Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A bird in the hand

Trolling for business

On the evening of January 4, the Goochland Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a series of rezoning and other land use changes for property in and around the 623 Landfill, which is located on the east side of Ashland Road (Rt. 623) north of Interstate 64 in the Centerville/Rockville area. The eastern boundary is the Henrico County line. James Eads, District 5 dissented.

The applications for these changes have been in the works for a while. In the interim, county staff, 623 Landfill, Inc., Luck Stone, Goochland citizens and the Henrico neighbors of the property have been discussing the proposed changes.

Since the public hearing before the Goochland Planning Commission on August 19, 2010 a few modifications were made. Negotiations seem to have been in progress until the vote, because the final agreement between Goochland County and 623 approved by the supervisors was not included in the board packet.

Under the final agreement, 623 will accept up to 1,200 tons of solid waste (general garbage) from the county’s convenience centers for processing at the material recovery facility (MRF) approved amongst the approved applications. Acceptance of 500 tons of construction debris per year and an annual tire amnesty day for county residents to dispose of old tires without a fee and an electronic day also for 15 years.

In both versions, 623 agreed to make a one-time contribution of $5,000 toward the July 4, 2011 fireworks in Goochland. The final version approved by the Board runs for 15 years while the agreement in the board packet covered only a 10year period. There was no comment on the rationale behind the extension.

The main purpose of the site is to accept 4,000 tons per day, averaged over a 90 day period, of construction debris, not municipal waste, from a service area “that shall include, but not be limited to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the States of the Atlantic Seaboard.”

Following the conclusion of the public hearing, Henrico homeowners who opposed the changes sniped that the price of a rezoning in Goochland is $5,000.

Then, those same people returned to their homes in Henrico, a jurisdiction served by 24/7 paid fire-rescue providers and a well-staffed police force that fired no teachers and had no major service reductions necessitated by declining tax revenues. A significant portion of sales tax revenues generated by Goochland residents is spent in Henrico. We subsidize them.

No one wants a landfill in their back yard. Most of the people who spoke during the public hearing mentioned knowledge of the modest landfill located behind them when they bought their property. It never occurred to them that the property might be sold and expanded.

It would be interesting to know if the same people objected as vigorously to the construction of the Gayton Road extension on the north side of I-64, which may well disrupt their lives far more than the changes at 623 Landfill.

County staff could have done a better job of explaining the situation at the public hearing. Aerial photographs with utility lines superimposed were part of the presentation.
While mention was made that a Tuckahoe Creek Service District sewer line goes through the 623 property, no one bothered to explain that the sewer line is used to remove run-off from the site, which was previously taken away in tanker trucks. Also, 623 Landfill pays commercial wastewater fees, badly needed by the county to service the TCSD debt.

Part of the agreement will permit the construction and operation of a materials recovery facility (MRF) for municipal waste, also known as garbage. This is a place where garbage is mined for recyclable material, which is then sold.

The land immediately behind the Henrico homes will be separated from the landfill with buffers and a berm. Operations immediately adjacent to the buffers will be used for limited “borrow” operations. That means that soil, well above the water table, will be removed for use in covering the layers of construction debris that go into the landfill.

According to the application, the borrowing activities will also level the ground preparing it to be developed by into some sort of business park by Luck Stone when the landfill is closed. The closing date is a squishy 15 or so years hence, depending on the economy.

The Supervisors are clearly holding on to the few birds they have in hand. While not the high quality development that everyone seems to want but cannot clearly define or, more importantly, attract to Goochland, the 623 Landfill is here and paying its way. Goochland needs any business it can get.

It looks like we’re going to get a Goodwill store on Broad Street Road east of Centerville too.

The West Creek Medical Center, which was in initially touted as a hospital, but will be more of a free-standing enhanced emergency department and trauma center, is underway. The WCMC will provide a welcome and much needed service in Goochland. Hopefully, over the years it will grow into a hospital that attracts related medical services, and jobs, to the area.

Rejection of a pre-zoning initiative at the Oilville-I64 interchange last year was a giant leap backward for Goochland’s economic development prospects.

Unfounded and pernicious rumors that the pre-zoning was intended to permit construction of a huge truck stop at the Oilville interchange circulated by ignorant individuals scared off high quality development prospects who took their dollars far away from Goochland. Landowners who spent a great deal of their own money on reports and studies to facilitate the rezoning are disgusted with the county. So, that interchange, which could generate significant revenue for the county, sits fallow.

The prospects for meaningful economic development in here are a joke. We need a new sign at the entrance to the county that proclaims “Welcome to Goochland, land of high taxes and low expectations.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why is this county so set on having fireworks? Let a private business come with the idea and planning, entertainment is not the governments responsiblility, and tax money should not be spent for any part or security? I don't care if 623 is giving money toward the fireworks, if they want to be involved let them put it on.