Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Keeping in touch

 

For the past decade or so, Goochland officials have met with the county’s general assembly delegation to share information before the next legislative session. This year’s meeting was held on August 5 at the Residence Inn at the Notch in West Creek.

The board of supervisors, most of the school board, the county administrator, school superintendent, and some constitutional officers, attended the session.

Though our current representatives, Lee Ware, 65th District; John McGuire, 56th District, and 22nd District Senator Mark Peake were redistricted out of Goochland last year, they will still represent us in the 2023 session. The entire General Assembly stands for election in November 2023. This fall, we vote only for Congressional representatives.

(ltr) John McGuire, Mark Peake, Lee Ware, Vic Carpenter

Each year the county and school division compile “legislative agendas” outlining their views on issues that may come before the general assembly. The final versions will be refined and adopted by the county and the schools later in the year.

Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means that localities like Goochland have only those powers given to them by the state legislature. Each year, thousands of bills are introduced in the General Assembly, with only a fraction working through the process to become law. As legislators wade through this volume of proposed bills, it is vital for them to understand how a particular bill could either help or harm their constituents. Goochland, thanks to the efforts of Community Affairs Manager Paul Drumwright, and County Attorney Tara McGee, keeps in close touch with our delegation during the session to ensure they are aware of our views on proposed laws and unintended consequences.


Open meeting


Honoring their pledge to stay on top of infrastructure needed to mitigate traffic issues created by the recently approved “Project Rocky,” the first item on the Board’s agenda was a request for assistance to secure state funding for the second bridge over I64 at Ashland Road. “The governor has been very supportive of this,” Board Chair Neil Spoonhower, District 2, said. “This will help us to keep most of Goochland rural.”

Ware was pleased to learn that the county had already submitted a “Smart Scale” application to VDOT for this. He said that the state currently has a surfeit of cash, some is under state control, some is federal dollars with strings attached. That money is being put to the best use, including refilling the “rainy day” fund; reducing unfunded pension liability; increasing pay for law enforcement officers and the state portion of teacher compensation; and increased mental health funding.

Peak said, “the state has a ton of money, but it’s not real dollars.” Inflation, he contended, will eat up any gains, and predicted that cuts may be necessary down the road to compensate.

McGuire said that he was pleased that more funds were spent on education as well as training and equipment for law enforcement agencies and funding for school resource officers for two years.

Peake and McGuire, who has already announced his 2023 candidacy for the 10th District state sensate seat, which includes all of Goochland, said that the next session will probably focus on social issues. This is no surprise as they garner the most media attention.

McGuire said that with divided government—Democrats control the state senate, Republicans, the house of delegates—matters don’t go too far to one side. He said that it is impossible for any legislator to be informed on thousands of bills. “The more you educate us on what’s important to you, the more we can help.”  He also said that “crossing the aisle” to work with legislators from the other party is vital to getting bills passed.

Concern about local control over marijuana establishments was at the top of the county list, including the request for a referendum on retail sales. District 1 Supervisor Susan Lascolette said Goochland does not want this “pushed” on the county, but wants to be able to opt in.

Marijuana was one of the most contentious issues last year, said Ware. “Different priorities limited what we could do.”

Election integrity was the next topic. McGuire contended that there is 77 percent approval for a voter ID bill, but whenever legislation is introduced to implement it, opponents contend that enables voter suppression and is racist. He raised concerns about ballot drop boxes. In Goochland, these are located inside the registrar’s office and monitored.

The cost of who pays for social security verification and extra voting time is a perennial issue. “It is incumbent on us (the GA) to come up with the cash when putting extra voting requirements on localities,” said Ware. Currently, localities foot the voting bill, including the cost of party primaries.

Peake said that 45 days for early voting is “nuts”. “Two weeks is all you need before an election.” He said that the time lapse between the start of early voting and counting ballots adds extra work to election officials to verify that those who cast ballots are still eligible to vote on election day. People can die or move in the interim.

Unfunded mandates—when the state requires localities to do something without funding—are a perennial concern for Goochland. They increase the county’s cost of doing business. District 5 Supervisor Ken Peterson said that the Dillon Rule gives localities little control over revenue and taxes. This restriction on localities’ ability to raise revenue could legislate bankruptcy if the GA is not careful, he said.

Ware, a former Powhatan supervisor, is one of the few members of the General Assembly with local government experience. He knows first hand the impact an unfunded decree from Richmond can have on local government budgets.

