Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hitting stride

Having spent their first year in office putting out fires,Goochland County’s supervisors have attained cruising speed.

At a Tuesday, April 16 evening meeting, the budget forfiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, was approved. Tax rates for calendar year 2013, which remain unchanged from last year, were also set. The sole change was reducing the base amount of usage for residential water and sewer public utility rates.

In response to a complaint about the manner in which the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District conducted its operations, the supervisors authorized County Administrator Rebecca Dickson to withhold payment of Goochland’s funding to the group until she is satisfied that they have mended their ways and put new best practices in place to prevent future discrimination against citizens. Susan Lascolette, District 1, wanted to ensure that tax dollars given to the MWSCD are used to assist Goochland farmers. A new memorandum of understanding between the county and MWSCD is expected to beexecuted in the next few months.

To no one’s surprise, a conditional use permit was granted to McDonald’s to operate a drive through window at a facility that will soon sprout in front of the Goodwill in Centerville. The CUP specified that McDonald’s may operate around the clock. A representative of the corporation,which will retain ownership of the land and building, explained that actual hours of operation will be customer driven.

The supervisors also disregarded the recommendation of the planning commission to require McDonald’s to contribute $10,000 toward the cost of a traffic signal at the intersection of St. Matthew’s Lane and Broad Street Road. Doug Elliott, a principal in the company that owns the Broadview Shopping Center, explained that the 2006 rezoning that created outparcels, required a $20,000 contribution toward signalization, which has been paid to the county. He contended, and the Board concurred, that asking for additional money from McDonald’s is “double dipping.”

Alternatives to that light were discussed, including a realignment of Ashland Road to connect with Hockett Road south of Broad and simply reducing the speed limit on Broad Street Road between Ashland and Manakin Roads to 35 miles per hour. (Currently, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour from the Henrico line to a mile or so west of Manakin Road.) Slowing traffic further would enhance the elusive village atmosphere lacking in Short Pump and, hopefully, be less cumbersome to accomplish than signalization. The speed limit along River Road West through Courthouse Village is 35 miles per hour.

Following rigorous objections to some area residents about the proposed design of the building, McDonald’s tweaked exterior features of the new store to include: windows with muntins on the drive through side that faces Broad Street Road, less aggressive awnings and a bit of decorative cornice to mitigate the flat roof. An elevation of the extensive landscaping plan is included in the board packet, on the county website

At least 50 jobs are expected to be generated by this project, as well as significant sales tax. Improvements to the site will increase its value and in turn generate additional real estate and TCSD ad valorem taxes. Board Chair Ken Peterson, District 5, explained that the CUP was granted without a sunset clause because Centerville is designated for commercial use and represents a considerable investment by McDonald’s.

Paul Costello, District 4, who led the charge that resulted in the changes to McDonalds’ and Stu Doetzer, District 2, were appointed to the Design Review Committee. These gentlemen will bring good insight to the process. The supervisors are trying to decide what to do with this appointed body, which must remain in place for the near term, so that projects in the pipeline, can comply with existing regulations. Janice Brooks,District 3, was reappointed to the DRC.

Rejoice District 4 voters! An ordinance amendment creating the new Shallow Well polling precinct at the Grace Chinese Baptist Chinese Church on Broad Street Road, just west of Three Chopt, was passed by the supervisors. The new precinct comprises about half of the District. Thanks to the hard work of the county’s electoral board: Herb Griffith, Bess Stewart, and Robin Lind, and our excellent Registrar, Frances C. Ragland, the precinct will be ready to serve voters for the November gubernatorial elections. Ragland will notify all affected voters of the change in their polling place well before Election Day.
County Attorney Norman Sales will submit a copy of the ordinance amendment to the United States Department of Justice for preclearance asrequired by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Thanks to the instigation of citizen Lester “Buzz” Coe of Maidens, the county will soon have a new bus maintenance facility, and save a few million dollars in the process.
Coe, familiar with the decades-long unsuccessful search for a replacement for the decrepit facility on Sandy Hook Road, suggested that the county consider buying an existing property in Oilville. It has a multi-bay maintenance area, offices and some parking. After a thorough evaluation of the property,the school board gave its blessing to the transaction. Dickson was given authority to complete the purchase. The school system expects that the new bus maintenance facility will be in use by the start of school in August.

The $1.19 million cost of the new facility, which includes demolition of the old structures, is far less than the $3 million estimates for a new garage. Mechanics will be soon able to work on buses out of the weather and they will no longer need to deflate tires to get the larger buses through the doors.

A 42.39 acre parcel of land in West Creek was rezoned from A-2 (agricultural limited) to B-1 (commercial general) to enhance sale and development potential. This land is roughly southwest of the project under development opposite Wawa. There are no specific plans for the site at present. Marshall Bowden, a principal of NDirt, LLC, owner of the property, explained that the rezoning will make the land more marketable and resolve one step in the development process. The supervisors concurred and unanimously approved the change.

With this year’s budget and some contentious land use matters behind them, the supervisors seem poised to turn their attention elsewhere. Stay tuned.

The new bus garage is below. Notice the nice high bay doors!

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