The chairmanship of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors returned to the Republican Party on Tuesday.
The board elected Richard Flora of the Hollins District as its leader in 2012. The board’s other Republican, Mike Altizer of the Vinton District, was named the board’s vice chairman.
Voting was unanimous. Flora and Altizer abstained from voting for their own elections.
While the shift transfers the chairmanship back into Republicans’ hands, no single party has control. The board’s three other members —- Butch Church, Charlotte Moore and Ed Elswick – are politically independent and had at times voted as a coalition until recently.
In Flora’s opinion, the board shouldn’t act beholden to any party.
“I love peace, quiet and harmony, and that’s my goal,” he said. “It means that everyone is going to be a party to the decision-making process.”
At one of Tuesday’s meeting’s first sticking points, Flora mediated.
Elswick proposed to repeal and change a county wind energy policy that his colleagues had passed 4-1 in September. Elswick believes the maximum turbine noise level in the policy, 60 decibels, is too great.
This was the second time Elswick has asked for the change.
Church, who previously voted against Elswick on the issue, said the matter now “begs for a second look” because of its importance to residents.
But Altizer and Moore said they supported the ordinance as it stood. The board could further tailor the limits after a wind farm developer applies for a permit, and the county needs a baseline number, they said.
Flora offered a compromise: ask staff to research the issue more. The board shouldn’t allow Elswick’s proposal to be discussed again without more information, he said, because that would imply the board’s support.
The supervisors agreed to table the vote and hear an informational presentation in the next month or two on turbines’ possible noise levels.
Flora has said he plans to increase communication among board members this year by allowing supervisors to collaborate on meeting agendas before they’re finalized. That approach would change a long-standing practice of the chairman and county administrator setting the agenda.
The chairman’s seat fell into controversy in 2011 after Church held the traditionally one-year position for two consecutive terms and a board clerk lost her job under pressure from him.
Minutes before Flora was elected chairman, Church nominated Moore for the position. She declined, citing her wish to focus on communicating with residents in her district.
Previously, Church and Elswick had said they had hoped Moore would take the position.
Flora, 71, has represented the Hollins District since 2002 and works as Craig County’s administrator. He also served on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors from 1972 to 1975. He has led the board as chairman twice in the past.
Flora said he plans to retire from government when his term expires, in about two years.
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