The supervisors request a compensation board funding study for Constitutional Officers. The state pays a portion of these salaries, but that amount has seriously dwindled over the years.

Peake lamented the lack of transparency in the state budget process. “It’s all done by three people. When it comes up, all we can do is vote for or against it.”

The Schools Division’s list echoed the county’s call for more local control.

 Superintendent Jeremy Raley Ed. D. announced that county schools are fully staffed two weeks before opening day. This, said Raley, is the result of the hard work by all of Team Goochland to create a welcoming work environment and fiscal support from the county.

Building on the excellent work being done by the Career and Technical Education Department, schools support legislation to establish tax credits for businesses that provide career development opportunities for students.

Karen Horn, District 3 School Board member opposed collective bargaining contending that it can be very costly. “We don’t need to pay a mediator; we talk directly to our staff.” Schools support repeal of this legislation.

District 2 School Board member Angela Allen said that Goochland has something special in its school division and needs to protect it from state overreach. “We know what is best for our school division.” The schools would like a reduction in the number and type of Standard of Learning assessments.

Citizen comments

Wendy Hobbs commended McGuire for his willingness to “cross the aisle” to pass legislation. All members of the General Assembly, Hobbs contended, should work together for the benefit of citizens.

Ben Slone welcomed the delegation’s support for funding road improvements for Project Rocky. He also pointed about that Goochland needs help with VDOT and rural transportation even without new development and that we have no control over other local roads.

Sheriff Steven Creasey said that he has been working with Raley to place School Resource Officers in every school. “Our citizens expect to have SROs in every school, and they deserve the best we can give them,” said Creasey.

Governing is a complicated business. Open lines of communication between Goochland and Richmond is vital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, August 8, 2022

August Board highlights

 

The people’s business must be done, even in the dog days of summer. On August 2, the Goochland Board of Supervisors had a relatively light afternoon agenda.

Audit Committee

A meeting of the county audit committee met for the annual audit kick-off. Mike Garber, a partner with PBMares, the outside accounting firm retained by the county to conduct its yearly audit and prepare the annual certified financial report (ACFR). The county has worked with PBMares for several years. The Committee decided to retain PBMares for one more year before investigating a different auditing firm to allow recently hired County Administrator Vic Carpenter and Director of Financial Services Carla Cave to settle in.

Garber reported that once again, Goochland County is a low-risk auditee having completed a clean audit.

Cave presented projected results for FY22, which ended on June 30, showing an excess of revenues over expenditures of almost $9 million. The county finances are strong, but, Cave cautioned, inflationary trends could paint a very different picture next year. She recommended adjustments to the FY22 budget for $75k to Parks and Recreation, whose intake in fees exceeded its budget, and $121K, $21k of which is federal grant money, for Social Services to adjust for unbudgeted bonuses, increased program usage, and changes in employee health insurance coverage.

(To listen to this meeting go to the county website https://www.goochlandva.us/ click on watch county meetings and select the August 2 session.)

Recognition

Anita Barnes and Neil Spoonhower (Goochland County photo)

At the start of their afternoon meeting, the supervisors recognized Anita Barnes, who is resigning after 33 years of service with the county, most recently as Zoning Administrator. When Barnes began her tenure with Goochland, the planning office was a two-person operation. As that function expanded, Barnes contributed her extensive institutional knowledge of the county to expand excellent service to our citizens.

 

Fire-Rescue


The supervisors joined Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief D.E. “Eddie” Ferguson, Jr. in commending Goochland fire medic Morgan D. Kingston, of the Courthouse Company 5 A Shift, and presenting him with the Fire-Rescue Lifesaver Award for his actions on May 29, 2022. Responding to a distress call on a day when the James River was above flood stage, Kingston leaped into the water to rescue someone who went under trying to catch a personal flotation device after having been trapped in a “strainer” during an outing.  Ferguson reminded everyone that the James River can be very dangerous, especially at flood stage, and to wear personal flotation devices.

Battalion Chief Blake Markey, Morgan Kingston, Fire-Rescue Chief Eddie Ferguson, Deputy Chief Mike Watkins (Goochland County photo)

Goochland Fire-Rescue earned another American Heart Association “Mission Lifeline Award”. This year’s award is at the SILVER PLUS level due to the department’s volume of cardiac emergencies in 2021. This recognition is a direct reflection of the Department’s ability to deliver state-of-the-art prehospital cardiac and stroke care and represents a team effort by all involved. Our fire-rescue providers are well-trained and equipped to deliver the highest standard of patient care.

