Thursday, October 29, 2009

Looking forward

Parks master plan prepares for the future

On Monday October, 26, District 2 supervisor William Quarles, Jr. held his first town meeting in conjunction with an open house about the county’s park master plan.

Unfortunately, the meeting was sparsely attended. Those who were there gained valuable insights about the strategies being put in place to prepare Goochland for he future.

New county administrator Rebecca T. Dickson explained that Goochland is experiencing a $1.3 million revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year. That situation, she said, will get worse in the next fiscal year.

Due to shrinking real estate assessments, which she said are expected to decline about 12 percent overall (some will rise, some will fall, some will remain unchanged) the county expects real estate tax revenues to decline by $5.4 million for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2010.

Dickson said that while she does not recommend accessing the general fund to pay operating expense, that strategy is not unheard of in trying fiscal times. She expects the tax rate to remain at the current 53 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.

Dickson properly and gracefully declined to lay blame for the troubles in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

That task will be addressed by the voters at the next local election in 2011.

She predicted, however, that the comprehensive countywide audit, currently in process, will identify past problems and offer solutions to fix them.

“The sky is not falling,” Dickson said of the TCSD. “But it may need to be propped up a bit.”

She said that the TCSD was a good plan and is still quite viable going forward. The economic assumptions on which it was based, however, have changed and the county needs to change course accordingly.

Quarles contended that the TCSD is the county’s economic engine and he too seemed optimistic that it will be able to bring needed revenue to the county. He offered no specifics.

The proposed parks master plan was discussed by the county’s principal planner Tom Coleman.

Crafted with the input of the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee, the master plan designates priority for development to four parcels of land. They are: the soccer complex next to the high school; the old Middle School; the Borne property off of Rt. 6 and a county owned tract on Mathews Lane in western Goochland.

Tucker Park at Maidens Landing with access to the James River is not a priority for the county because it is being developed under the auspices of a public/private task force in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce.

Right now, there is little money to build parks, admitted Coleman.

Why bother with a master plan, whose build out could cost about $14.8 million when the county is facing a drastic revenue shortfall?

Coleman, Dickson and Quarles said that having a master plan in place is a proactive step to enable Goochland to take advantage of funding opportunities that include grant money and public/private partnerships.

For years, the Goochland United Soccer Association (GUSA) has begged the county to acquire land for a soccer complex. Acreage next to the high school has been cleared, rough graded and seeded, all good first steps for the complex.
Before it can be put into use, however, safe road access from Rt. 6 and parking must be built. Both items carry hefty price tags.

GUSA has expressed a willingness to obtain funds to improve a county soccer complex. The land is there, now it’s time for GUSA to get to work.

Derek Stamey, the county’s new director of Parks and Recreations, observed that the master plan offers a great opportunity to get the ball rolling by working with groups like GUSA. Part of his job is to aggressively pursue grant money and other alternate funding sources.

With fairly detailed plans for specific parcels of land on hand, the county can move forward quickly when money becomes available.

Wendy Hobbs, a resident of District 2, asked when the plans would become reality. She stated that young people in the area have “nothing to do.”

Coleman said there is really no time line.

Dickson suggested that the county needs to investigate new ways to fund its capital improvement plan. In the past, most CIP items have been paid for with money from the county general fund on a pay as you go basis.

At some point, the economy will move through the dangerous rapids we’re now negotiating and find itself in calm and richer waters, Quarles contended.

The old middle school property is rife with possibility. Although the county has known for at least five years that the property would be surplus at the end of the 2007 school year, no decision about its disposition has yet been made.

In the meantime, the vacant property has begun to decay, increasing the cost of any new use. The building and the approximately 19 acres it sits on could be used for a variety of purposes. It will be interesting to see how many more years it sits there waiting for a decision.

Quarles gave a brief update about county government. He made it clear that he was speaking for himself and not the board of supervisors.

He was questioned about why the county is not doing more to make Goochland more hospitable to small business to generate jobs and revenue.

