Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A life of civility

The Hon. Lee G. Turner(image courtesy of Douglas M. Kinney,

As parts of America seethed with ill will, Goochland Circuit Court paused in its deliberations to convene in ceremonial session on the morning of December 23 to pay tribute to Clerk of the Court Lee G. Turner who will retire at the end of the year.

Judge Timothy K. Sanner worked with Turner during his eleven years on the bench. He praised Turner’s work a “highly capable clerk familiar with the operation of the office and knowledge and appreciation for the laws of the Commonwealth. In addition to drafting orders, she has received and had under her control large sums of money with not a hint of a concern about their proper disposition.”

The Judge said that Turner was often the first to arrive in the morning and the last to depart at the end of the day. Since he became Goochland Circuit Court Judge, said Sanner, there have 1,000 days of court and Turner served as chief clerk for more than 900 of those.

Madame Clerk, said Sanner, expressed a kind demeanor toward all those with whom she has dealt. She has a reputation for civility at all times. “I am grateful for the years we have had together fulfilling the service of the Commonwealth.”

Acting always with dignity and courtesy is no small feat in a courtroom where stressful situations unfold.

At the conclusion of Judge Sanner’s remarks, the courtroom, filled with family, friends and colleagues, joined the Judge by rising to their feet for a standing ovation in Turner’s honor.

Judge Deborah S. Tinsley of Louisa, who as an attorney in private practice often appeared in Goochland Circuit Court, recalled that she first met Turner as a young attorney “still wet behind the ears.” Tinsley said that Turner “was always gracious and sometimes gave me a gentle push in the right direction. It is the personal relationships that make you a great clerk.”

Mike Caudill, Goochland Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and president of the Goochland Bar Association, presented Turner with a plaque of appreciation for her service.

Chief Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Dale Agnew presented Turner with an American flag that had flown over the courthouse on behalf of the deputy clerks. Turner said the flag was an outstanding gift.

Turner then spoke. “It has been a distinct pleasure to serve the Circuit Court and County of Goochland. I want to thank everyone in Goochland for their support during years marked by tremendous growth. We can look forward and back with pride. I appreciate the friendship of colleagues as we worked together with complementary skills to serve the citizens of Goochland. I look forward to watching Goochland’s future unfold.”

Judge Sanner asked Madame Clerk to prepare one final order commending her for more than 35 years of faithful service to the Goochland Circuit Court.

The order stated that Turner was appointed Clerk of the Court in October, 1991 to fill the remainder of her predecessor’s term, and was first elected in her own right the following year. He recognized her civility and helpfulness and protection of court records, both legal and historic. The order also expressed appreciation for Turner’s devotion to her duties.

The Board of Supervisors recognized Turner’s service at its December 2 meeting.

Turner’s accomplishments as Clerk of the Circuit Court include converting records from microfilm to digital format and record indexing from manual to a computerized system making them more easily accessible by the public.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court is an elected constitutional officer charged with a wide array of statutory duties. These include: attendance at all court proceedings and responsibility for all related documentation; actions pertaining to divorces, adoptions, garnishments; summoning witnesses; appointment of executors and probate of estates; all recordation pertaining to land ownership in the county; receiving monetary restitution for payment to victims in criminal cases; issuing marriage licenses and concealed handgun permits; and preserving records that date back to the formation of Goochland County in 1728.

Unlike “burned counties” who sent their records to Richmond for safekeeping during the War Between the States where they perished in the 1865 fire, Goochland records include old and rare documents. Their care and preservation were of utmost concern to Turner during her tenure in office.

The retirement of Lee G. Turner as Clerk of Goochland Circuit Court marks the turn of yet another page in county history.
Thank you for your service Madame Clerk. May you have an enjoyable and satisfying retirement.

To see the ceremony cut and paste in your browser.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The ghost of Goochland yet to come

Sugarplums aside, visions of the future of Goochland County are coming into focus.

Throughout late 2014, the Planning Commission and Community Development Staff have been working their way through the county’s comprehensive land use plan, which is due for its five year review. Next spring citizens will have ample opportunity to examine and comment on the proposed version.
The supervisors and planning commissioners have held several workshops focused on the application of mixed use and multifamily zoning in Goochland.