See the full August Fire-Rescue report beginning on page 39 of the August 2 board packet for details of operations and activities.

A fire-rescue show to demonstrate the skills of our providers will be held on October 8 at Goochland High School beginning at 6 p.m. The event will kick off fire prevention week and conclude with a small fireworks display. Please attend to meet our first responders and see how their skills serve the community.

Compensation study

Excellent governmental service to our citizens does not happen by accident. It’s no secret that entities of all sorts are fiercely competing to recruit and retain the best people.

Because of its small population and budget relative to our neighbors, salary scales in Goochland have not kept pace. The county hired Evergreen Solutions, LLC to conduct a benchmark study to see how compensation in Goochland compares with our larger neighbors and suggest ways for us to compete.

Project Manager Stasey Whichel said that her work examined the county’s compensation plan and how well it worked. Results of an anonymous survey conducted among 280 employees found that people came to work for Goochland County because it was close to home. They liked the benefits, and the compensation initially brought them here, but has become a concern as our neighbors offer fatter paychecks.  Employees stayed, contended Whichel, because of relationships, leadership, and support for staff.

Out of date job descriptions and a desire for more career path opportunities was identified as a reason for employees leaving. Following Covid, said Whichel, people asked for health and wellness support. She was a bit vague about what that might entail.

Whichel said that the study revealed that Goochland’s competitiveness in the market had slipped indicating that 94 percent of county employee compensation was below the region midpoint, which increases employee turnover.

Recommended salary adjustments and position reclassifications hope to avoid salary compression that occurs when the salary of a new hire is comparable to that of a long-term employee with the same skill set.

Cost of living was another factor considered in the study. While fuel and groceries cost pretty much the same throughout the region, housing in Goochland is more expensive.

Whichel said that her firm will help implement the new pay and classification system.

Long story short (go to the video of the afternoon session at about the 1:12 minute marker to hear the entire presentation) the supervisors voted to amend the FY2023 budget so that employees will receive salary increases to address some the disparities with other jurisdictions. The total cost is estimated at approximately $753,305. This amount was approved and adopted in non-departmental expenses through the original budget process and must be transferred to the various departments to cover their added costs. Affected employees will see this raise in their August 15 paychecks.

Neighboring jurisdictions are juggling the same recruitment and retention problem for good employees. Goochland has good employees, who should be compensated as well as we can manage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Hard truths

 

Around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3, the Goochland Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve rezoning approximately 105 acres on Ashland Road north of Interstate 64 from A-2 agricultural to M-2 industrial. A companion conditional use permit to allow a structure of 120 feet on the same parcel was also unanimously approved. This will pave the way for “Project Rocky,” (PR) a middle mile E commerce distribution center, to rise on the site.

The vote followed several hours of thoughtful, passionate, and civil remarks, mostly from residents of Parkside Village, a 55+ residential enclave in the northeast corner of the county.

Unlike public bodies in some other Virginia jurisdictions, Goochland supervisors welcome citizen engagement at their meetings. All are welcome to attend and make comments, which are carefully considered by board members. Each board member said that they take each comment into careful consideration before voting.

Goochland’s comprehensive land use plan and economic development strategic plan consider the interstate interchanges prime economic development areas, to concentrate commercial growth to keep 85 percent of the county rural. The Ashland Road corridor north of I64 has been industrial in nature for decades. A study performed by Virginia Tech showed that, because of its location, Goochland should target logistics operations for economic development. A middle mile distribution center, like PR, is exactly that.

Opposition to PR, centered on increased traffic on Asland Road between I64 and Pouncey Tract Road. Parkside Village residents contended that tractor trailers hauling cargo from ports in Tidewater to PR would use their neighborhood roads as a shortcut to avoid the clogged Ashland Road/Pouncey Tract intersection, which is in Hanover County. That seems very unlikely. A last-minute proffer added a sign prohibiting left turns toward Pouncey Tract Road from the site.

However, these concerns stem from very real daily instances of large trucks cutting through. Perhaps traffic control measures, like a weight limit on through trucks, could relieve this issue for Parkside Village.

