Friday, March 9, 2012

Trudging through the jungle

Highlights of March BoS meeting

Goochland County’s new board of supervisors is hard at work untangling the knot of snakes it inherited. The tasks are many and difficult.
At their March 6 meeting, the first to be streamed live over the internet, the supervisors continued to chip away at their colossal to-do list. Some highlights follow.

Jonathan Lyle, one of Goochland’s newly elected directors of the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District, briefly addressed the board. He said that the MSWCD exists to protect natural resources and is eager to offer assistance to Goochland.

Herbert R. Griffith chairman of the county electoral board reported that as of 3 p.m. less than 10 percent of registered voters had cast ballots in the republican presidential primaries. If political parties insist on holding primaries, they should foot the bill instead of passing the cost along to overburdened taxpayers.

Manuel Alvarez Jr. District 2 supervisor announced that he is forming a project committee to study deployment of high speed internet throughout the county. The committee will be comprised of about five to seven citizens with information technology expertise, including District 2 school board member Kevin Hazzard. It will spend about six months gathering information and evaluating possibilities for deploying broadband in Goochland.

If you are interested in serving on this or other boards and committees please go to the supervisors’ page on the county website, scroll down until you see the “serving Goochland” tab on the left and follow the instructions.

County assessor Glenn Branham unveiled the new website for property values. It is located on the assessor tab on the county website. If you do not have high speed internet, be patient, it takes a while to load.
Branham explained that the new web site is a search engine and property records include a photo and sketch of buildings.

He also said that there are faint signals that real estate valuations may be nearing their bottom.

Goochland treasurer Pam Johnson reported that she has hired Pam Duncan as deputy treasurer.

The fire-rescue chief reminded everyone to check their smoke alarms when they turn their clocks forward next Sunday.

Sheriff James L. Agnew reported that deputy Chris Cranor school resource officer and other members of the Sheriff’s Office took spoke to 14 classes at the middle school about bullying. Hopefully, this effort will greatly reduce or eliminate incidents of bullying in our schools.

Rob Crandol P.E. programming director of VDOT presented an update on the Broad Street Road widening aka the “Centerville speedway” project. He explained that the difficulties with the curve in northbound turn lanes at the Broad Street and Manakin Roads intersection occurred because the engineers “downtown” used what turned out to be an incorrect design template.

The VDOT engineers used what Crandol described as the WB 50 template, the second largest in their toolkit, which was inadequate because “people did not behave the way we expected them to.”

The intersection is in the process of being redesigned using the WB67 turn lane template, which, said Crandol, is the largest and accommodates a semi-tractor with a 53 foot trailer. He is “confident” that this “one time fix,” which involves moving concrete curbs and guttering about 12 feet west and reworking the entire surface will solve the problem. Stay tuned.

Crandol did not mention the cost of the remedy. This is a good time to insert adages like “measure twice and cut once” or “penny wise and pound foolish.”

District 4 Supervisor Bob Minnick has been meeting with VDOT to mitigate the impact of the concrete median on westbound access to the Shell station. Why was any of this necessary? Surely the VDOT engineers “downtown” could see the Shell station using Google Earth.

(Updates from VDOT on this project are forwarded to those on the GOMM notification list. To be added to the list, post a comment and include your email list.)

A bit later in the meeting, Crandol and other VDOT representatives reviewed the county’s secondary six year road improvement plan. Funds allocated to Goochland County by VDOT will be no more than $80,000 annually for at least the next six years. The cost, presumably in today’s dollars to improve the two intersections of Manakin Road with Hermitage and Three Chopt Roads is $3.2 million. So it will take about 40 years to accumulate enough money to complete the project. A public hearing will be held on this plan on May 1.

Why can’t our state legislators forego social engineering to concentrate on civil engineering and “fixing” VDOT?

The supervisors voted unanimously with little discussion to allocate the $500,000 withheld from the school budget in 2011. This is a positive practical manifestation of trust and collaboration between the supervisors and school board that was long overdue.

County Attorney Normal Sales discussed pending revisions to county ordinances. These include creation of a multi-family zoning district; dark sky compliance; changing the due date for personal property tax and vehicle registration fees; the bio solids ordinance and EMS cost recovery. See the board packet for the complete list. The supervisors must hold a public hearing before voting on any ordinance changes.

The county needs to implement a village plan for Centerville while it works on the multifamily zoning ordinance. Ideally this plan would create a matrix for appropriate development to encourage the maximum success for all involved. The previous regime repeatedly declined to craft a village plan to the detriment of all.

The most sobering item on the agenda was authorization of advertisement for the 2012 proposed rates for real estate and ad valorem taxes and utility rates. These will be established when the supervisors vote them into place on April 17 but cannot be higher than those advertised. A public hearing will be held on these rates on April 3.

All supervisors have scheduled town hall meetings in their districts later in March to discuss the budget and all other citizen concerns. Please try to attend the meeting in your district. You voted in a board that pledged to be responsive. Now it’s your turn to let them know what concerns you. Citizen engagement is crucial to the success of government.

The schedule follows:
District 3, Monday, March 12, 7P, Board Meeting Room
District 5, Thursday, March 22, 7P, Co. 1 Firehouse
District 1, Saturday, March 24, 9A, Byrd Elementary School
District 4, Wednesday, March 28, 7P, Co. 3 Firehouse
District 2, Thursday, March 29, 7P, Old Goochland Middle School


Pat said...

Unfortunately I'll be out of town when the Dist.3 meeting occurs.

Somebody please thank Ned and other Spvsrs for working to get the meetings streamed. I watched much of it - but they need to get the volume up. It was often difficult to hear.

Anonymous said...

This new regime is going to Bad News if they think people in Goochland want multi-family districts and night sky ordinances.

Anonymous said...

Don't want to make light of the local law enforcement talking to middle schoolers about bullying, but one talk is not going to make a difference. That type of behavior starts at home and if the parents don't do anything about it, it will continue. I bet if you identified the students who are bullies, you'd probably find out their parents are also.