Board hears support for gym tax break

WOODSTOCK – Supporters of a church-run gymnasium made their case to Shenandoah County leaders Tuesday for a tax break.

The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on a request from Tight’n Up Gym for an exemption from the county real estate tax. Liberty Baptist Church opened the gymnasium at 239 E. King St. in  Strasburg about two years ago.

Justin Dillman, youth pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, told the board the “gymnasium is not about lifting weights.” The gymnasium helps people exercise and go through therapy at no charge.

Pastor Robert Westcoat spoke about the need for the gym to have a break from paying the $1,764 in real estate taxes the church must otherwise pay for the Strasburg property.

Nick Jenkins spoke about how the gymnasium has helped change his life. Jenkins credited Westcoat and others for making the gymnasium more of a home. Several other people spoke in support of the gymnasium and its request for the tax break, noting the money would help the operation provide its services to the community.

Stephen Curtis, of Edinburg, said he neither opposed nor endorsed the gymnasium. But Curtis noted that the gymnasium performs the same function at a fraction of the cost of a similar operation. Curtis went on to say that the county leaders should take a similar approach to school operations.

Ken Cruise spoke in support of the request, noting the loss of tax money to the county would be minimal compared to the services the gymnasium provides.

“I think that they need to be cut a break on this,” Cruise said.

Supervisors likely would take action on the request at a future meeting.

Also at the meeting, the board approved:

• A special-use permit requested by Paula D. Sager to operate a child-care center in her home at 131 Trinity Lane, Edinburg. County code allows child-care centers on parcels zoned for agricultural use with an approved permit. Sager also is seeking a state license to operate a day-care center for up to eight children with no employees.

• A resolution to allocate personal property tax relief for qualifying vehicles for the tax year 2018

• The Shenandoah County Emergency Operations Plan as required by state code every four years. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management requires each local jurisdiction to conduct a comprehensive review and revision of its emergency operations plan every four years. The plan explains policies, organization and tasks involved in response to disasters or emergencies.

• A request for compensation from the death of livestock. Kenneth Copp lost a lamb at his farm on 3184 Fairview Road, Woodstock. An investigation by animal control with the Sheriff’s Office determined a canine likely killed the lamb. State and county code calls for the owner to receive compensation at fair-market value for the animal if he provides evidence within 60 days of the death and the animal control officer was notified of the death within 72 hours of its discovery. Copp has said that he doesn’t not know the owner of the canine.

• A special-use permit requested by Commonwealth Care – Dutch Haven Nursing Home and Adult Care Facility to construct and operate a 9,780-square-foot addition at 257 Toll House Road, Maurertown. The expansion would feature up to 40 additional beds.