Some speakers—most spoke in opposition—were brief and direct. Their comments were pretty much “there’s too much traffic there, I don’t want it”. Others contended, in detail, that the pollution caused by diesel trucks going to and from PR would create significant health problems in a ten-mile radius from the site. One woman presented a detailed description of the harmful effects of pollution on children and fetal development. She contended that pollution from PR would harm children attending the county’s new elementary school, which is more than 20 miles from PR.

If the end user of PR is the widely suspected E commerce entity, it is entirely possible that it will use electric trucks. The approximately 115 miles distance between Rockville and Tidewater ports puts a round trip well within the expected 300-mile range of an electric tractor trailer.  Truck will access PR from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., when the other businesses in the Ashland Road corridor are closed. Employee shifts will be staggered outside of peak hours.

Another issue was public safety response. Parkside residents were aghast at the notion that, through a mutual aid agreement with Hanover County, EMS calls could be answered from Rockville. Not that long ago, Rockville was in the “first due” territory for Centerville Fire-Rescue Company 3.

Opponents demanded the county build road improvements, including the second bridge over I64 before PR was approved.

Supervisor Ken Peterson, District 5, pointed out that the county tried an “if you build it, they will come” strategy about 20 years ago when it borrowed heavily to pay for the Tuckahoe Creek Service District in expectation that it would attract significant economic development. Instead, the TCSD mired Goochland in debt with little to show for it and “darn near bankrupted the county,” said Peterson. “You can either spend the money and hope the development comes, or wait for revenue from eventual development, which overwhelms your infrastructure, or, what I prefer, you can do them together.” Instead of putting the cart before the horse, Peterson said, hook the horse to the cart and go down the road.

Since the July planning commission meeting, at which time the Ashland Road/I64 improvement was a two-lane diverging diamond, the county has communicated with the governor’s office, and secretaries of transportation and commerce, with indications of support for funding a second bridge over I64. This would enable a four-lane diverging diamond to greatly ease traffic flow.

Supervisor Don Sharpe, District 4, which includes PR and Parkside Village, spelled out the hard truth about improving roads in Virginia. “We could not tax you enough to pay for this ourselves,” he said of the second I64 bridge. Transportation funding in Virginia is incredibly difficult, Sharpe contended. There is only so much money available, only the most pressing needs are funded. If PR was not approved and nothing changed in the corridor, contended Sharpe, traffic congestion will continue to get worse with few options for improvement.

For all the justified complaining about traffic in Goochland, few citizens bother to attend the annual public hearing on the VDOT secondary six-year plan. This is when the supervisors prioritize use of the funds VDOT allocates for road projects in Goochland.

The county has been on a quest for funding to mitigate the I64/Ashland Road congestion for at least seven years. When first submitted to the VDOT “Smart Scale” funding competition, the two-lane diverging diamond interchange (DDI) was ranked 67th out of 73 projects. Over the years it rose until it was mostly fully funded. (It takes so long for projects to get to the finish line that inflation, even in more normal times, increases the actual cost.)

Deputy County Administrator for Community and Economic Development Jo Ann Hunter, and Sharpe pointed out that only something of the magnitude of PR, estimated to be approximately $500 million, would move the Ashland Road/I64 interchange to the front of the funding line. The investment in Goochland represented by PR is more than the combined new investment in economic development for the previous four years.

In the meantime, PR proffered—that means it must do it—a right turn lane onto I64 west, in addition to double left turn lanes into the site and the longest right turn lane permissible. The I64 right turn land was added after the planning commission presentation. Hunter contended that this would ease congestion at the existing traffic signal, because westbound vehicles would no longer need to wait for the light to change to enter the ramp.

Hunter said that a sound wall built around the truck bays, on the north side of the proposed building, away from residential property to the south, will dampen sound to roughly equivalent to an air conditioner. The project must comply the county’s dark sky lighting regulations.

Traffic from the 1,000 or more employees at PR was another concern. Hunter said that there is adequate parking on the site to accommodate seasonable fluctuation in the workforce. No “satellite” parking facilities are expected. Hunter and Andy Condlin, the attorney representing the applicant, reiterated that there will be no last mile van traffic from PR.

Condlin addressed the complaints about lack of transparency of the end user. The application was filed by Panattoni, LLC, a commercial contractor, who builds facilities all over the country without naming end users, he said. A social media page dedicated to opposing PR is just as opaque.

