BOCO Facts 4 U
The BOCO Facts 4 U page was created to correct misinformation spread through the grapevine and via social media in the county. We appreciate our residents who seek truth over false information shared throughout our community. We believe that great discussions of county issues must be based on facts and not assumptions, innuendo, or false narratives.
BOCO elected officials and employees work extremely hard to provide accurate, transparent, and timely information to the public. If you hear information in the community that you would like verified or simply have a question, please contact us by phone at (540)928-2000 or by email.
Rumors vs. Facts
Botetourt County Libraries Unattended Child Policy / Citizens' First Amendment & Parental Rights
Rumor: Children under the age of 18 have to have a parent or responsible adult with them in the library at all times.
Fact: Currently, children under the age of 13 have to have a parent or responsible adult with them in the library at all times. Here is more clarity from Botetourt County:
During the July 31, 2023, Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Botetourt County leaders unanimously adopted a resolution in support of the protection of citizens’ first amendment and parental rights in Botetourt County Libraries. The resolution stated that the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors actively supports and defends citizens’ First Amendment rights including:
- The right to read and access information freely and to form their own opinions.
- Defends parental rights to choose content that is suitable for their own families and children, but not to determine what is appropriate for other families and their children.
- Affirms the Botetourt County Library’s existing policies and practices to protect minors by requiring minors under the age of 13 to be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult, and by providing for collection transparency and parental/guardian access and control in minors’ use of library materials, services, resources, and events.
- Supports the Botetourt County Library’s existing policies and procedures guiding the selection and deselection of materials reflecting the needs and interests of the community, without discrimination against or preference for specific individuals, groups, or viewpoints.
- Affirms the Botetourt County Library’s vital role in protecting citizens’ constitutional and parental rights and enabling all citizens to understand and navigate a complex world.
Also, during the meeting, Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Chair, Dr. Mac Scothorn, shared a recommendation that he stated he would share, on his own behalf, with the Botetourt County Library Board that it consider prohibiting minors (under age 18) from visiting County libraries unaccompanied except for 16 and 17-year-olds who have been granted written permission by a parent to do so.
The Botetourt County Libraries’ current policy, which was endorsed by the Board of Supervisors, is that children under the age of 13 must be supervised by a parent or responsible adult over the age of 18. Read the Botetourt County Libraries’ current unattended children policy here.
Water and Sewer Extension in Blue Ridge
Rumor: Botetourt County will allow and pay for a sewer extension along US 460 to Laymantown Road. This will allow property recently sold to R. Fralin by Rainbow Forest Baptist Church (and other property) to be served by sewer where as many as 1,100 apartments could be built.
Fact #1: The Comprehensive Plan amendment to the water and sewer infrastructure map is being proposed at the request only by the developer of the proposed Sheetz convenience store. Once it is authorized to proceed to a Public Hearing at the Planning Commission, staff will evaluate the request and provides recommended changes that are in the best interest of the county as a whole. As such, and as a result of communication with the Sheetz developer, the Western Virginia Water Authority, and VDOT, staff will also propose amendments to the designated service area as being within the right-of-way of US 460 between Coyner Springs Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway ONLY. This means, that property fronting along Route 460 could be eligible for a single public sewer tap via a private service line, however, no further public extensions would be allowed without further Comprehensive Plan map amendments and additional public comments. Additionally, the proposed Future Land Use Map amendments to commercial sewer would only incorporate the properties under contract by the developer of the Sheetz at the intersection of Laymantown Road and no other proposed Future Land Use Map changes are being proposed at this time.
Fact #2: County staff have not been contacted by any other property owner or developer with an interest in developing any property in Blue Ridge for residential subdivisions or multi-family housing. Such proposals would take future Comprehensive Plan amendments and rezonings, at a minimum with public input.
Fact #3: The county does not participate in revenue sharing or provide any assistance, financial or otherwise, for installation of public utilities by private developers. The Western Virginia Water Authority has reported to Botetourt County that they will not participate in the cost of the proposed sewer extension, which (if approved) would be paid for 100% by the developer of the proposed Sheetz convenience store.
BOCO Legal Ads - Community Notification
Rumor: Botetourt County doesn’t share information with the community about meetings and public hearings.
Fact: Botetourt County strives to be as transparent as possible with our community and utilizes many ways to share information about county meetings, public hearings, resolutions, public notices, and other county business.
Botetourt County follows the Code of Virginia (15.2-2204. Advertisement of plans, ordinances, etc.: joint public hearings; written notice of certain amendments) (15.2-5104. Advertisement of ordinance, agreement or resolution and notice of hearing) (2.2-3707. Meetings to be public; notice of meetings; recordings; minutes) when it comes to advertising and sharing information with the public about public hearings and meetings.
