Saturday, June 16, 2018

Land use matters

Goochland’s Planning Commission is comprised of five appointees, one from each district. It is an advisory body charged with reviewing land use matters and making recommendations to the Board of supervisors, which has the final say.

Current Commissioners are: John Myers, District 1; Matt Brewer District; Carter Duke, District 3; Chair John Shelhorse, District 4; and Tom Rockecharlie, District 5.

At its June 7 meeting, the Commission reviewed tentative plats for recently rezoned residential enclaves,  Mosaic and Reader’s Branch, located in the Hockett Road corridor in eastern Goochland.

Once a rezoning application had been approved by the supervisors, most actions concerning new projects take place administratively. 

Mosaic, a 55 plus community approved in March, submitted a tentative plat for  476 dwelling units, a mix of town houses and single family homes.  Topography of the site and gas line easements, said Director of Community Development JoAnn Hunter, resulted in 44 fewer lots than originally approved. Rezoning applications include conceptual plans that tend to be broad overviews of a site. As developers refine projects, things change.

As a result, many lots in Mosaic could be between 65 and 55 feet wide. There was some discussion about side setback for the townhomes, which seemed odd, because they tend to be attached. No projections into the setback areas will be permitted, which prevents  future enlargement of these homes.

The plat presented on June 7 places the clubhouse and fitness facility at the center of the community, which will extend from Tuckahoe Creek Parkway to Broad Branch Drive, between Capital One and Hockett Road. Of the approximately 207acres in Mosaic, 87.042 is designated as lot acreage; 79.613 open space; and 29 acres for roads. The remainder could be the amenities.

Reader’s Branch, east of Hockett Road opposite the Parke at Centerville, also got approval of its tentative plat. This subdivision also shrank two lots after a more careful look at the site revealed that topographic features will support 301 versus the 303 home site approved.

A proffer amendment application filed by Cameron General Contractors to allow a “home for the aged” on the north side of Rt. 6 opposite the entrance to Rivergate. The 38.8 acre parcel was  zoned in 1998 for two office buildings totaling 180,000 square feet, which never materialized.

Proposed is a 130 independent senior living units in one three story building. Services will include dining, housekeeping, valent parking, some retail, concierge services, and a shuttle bus.   Residents will average 80 years of age. It will not offered skilled nursing or assisted living options.

The application substitutes the residential structure for one of the office buildings and reserves the right to construct the other, perhaps to offer higher levels of care, in the future. The county’s wastewater pump station, located on an adjunct parcel, will continue to use the same access point onto Rt. 6.

There was no opposition to the facility. It will generate less traffic than an office building and upscale materials, setbacks, and landscaping complement Rivergate.

Community meetings with Rivergate residents  resulted in a right turn only option exiting the property for safety reasons. Crossing the very narrow existing median to safely turn left, Rivergate residents believe, is perilous, especially for older people.

The narrow Route 6 median at the Rivergate entrance makes left turns dicey.

Roger Spence, a Rivergate resident, said that the developer was receptive to the concerns of his neighbors. He also said that if the right turn only condition  had not been part of the application, the board room would have been filled with opponents from his community. The narrow median, Spence contended, requires a commitment to cross all lanes of traffic to turn left, a difficult maneuver in heavy traffic. Fatalities will occur there, he predicted, if left turns are permitted.

Spence also said that it is often difficult to ascertain which lane oncoming vehicles occupy. He predicted a 10 hour public hearing before the supervisors if left turns are permitted there.

The only objection county staff had to the application was the right turn only provision, contending that VDOT standards will require the applicant to widen the median for safety.  The right turn only provision just moves the turning action further west and does little to improve safety, said Debbie Byrd, assistant director of community development. A traffic signal at Rt. 6 opposite Hope Church, just west of the site, which will be in place by the end of 2018, will provide breaks in eastbound traffic.

Commissioners were not convinced. Rockecharlie said that he would have a hard time recommending something that could cause an older person to be t-boned by a  gravel truck coming east from the Luck Stone quarry. The access point is located at the top of a blind hill on a road with a 55 mile per hour speed limit, decreasing the margin for error when turning. Brewer said he could support left and right turns if the median was widened.

The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval, expressing concern  that the intersection be improved to ensure safe left turns. The application moves on to the supervisors for another public hearing.