Quarles said that he wants to make sure that any new development is economically and environmentally sound.

One subject dear to Quarles’ heart is the need to find a way for residents of all parts of the county to have the ability to access high speed internet.

He seemed to indicate that the best way for the county to find a way to create an atmosphere attractive to private sector providers of emerging technology.

Broadband in Goochland, Quarles observed, will probably not be a one size fits all proposition. Currently, residents in an odd configuration of eastern Goochland, Courthouse Village, Millers Lane and Shepperdtown Road are served by Comcast.

Many other people use air cards or satellite systems, which have gotten mixed reviews. The rest of us suffer with and swear at dial-up connections.

Quarles wants to ensure that all county residents, regardless of their economic situation, have broadband access. Goochland, he said, has a digital divide that penalizes students who live outside areas with broadband access whose families cannot afford alternative internet options. How to provide broadband access throughout the county and who will pay are thorny issues a long way from resolution.

The internet issue illustrates the attitudinal differences around the county. At the District 5 town meeting earlier this month, the broadband issue was not raised because it is widely available there.

It is unfortunate that so few people attended this meeting either to chat with Quarles and Dickson or learn about the master plan for parks.

Citizen indifference results in non-responsive local government.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Building trust

The long way back

On Monday October 19 members of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District Advisory Committee (TCSDAC)had their quarterly meeting with county officials. Comprised of major landowners in the district and appointed by the board of supervisors, the TCSDAC has been a long suffering entity.

At the start of the project in 2003, meetings were held almost monthly at a local restaurant. Engineers and other experts involved in construction and finance would put on a dog and pony show, often complete with charts and graphs that illustrated construction time lines and debt service schedules.

Since January, the meetings have been held in the county administration building and the tentative cordiality expressed by the TCSDAC members toward the county has been replaced with justified wariness.

New county engineer Gary Duval was introduced before county administrator Rebecca T. Dickson began the day’s dialog.

There was not much to report since the last meeting on August 3, Dickson said. She and staff have been working diligently to get their arms around all of the details of the TCSD.

Dickson reported that sheets of butcher paper, about 31 running feet, had been hung on the walls and used to document details, and questions about the project.

Until that task is completed, it will be impossible to diagnose the health of the patient and prescribe treatment.

She said that staff is still trying to figure out if some parcels that are in West Creek, but not part of the TCSD were treated as part of the TCSD for utility billing purposes.

This seems to indicate that the county did not establish an orderly record keeping process for public utilities that could be easily expanded as the system grew.

A larger and more important issue, one most definitely not of Dickson’s making, is the absence of trust between the county and TCSD landowners.

The county, due to attitudes and polices established by employees now gone and some members of the board of supervisors, acted in the past as though TCSD landowners were trying to steal something from Goochland.

Landowners, who agreed to have an extra tax placed on their property to fund the utilities needed for profitable development, often found attempts to develop their land foiled by unrealistic county policies. Sometimes, those policies were changed in mid-stream.

When the TCSD was created, landowners agreed to have pay an additional tax to fund the public utilities that would, in theory, there are no guarantees in the development game, make their property more marketable.

Although assessed valuations rose like a rocket until last year, landowners rarely realized more than a larger tax bill from their investment in Goochland.

Now, as the smoke from the personnel shake up at the county clears, it is time for the county and landowners to come together to address the problems of the TCSD and work going forward to make it a success.

This will require complete transparency on the part of the county. No more carefully massaged numbers to paint a rosy but false scenario of the balance sheet. The true numbers, which may not yet be known, must be shared with the landowners to craft accurate forecasts for rates and debt service schedules.

Dickson and county staff are working very hard to sort out the mess and offer workable solutions. The supervisors need to come together to support her recommendations.

Every taxpayer in Goochland will benefit from the success of the TCSD and we will all suffer if it fails.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

East versus west

Who benefits from economic development in Goochland?

