Buchanan Town Council agreed to apply for Main Street Affiliate status when it met in regular session Monday night, and it approved a resolution amending a special use permit so the new Buchanan Flea Market can be open seven days a week if the owners want to.
Town Manager Mary Zirkle told council the town has used the principles established by the Virginia Main Street program for 21 years, but the town does not qualify for full Main Street designation because it doesn’t have the minimum number of businesses in the downtown core.
The town does qualify for Affiliate status, however, and that comes with many of the advantages of the full Main Street program.
She said the town should benefit from the recognition through the state, training and educational resources offered by the program and grants offered through the program.
During discussions about the proposal, residents in the audience wondered about extending the designation beyond the proposed Washington Street to the Main Street bridge over the James River, possibly to the former Groendyk property. The area under consideration would include the area between the Norfolk Southern tracks to the Town Park and James River.
Zirkle said the residential area along Main Street south of Washington Street would have an impact on the application because it would dilute the percentage of businesses. She said Main Street program officials have indicated the area in the downtown core that she’s recommending for the designation is likely to be approved.
Zirkle said the town’s Downtown Revitalization Program has been based on the Virginia Main Street programs and being affiliated with the program should make the business district more attractive to patrons.
Council member Jamie Manspile told the audience one of the reasons he ran for a seat was to try to give a voice to the areas north and south of the downtown. He supported the Main Street Affiliate application, but wants the town to give more consideration to what it can do in those areas he feels have been ignored over the years.
The Main Street program falls under the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Virginia’s Main Street program is part of the national Main Street program.
Designation as a full “Main Street Community” in the Virginia Main Street program is a high honor for those communities that meet the minimum criteria, Zirkle wrote in her report to council. It includes having a staff person dedicated to revitalization, a minimum number of 50 commercial enterprises and 70 commercial structures in the proposed Main Street district, and local government support, among other criteria.
Buchanan has that dedicated staff person but does not have the minimum number of businesses.
Both Lexington and Bedford are among the 29 designated “Main Streets” in Virginia.
Buchanan Flea Market
Council followed the town Planning Commission’s recommendation to amend the special use permit (SUP) for the flea market Tim Young and Wally Muterspaugh opened last summer on agriculture property on south Main Street.
The original SUP allowed weekend openings, but the owners wanted to extend that to Fridays and holiday Mondays, and to be able to have agriculture-related auctions and auto, tractor and farm equipment shows to help draw people to the flea market.
The planners recommended and council agreed to amend the SUP to allow the market to be open from 6:30 a.m.-dark seven days a week with the added conditions that antique tractor shows, antique engine shows, car shows and farm equipment auctions may be held on the property. There can be no car or truck auctions because the property is zoned Agriculture.
There are also conditions for how early farm equipment can be brought in for auction and how soon it has to be removed.
Council also added the condition that there be no noise on the site from shows, etc. until after 12 noon on Sundays.
Young told council he doesn’t anticipate having the flea market open on Sundays, but having Fridays and extended times for set ups will help. He hopes the possible shows will help attract more people to the flea market and Buchanan and help other businesses in town.
In other business, council:
• Discussed enforcement of the zoning code in relation to dilapidated buildings, inoperable automobiles, “junk” in front and backyards of homes in town, etc. Mayor Larry Hall said the town is creating a form that will provide a paper trail for complaints about zoning and town code violations as a way to help deal with these kind of problems.
• Learned that the new 100,000 gallon water reservoir was up and should start filling with water by February 24. It will take about another three weeks for the tank to fill, have the water tested and be brought on line.
• Learned that a well (Well 4) that was dug when the water filtration plant was built seems to be usable now. It had not been usable because it would not clear up, but he said test pumping now has it clear. The water will be tested and approved before it is brought on line.
• Approved accepting a $55,000 grant from the Virginia Health Department Office of Drinking Water in order to have electrical upgrades done at six water system sites to facilitate quick use of the mobile generator in emergencies so the town to operate well pumps and the sewer treatment plant during power outages. A $32,895 contract for the work from Bay Diesel & Generators was approved.
• Approved three items related to the Buchanan Carnival— allowing Burleigh Gilliam to order $6,500 in fireworks, a contract with Big Lick Entertainment to provide bands for the carnival (opening night will have 7 Mile Ford on the stage), and a contract with Cole Amusements in Covington for carnival rides again.
• Renewed its contract with the Sheriff’s Office to continue additional law enforcement coverage for the town. The town will provide $41,987 to the Sheriff’s Office. Part of that will come from a grant from the state and part from a percentage of traffic fines collected by the General District Court.
• Recognized Joe and Kay Ryder for their community support in making Buchanan a “better place to live.”