In the meantime the applicant and staff will refine the proposal to address these safety issues.

All community meetings are posted on the county website well in advance of their occurrence. Pay attention, be engaged, make a difference.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Slipping into summer

After busy start to 2018, Goochland’s Board of Supervisors began summer with a light agenda at its June 5 meeting. As no public hearings were on tap, there was no evening session.

Perhaps the most interesting factoid in the Board packet was the notice that Hermitage Gardens, LLC has withdrawn its rezoning application to build 438 homes on 176.34 acres the east side of Hockett Road. Vigorous push back to the proposal at a May 14 community meeting may have given the applicants second thoughts. Adding more traffic to Hockett Road; impact on county schools; and erosion of the county’s rural character were the main objections voiced by citizens.

Other landowners eyeing dense residential development in the Hockett Road corridor must understand that they need to devise a more concrete solution to the Hockett/Broad intersection than paying full cash proffers and letting the county and VDOT figure out how to mitigate traffic impact.

According to VDOT Ashland residency administrator Marshall Winn, the traffic signal at West Creek Parkway and Route 6, opposite Hope Church, is on the VDOT construction schedule and should be in place by the end of 2018.

Winn also reported that utility conflicts and  easements needed for upgrades to the Rt. 288/Broad Street Road interchange have been secured. The target date for this road work has moved up from September 2020 to January 2020. He speculated that further acceleration of the project is possible.

Paving of the stretch  of Manakin Road mangled by gas line installation is under way and  should be finished by June 8, said Winn. The gas company will then begin installing the gas line along Broad Street Road east of Manakin Road. The right lane will be closed on Broad Street Rd. (Rt. 250) between Manakin Rd. and Hockett Rd. from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 11-15 for utility work.

Board Chair Ken Peterson, District 5, welcomed, in absentia, Vern Fleming to the District 3 seat school Board seat. Fleming succeeded John Lumpkins, Jr. who was appointed to the District 3 supervisor in April. They will both serve until replacements are elected in November.

County Administrator John Budesky said that the annual fireworks display will be held on July 4 in Courthouse Village as usual. He thanked the Sheriff’s Office in advance for doing an excellent job of controlling traffic and keeping everyone safe during and after this event. He also asked those attending to pack their patience and be considerate of others traveling to and from the event.

The fireworks are delightful. However, as more people from outside Goochland clog our roads to attend the display, fewer Goochland residents, whose tax dollars pay for the pyrotechnics and public safety costs, decline to participate in the countywide traffic jam to watch “the bombs bursting in air” as we celebrate America. It may be time to rethink this annual event.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that EMS crews recently used the LUCAS © chest compression system to deliver two patients to hospitals with a “fighting chance” to recover. Providing manual CPR is physically demanding and difficult to perform consistently for long periods of time. Once CPR compressions have begun, they must continue until either the patient responds; reaches a hospital; or CPR is terminated on the orders of a doctor. Goochland ambulances are equipped with telemetry that transmits patient information to a hospital during transport. MacKay thanked the supervisors for funding this lifesaving equipment.

MacKay gave a shout out to Goochland schools for getting through the academic year with no school related student traffic accidents.

He also commended fire-rescue providers for actions during the recent flooding on Riddles Bridge Road who responded to the scene in the middle of the night and waded into rushing water to save trapped motorists

Two additional Fire-Rescue folks completed paramedic certification, MacKay said. Two career providers have completed tactical medic training to support law enforcement operations in uncontrolled environments.

The Hon. Dale W. Agnew, Clerk of the Goochland Circuit Court, gave the Board an update on her office. She thanked Budesky and Barbara Horlacher, Director of Financial Services for  making  the budget process easy.  She reported that her office received a clean audit.

A new system that electronically enters real estate information upon recordation will speed and simplify title searches.   As new condos and other properties are sold, this is an important time saver.

The record room has been reorganized to maximize space and ensure that public records can be easily accessed.
Agnew also said that probate activities have increased approximately 25 percent in the last two years. She expects this trend to continue as people move into the recently approved senior communities in the county.

The criminal court case load has remained level, but civil actions, especially those to collect unpaid taxes, have risen about 25 percent.

Dr. Gary Rhodes, President of Reynolds Community College, announced that he is retiring at the end of August after 16 years at the helm of the college. His successor is Dr. Paula Pando.