Perhaps a better question is who is punished by a paucity of businesses in the county?

The need for sources of public revenue above and beyond real estate taxes is more pressing than ever.

A quick look at county property values confirms the oft- heard whine that property owners from roughly Cardwell Road east pay most of the taxes in Goochland.

Land to the west tends to have lower assessments so its owners fund a smaller share of the county revenue pie. When the national, state and local economy went into meltdown mode, the pie began to shrink.

The board of supervisors will face hard choices when they craft the county budget for the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1, 2010. They can cut spending, raise taxes, raid the general fund, or any combination to keep things going.

They undoubtedly want to do none of those things, but will have to chart a course to minimize the pain, a very difficult task that could have been lightened had there been more businesses in the county.

What are all those tax dollars, the county budget was more than $57 million this year, used for?

County schools consume all of the real estate tax collected. All other services from law enforcement to courts to solid waste are funded by other sources.

Many items fall between the cracks.

For instance, last year board chairman Andrew Pryor, District 1, came to his fellow supervisors hat in hand to request funds to improve playground equipment at Byrd Elementary School. Playgrounds at the county’s other two elementary schools were equipped by their respective PTAs.

Located in an economically challenged part of the county, Byrd parents are less able to raise funds.

Residents of Goochland’s “gold Coast” along River Road seem to have little interest in economic development and why should they?

They are either retired or work outside of the county. If they have kids, they likely attend private schools. They fulfill their recreational needs at the nearby country clubs and shop in Richmond or New York or wherever.

They use almost no county services. Their garbage goes elsewhere, they use Henrico public libraries and some subdivisions even have their own automatic electronic defibrillators to compensate for a dwindling fire-rescue volunteer corps.

Things are different in the rest of the county.

Public schools are the only opportunity most kids who live west of Manakin Road have to get the tools to help them participate in the American Dream.

The population of Goochland, like that of the rest of the country, is aging. Many of the people moving here are retired, passing through on the way to the cemetery. They have no family ties to the county and have little interest in what goes on here. They just want low real estate taxes and lots of rural character, whatever that is.

Goochlanders whose names can be found on local voting rolls and land records for decades if not centuries, are getting lost in the shuffle. They stand to benefit most from economic development. Better school funding to give their children a leg up in life is only a part. They’ll be able to stay here well into the future and pass their family heritage along to future generations.

Although the supervisors brag about having the lowest property tax rate in the region, as property values skyrocketed, tax bills exploded.

Some supervisors talk about length about discerning the difference between wants and needs as relates to county services, which is an important part of their job.

The people who will suffer most as the result of the budget cuts are those least able to compensate for any loss of services.

Goochland needs a wide range economic development throughout the county just to stay even.

Revenues from economic development, be it a truck stop or a corporate headquarters campus, fund the things that build community including soccer fields, libraries and parks.

Truck stop developers are less likely to demand the financial incentives that major corporations require. This puts revenue in the county’s pocket much sooner.

The county’s record with attracting corporate headquarters is spotty at best. When Motorola was on the horizon, the board acted as though its economic development work was over instead of just begun.

It’s hard to understand the resistance to preparing the Oilville interchange for significant commerce. The area in question is very small. The proposed wastewater treatment plant has relatively small capacity, which will limit the spread of development. Best of all, the plant will be owned and controlled entirely by the county. None of those pesky agreements with outside entities that plague other county utility schemes.

There will be some start up costs, but the bulk of the expense will be borne by the property owners.

Repeated efforts by the supervisors who represent the western portion of the county to quash development at Oilville are incomprehensible.

How exactly do they expect the county to pay for amenities their constituents want and need? These items include a fire-rescue station near Sandy Hook, which will probably be staffed by costly career personnel, a new community center and a continuation of the funding policies that have dramatically improved Goochland schools.

Goochland needs to get serious about attracting businesses large and small. Western supervisors who stand in the way of economic development for petty personal reasons should be ashamed of themselves.

