APPALACHIA — Council members and Town Manager Fred Luntsford would like the support of residents in pursuing a boundary adjustment.
Luntsford gave a brief presentation at the council meeting on Thursday, July 18 showing council and residents the areas that the town hopes to add within corporate limits.
In a previous email, Luntsford wrote, “The goal of the boundary adjustment is to expand the corporate limits to areas that the town sees as future economic and recreational development.”
The adjustment would extend the town boundary to the foot of the Powell River Trail, which is owned and maintained by the town of Appalachia but is technically outside of town limits.
The adjustment would include the former Bullitt mine site “as well as areas north and west of Bullitt and the town owned Powell River Trail to include points around Roaring Branch and Washington Rock,” wrote Luntsford.
Roaring Branch is a trail system with a waterfall that can be seen from U.S. 23 between Big Stone Gap and Appalachia. Less than a mile away, on the same road, Washington Rock was a convenience center site that was closed and blocked off nearly two decades ago.
“None of this impacts any residential areas or businesses of any kind,” explained Luntsford at the meeting.
Luntsford described the Bullitt mine area as a “prime site” for development. “It has utilities, rail service, electric, water and sewer nearby,” he stated. “If it’s within the corporate limits of the town, the town could realize some tax benefits of a possible industry that could come there.”
Also included in the adjustment is a plan to connect the Powell River Trail to the Washington Rock site and connect the Cave Springs Trail off Roaring Branch to the Powell River Trail.
“We are hoping to get Penn Virginia to cooperate and allow some recreational development,” said Luntsford.
Penn Virginia is a land holding company that owns some of the land that the town wants to incorporate.
In an email, Luntsford explained the town would need to get approval from the Wise County Board of Supervisors. If approved, property owners would then be notified of the proposal and will be able to make comments. The town’s attorney, Mike Abbott, is working to identify and contact property owners.
“VDOT has been notified of the Washington Rock site to gain their approval for an entrance/edit for the site and mapping has been completed to show the exact boundary lines,” wrote Luntsford.
While there will not be a formal public forum on the matter, the discussion of the boundary adjustment will continue during the “Old Business” portion of the Aug. 15 town council meeting. The council would like to have public input to put together a presentation for the county Board of Supervisors.
“We hope we have a lot of citizens in town come here and support this effort,” said Luntsford. “We have to do something to bolster the revenues for the town of Appalachia. Our revenues are stagnant or reducing while our costs continue to go up.”
Luntsford stated that some “out-of-the-box” thinking is required to help develop the town.
He ended his presentation with a quote: “You will not find solutions to problems caused by changing times if you continue to look in the same places.”