Rhodes said that in May, 21 Goochland High School students earned Associate’s Degrees about a month before their high school diplomas thanks to the dual enrollment program. Next year, 31 local students are expected to follow suit.

He reported that community college enrollment tends to fall in good economic times. He also said that he would like to see the Goochland campus expand programs offered, perhaps to include additional career and technical opportunities. Community colleges are a vital tool in fixing the mismatch between open jobs and lack of skilled employees to fill them.

The consent agenda, routine items that require supervisor approval, included amendments of the school budget that have no impact on the county transfer amount. (See Board packet beginning on page 91 for details.)

More amendments to the school budget were necessitated by funding for the Junior ROTC program being picked up by the Marine Corps. Goochland is one of a very few similar programs nationwide to achieve this. Thanks to everyone who made this happen and kudos to our Marine cadets and school staff who make the program a success.

Additional funds, some made available when bids for paving at Byrd Elementary School came in less than budgeted, were allocated for capital projects, including security upgrades and improvements to the high school football field.
Capital Improvement funds were also allocated for purchase of a new animal protection vehicle and fund design of improvements to the Rt. 6 sidewalk, which was damaged by erosion during our rainy spring.

The Board authorized Budesky to execute a license agreement and memorandum of understanding to relocate the Virginia Cooperative Extension office to the Central High School complex. This would occur after anticipated renovations to the complex are completed later in 2018.

Several public hearings were scheduled for the July 3 meeting.

Application to add 12 parcels of land totaling 56.365 acres, which are part of the recently approved Mosaic senior residential enclave, to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

Other July public hearings on changes to county code to align with state law include: an ordinance to amend the number of members of the Economic Development authority from seven to five, with three constituting a quorum; changing the local health director’s discretion about quarantining a police dog; what work on an onsite sewage treatment system constitutes maintenance; when real estate taxes are due; changes to the law regarding variances; prohibiting a planning commission from delaying of any proposed plant, site plan, or plan of development. (see the board packet for details.)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Troubled bridge over the Interstate

On May 31, a meeting to gather citizen feedback about possible improvements to the Ashland Road/Interstate 64 interchange was held at the Centerville Company 3 Fire-Rescue station.

Goochland County expects to submit an application to be considered for Virginia’s Smart scale program funding in August.  Kimley-Horn, the engineering firm retained to help with preparation  of the application, shared three possible solutions to mitigate rush hour gridlock able to handle traffic increases expected through 2045.

Tom Coleman, a principal planner with the county, explained the three possible options. They were: a partial cloverleaf; two roundabouts with “truck aprons” to accommodate  large and heavy industrial traffic;  and a “diverging diamond” traffic pattern similar to that at the Zion Crossroads interchange in Louisa County.

Thanks to Betty Nuckols for passing along the link to this informative video about diverging diamonds.

The Smart Scale program, designed to fund regionally important road improvements, is very competitive, said Coleman. There are no guarantees that this project will “win” funding. The county may resubmit applications every other year. “Winning” projects will be announced sometime in the Spring of 2019. It will pursue other funding options.

Each alternative includes a second two lane bridge over I64 and finally acknowledges that four lanes are needed to handle traffic.

Coleman said that the partial cloverleaf is the most expensive and least functional choice. He and Kimley-Horn representative conceded that the double roundabout, even with spiffy truck aprons, could be clog the works if large trucks were to tip over while traversing them. A recent wreck at the Temple Avenue roundabout near I95 was cited as an example of this.  The best option, he contended, is the diverging diamond, which moves traffic to the opposite side of the road, reduces conflict points, and keeps vehicles moving albeit at a slow but safe speed..

All options have hefty price tags. The double roundabout is estimated at $30 million; the diverging diamond at $31 million. The partial cloverleaf, which was presented as the least favorable option perhaps a bit more due to rights of way acquisition. Some federal money may be available for the project.

The meeting room was filled with citizens who expressed healthy skepticism about the proposals. One woman, however, said that she works near Zion Crossroads and uses the diverging diamond road there every day. At first, she said, she thought the configuaration was daft. But after using it, she believes that it improves traffic flow and is the best and safest of the three proposed alternatives.