Their actions penalize only their constituents.

The objections to development at Oilville have little to do with the project on the table and everything to do with a juvenile power struggle among grown up men who ought to know better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What a difference a day makes

Playing to the home crowd

On Monday, October 5, District 5 supervisor Jim Eads continued his fine tradition of holding town meetings at the Manakin Fire-Rescue Station to discuss local government issues and chat with his constituents. He began the practice after he first took office almost 10 years ago.

Eads is to be congratulated for holding these meetings. The other four supervisors should follow suit to encourage greater interest in county government.

With an eye on the clock, Eads kept the agenda moving so that his constituents could get home to watch football.

The meeting, which featured remarks by the new county administrator Rebecca T. Dickson, was cordial, informative and an excellent example of community spirit.

Dickson, giving what has become her introductory stump speech, briefly listed some of the challenges that the county faces in the near future.

Goochland, she said, like everywhere else in America, will face trying fiscal times as the floundering economy works its way out of recession. Dickson estimated that the county could face a budget shortfall of more than $5 million in the 2011 fiscal year, about the same in percentage terms as neighboring jurisdictions.

Dickson reported that she and county staff are working very hard to get their arms around the problems that beset the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

Eads glossed over the whole TCSD mess stating that the check fiasco was a very unfortunate, and concluded episode. No criminal activity was uncovered so the county should move forward, he said.

Eads reiterated the county philosophy that the TCSD is paid for by those who benefit from it, which is sort of true. In fact, the following afternoon, the supervisors voted to loan the TCSD $3 million from the general fund to pay for a water line, located entirely in Henrico County. It would have been nice to have that money available to help offset the coming budget shortfalls.

The $63 million in bonds that funded construction of TCSD infrastructure are general obligation bonds taken out in the name of Goochland County.

That means every taxpayer is on the hook should the byzantine debt service scheme currently in place default and plunge the county’s credit rating to the basement.

Eads also fanned the fire of a sore point among his constituents who took matters into their own hands to negotiate a municipal water supply from Henrico. This occurred about 30 years ago when homeowners in the Lower Tuckahoe Community were told that the county would not help them find an alternative to an inadequate private water system.

Eads believes that a fairness disparity exists between people in the Courthouse and those along River Road who pay the same water rates.

Public utilities in Courthouse Village are provided by agreements between the county and the two nearby Department of Corrections facilities. The county ran water and sewer lines from the prisons to the high school, county administration building and J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College campus. Due to limited capacity, some, not all, property owners along those lines were permitted to connect and charged hefty fees to do so. They did not initiate installation utility lines as did River Road residents.

In response to questions about building a new elementary school, Eads believes that new schools and parks should be funded only by bond issues approved by a ballot referendum. Because Eads’ constituents tend to be either empty nesters or send their children to private schools, their only interest in county education policy is the impact of the school budget on their property taxes.

If the voters indicate approval to financing new parks and schools, said Eads, the county should buy a large tract of land, perhaps on Rt. 250, to build a major recreational complex.

Although there was no legal requirement for the supervisors to secure voter approval when they created the TCSD, given the serious threat to the county’s rural nature posed by intense development, there was certainly a moral obligation for the board to seek the taxpayers’ blessing incurring a debt greater than the entire annual county budget.

So far, development in the TCSD has been disappointing. Eads laid the blame for this entirely on the bad economy, even though development in the TCSD was dead in the water when the regional economy was in hyper expansion mode.

One gentleman waved a copy of the next day’s board meeting agenda and asked why the supervisors attempted to address at least 14 items during a three-hour meeting.

Too bad he was unable to attend the next day’s board meeting where another Jim Eads seems to have been in attendance.

This one took little heed of the new streamlined board procedures, which he strongly supported.

Eads wrested control of the meeting from board chairman District 1 supervisor Andrew Pryor during an informational presentation about options for commercial development at the Oilville Interstate 64 interchange made by Don Charles director of community development.