Discussion at a December 4 workshop seems to have identified enough detail for staff to put together preliminary draft zoning rules for some sort of mixed use.

As a practical matter, the higher densities that are a feature of mixed use development—the combination of residential and commercial/business in close proximity—will work only in areas served by public water and sewer. For now, that means the Centerville village.
Expect to hear lots more on this subject in 2015.

Carryover items include proposals for a cell tower near Millers Lane; office/retail on Patterson Avenue; and a Taco Bell in Centerville, all to be voted on early in the year.

An Audi dealership is also on the horizon for Centerville, which is just plain good news.

A West Creek recreational trail system is in the works that will follow utility line rights-of-way. It would be nice if the trails included a Tuckahoe Creek overlook so more people could see for themselves just how close the end of Ridgefield Parkway in Henrico is to Goochland and increase interest in a bridge connector to Route 288.

Changes are afoot all over the county.

The new fire-rescue station in Hadensville, the first built by the county, should be well underway in the New Year. In addition to a home for EMTs and firefighters, the facility will also serve as an emergency shelter and community meeting place.

Ground will soon be broken for a new emergency operations center (EOC) behind the Courthouse.

Improvements to the gym at the Central High/Old Middle School are expected to be completed early in 2015 to meet the increasing demand for recreational space. The original portion of the building will be cleaned up while a citizen committee explores additional repurposing options. This will only use a portion of the $500,000 set aside by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year.

Ordinance amendments now make it easier and less expensive to start small agribusinesses. This is the result of the Rural Economic Development Committee, which was formed to investigate ways to encourage agribusiness as part of the commitment to preserve Goochland’s rural character. The rules on chicken keeping were also relaxed.

The real estate market is showing signs of life. In addition to the high density subdivisions being built around Centerville, Breeze Hill on Fairgrounds Road in Maidens is underway. For more information see:

Goochland yet to come will offer an environment where possibility can become reality.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On to New York

Not quite three years after the sentencing of the former County Treasurer for embezzling county funds, Goochland County received an “unmodified opinion” from its financial reviewer.

On Tuesday, December 2, Mike Garber, a principal with PBMares, the accounting firm retained by the county to review its books and prepare the certified annual financial report (CAFR), reported on findings after examination of fiscal year 2014, which ended on June 30.

At a meeting of the county’s audit committee, comprised of members of county staff; the Board of Supervisors; school staff; and Treasurer Pamela C. Johnson held before the December Board meeting, Garber said that the results of the annual audit were “clean “with no findings, issues, or red flags. Garber said that there were some restatements resulting from adoption of new Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) rules, which go into effect on December 26.

“There were no material weaknesses,” Garber told the audit committee, chaired by District 1 Supervisor Susan Lascolette, who is also vice chair of the Board of Supervisors. The report identified the need to adjust three journal entries. “This is pretty remarkable,” Garber said, characterizing the number as low.

Goochland County is still considered a “high risk” auditee, as defined by OMB circular A-133, thanks to the sticky fingers of the former treasurer. Garber said that classification will go away if the county repeats with a clean audit next year.

Garber said that, thanks to significant changes in accounting rules, reporting on unfunded pension liability will reduce the amount of unrestricted dollars in the county’s general fund. This is the product of General Assembly periodic tinkering with the division of teacher pension contribution percentages paid by the state and localities. The bottom line, according to Garber, is that Goochland is better able to withstand this change than neighboring localities.

During his presentation of the CAFR to the full Board, Garber reported that the audit went well, which was aided by good cooperation from everyone involved.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson said that obtaining a clean audit if very much a team effort. She cited Deputy County Administrator for Finance John Wack, School Finance Director Debbie White, and Goochland Controller Barbara Horlacher for leading the effort. Dickson also pointed out that each and every employee of the county and schools contributed to the clean audit. “Sometimes small things can add up to big problems.”

Dickson also ironically commented that this year’s result was “quite an improvement over four years ago.” That was when a CAFR compiled by the first new auditor in about a decade identified approximately 40 material restatements and opined that no one on the county staff had the necessary skill set to apply generally accepted accounting practices to their tasks. In all fairness, man of those employees had little training or direction and simply did the best they could.