In response to a question about the incidence of vehicle accidents and fatalities at Zion Crossroads before and after the installation of the diverging diamond, the Kimley-Horn representative said that wrecks decreased from 25 to 12 and serious injuries from 12 to 2.

Included in the proposal is the cost of  moving the exiting park and ride, whose current location would be gobbled up by road changes. In all scenarios, the park and ride will move to the west side of Ashland Road south of the interchange, roughly opposite open acreage used for Field Day of the Past parking. It will be enlarged to handle more vehicles.

All proposed options, said Coleman, are at a very high level. Details will be addressed closer to completion.

Coleman speculated that if Goochland wins Smart Scale  funding for the project and all the stars align, it might be completed in ten years. In reality, it could take much  longer. Actual construction could take more than two years. This all means that until at least 2030, twelve years from now, Ashland Road and I-64 will be remain a malfunction junction at certain times of the day.

At some unknown point in the future, Ashland Road may be widened to four lanes, speculated Coleman. How and when this will happen, is anyone’s guess. Until then, vehicles negotiating this interchange will continue to play chicken. People who live along Ashland Road will continue to use their current rush hour strategy of “gun it and pray” to exit their driveways among dump trucks, tractor trailers, and other vehicles zooming along.

If you have any comments or questions about these proposals, please contact Tom Coleman at before June 30. The Supervisors are expected to consider these proposals at their July 3 meeting so the Smart scale application can be submitted by August 1.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Interim School Board member sworn in

Vernon Fleming took the oath of office as District 3 member of the Goochland School Board on Friday, June 1. He was appointed to fill the vacancy created when John Lumpkins, Jr. was tapped by the Board of Supervisors to fill its District 3 seat. Both Lumpkins and Fleming are interim appointments who will serve until  a special election on November 6 allows voters to elect a District 3 supervisor and school board member.  The untimely passing of District 3 Supervisor, Ned Creasey in March necessitated the changes.

Vernon  Fleming is sworn in as interim District 3 school board member by the Hon. Dale W. Agnew.

The Hon. Dale W. Agnew, Goochland Circuit Court clerk, administered the oath.

A Louisa County native, Fleming is a retired Army Lt. Col., whose career included a stint teaching military science at the College of William and Mary. Since returning to civilian life, Fleming has held executive positions at major American companies and is currently employed by Performance Food Group, headquartered in West Creek.

Fleming has six children, two currently students in Goochland Schools. He is active in his church and is on the Board of Directors of the Goochland Historical Society; and. The Shady Grove Rosenwald School in Louisa. He has served as District Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America and as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Richmond.

According to a press release  from GCPS, “Mr. Fleming is eager to put his experience and skills to work ensuring schools are adequately funded and properly staffed with qualified administrators and teachers, and doing everything possible to provide a quality and inspiring educational experience for OUR children.”

Dr. Jeremy Raley, Mike Payne,  Kevin Hazzard,  Vernon Fleming, and Beth  Hardy.

Following the swearing in, schools board members Beth Hardy, District 4, Vice Chairperson; Kevin Hazzard District 2, ad Mike Payne, District 1 welcomed Fleming to their ranks. Dr. Jeremy Raley, superintendent of Schools, congratulated Fleming and presented him with a Bulldogs shirt and CTE cap to welcome him to Team Goochland.
Dr, Jeremy Raley presents Vern Fleming with Bulldog shirt and CTE hat. He is now a member of Team Goochland!

Fleming’s skill and experience as a soldier, executive, community volunteer, and a parent will bring new perspectives to the school board as it continues the positive momentum to  maximize the potential of every learner.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

They've only just begun

On Tuesday, May 29, the Career and Technical Education(CTE)Department at Goochland High School held a signing event to celebrate its graduates who are going into the military or world of work. The  motto of Goochland Tech, name of the CTE program, is "Jobs that build America".

School Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley spoke to a gathering of representatives of local companies; parents; teachers;  Army recruiters; and students antsy with anticipation before they headlong into their futures.

Raley said that this was the first time that GHS has recognized graduating seniors going directly into the workforce or the solemn task of protecting our nation. They are well-trained  and well prepared academically to handle the challenges that await them. Goochland, he said, has the only high school heavy equipment program in the Commonwealth that prepares students to go directly into high paying jobs.