The county does the following to make sure our community stays informed:
- Advertisement in a local newspaper (Botetourt County utilizes the Fincastle Herald most of the time for meeting and public hearing notices; other times we utilize the Roanoke Times)
- Prints and posts the legal advertisement and meeting notice at the Botetourt County Administration Center located at 57 S. Center Dr., Daleville, VA 24083.
- News information is shared on an electronic monitor at the Botetourt County Administration Center located at 57 S. Center Dr., Daleville, VA 24083.
- Posts a news flash on the Botetourt County Website at www.botetourtva.gov
- Shares the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, and Public Hearing information on the County’s Facebook Page
- Shares legal ads on the county’s website.
- In addition to legal requirements set forth by the Code of Virginia, the Planning and Zoning Office places signs with the date and time of the meeting on properties subject to public hearings, and places the application package for the public hearing on the website concurrently with the legal advertisement.
Citizens can also sign up for Notify Me alerts on the county’s website (www.botetourtva.gov/notifyme)
This service allows users to sign up for agendas, meeting notices, calendar events, county news and much more. Information will be sent to the users provided email address or sent to their mobile device via text message.
Access county meeting agendas at www.botetourtva.gov/agendacenter. Here you will find agendas and meeting minutes for:
- Board of Supervisor Meetings
- Board of Zoning Appeals
- Botetourt County Citizen Commission for Preservation of Historical Properties
- Economic Development Authority
- Electoral Board
- Historic Greenfield Preservation Council
- Library Board of Trustees
- Parks & Recreation Commission
- Planning Commission
If you have questions about Botetourt County communications, email: [email protected] or call (540)928-2004. To contact the County Administrator’s Office, call (540) 928-2006.
BOCO Public Libraries
Rumor: The public library’s youth collection contains “pornography” and “pedophilia.”
Fact: While some might use these terms subjectively to describe content that they find objectionable or inappropriate, County libraries have multiple checkpoints to ensure that no actual pornographic, pedophilic, or obscene material makes its way into our library collection, including the youth collection.
No materials in the library collection would pass the Miller Test for obscenity. Furthermore, the library purchases only from reputable vendors, which are prohibited by law from selling obscene materials to libraries.
County librarians are professionally educated and trained to select materials objectively, offering a broad range of legal content to serve all persons equally without bias, favor, or prejudice. Librarians receive specialized training to ensure that the library collection is “balanced,” or includes a broad representation of subjects and viewpoints. They follow a detailed list of objective criteria to find and add titles that serve as quality representations of different viewpoints, ideas, and subjects.
Each individual is free to access materials of interest to them and to form their own opinions of the material they consume. For that reason, libraries do not impose value judgments about materials, and therefore do not segregate, rate, label, or otherwise indicate “trigger warnings” or inhibit access.
Learn more about how the library selects materials in these FAQs.
Public libraries are constitutionally obligated to serve the interests and needs of all members of their communities and may not limit offerings to some content to the exclusion of other content. Every public library collection contains a broad range of materials, subjects, and viewpoints to serve the entire community. The materials in the library reflect the broad spectrum of human knowledge and Botetourt community needs and interests. Librarians are happy to assist any patron in finding materials that suit their individual or family needs, criteria, and values.
Materials will inevitably include viewpoints and content that some members of the community enthusiastically embrace and seek out, and others may view as harmful or objectionable. The inclusion of these and any other materials in the library collection does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, nor does materials' presence or placement in the collection indicate any attempt to persuade, push an “agenda,” or take sides on any issues. A public library maintains a position of neutrality, recognizing that free access to a wide variety of subjects and ideas (even when controversial) are necessary to equip a healthy, democratic society.
All materials located in the children’s and young adult collections have been identified by publishers and reviewers as intended and appropriate for those audiences. The public library provides materials for a broad variety of families with differing needs and values. Every family and child is unique, and only parents or legal guardians can decide what is appropriate for their own children and families.
Botetourt County Libraries fully supports parental rights. Use of any library material is strictly voluntary. Children access materials only with their parents’ consent, since the parent takes full responsibility for their children’s activity in the library and has full control of minors’ library accounts until they turn 18. Children under age 13 must be supervised by a responsible adult when visiting any Botetourt County library branch. Library staff cannot and may not serve in loco parentis.
Learn more about how the library supports parental rights.
Botetourt County Library provides full transparency about its collection. All titles in the Botetourt County Library can be viewed via the online catalog, which also provides primary subjects, keywords, and descriptions of each title so that citizens can preview content. The online catalog facilitates access to materials from partner libraries in the Roanoke Valley Libraries consortium as well as Botetourt libraries. Materials requested from partner libraries and delivered to Botetourt are placed on shelves in staff-only areas, ready for individual requestors to pick them up.
Look up subjects or titles in the online catalog.