Peterson recalled that when he voted to approve the rezoning application that created Parkside Village, he was skeptical that anyone would want to live in an industrial area near a quarry. Homes were built and occupied. New residents were surprised to learn that they lived close to an active quarry and other industrial activities including an asphalt plant.

A rezoning application to build homes on land just south of Parkside Village on Pouncey Tract Road, has been withdrawn because it does not follow the Comp Plan, which designates the area for commercial and industrial development.

About 300 people attended the public hearing. They demanded that the supervisors listen to the citizens and do what they wanted. There are approximately 25,000 people in Goochland, all represented by the supervisors.

Citizens who complain that their wishes are ignored never show up for meetings when the comp plan is revised. That is the proper time to weigh in on plans for growth.

Our form of government needs an informed engaged citizenry to function well.

There have been cries for new supervisors. Local elections are next year. Remember, no matter how hard elected officials work to do the people’s business, at least half will be mad at them at any given time. If you run for office and win, be prepared to get lots of angry phone calls from constituents.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Come to the Courthouse Green

Come meet K0 deputy Liberty at NNO

Next Tuesday, August 2, the Goochland Sheriff’s Office will hold National Night Out on the Goochland Courthouse green, 2938 River Road West in the heart of Courthouse Village. NNO is an annual community building campaign that promotes law enforcement community partnerships and camaraderie among Goochlanders. This free family event that will run from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

National Night Out is an opportunity for people to mect  those who protect and serve us 24/7. In Goochland, other community organizations participate as well. Goochland American Legion Post 215 will cook and serve burgers and hot dogs. There will be a K9 demonstrations, door prizes, free raffles, live music by the Mike Melvin & Eric Tusing Duo and much more.


Come out to greet old friends and make new ones.  Bring anyone who might be considering a career in law enforcement. Goochland Deputies are respected and appreciated.

For more information contact Deputy Robbins at krobbins@goochlandva.us or 1-804-556-5349.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Playing telephone

 

            Do kids still play telephone? You know, the game where participants sit in a circle and a message is whispered ear to ear. By the time the last person says the message out loud, it is, at best, a garbled version of the original thought.

            Information being passed around about “Project Rocky” (PR) the proposed mid-mile E-commerce facility on Ashland Road is a lot like playing telephone.

Residents of Parkside Village, at the northeast corner of the county, vigorously oppose the project contending, among other things, that tractor trailers traveling to the proposed facility will use their subdivision roads to avoid the Pouncey Tract/Ashland Road intersection. It seems very unlikely that trucks moving cargo between Tidewater ports and Ashland Road, approximately one-half mile north of the interstate, would have any reason to be on Pouncey Tract Road, or Ashland Road north of the facility. Given high fuel prices, the shortest route is preferable.


Ashland Road  industrial corridor

A  rumor, based on an old article about a distribution facility in another state, contends that hundreds of little gray trucks will be adding to traffic every day. The application specifically says that cargo delivered by tractor trailers will be sorted, repacked, and shipped out to another place for delivery by the little trucks before dawn.

Curiously, when a rezoning application for M-2 industrial general, the same as PR, for property that abuts Parkside Village was before the supervisors last August, Parkside Village folk had little reaction. That parcel too, could include a distribution center by right, which means that all the landowner needs to do is secure a building permit. They also did not weigh in on a conditional use permit application to increase hours for an asphalt plant closer to their homes than PR.

The specter of traffic on Ashland Road slowing EMS response times to Parkside Village, a 55+ community, overnight was included in opposition comments. Goochland Fire-Rescue is in talks to amend its mutual aid policy with Hanover County for Station 9 in Rockville. Double right and left turn lanes at the PR entrance could make it easier for emergency vehicles to get through, especially in the overnight hours.

There will be more traffic on Ashland Road. Most is projected to be between I64 and PR. County officials are talking with VDOT about the possibility of adding a second I64 bridge to Ashland Road. This would be a wonderful opportunity for the Goochland General Assembly delegation, who, regardless of redistricting, still represent the areas that elected them in 2021, to make the case that this is a good economic development project for the state and secure funding for the second bridge.

Thousands of people who currently work in Goochland are inbound commuters. The PR workers could patronize local businesses while in the county. It’s hard to see how PR would have a negative impact on them.

The tractor trailers will make deliveries and pick ups between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. They will not clog I64 ramps during rush hours. Sound walls are proposed for the truck areas to mitigate noise. Goochland dark sky lighting regulations will address light pollution concerns.