Chris Collier, GHS principal said these graduates are not only talented in their chosen fields, but have also mastered soft skills that separate them from their peers. They know to look someone in the eye, shake hands, and engage in conversation. The core values these students learn at home and in the community at large will serve them well. He congratulated the CTE graduates for knowing what they want to do and where they are going in life.

Congressman Dave Brat, who represents the 7th Virginia Congressional District arrived a bit after the event began. Brat’s comments were short and to the point. Jobs, contended Brat, are the number one issue facing Congress. Small business has a need for many more skilled workers and far too many people are still un or underemployed because they lack marketable skills.  Correcting that mismatch is a challenge.
No student loan debt for these Goochland Tech graduates. Those seated are headed for military service

Raley explained that School Board Vice Chairperson Beth Hardy, District 4, met with Brat on Capitol  Hill and extoled the virtues of Goochland’s CTE program. She invited the Congressman to see its tangible outcomes. Raley also said that Brat helped the Marine Junior ROTC program secure more stable funding from the  Marine Corps, which freed up almost $100 thousand school budget dollars for other uses.

Brat said that Goochland is at “the top of the pack” in governance among the jurisdictions that he represents. Our county government, he said, is a model of well- run government that gets a lot out of its tax dollars.

Tim Greenway, chair of the CTE, explained that students earn two credits for internships in heavy equipment operations and spent every other day in school  getting over 500 hours on worksites. Class work targeted industry models and all aspects of small business operation. One goal of the CTE program is to prepare students for local well=paying jobs so they can stay in our community.

He hopes to expand internships to all CTE concentrations in the future.

Mike Verrastro, head of the heavy equipment operator program, said that he is very proud of his students who invested a lot of time and effort to master those skills.

The future employers of these students seemed almost as excited as the students as they presented them with caps, hard hats, and company shirts.

Some students shared a few words about their futures and did a great job of ad hoc public speaking, yet another soft skill that will be useful on life’s journey.

The mother of one student confessed that, at first, she was not pleased with her son’s decision to forego college. However, knowing that he has always liked to work with his hands and is excited about the opportunity-filled career path he has selected, she accepts applauds his choice.

Many of the students will receive additional on-the-job and technical training, including college credits in related skills, at the expense of their employers. This all translates to skilled jobs, with healthy salaries and no student loan debt!

Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Williams of the Junior ROTC program introduced three young people who “responded to their country’s clarion call to don the cloth of their nation”; two in the Marine Corps, one the United States Navy, who plans to be a corpsman attached to Marines. 

Army Recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Woodford said that GHS is one of his favorite schools and he spends lots of time here. One graduate will join the Army with the goal of becoming am elite Ranger. Woodford congratulated all of the seniors on their choices and wished them good luck.

Bruce Watson, CTE director, said “Not a day goes by that I do not get a call from someone looking for skilled workers. I could get all students a job. We could not do this without the great partnerships with area businesses who make sure that what we teach is what they need. We want our students to get sweaty and dirty and see if this is really what they want to do with their lives.  We believe in real world learning.”

Brat, a former educator, exhorted the students to thank their teachers for preparing them for the real world.

The students honored were: Brandon Eubank; Brandon Fortune; Austin Harless; Taylor Guy; Sean McLeod; Brandon Thurston; Hunter Proffitt; and Matthew Lowry. Those entering the military were:  Dylan Scruggs; Alexandra Garcia-Herrera; Rachael Payne; Jaxson Smith; Kylie St. John; Luke Byerly; Troy  Swinson; Gavin Swiney; Hannah Kingery; Sean Spaulding; Zachary Gordon; Alexander Leseman; Anthony Whitlatch; and Alexander Golightly.

Employers participating were: Wilton Construction; New Day Construction; Ridgeline Roofing; Luck Stone/Carter Machinery; Sargent Corporation; Newport News Shipbuilding; and  Chenault Contracting.

Godspeed to all these fine young people as they build America and keep her safe.

Monday, May 28, 2018

How do you solve a problem like Hockett Road?

How do you solve a problem like Hockett Road?

On Monday, May 14, the first community meeting about yet another proposed 400 plus home subdivision on the east side of Hockett Road was held. People filled the Company 3 meeting room, but many bugged out early to avoid an oncoming storm. Supervisors Bob Minnick, District 4; Board Chair Ken Peterson, District 5; and Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2 attended as did John Shelhorse and Tom Rockecharlie, Planning Commissioners for Districts 4 and 5 respectively.