This dramatic improvement is the result of a change in attitude by county leadership. Begun by Dickson, who thanks to some rare, benign confluence of the planets, was appointed to her post by the previous regime in July, 2009. When the current Board of Supervisors took office in January 2012, the commitment to excellence, accountability, and transparency in local government went into full swing.

The full 2014 CAFR and the FY 2015 budget, which was recognized for its excellence, are on the county website These beautifully written documents contain a wealth of information about Goochland above and beyond the numbers and are well worth perusing.

In line with the recently adopted strategic plan, Dickson and some supervisors will travel to New York next month to secure a credit rating for Goochland from Standard & Poor’s Financial Services.

A credit rating will help the county obtain financing going forward. More importantly, it signifies that Goochland County is well governed and managed, an excellent location for business investment, and the stewardship of county leadership deserves the public trust.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The spirit of the season

Holiday events in Goochland provide a dose of holiday spirit generous enough to bring a smile to the most curmudgeonly Scrooge.

Beginning on Wednesday, December 3 through Sunday, December 7, Salem Baptist Church presents its 10th annual Bethlehem Walk. Located on the Salem Broad Street Road campus, just west of Centerville, Bethlehem Walk is a visit to that humble, yet precious town under the star. This approach to the Christmas Story offers surprisingly contemporary insights to faith and humanity. Hours are: Wednesday, 6 – 9 PM; Thursday, 6 – 9 PM; Friday, 6 – 10 PM; Saturday, 4 – 9 PM; and Sunday, 3 – 8 PM. For more information, visit

Goochland will light its first community Christmas tree on Friday, December 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Goochland Sports Complex (behind the administration building on Sandy Hook Road.) In addition to the tree lighting, there will be activities for children, cookies and hot chocolate, and a visit from a certain jolly gentleman who likes to dress in red.

On Saturday, December 7 from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Centerville Company 3 will hold its annual Santa breakfast at the Company 3 fire-rescue station located at 52 Broad Street Road in Centerville. Following a free, cooked to order breakfast, everyone is welcome to have an important chat with the jolly gentleman. The event is open to all and provides a great opportunity to meet the volunteers who save lives and protect property every day in Goochland.

Field Day of the Past offers it annual gift to the community as it open its grounds from 4 to 8 pm for free. A walk among buildings rescued from the wrecking ball is a visit to an earlier time when things were simpler and less frantic. Field Day is located on the east side of Ashland Road just north of Bogey’s in Centerville.

For those who live in River Road community, be on the lookout for that jolly gentleman. Rumor has it that he is going to commandeer a fire truck—the red matches his outfit—to spread holiday cheer and perhaps lead a carol or two. Singing warms the heart and clears the head!
Share the joy of the season; it brightens the short December days.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Tis more blessed. . . .

A pause in the search for the perfect gift, or the best leftover recipe—marshmallow-topped turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce casserole anyone?—is a good time to think of organizations that bless society with their deeds year round.

Those of you with an extra bean or two are probably planning to make charitable donations before the end of the year. You’ve done well so you can do good, while keeping a few bucks out of the grasp of the IRS.

No doubt you’ve been inundated with donation requests from non-profit organizations of every stripe imaginable.
While you’ve got the checkbook out give some consideration to these worthy causes close to home.

Goochland’s Christmas Mother program, this year presided over by Meta Potts, has made the holidays brighter for local families in need for a very long time. Although the season for this organization is December, it will gratefully accept donations all year long. Mail contributions to P O Box 322, Goochland, Virginia 23063. Visit the website at

The Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services is a community based organization that helps Goochlanders who have fallen “between the cracks” of other assistance programs. From its food pantry to medical and dental care, GFFS is the definition of helping those in need. In a cruel twist of fate, the advent of Obamacare seems to have increased the demand for its health care services. Send checks to P O Box 116, Goochland, Virginia 23063, or visit their website:

When children get involved with the legal system, a very special group of volunteers, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), act as the eyes and ears of the court. These fine people invest large amounts of their time and talents to find the best outcome for the children. Send donations to: Goochland CASA P O Box 910, Goochland, VA 23063. Visit the CASA website at