To our friends in Hanover who contend that PR is greed on the part of Goochland County and will interfere with their daily commute, did you protest the economic development in your county in the I95 corridor that enriched the Hanover County coffers? Those projects had an impact on your fellow Hanoverians who live nearby. One commenter pointed out that if PR was built across the county line, Goochlanders would still have the traffic and none of the economic benefits that PR will bring to the county.

To those who screamed about high tax bills this year, PR will pay its fair share. When added to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, PR is estimated to lop two years off the debt schedule for every year of operation, making the dreaded ad valorem tax disappear sooner.

It would be nice if PR adopted the Greenswell Growers’ model of collaboration with Goochland Schools to help students gain real world skills in robotics.

Ashland Road, especially between I64 and the Hanover line—the Pouncey Tract intersection is in Hanover— has been designated as an industrial corridor for decades. It is unrealistic to expect that land here will remain in residential or agricultural use. All too often, Goochlanders claim that they understand growth is coming, but when a proposal is made, they oppose it. When asked what they would prefer, the answer is “I don’t know, but not that.”

This is the appropriate place for PR, which is good for Goochland. Figure out the road issues and get on with it.

 

 

 

 

 

           

Friday, July 22, 2022

The riddle of Centerville

 

The “midway” meeting in the Centerville small area plan study, postponed from June during to a Covid infection, was held on July 14 a t Grace Chinese Baptist Church.  

Earlier this year, the county retained Hill Studio (https://www.hillstudio.com/) of Roanoke to take a fresh look at land use in both Courthouse and Centerville Villages. These areas are designated growth  concentration areas in the 2035 County Comprehensive Land Use Plan  (https://www.goochlandva.us/250/2035-Comprehensive-Plan).

Initial meetings were held in March, at which time Hill Studio gave a brief overview of the nine-month process and gathered feedback. Additional discussions were conducted with focus groups comprised of stakeholders in both villages and interested citizens.

Over the years several “Centerville Plans” have been crafted, touted, and left to gather dust.

The July 14 meeting drew a good crowd considering it was held in high summer. Attendees included land owners, developers, the usual suspects, and some new faces. Overheard comments suggest that newcomers did not understand that the presentation was conceptual to spark discussion.

For the record, all land in the Centerville Village is privately owned and will be developed by its owners in what they believe is its highest and best when they see fit.  Land use changes are typically a struggle to fit the square peg of a developer’s proposal into the round hole of the comp plan.

The Centerville Village is huge. David Hill, principal of Hill Studios, overlaid an outline of it on a map of the City of Richmond. The study concentrated on the core between Ashland and Manakin Roads, on both sides of Broad Street Road.  Hill suggested that property owned by the county on the southeastern border be added to the village for public use like a park or school.

Centerville superimposed on Richmond 

Land in Centerville is expensive, due to its location and availability of public utilities that add 32 cents per $100 of valuation ad valorem tax to the base real estate tax. Hill observed that the Centreville core is about the same size as the Powhatan Village and suggested similar building types could work in Centerville.



Broken line indicates Village core

However, a detached single-family cottage in Scottville, a 55+ community there, was valued at approximately $326K. Comparable housing in Reader’s Branch has valuations about twice that. Therefore, accessible housing—costing no more than 30 percent of income—is not likely to be built in Centerville.

East of Rt. 288, Centerville is attitudinally Short Pump.  Yes, Chick Fil A is still coming near the Audi dealership.

Hill said that the Centerville name is rooted in history, even though many people refer to the area as Manakin because the village core has a Manakin-Sabot zip code. Some parts of the village have Richmond addresses, some a Rockville zip code. A member of the consultant team suggested that signage emphasizing the Centerville identity could change this. Adopting a slogan like “Centerville Village, a breath of fresh air” could capitalize on the transition from Short Pump to a slower pace. Sings, banners, logos and other branding mechanisms were shown. (A Google search for Centerville, VA returns information about Centreville in NOVA).

 

The July 14 presentation included a wealth of demographic information, including that the county population grew by more than 13.9 percent since the 2010 federal census. The 2022 population is pegged around 25,000, which is still not a lot of people for a land mass slightly larger than that of Henrico, whose population is north of 300K.  The population of the Centerville Village is approximately 2,047, which includes new homes in Reader’s Branch. Short Pump’s 2020 population was 27,385.