A storm of another, familiar, sort was brewing, however.

Residents of, presumably, Broad Run and Kinloch, toney enclaves  west of Hockett Road expressed outrage at the addition of  more homes on small lots in the area. A woman asked “At what point did  Goochland decide it was going to change from a horsey farming community and become Short Pump?” Wonder if she has ever been west of Manakin Road? They worried that their taxes would be raised to pay for overwhelmed schools.

Another person opined “we’re okay with this if they fix the rush hour traffic.”

The subject property, Hermitage Gardens—sorry that sounds like a cemetery—is approximately 176 acres comprised of parcels of land, most part of West Creek. It is south of the Reader’s Branch subdivision, between Hockett Road and Route 288.

Jim Theobald, Chairman of the Hirschler Fleisher law firm, and a preeminent land use attorney, speaking on behalf of developer Riverstone Group, tried to explain that Goochland has a capital impact model to address the fiscal impact of growth using cash proffers to offset those costs.

Theobald was familiar with the 25 year capital improvement plan, which includes costs and a timeline to build new public facilities. It was used to craft a sophisticated  capital impact model that employs a case-specific mechanism to calculate a dollar development cost for new homes. Hermitage Gardens, he estimated, will ultimately pay Goochland $2 million for road improvements “to mitigate traffic so that everyone can live in peace.”

One woman snarled that she was not notified of the meeting and did not have time to check her computer every day for updates. The notice for this meeting was on the county website for several weeks. Did she expect a personal invitation? If so, she should sign up to receive email notifications of public meetings, it is easy and free.

Theobald said that Goochland has one of the most open transparent zoning policies in the region. In addition to “as many community meetings as it takes”, the rezoning process includes, at a minimum, public hearings before both the planning commission and board of supervisors, which has the final say on the matter. There is no guarantee that  any rezoning application will be approved.

The most critical and substantive objection to this proposal, however, is traffic on Hockett Road, whose intersections at Broad Street Road, Tuckahoe Creek Parkway, and Route 6 are already dysfunctional at rush hour.

As illustrated by the conceptual plan presented at the meeting, Hermitage Gardens will have connecting internal streets that access to Hockett Road in two places. Frontage was estimated at one thousand feet, which several speakers contended is too short a distance to dump that many cars on a main road. Theobald made vague reference to a third access point to Broad Street Road through a wetland. He opined that, if constructed, it would be at a much later date.

The build out timeline was vague; at one point, completion in 2025 was mentioned, another in ten years. It seems unlikely that Hermitage Gardens will have “spec”  houses, so ultimate completion of this community will be determined by market forces. Cash proffers are paid when certificates of occupancy are issued, so build out effects when the county collects the money for improvements.

In response to a query, Theobald said that Hermitage Gardens will not have its own exit from Rt 288. The Capital One flyover, he said, was funded with state money.

Traffic engineer Erich Strohhacker of Green Light Solutions, a familiar face at Goochland rezoning hearings, repeated his shtick— Hockett Road has enough capacity to handle lot of additional traffic without being widened; the problem is the aforementioned choke points.

Theobald contended that the road cash proffers from Hermitage Gardens will swell county coffers to fund necessary road improvements. The problem may be more  VDOT—the state agency whose motto is “OOPS!”—than money. VDOT has the final say when traffic lights are installed. Its formula for intersection signalization seems to include chicken bones and a full moon rather than numbers of drivers growing old waiting to negotiate an intersection. Turn lanes at Broad Street Road and Route 6 require obtaining rights of way from private property owners, which developers cannot control.

Then, there is the issue of the incredible shrinking West Creek. We keep hearing, as more parcels are removed from the office park, that there will still be plenty left for economic development. A bite here, a bite there, pretty soon, only crumbs are left.

According to Theobald, single family homes in Hermitage Gardens will be on approximately quarter acre lots, start in the $300k range, with around two thousand square feet and go up from there. Lot widths will be about 80 feet, which he contended are wider than those in The Parke at Centerville. It will have walking trails, a pool, and a clubhouse.

Future neighbors were not amused. They moved here for a rural lifestyle with a large lot horse culture. It would be interesting to know if any of them realized that when their communities were rezoned, that the people who lived there before them were not happy with interlopers building homes on small lots either. Parcel size is relative.