The library welcomes patron input for the collection, including purchase requests and selection concerns. A patron who feels that a specific title is unsuitable for community access is first encouraged to have a conversation with a librarian. In addition to ensuring that librarians receive direct community feedback, this discussion can help clarify why the material may have been selected in the first place.
If a concerned patron is still dissatisfied after a conversation with a librarian, they may (if eligible) request a formal review of the material in question, called a “request for reconsideration.” This puts the title through an extensive review process to determine its suitability for the Botetourt County Library collection, specifically its adherence to the library’s Collection Development Policy. Requests for reconsideration are taken very seriously, and decisions are made only after careful, thorough research and deliberation.
Because the library already has a policy and process for reviewing objections to material, then complaints about library materials cannot be acted upon in any way until the citizen has submitted the material for a formal review and the material has gone through a thorough examination under the library’s reconsideration policy and process.
Why? In cases involving challenges to library material throughout the years, U.S. courts have consistently defended the rights of readers and free speech. To remove any material from a library based on viewpoint or content puts every viewpoint at risk and represents a significant legal liability for the library and financial risk for taxpayers. A thorough review of challenged titles helps ensure that the library meets both community needs/interests and legal requirements to uphold citizens’ First Amendment rights.
As of this posting, Botetourt County Library has received formal reconsideration requests to review 13 titles. Here are some stats:
- # titles challenged that Botetourt County Library does not own: 48
- # titles challenged that Botetourt County Library owns: 13
- # citizens challenging titles: 3
- 1 citizen requested a review of 12 titles
- 2 citizens requested a review of 1 title
- # challenged titles any of the requestors said they read/viewed: 1
- # times 13 challenged titles have been checked out without complaint: 278
- Total purchase cost of all Botetourt-owned copies of all 13 challenged titles: $289
- Estimated time/labor cost to review these 13 titles: $11,409
- # years the 13 challenged titles have been on library shelves: range from 6 months to 13 years
- % 13 challenged titles added to the collection before 2020: 75%
In summary, Botetourt County Library takes seriously its obligation to provide materials that serve the interests and needs of County residents without violating obscenity or other laws. Professional librarians are trained how to do this without bias or discrimination. Policies and procedures are in place to ensure that parents and legal guardians enjoy full control and transparency into what their children access from the library, and that the library can thoughtfully consider objections to any materials that any County resident believes should not be a part of the library’s collection.
BOCO Capital Improvement Plan
Rumor: That Botetourt Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes more than $100 million in County dollars for improvements in the Gateway Crossing Area and the 220 Corridor.
Fact: What is a Capital Improvement Plan? A Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) contains all the individual capital projects, equipment purchases, and major studies for a local government; in conjunction with construction and completion schedules.
There has never been a plan to use County funds to make the capital improvements indicated in the Gateway Crossing Area or along the 220 Corridor. The improvements in the CIP were included, as required by State law, to qualify the County for potential private investments in the areas. The CIP did not clearly note that these improvements were not proposed County improvements funded with County funds.
Recognizing the misunderstanding this created and following a change in State law that no longer required the inclusion of potential private-funded improvements (called proffers), the Board of Supervisors deleted the improvements from the County’s CIP at its regular meeting on September 27, 2022. Read the full agenda here: 9-27-2022 BOS Agenda
For ease of use, we have also included information below including the agenda, Administrators Comments, and the modified Capital Improvement plan. If you would like to talk further about this or have questions, please reach out to us at (540)928-2006. You can also sign up for agenda alerts and other news items at www.botetourtva.gov/notifyme.
Mobile Classrooms at New Colonial Elementary School
Rumor: There are mobile Classrooms at the New Colonial Elementary School in the Blue Ridge community.
Fact: There are NO mobile classrooms at the New Colonial School in the Blue Ridge community and NO mobile classrooms are planned for the New Colonial School. The New Colonial is currently operating at 88.87% capacity. During construction, the Economic Development Authority(EDA) in conjunction with the Botetourt Board of Supervisors and Botetourt County Public Schools added classrooms as well as the bus canopy and increased the size of the gymnasium to a “full size” gym compared to an elementary school gymnasium.
Section 8 Apartments in BOCO
Rumor: The new apartments being built in Botetourt County are all section 8.
Fact: Housing affordability is and has been a rising issue for quite some time. Over time, the federal and state government have created, implemented, and modified programs and policies that provide housing opportunities to folks with no, low, and moderate incomes. Because there are multiple programs at the federal and state levels, and implemented by local authorities, it's pretty complicated and things overlap. Also, a lot of the terminology and programs have been modified over the years, and it's not uncommon for people to use certain words incorrectly or interchangeably. This question presents a great opportunity to clear up some of the misconceptions about payment assistance for multifamily housing versus market-rate apartments.