Results from a survey conducted earlier in the year indicate that respondents would like to see medical care, salons and personal care, dry cleaners, a gym, banks, and conference facilities in Centerville. Public uses they want there include gathering spaces for farmers markets, plazas; hiking, biking and equestrian trails; live music; ball fields and sports programming; public art, and educational experiences.

Top rated aspects of the built village are electricity infrastructure, quality of residential development and public water and sewer infrastructure. Best rated economic aspects were quality of businesses and services; dining/shopping options; and attractiveness to visitors. (Yes. That’s what it said, go to the presentation video and see for yourself.)

This all sounds great, but there are trade offs for public spaces. If a developer is required to include a certain amount of open space in a project, higher density is needed to make it economically feasible. If the numbers don’t work, a project will not happen.

The presentation reported that approximately 192,350 people live within a15 minute drive time from Centerville, mostly to the east. The trick, of course, is how to get these potential customers to travel west when there is so much commercial development just over the Henrico line.

Hill suggested using the Tuckahoe Creek flood plain that travels northwest passive recreational as a greenway to connect parts of the village for biking and hiking. He also contended that more landscaping on the 250 setbacks would enhance the village feel for through traffic.  Parallel streets would handle local traffic with access parking for businesses that front on 250.

This is the latest iteration of a street grid that has been proposed before, but never seems to come to fruition. New construction would be two or three stories with office and commercial uses on the ground floor and residential above. The sketches are attractive, but given the glut of nice, new, but empty storefronts and offices a few miles east, what would compel entrepreneurs to invest money in Centerville?

The discussion of branding recommended “gateways” within the village. Welcoming visitors with signage could make people aware that they are in Centerville, not Manakin. “Centerville a breath of fresh air” was floated as a slogan to differentiate Centerville from Short Pump. Centerville has an identity problem this could help.

Interactive feedback where attendees voted by Smartphone to indicate which of several suggestions they prefer for development and what they would like to see added to Centerville generally returned a preference for rural, and resistance to economic development.

Presented with images of dense development in the core, respondents favored small, local business, not commercial, whatever that means. Desired services and businesses included medical office and pharmacy; banks (there are already three there); boutiques; coffee shop; bookstores; salons and personal care; night life and live music. While these sound charming, will any generate enough revenue to pay rent on new construction or generate a profitable customer base? Existing businesses there struggle to stay afloat in older quarters with lower rents.

GOMM attended the July 14 meeting, has watched its video twice, reviewed the slides several times, and is unable to distill the event for readers.

Go to https://www.goochlandva.us/DocumentCenter/View/8871/Goochland-Centerville-Village-Plan-Midway-Slides?bidId= to view the “slides” from the presentation and draw your own conclusions.

Centerville has enormous potential for development, but how and when remain a mystery. The trick is to encourage appropriate growth (good luck codifying that into zoning ordinances) in Centerville without punishing the landowners and businesses there who have paid taxes and otherwise supported the county for many years.

Many of the newcomers who live in the village or on its fringes flee east to shop and live their lives. Will these people use the recreational areas and public spaces, or complain about noise and traffic?

The consultants are expected to make final recommendations in the fall, which could be incorporated into the comp plan.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Centerville Small area plan meeting

 The Goochland community is invited to attend a rescheduled Centerville Village Plan Community Meeting on July 14th at 7 p.m. to provide input and feedback on the Centerville Village Plan.  The meeting will take place at Grace Chinese Baptist Church, located at 850 Broad Street Road, Manakin Sabot, VA 23103. 

This meeting will include a short presentation of the initial draft concept of the plan. Interactive polling will also be conducted during the meeting. Attendees are asked to bring a smart phone or tablet to participate.  Following the presentation, attendees can visit topic-tables to share comments and pose questions related to the plan.

For those unable to attend in-person, the meeting can be streamed via zoom by using the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84022369819?pwd=UIPTcKhpGLum3TwKIhCeZad_bZUJMy.1

Meeting ID: 840 2236 9819

Passcode: 066068

One tap mobile

+19292056099,,84022369819#,,,,*066068# US (New York)

+13017158592,,84022369819#,,,,*066068# US (Washington DC)

Zoom participants are encouraged to have two devices, one for streaming and the other to participate in the interactive poll. 

For more information visit www.goochlandva.us/VillagePlans2022. For questions or comments on the Centerville Village, contact centervilleplan22@goochlandva.us or call 804-556-5840.

Centerville rescheduled

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