Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Board ends year with a full schedule

Following a morning strategic plan workshop on December 3, the Goochland Board of Supervisors addressed routine county business at its afternoon session.

School Superintendent Dr. James Lane presented an update on school matters.

As of November 15, there are 2,465 students attending Goochland Schools; the fiscal 2014 budget was based on 2,311 students. Randolph elementary’s enrollment now stands at 445.

Our school division was awarded a $50,000 grant to investigate the feasibility of year round classes at RES. Lane emphasized that this will be an opt in program only, that there is no intention of putting children from the same family in different instruction blocs.

In addition to having a graduation rate above 90 percent, Goochland is one of the top three school divisions in the region according to achievement metrics. Our students scored more than five points ahead of all others in the region in writing. Lane contended that writing best illustrates mastery of critical thinking, which is the composite of other skill sets, far better than multiple choice tests.

Interestingly, a Saturday, December 7 newspaper promotion featuring the Parke at Saddle Creek in Centerville touted the availability of nationally acclaimed schools. This is a good sign.

Lane’s presentation, available in Part A of the board packet on the county website www.co.goochland.va.us, includes several explanatory links about the initiatives in progress and is well worth a look.

Economic development director Matt Ryan had little to report. He said that the permitting for the Centerville McDonald’s is complete, but had no idea when construction might begin. In spite of the worry about run away development in Centerville, not much has happened. The apartments and medical office building in West Creek, opposite the Wawa are moving along.

The rural economic development committee--created to explore business opportunities that promote the county’s bucolic attributes--has begun its work. It is expected to make some recommendations next year concerning support for agribusiness and agritourism.

Mike Cade, residency administrator for the VDOT Ashland Residency, informed the board that the signal warrant study for the Hockett/Broad Street Road intersection had been completed and did not indicate the need for signalization. Cade said that he received the results shortly before the meeting and had no other information. (The full report was circulated by GOMM via email on December 10.)

What? Martians understand the interest, and concerns, that people in Goochland have about the hazardous conditions at that corner, and have had for years. That a representative of VDOT—the state agency whose motto is “Oops!”—would announce those findings with no details is beyond belief.

On the up side, the county intends to oversee the engineering design of the realignment of Ashland/Hockett Road to funnel all but local traffic through the parcel of land south of Broad Street Road where Ashland Road now ends. Giving county staff control on this project should help to ensure that construction will be done right the first time. While outside professionals will need to be retained for parts of this project, county staff involvement should prevent a replay of the high weird that haunted the widening of Rt. 250 through Centerville.

The supervisors authorized acceptance of the old school bus maintenance facility property. This will make development of that parcel possible after the buildings have been removed. Liability insurance in place will cover any environmental issues, but, as pointed out by Susan Lascolette, District 1, there are no known hazards on the site, nor is there reason to believe that there is any environmental damage. Deputy County Administrator for Finance John Wack reported that remarks from school staff supported that.

Following completion of normal afternoon business, the board adjourned to its conference room for a workshop on pending state and federal storm water management regulations. Responsibility for monitoring water pollution issues, to further clean up the Chesapeake Bay, is devolving to local governments. This means more regulations, which will require hiring more people to oversee and enforce those rules. The county must adopt new storm water runoff mitigation rules, which include policies and ordinances, by April 1, 2014. No one is in favor of dirty water, but it seems like environmental protection has morphed into an expensive monster that defies common sense.

A public hearing on the latest version of the proposed ordinance to deal with nuisance companion animals will come before the supervisors at their January 7 meeting. County attorney Norman Sales said that, after a much discussion with responsible dog owners, the old ordinance will be repealed to be replaced with a simpler, more straight forward, version. This is in the December board packet.

Following public hearings in the evening session, the supervisors approved rezoning of 73.69 acres on the north side of Tuckahoe Creek Parkway in eastern Goochland from A-2 to RPUD (residential planned unit development) to accommodate the construction of up to 115 upscale homes in a subdivision dubbed “Tuckahoe Creek.”

The parcel was also added to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District in a deft “horse trade” in which the developer will expand and oversize utility lines to include a loop in the water line in return for the county waiving some utility connection fees. (See the performance agreement in the Board packet part B.)

These improvements are expected to eliminate the need to flush existing water lines. As the county buys this water from Henrico, the flushing, essentially dumping water on the ground, the improvements will save the county utility system a good bit of money and mitigate water issues in the area.

The developers will pay full cash proffers and worked with Kinloch homeowners to ensure that Tuckahoe Creek, whose lots and homes will be smaller than those in Kinloch, enhances the area. Turn lanes at the main entrance, though not required by VDOT, will be built by the developer.

Additional high-end homes close to Centerville should help to make the Broad Street Road corridor more attractive to businesses wishing to cater to the “carriage trade.”

Goochland’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly--65th District Delegate Lee Ware; 56th District Delegate Peter Farrell and 22nd District Senator Tom Garrett—is to be commended for securing the legislative change to the rules governing adjusting the boundaries of service districts, which made this possible.

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