Continuing a long held objection to development at the Oilville interchange, various iterations of which have been on the drawing board for a least 10 years, Eads interrupted Charles and badgered and bullied a landowner who is seeking ways to work with the county to develop his land.

Eads has every right and obligation to ask questions.
However, his comments and their tone, suggest that his only agenda was to derail efforts at creating a mutually beneficial partnership between landowners and the county.

He feigned ignorance of options for providing limited wastewater treatment at the interchange, independent of the VDOT participation that was featured in earlier development plans, even though they had been vetted by the new county engineer.

Eads’ interruptions consumed at least 40 minutes of the three and one-half hour meeting, leaving even less time for other agenda items.

To keep board meetings from degenerating into time consuming rants, workshops should be conducted outside the regular meeting agenda.

Important issues like development of the Oilville interchange deserve thoughtful and public discussion by the supervisors. In a perfect world, these discussions would be held in the evening to permit attendance by the greatest number of citizens possible.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Who ya gonna call?

The reality of emergency response in Goochland

Kudos to the residents of the Parke at Manakin Woods for turning a scary episode into a wake up call for positive action.

When Ed Stover became ill at a neighborhood social gathering on Saturday, September 26,the hostess called 911 and expected an ambulance to arrive from nearby Manakin Company 1 in a few minutes.

An ambulance arrived, from Centerville Company 3, following several subsequent calls to 911 more than 30 minutes after the initial call.

Parke residents were understandably upset.

They believed that, because they lived near a fire-rescue station, they could have EMS at their doors in a few minutes. Located at the corner of Rt. 6 and Hermitage Road The Parke at Manakin Woods is about five years old. While about 60 percent of its residents are over 60 years of age, 15 children including baby triplets also live there.

On Thursday, October 1, Parke residents filled the Company 1 meeting room to discuss the incident. Goochland Fire-Rescue chief Ken Brown, Deputy Chief-EMS D. E. “Eddie” Ferguson, Jr. and Maj. Don Bewkes from the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, which handles all emergency dispatch, spent more than two hours explaining what happened and how fire-rescue and law enforcement services work in Goochland.

A statement by Bewkes, “Goochland isn’t like where you came from,” says it all.

Ferguson began the meeting by giving detailed background on Goochland Volunteer Fire-Rescue. Pay close attention to the name of the organization. Having both EMS and fire under the same roof maximizes a limited available volunteer pool and encourages cross training to increase effectiveness.

Goochland Volunteer Fire-Rescue is well-equipped and has a proud history of achievement. Goochland EMS has been recognized for excellence in Virginia several times since the start of the decade.

County EMS providers are well-trained in aggressive life saving techniques, Ferguson explained.

However, Parke residents understandably wanted to know why it took so long for an ambulance to reach their community on September 26, especially after Ferguson stated that one of the busiest times for EMS calls is early on Saturday evening.

Parke residents were appalled to learn that there was no crew on duty at Company 1 that night. A crew had been on duty there until 6 p.m.

To further complicate matters, many Company 1 EMS volunteers are college students who returned to school in the fall depleting the supply of available volunteers there.

Company 3 did have a crew, but it was engaged with another EMS call involving law enforcement. Parke residents seemed to have overlooked the possibility that there might be other emergency calls in progress.

The heavy rain caused other Company 3 volunteers, who were not on duty, to go to their station and stand by in case they were needed. This EMS crew responded to the Parke.

Unfortunately, they made a wrong turn, which further delayed their arrival. Parke residents questioned why it took more than 10 minutes for the ambulance to get to them from Company 3.

Bewkes said that driving a large vehicle on narrow two lane deer infested roads in heavy rain with limited visibility required prudence rather than speed.

Ferguson explained that scheduling volunteers to provide coverage on weekends is an ongoing challenge.

As of April 1, the county’s first paid fire-rescue providers began work. The paid staff provides three two person crews for daytime weekday hours, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and one late night crew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday in the western end of the county.

