State Theatre secures council matching funds

The State Theatre. Culpeper Day. Zoning changes. The town logo.

The Culpeper Town Council dealt with all of the above issues and more in a meeting lasting nearly two hours before about two dozen people Dec. 11.

When Mayor Chip Coleman adjourned the council session the State Theatre had received a promise of matching funds, Culpeper Day was still up in the air for 2013, zoning changes were approved and the Minuteman flag town logo was still the official brand.

By a vote of 7-2 the council approved up to $50,000 in matching funds for the ongoing State Theatre Foundation project restoring the Main Street movie house to its former glory.

The restoration , which continued with the re-installation of the theatre marquee last week and its illumination this week, is expected to be completed in time for a May 2013 opening. The theatre will be an arts center for the community with live performances, movies, community theatre, children’s programs and other events.

Councilman Frank Boring was one of the two negative votes.

“I will be happy to reach into my own pocket and take money out to help the State Theatre,” Boring said. “But I don’t think it’s right to reach into the pockets of taxpayers and take money out for this.”

Councilman Frank Reaves, however, called the match a “one-time thing,” and Councilman Billy Yowell said he saw the match as a good economic move.

“We’re being asked to give one-half of one percent of a $10 million investment,” Yowell said. “The tax revenue the town will receive from the theatre will more than make up for what we spend. It’s a good investment.”

Coleman put the proposed match in perspective.

“We are saying we will give them $50,000 if they receive $200,000 in grant funding,” he said. “The $50,000 is our maximum exposure. We don’t give them any money until they walk in the door with a grant. If they walk in here with nothing they get nothing.”

The issue had been raised originally when Ed Bednarczyk, theatre executive director, said the foundation has been stymied in some attempts to receive grant funding because the town was not on record as supporting the project.

Culpeper Day
Although it appeared the issue had been decided after its November meeting, the council agreed to reconsider a request by the Culpeper Ruritan Club for a number of street closures for the annual Culpeper Day street festival the first weekend in May.

At the December meeting the council approved use of the entire 200 block of East Davis Street, West Davis Street and the area near the Depot. Still off limits is the 100 block of East Davis Street where a number of merchants have protested the closure due to concerns about lost business.

After two votes from the town council and an appearance before the Culpeper Parking Authority, the Ruritans are still pondering whether or not the 33-year-old event will continue.
Culpeper Ruritan Club secretary Billy Walter wrote in an e-mail that the actions of Town Council may end the community event.

“The negative action (by council in not granting the request to close the 100 block of East Davis Street) puts 2013 and any future Culpeper Day at risk of extinction,” Walter wrote. “CRC will decide the fate of Culpeper Day 2013…at our Jan. 7, 2013 meeting.”

Money raised from Culpeper Day is used by the Ruritans for scholarships and community projects.

Zoning changes

By a 6-3 vote the council approved a revised zoning map for the town. The revisions were necessary due to the boundary line adjustment with the county which went into effect July 1 and added former county land to the town rolls.

Councilmen Ben Phillips and Bobby Ryan and Vice Mayor Mike Olinger voted against a zoning classification of “Residential Estates” for a 60-plus-acre piece of land owned by Al Caldwell.

Caldwell told the council he believed the land should more properly be zoned commercial as that was the most likely eventual use for the property. He pointed out that the town, in its comprehensive plan, designated the land as mixed use – available for commercial and/or residential construction.

The changes to the zoning map were recommended by the town planning commission and explained by Patrick Mulhern, town planning director, in a power point presentation to council.
In responding to Caldwell Risner, who represents the council on the planning commission, said, “the planning commission was trying to bring the land into the town as close to what it was in the county without harming the landowner or decreasing density.

Olinger wondered if the town wasn’t “getting the cart before the horse” in not getting the property in line with the comprehensive plan before making a zoning change.

“The Caldwell’s are not losing anything,” Risner said. “Their density has increased. Are they getting what they want? No. Are they being harmed by the town? No.”
Kimberly Alexander, town manager, noted that the Caldwell’s, or any property owner, may apply for a rezoning if they so desire.

Town logo

After hearing from a number of members of the audience and holding more discussion among themselves, the Town Council voted to use the “Minuteman flag” town log on anything officially representing the town.
A logo now in use by the Culpeper Department of Tourism shows the Blue Ridge Mountains with a sunset in the background and the word “Culpeper” in large letters across the face. It had been proposed as a better way of “branding” the town, most prominently by Councilman David Lochridge.

“In the last two or three months, I have only heard four people say they like the new logo,” said Councilman Bobby Ryan.

As a result of the Dec, 11 vote by council, Alexander will have discretion to decide on which logo to use when there is a “gray area” as to whether the item is an “official capacity” of the town or more of a marketing item.

The next regularly scheduled Town Council meeting is Jan. 8, 2013.