Tuesday, November 29, 2022

PT employees, a solar farm and motorized scooters: Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s JCC Supes meeting

The James City County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday considered regulations involving motorized scooters, approved the Pleasant Farm solar development and changes to the county’s part-time employee policies.

Employee benefits

On Tuesday, Patrick Teague, the county’s director of Human Resources, proposed revisions to Chapter 5 of the county’s Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.

The revisions include changing the benefit threshold from 780 hours to 1,040 annually and would grandfather positions currently earning benefits at 780 hours annually.

The change will also revise Section 5.5 of the manual, Family Medical Leave Act, to reflect current county policies.

The issue came to light after a James City County employee, Scott Eklind, filed a complaint about part-time temporary classification compared to regular part-time positions.

There are three classifications for part-time employees in James City County: on-call pool, temporary part-time and regular part-time. For employees who fall under the temporary classification, like Eklind,  there is an issue because some might have been working for the country for several years without a specific job-end date.

RELATED STORY: JCC looks at changing employee classification after part-timer brings up discrepancy in benefits

Eklind has worked with the county for three years and typically works more than 15 hours a week, similar to regular part-time workers. However, when he was hired, he was classified as a temporary worker, meaning he would not receive benefits.

Solar farm

The special use permit and Agricultural & Forestal District removal for a 20-megawatt solar farm on former farm property off Richmond Road was approved Tuesday. 

The project, developed by Strata Solar LLC, had applied for a 20-megawatt solar farm for Hill Pleasant Farm, which is between Rochambeau and Route 60. According to county documents, the project would connect to the existing utility line using an on-site pad-mounted switchgear.

The location of the property has limited visibility from surrounding areas because of the railroad tracks and existing vegetation. In the project’s Master Plan, there is a proposed 50-foot wide landscape buffer comprises of various vegetation.

RELATED STORY: Solar farm proposed for Hill Pleasant Farm gains feedback

The project’s construction is estimated to take about a year, after which the solar farm is expected to last on the lease for 30 years, with two opportunities for five-year extension.

During a Planning Commission meeting on Oct. 2, members recommended approval of the special use permit under the condition that the developer would address vegetation within and outside the farm’s fenced-in area.

The applicant also submitted for an Agricultural & Forestal District removal which would withdraw 192.76 acres of the total 391.30 acres from the parcel. Without the approval of the AFD removal, a special use permit could not have been granted.

The AFD removal is for an eastern portion of the property. 

Both the AFD removal and the special use permit were unanimously approved by the Board.

“By putting in this solar farm, I feel we are protecting this land,” said Supervisor Michael Hipple.

Motorized scooters

During the General Assembly’s 2019 session, an amendment to the Virginia Code granted localities the option to regulate motorized skateboards, scooters, bicycles and other related items. However, the locality is required to have those regulations in place by Jan. 1, 2020, according to documents from the county.

While there are currently no plans in the near future for motorized scooters in the area, the county expects companies will seek to operate in the locality, eventually. To prepare, James City County plans to prepare regulations prior to the January deadline.

Currently, the county prohibits the use of motorized skateboards and scooters on designated sidewalks and crosswalks. The new proposed regulations would allow the board to consider conditions under which these devices could operate on undesignated sidewalks and crosswalks.

County Attorney Adam Kinsmen said the regulations doesn’t change where motorized scooters can be used, but rather sets up a licensing program and proposed whatever restrictions necessary for public health and safety.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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