Someone mentioned a negative impact on property values. Broad Run residents were put out when Kinloch came along, snarking something along the lines of “there goes the neighborhood”  and so forth. Each new residential enclave in the area improves rather than degrades property values. The land in question is pricey. Because it is in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, residents pay an extra ad valorem tax in addition to connection fees and regular water and sewer bills. The more property values in the TCSD rise, the greater the chance that the ad valorem tax will decline.

Hermitage Gardens is in the county’s designated growth area, generally east of Manakin Road, which is intended to serve at a protective moat to keep 85 percent of Goochland rural. How much development there is too much has yet to be determined.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Last week, GOMM asked what you would like to see built on the old Fairgrounds property. A companion post was put on Facebook. The results were interesting.

On May 1, following an advertised  public hearing, with no comments from citizens, the Goochland Board of Supervisors authorized the county administrator to execute a contract with the developer of the Courthouse Commons Shopping Center, to purchase most of the vacant lot between Hardee’s and Fairground Road for $850,000. The contract includes a due diligence period of 270 days with two 90 day extensions before closing.

This parcel, at 3.162 acres is relatively small. After setbacks, parking, and access lanes are subtracted,  not all that much is left for structures. When the roundabout at that corner is built in the next three years—is has been approved and funded—the area will be even more noisy and busy. The contract excludes shooting ranges and fuel distribution, ruling out convenience stores.

Complaints abound when citizens learn of a new commercial venture, even though they claim to understand that there will be business in a certain location. When asked what they would like to see instead of the proposal, the result is all too often “I don’t know, but not that.” Such replies are not helpful to landowners searching for  “the highest and best use” of their property. People do not build things for fun, they expect a reasonable return on their  investment. There is nothing wrong with that.

Quite a few constructive suggestions emerged including: a dry cleaner; laundromat; urgent care medical facility; credit union or other banking options; day care center; and car wash.

Food was mentioned a lot. Some wanted more fast food, some no more; others only local restaurants with live music in a screened in porch or patio or a locally sourced farm-to-table eatery.

Several people lamented the passing of the old Fairgrounds Building, recalling dances and other events held there. Torn down in 2010, the Fairgrounds Building was a victim of austerity measures taken by county government in response to a drastic fall off in real estate valuations, the primary source of local revenue. The old structure cost far more to maintain than it generated in fees.

The Fairgrounds Building had a central location and was one of the few places where renters could hold events with alcohol after obtaining a liquor license.  American Legion Post 215 has a very nice hall just west of the high school offering all of those possibilities.

Other suggestions included a skating rink, arcade, or paintball, places where kids could hang out.

A causal coffee/sandwich shop along the order of the late Java Jodi’s, Goochland’s answer to an internet cafĂ©, generated lots of votes. Others wanted a pool hall and bar for adults to hang out;  a community center with car shows.

One commenter declared that the property is a local treasure that the county should not sell, but rather convert to an open air gathering space with a gazebo, WIFI, and coffee supplied by Dunkin Donuts.  When you subtract out hot, cold, rainy, snowy, and pollen days, there might not be enough use to justify the expense. Photos posted with the suggestion were in cities.  As there are few homes within walking distance of the site, users would need to drive there instead meandering down the street.

A place to “bring the county together” was mentioned a few times, with no elaboration.  Would residents from all corners of Goochland travel here to interact with each other? What would that look like?

The thought of a local bookstore, where people sip coffee and read is delightful, but a vision for a time before eBooks and Amazon.

A visitors’ center was another notion. Goochland could use one. Tourism is a clean industry, one that we do not do enough to exploit. The question is, what do we have to offer tourists, how best to showcase our best, and where is the ideal location?

Some responders missed the point that the land will be sold for development by private enterprise. The cost of transforming the site, in addition to the purchase price, from a vacant lot to business space will result in stiff rents.

Before anyone commits to opening a business in a particular place, they do their homework. One criteria is rooftops, or population, within a certain distance of  the site in question to ensure an adequate customer base to generate profit. All of Goochland County has about 22,000 people spread out over 290 square miles. By  comparison Short Pump, according to Wikipedia, has 24,729 people in nine square miles.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with suggestions.  Keep an eye out to see what develops.