Friday, January 11, 2013

The year ahead

Random observations

Goochland moves into 2013 with a full agenda. The Board of Supervisors spent its first year in office putting out inherited fires. Its crowning achievement was the stabilization of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District debt. The School Board got a handle on its budget and selected a new superintendent, Dr. James Lane, to guide the county’s education system.

So what’s next?

Economic development is now on the front burner. Apartments and a large office building will be coming out of the ground in West Creek in coming months.

Centerville is starting to bloom with new business.

Goodwill--in a superbly appropriate location--opened this week. Stakes marking the footprint of the Acme Stove Company building have been set in front of the Food Lion. It looks like McDonald’s is also coming to Centerville. This will bring additional tax revenue and badly needed starter jobs for our young people.

A new Goochland-centric economic development website will go live soon. This will put a wealth of information about doing business in the county and an inventory of available properties at the fingertips of site selectors and developers.

Both boards will be spending lots of time with sharpened pencils to craft budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Money will be tight once more.

At the supervisors’ January 2 meeting county assessor Glenn Branham cautioned that 2012 was another challenging year for property values. He said that this year’s assessments are down overall by one point four percent. This is somewhat better last year’s decline of four percent, but still no cause for celebration. Branham said that the change varies throughout the county. Properties in the east either declined slightly, or actually rose in some cases; while properties in the west dipped as much as ten percent over last year.

Annual assessments will be mailed on January 15. The appeal period ends on February 15, so if you’ve got questions about your valuation, call Branham’s office right away. Instructions and phone numbers are included in the mailing.

Branham said that new construction on the Capital One West Creek Campus, the West Creek Medical Center, and the Goodwill facility increased the total value of land in the county.

Honoring their pledge to rotate chairmanships, Ken Peterson, District 5 was elected chair of the Board of Supervisors and Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 assumed the vice chair position.

Outgoing Chair Ned Creasey District 3 thanked his fellow board members and staff for their cooperation and support.

Peterson thanked Creasey for his leadership as a supervisor and board chair. He observed that Creasey’s work as a supervisor is the latest chapter in a lifetime that put service before self. Creasey is a Navy veteran; served as a police officer; and is a life member of the Goochland Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association with Courthouse Company 5.


The School Board elected John Wright District 5 and Michael Payne, District 1 as chair and vice chair respectively. Outgoing school board chair Beth Hardy District 4 is to be commended for doing an extraordinary job of keeping everyone focused during an exceptionally challenging year that had a very happy ending.


In its continued search for affordable broadband options for the entire county, the supervisors approved a resolution supporting an initiative by Stratcom International, LLC. This company uses TV whitespace made redundant by digital television to deploy wireless internet.

According to details presented by Alvarez, who also chaired the Goochland High Speed Internet Committee (GHSIC,) this could make affordable wireless internet available in parts of the county too sparsely settled to attract traditional providers. The resolution of support lets the Federal Communications Commission know that Goochland has a need for this service. More pieces need to be put into place by private sector providers but this is an interesting option. Details are included in the board packet, which is on the county website No county expenditure is involved.

It is quite amazing what happens when local government seeks viable solutions rather than saying “that’s not our job.”


The supervisors went into closed session, a rare occurrence for this board, to consult with County Attorney Norman Sales about the county code provisions dealing with roads and plans of development.  Perhaps that means that the Benedictine matter is close to resolution.


Residents who live on Manakin Road near its intersection with Three Chopt Road near Centerville raised concerns about pending road improvements. Apparently every time VDOT--the state agency whose motto is Oops!--attempts to improve drainage in the area, things get worse.

When “road improvements” have been made in the past, land was taken from yards on the south side even though the north side of the road is open land except for a church that sits well back from the roadway.

District 4 Supervisor Bob Minnick has been working with the residents to fix the situation. Community meetings held late last year only heightened worry that fixing the intersection would make matters worse.

James Trice, Sr. said that his drain field has been compromised by overspill from the roadway. He said that he raised questions about the proposed “improvements” at the community meetings and never got answers.

Minnick said that VDOT plans to mark the location of the improvements so that the residents can see what will happen. Mike Cade, VDOT Residency Administrator for Goochland contended that the improvements will fix the drainage issues and move runoff away from existing homes.

The county needs to keep a close eye on this matter and protect its citizens from state incompetence. After the Centerville Speedway debacle, putting blind faith in VDOT is not a prudent option.


On January 15, the supervisors will hold its first formal budget workshop. Tax rates for 2013 will be set in April.






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