At all other times volunteers respond to emergency calls and respond to most of the thousands of EMS incidents logged in Goochland.

All sheriff’s cruisers are equipped with automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) and deputies are trained in their use. Deputies, who monitor all dispatch calls, respond to EMS calls if they are nearby and not otherwise occupied.

That was not the case on September 26.

Bewkes explained that Goochland has two dispatchers, who handle both fire-rescue and law enforcement calls, on duty at all times.

The number of active EMS-only volunteers in Goochland, said Ferguson is 102, another 97 volunteers are cross-trained in both EMS and fire suppression skills. That’s 199 people to provide EMS coverage for all of the county’s approximately 300 square miles.

Active volunteers are required to be on duty for a minimum of 48 hours per month. That’s on top of working, family responsibilities and sleep.

Training required to become a basic life support (BLS) EMT is 121 hours of class time, practical skills education and precepting with experienced EMTs. The county has 134 BLS providers. Hours needed for advance life support training increase with the level of skill. EMT-paramedics, there are 14 among the Goochland volunteer corps, complete an additional 1,000 hours of training and spend many more hours honing their skills. That’s all before they can get on an ambulance and take care of people. All providers must past the same state certification tests as career people in other jurisdictions.

Some volunteers chose to become ambulance drivers. This requires successful completion of a CPR class the emergency vehicle operator’s course (EVOC,)which takes about 22 hours of class and practical education.

Many county EMS providers respond to calls from home, if they live close enough to their stations to respond in a timely manner. During times of expected increase in emergency calls, including the snowstorm on March 1, many volunteers report to their stations and stay there until conditions improve. A significant number of volunteers at both Manakin and Centerville do not even live in Goochland.

In short, EMS, like law enforcement, is a very manpower intense service.

Even if all stations are manned, a multi-vehicle traffic crash can take several ambulances out of the county for up to three hours. The advent of Rt. 288 had increased the number of wrecks that county EMS crews handle. Often, the patients from those incidents are transported to the VCU hospital in downtown Richmond.

Time and distance are major factors in response time in the county. Goochland has relatively few roads and they are often narrow and winding.

Parke residents wanted to help by raising money. One cited a recent piece of fatuous journalism that reported Goochland having the highest per capita income in America.

“If we are such a rich county, why not get all of those wealthy people to pitch in and pay for more coverage?” one man asked. He would be surprised to know that in most of the county he is considered to be one of those rich people.

Bewkes informed him that because Goochland’s population is small, about 20,000, it takes a very small number of wealthy people, he estimated 20 families, to skew the average to paint a misleading picture.

Calls for volunteers from Brown and Ferguson seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Paid fire-rescue is a very expensive proposition. The cost for the current paid providers is at least $600,000 per year.

All real estate taxes collected in Goochland fund county schools. All other services are funded through fees and other receipts. (See Goochland’s budget at the county website

Parke residents discussed purchasing an AED for their neighborhood and sponsoring CPR classes. Those are both excellent ideas. Everyone should learn the basics of CPR.

The incident illustrates how little most people in Goochland understand how things work here.

Bewkes suggested that Parke residents participate in the annual sheriff’s academy to get a close look at law enforcement in Goochland. Visit the sheriff’s website at to learn more about local law enforcement.

Goochland is blessed with outstanding fire-rescue volunteers who give tremendous amounts of time and talent to leave the comfort of home and family to go in harm’s way to save lives and protect property. Volunteers come from every walk of life and have a strong commitment to community service.

Get to know your local volunteers. Look for activities at stations to commemorate Fire Prevention Week.

The professionalism of the Goochland Sheriff’s Department is among the best in the state. Our deputies are well-trained sworn officers dedicated to providing the best public service possible.

One of the trade offs that you make for the peace, privacy and relative low taxes in Goochland is fewer public services. Law enforcement and fire-EMS are two examples. Perhaps one of the biggest threats to Goochland’s way of life is new residents who want Goochland to be just like where they came from only different.