The short answer is that there are no public housing or subsidized apartments built or under construction in Botetourt. Additionally, as far as Botetourt County is aware, there are also none planned or in the works at this time.
The longer answer may provide some context for folks with questions:
- There are two types of Section 8 housing: "project-based" (used in specific buildings or units developed for the program) and "portable", meaning that an agency that administers the program provides payment directly to a participating landlord for any amount over 30% of the tenant's income.
- People also confuse "Section 8" housing with public housing. Public housing is owned, operated, and maintained by an agency or authority and governed by federal requirements. Under a public housing program, eligible applicants apply at the site where they want to live. Families pay 30% of their adjusted annual income as rent or they may choose a flat rent.
The federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) even has a map on its website where people can go to see the different types of housing https://resources.hud.gov. This map shows no listings in Botetourt County.
The closest public housing authority is the Roanoke City Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and they administer project-based rental assistance, public housing in the City of Roanoke as well as tenant-based rental assistance.
Tenant-based assistance (formerly Section 8 vouchers but named Housing Choice Vouchers since 1999) is rental assistance in which the tenant has a choice in where to use it. There are programs for long-term and short-term assistance. Landlords can charge the full fair market rent, and tenants are bound by the terms of their rental agreement and subject to eviction as is any other tenant. Again, Botetourt County does NOT operate a public housing authority or administer any type of state or federal housing assistance.
There are also other programs administered by the state that provide incentives to developers such as lower loan rates or tax credits in exchange for ensuring that a certain number of units are rented to those at or below a certain income limit. Information viewed on the Housing Virginia website shows no tax credit projects constructed or applied for in Botetourt County.
With all of that being said, Botetourt County does support increased housing opportunity and choice and recognizes that gaps exist in providing housing that is affordable for our workforce and for those who serve our community. We look forward to open discussions about continuing to provide high-quality housing opportunities for our now and future residents.
Audit of Botetourt County Budget - Broadband Funds
Rumor: Audit of Botetourt County budget uncovered over $210,000 of misappropriated funds for broadband.
During the pandemic, Botetourt County requested the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority(RVBA) to assist with the management of two state-funded broadband deployment projects. The RVBA is a governmental partnership of the City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, the City of Salem, and Botetourt County in Virginia. It exists to make the Roanoke Valley – the region comprising these localities – a better place to live and do business by owning and operating a middle-mile broadband network to improve local internet service for businesses, community institutions, and residents.
The RVBA managed the two broadband deployment projects in Botetourt using state funds. At the end of the projects, the County conducted a review of the grant expenditures for both projects and identified some RVBA charges that required DHCD's determination of whether they were allowed. Some of the RVBA charges were disallowed by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The County requested DHCD's review of the expenditures to ensure grant funding compliance.
Botetourt County requested the return of the disallowed expenditures, which resulted in the RVBA and Botetourt County executing a settlement agreement to address the disallowed expenditures. Once the funds were returned to the county, the funds were returned to the Commonwealth. No local dollars were utilized for the involved projects.
The county was out ZERO dollars and did not misappropriate any funding, nor did this reimbursement to the state cost our county taxpayers any money. Read the settlement agreement by clicking here.
Botetourt County Budget
Rumor: Botetourt County is behind on the budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 which begins July 1, 2023.
Botetourt County has been working on the budget process since December 2022. It is very difficult for the County to complete the local budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 until the Commonwealth of Virginia finalizes the state budget. Virginia’s regular legislative session ended on February 25, 2023, without an agreement between the House and Senate on major tax and spending matters that are decided through the state budget. Legislators have stated that they are continuing to work on the budget and will return when they have a deal.
Botetourt County holds public budget meetings. To find out more, make sure to sign up for "notify me". News alerts and calendar events will be shared with your email address or you can sign up for text alerts to keep you in the know about what's happening in the county. Click here to sign up.
Botetourt County Public Schools
Rumor: Botetourt County Public Schools are completely full.
Botetourt County Schools are currently operating between a low of 35.09% (at Eagle Rock Elementary) to a high of 88.87% (at Colonial Elementary) occupancy. With an average occupancy of 65.53% across the school system. The trend represents declining enrollment since 2015 as listed in the graphic. In 2015, the occupancy rate was 69.35%.
The Botetourt County School System provided updated numbers on April 5, 2023. These numbers are reflected in the graphic. Previously there was an error in the capacity reporting, with Read Mt. Middle School showing 105.43%. The correct capacity is 88.81% as listed.
Daily enrollment numbers can change frequently; however, these daily changes do not significantly impact the overall percentages of occupancy.
Rumor: Botetourt “poached” Munters away from Buena Vista and Rockbridge County to build their new operation in BoCo.
Rumor: The county is doing survey work on Jennings Creek.
Fact: Botetourt County is not doing survey work on Jennings Creek.