March Board meeting
The March 1 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors was relatively free of drama. Following the stunning revelations about the former Treasurer just after last month’s meeting, a return to the perpetual budget angst was a relaxing change.
One troublesome development was a personal attack on a supervisor made during the citizen comment period. These remarks were beyond the scope of good taste and completely unacceptable. To be useful, public discourse must remain civil. Citizen comment period is not the place to perfect stand- up comedy routines but rather an opportunity to address matters of concern regardless of the agenda.
The Tuckahoe Creek Service District (TCSD) continues to be a toothache. The supervisors unanimously authorized County Administrator Rebecca T. Dickson to execute a contract for a sewer line on Hockett Road, which is on the south side of Broad Street Road in the Centerville area. This utility work will be paid for with county funds under the capital improvement plan, a departure from past practices.
Owners of property on the north side of Broad Street Road expressed dismay that they were not informed of this work and the change in county policy. The supervisors approved using about $220,000 for this project last year.
Under the previous regime, all TCSD property owners were expected to pay construction costs for utility line extensions and did so at a dear cost. The issue of easements was also a source of extreme heartburn and is believed to have been exacerbated by vague language in the original ordinance. The county is expected to address deficiencies in TCSD ordinance later this year.
The county and supervisors need to do a better job of keeping all TCSD landowners informed of policy changes. District 4 supervisor Rudy Butler said that the TCSD needs customers and the county needs to do what it can to attract customers. Goochland’s history of failing to collaborate with all TCSD property owners since its inception created a miasma of distrust that will be hard to dispel. It’s past time to bury all of those hatchets and move forward for everyone’s benefit.
Board Chair William Quarles, Jr. District 2 is to be commended for recusing himself from the public hearing on a conditional use permit for Dominion Virginia Power to build a substation on Rockville Road to avoid conflict of interest. Quarles recently retired from Dominion.
The item matter of greatest concern to all county citizens is the upcoming redistricting necessitated by population changes as recorded by the 2010 census. The initial numbers were received in early February. An overview of the redistricting plan is available in part a of the March Board packet, which is available at the county website www.co.goochland.va.us on the supervisors’ page.
The numbers show that districts 1,3 and 4 have fewer than the ideal 4,343 citizens per district and districts 2 and 5 have more. To ensure as even a representation of citizens as possible, district lines will probably be changed in the next few months and voters may cast their ballots at precincts different than those used in the past.
A series of six meetings, to be held at locations throughout the county between March 24 and April 7, are planned to discuss and explain the redistricting process. Basic information about redistricting and proposed boundary and precinct changes will be presented at each meeting. Supervisors are expected to attend the meetings in their Districts as only they can explain how boundaries will be moved. The goal of the Goochland redistricting team, which is comprised of representatives from county staff, the electoral board, the county registrar and the school board, is to relocate as few voters as possible.
Every change must be approved by the US Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act. To further complicate matters, we have local elections this November, so there is little time to work through this important process. Once Goochland has a plan in place, it must be approved by the Virginia General Assembly before moving on to the federal government.
Postcards announcing the redistricting meeting schedule will be mailed by the county in the next few weeks. Please keep an eye out for them and make every attempt to attend one of these sessions. Voting is the most important duty of a citizen and we must all pay attention to the electoral process to safeguard our way of government.
The supervisors will hold a work session at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 14.