Self-reliance is a vital part of rural character.

Fire-rescue volunteers must be at least 16 years of age, in good health, able to pass a criminal background check and have a good driving record. Volunteers come from all walks of life and it’s a great way to get to know the wonderful people of Goochland. Volunteers are always needed. Training is free to members of one of the county’s six companies. Visit the website at for more information.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A day late and a dollar short

Wishing and hoping won’t make it so

On September 30 the county held what was billed as a charette on the Centerville Village at Company 3. The event was intended to gather citizen input about development of the village.

This should have been done at least seven years ago when cows were grazing on what is now West Broad Village in Short Pump. In fact, a master’s thesis project completed by VCU student Brad Shelton earlier in the decade, created much of the groundwork for this scheme.

All sorts of maps of the Centerville Village, as defined by the county’s 2028 Comprehensive Land Use Plan (visit for details) as well as charts and road cross sections were available for inspection. Members of the county planning staff were on hand to supply information, a answer questions and encourage people to comment.

As currently envisioned, the Centerville Village seems to have two parts. The area now considered the “village,” centered on the Broad View Shopping Center is envisioned to have neighborhood scale development. The area bordered by Ashland Road, the Henrico and Hanover boundaries and Rt. 250 is intended for more industrial and commercial use while south of Rt. 250 is residential.

Bright colors and cross-hatching on the maps illustrated current zoning. In spite of frantic efforts to create a B-3 zoning category, which accommodates hotels, a few year ago, there is still no land zoned that way.

Indeed, in spite of zoning, whether extant or intended, much of the land in the Centerville Village is either in agricultural use, or vacant. Almost five years after the Tuckahoe Creek Service District utilities went online, Centerville still has cornfields on main roads with access to municipal water and sewer.

People commented on suggested new roads, including a connector between Manakin and Rockville Roads, north of Rt. 250 to move people to the Ashland Road, I-64 interchange without going through the Village. Several iterations of the circumferential road on the north and south side of Rt. 250 were also drawn in. These are all in the center village area. There was no indication that the owners of some of the parcels bisected by these putative roads agreed or were even aware that their property could be affected.

Another suggested road would connect the soon-to be-built Gayton Road extension in Henrico with Goochland. Another good idea is connecting Hockett and Ashland Roads east of the current location using the already signalized and widened intersection to eliminate the current dangerous rush hour bottleneck to move traffic through the village.

Overlay district standards, which are a mixed blessing, should be used to ensure a visually pleasing balance of signage and lighting rather than as a bludgeon to discourage business.

Speaking of overlay district bludgeoning, the property expected to be the site of a Peace Palace behind the Bank of Goochland seems to be up for sale.

The crucial factor missing from the all of the Centerville planning schemes is the understanding by the board of supervisors that density in Centerville must be high enough to make investment there economically attractive.

Currently, the approved density in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, including the Centerville Village, is 2.5 units per acre.

Last year, the supervisors approved a legislative initiative informing the Virginia General Assembly that Goochland is unable to create an urban development area with a minimum density of four units per acre because of limited water and sewer capacity.

How can water and sewer capacity be limited? The million gallon water tank in Centerville has never been more than half full?

What is behind the board’s refusal to designate even a morsel of territory for high density development in an area well served by roads, municipal water and sewer and perhaps even fiber optics? Could this reluctance be based on a concern that the TCSD trunk lines installed at great cost in both dollars and heartburn are too small to handle the millions of gallons of water and wastewater that have already been pledged to Goochland?

After more than seven years’ worth of dithering little private investment has been made in Centerville. Why has Goochland failed to capture even some of investment going on in Short Pump? Goochland could be collecting sales tax instead of watching as its citizens take their dollars to stores in Short Pump.

The various iterations of plans for Centerville are appealing, but until there is an attitudinal paradigm shift on the part of the board of supervisors, the plans are just wishful thinking.