Town staff to handle Madison Grove traffic issues

The town councilâ??s Public Safety, Public Works and Community Development Committee Tuesday afternoon decided to let the townâ??s staff handle Madison Grove subdivision traffic issues, including possible installation of $5,750 of traffic calming measures to reduce cut-through traffic.

â??I think we need to leave it up to our engineers what to do,â? said Councilman Bobby Ryan, who served as the committee chairman in the absence of Chairman Jon Russell.

The committee agreed with Ryan and decided not to send the issue to the full council. Six of the nine council members were present for Tuesdayâ??s meeting.

The staff can implement one or more of the four changes in stages or all at once, or do nothing at all.

Several Madison Grove residents have tried for years to convince the town to close Burgandine Avenue at Ira Hoffman Lane to eliminate cut-through traffic. Town council voted 5-4 to leave Burgandine Avenue open and consider alternative traffic calming measures.

At a July 8 informational meeting about traffic concerns, three residents from the neighborhood spoke offering differing ideas about measures that could be implemented.

â??Based on the minimal resident participation during this meeting, uncertainty remains as to whether there is a general consensus on the options proposed by staff,â? said Public Service Director Jim Hoy. â??I donâ??t think three residents represent the neighborhood.â?

Possible traffic calming or traffic reduction measures considered include:

Eliminating through traffic across Ira Hoffman Lane from Rocky Knoll onto Burgandine Avenue

Establish an all-way stop at Great Bridge Lane and Montanus Drive

Allow on street parking on one side in designated areas

Install a speed hump on Burgandine Avenue between the intersections of Woodbridge Court and Montanus Drive or an all-way stop at Woodbridge Court and Burgandine Avenue

â??Staff is OK with any of the four,â? said Town Manager Chris Hively.

One sticking point mentioned by Hoy is that Madison Grove lacks a homeownerâ??s association. He said in most cases staff deals with neighborhood traffic concerns through an HOA or management company.

Hoy explained to the committee that lowering the speed limit to 35 mph on Ira Hoffman Lane from the town limits to Brandy Road was a plan VDOT discouraged. He said it could create a â??speed trapâ? or cause enforcement problems for police as the 35 mph would leave and enter into a 45 mph speed zone, causing confusion.

â??If Brandy Road was 35 mph, it is certainly doable,â? said Hoy.

Councilman Pranas Rimeikis was concerned about installing a speed hump, something Madison Grove activist Rick Fields opposed installing.

â??Speed humps donâ??t discriminate,â? said Hoy.

Council member Meaghan Taylor thought implementing some of the changes might move the problem from one place to another. She said that other taxpayers might contact council just as Madison Grove residents did.

â??There is no absolute solution for cut-through traffic,â? said Hoy, noting that traffic in the neighborhood had dropped from 4,700 vehicles per day several years ago to 2,700 in a recent 11-day traffic count â?? a 43 percent reduction.

For the first time in recent memory, no residents from Madison Grove attended the meeting.

Stage trailer, signs and more

In other matters, the committee voted to recommend that the town council spend $68,745 for a stage trailer to be used at numerous downtown events. Culpeper Renaissance Inc. donated $15,000 toward the purchase from proceeds of its successful Gnarly Hops annual event. Hoy estimated the town would take delivery in November.

The townâ??s planning staff will present a report and recommendation to the town council in August regarding the establishment of nine signs directing prospective buyers to developing neighborhoods. The nine attractive signs, paid for by the builders, would replace the nearly 150 signs appearing on town rights-of-way on weekends advertising homes for sale.

â??We originally wanted 19 locations,â? said Chuck Smith, of New Home Media, who is representing the builders. â??We are down to nine.â?

The full council in August will consider the sale of the old police department across West Cameron Street from the courthouse for $300,000 as well as a $30,000 lease by the county of the old museum building to house a combined town and county economic development project.

Councilman Keith Price suggested erecting a six-foot fence between the museum property and the adjacent property.

Finally, resident Maggie Lawrence urged the town council to adopt additional sections of the maintenance code to help eliminate blight. She noted that tourists travel through blighted areas to get to the revitalized downtown.

The committee recommended discussing the maintenance code at its October retreat, which will be held in Richmond during the Virginia Municipal League Conference.

Lawrence also expressed her concern about the lack of enforcement of Yowell Meadow Park rules and especially the trash strewn about the park. She said skateboarders donâ??t wear helmets and curse in violation of park rules.

â??Nothing is being enforced,â? said Lawrence.

Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at wallybunker@outlook.com