WOODSTOCK – Landowners with parcels in a Shenandoah County program can keep the tax break even after they rezone their property but only until the use changes.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve a new tax policy concerning the rezoning of properties to more intensive uses. Specifically, the policy allows for owners of parcels in the agricultural district and in the land-use taxation program to rezone their property to industrial use. The county then defers the charging of rollback taxes until the land’s use changes to industrial.

The county assigns a lower assessment on parcels in the land-use program than the market value, thus giving owners a tax break to the owners, provided that the properties qualify and remain in agriculture. The county charges owners a rollback tax, or the amount of the discount for five years, if the property no longer qualifies for the program or the use changes. Before Tuesday’s action, the county charged rollback taxes as soon as owners rezoned their parcels.

Director of Tourism and Economic Development Jenna French has said that this change could encourage landowners who want to rezone their property from agriculture to industrial use but not incur the financial burden of paying five years of rollback taxes until they find a user or buyer. County officials have stressed that the owners still must pay rollback taxes when the use changes.

In other action, supervisors voted 3-1 to appoint board representatives to the ad hoc committee on long-term school facilities. District 6 Supervisor Timothy “Tim” Taylor, who works for Shenandoah County Public Schools, nominated Vice Chairman Steven Baker and District 5 Supervisor Dennis Morris to serve as board representatives on the ad hoc committee. Taylor advised the board and the audience of his connection to the school division before making the motion. County Attorney Jason Ham said Taylor must state his connection to the school system each time board members consider any matter regarding the division.

Chairman John R. “Dick” Neese commented on how the members would represent the board and the county.

“It kind of splits up the county between the north and the south,” Neese said before seconding Taylor’s motion.

Morris, Neese and Taylor voted in favor of the motion. District 3 Supervisor Bradley Pollack made no comments about the appointments before voting against the motion. Neither Baker nor District 4 Supervisor Karl Roulston attended the meeting.

Pollack stated in an email Wednesday as to why he voted against the motion that he did not see the need for the ad hoc committee. But Pollack did have someone in mind who he thought should serve on the panel.

"I think I would have been a logical choice for this ad hoc committee," Pollack states in the email. "At the joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board three weeks ago, I may have been the only member among 12 who questioned the need for another school or two when our enrollment has dropped over 5% in the past ten years."

The School Board plans to consider appointments at its meeting tonight, Superintendent Mark Johnston stated in an email Wednesday. The School Board and the Board of Supervisors recently endorsed the idea of creating the ad hoc committee to look at the division’s facilities needs.

Also at the meeting, supervisors:

  • Approved a resolution regarding changes to the secondary road system for the Virginia Department of Transportation to add Hampstead Court to the Woodstock Views subdivision.
  • Approved carryover funds for school capital projects from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2020.

Supervisors approved the following appointments:

  • Neese to the Shenandoah Valley Work Force Development Board
  • Eunice Terndrup to the Planning Commission.
  • Jacob Bowman and Scott Terndrup to the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Pollack to the Shenandoah Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership.
  • Dr. Conrad A. Helsley to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission.
  • Dexter Mumaw and Carl Copp to the Building Code Appeals.

Members went into closed session to discuss the performance and employment of specific county personnel; assignment and appointment of specific public officials to the Industrial Development Authority Board of Directors; and the disposition of county-owned property.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com