12 to “help all parties involved better understand how other pending regulatory approvals may affect the application.”
The hearing, originally scheduled for Oct. 13, was postponed to Nov. 24 and then deferred to Dec. 8.
“Dominion continues to monitor other pending state and federal permit approvals that could affect the proposed switching station,” Billingsley Harris wrote. “The extended delay will allow Dominion, the James City County planning department staff and other stakeholders to better understand how those pending approvals could affect local permitting by JCC for the proposed station.”
If the Board of Supervisors accepts the request, members Mary Jones (Berkeley) and Jim Kennedy (Stonehouse) will not cast a vote on whether land in Grove should be rezoned to accommodate the switching station, which is part of Dominion’s preferred proposal to power the Peninsula with a 500kV power line across the James River.
Jones and Kennedy, who have served on the board since a power line was first proposed in 2011, were voted out of office Nov. 3 and will be replaced by Berkeley school board representative Ruth Larson and Stonehouse resident Sue Sadler in 2016.
Harris wrote the new board was not a factor in the decision to defer the hearing to next year.
When asked her opinion on the proposed power line and switching station as part of a WYDaily election questionnaire, Larson wrote she would encourage a “much broader discussion of what the alternatives are and how we might work with Dominion to find a solution that serves all citizens.”
Sadler wrote, “one way or another we will be getting power lines” but declined to comment on how she would vote if elected.
County Attorney Michelle Gowdy said the Board of Supervisors must decide if they will accept the request before the hearing is formally rescheduled. That decision could come as early as this evening when the Board meets for its regular meeting.