Our great school board has done a great job keeping education expenditures within the confines of its budget. In this fragile economy, that means paring back or eliminating some extras. The Goochland Education Foundation helps to fill the gaps. Send donations to: Tom Deweerd, Registered Agent, Goochland Education Foundation, 2938-I River Road West, Goochland, Virginia 23063. Visit the website at

Although parts of Goochland are known for their grand homes, some of our citizens cannot afford safe, basic housing. Goochland Habitat for Humanity leverages volunteer skills and donation to build homes. Their address is PO Box 1016, Goochland, VA 23063. See to learn how this group works.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget our furry friends. For the Love of Animals in Goochland, FLAG, is our local animal rescue group. FLAG volunteers rescue and foster pets discarded or otherwise in peril, gets them healthy, and places them in suitable homes. They too spend every penny wisely, and right here in our community. Send donations to FLAG, P O Box 115, Manakin Sabot, VA 23103. Visit them online at

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Coming home to roost

Chickens, that is, if a zoning ordinance amendment wending its way to the Goochland Board of Supervisors is approved.

The Planning Commission, at its November 6 meeting, recommended approval of the amendment, which allows up to six chickens—no roosters--in areas zoned rural residential and rural preservation. The ordinance refers specifically to chickens, and does not include any other kind of fowl.
According to Assistant County Attorney Whitney Marshall, restrictive covenants take precedence over county ordinances. So, if your subdivision does not permit chickens now, the ordinance does not change anything.

The chickens may not trespass beyond property lines; chicken enclosures must be at least ten feet from the property line, 50 feet from a dwelling on an adjacent lot and must be located behind the front building line of a dwelling unit. Coops shall be well-ventilated and kept in a clean, dry, and sanitary manner. Manure shall not be allowed to create a nuisance or health hazard to adjoining property owners. Outdoor slaughtering of chickens is prohibited.

Other ordinance changes recommended for approval by the Commissioners addressed easing regulations for small agribusinesses located on a farm, not related to other businesses.

The relaxed plan of development procedure includes lower fees, but requires adherence to regulations to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens. For complete wording, see the November 6 Planning Commissions packet available on the county website The Supervisors will vote on the amendments at a future meeting.

In other developments:

Taco Bell—the Goochland Design Review Committee met with representatives of franchisee Burger Busters and Taco Bell corporate on November 20 to review the structure proposed for the parcel to the immediate west of McDonald’s in Centerville.

The Board of Supervisors deferred a decision on a conditional use permit for this enterprise until the DRC reviewed the application and either rejected or issued a certificate of approval signifying that it complies with the Centerville Village overlay design standards.
Following about 90 minutes of presentation and discussion, the DRC voted to defer a decision until January. At that time, the applicant Burgerbusters will present revised elevations, landscape, and lighting plans to reflect mutually acceptable changes.

Other facets, including metal elements on the façade, and alternatives to “purple glow” exterior lighting, characterized as part of the Taco Bell “branding” will be reviewed by corporate entities.

The DRC is charged only with the exterior of structures in overlay districts. It cannot address the use of a parcel or zoning issues.
Paul Costello, DRC chair, has, in the past--speaking as a private citizen--raised objections to flat roofs on new buildings in Centerville, including Goodwill, McDonald’s, and Acme Stove. Costello has contended that flat roofs do not have a residential feel appropriate to a village. The proposed Taco Bell has a flat roof.

The Board of Supervisors has the final say on the CUP application. Although some newcomers to Centerville have strenuously objected to another fast food emporium in Centerville, the intended use of outparcels of Broadview Shopping Center for fast food was clearly expressed well before the new subdivisions were built. Indeed, some of the funding for the new traffic signal at Hockett and Broad resulted from a zoning change there.

The hodgepodge of buildings in Centerville resulted from landowners willing to invest their money and taking a chance that businesses there might be successful--some were many weren’t. Uses of those buildings have changed over the years. The buildings that are touted as “residential” in character are a little tired and could well be torn down to make way for the next best thing. That is how villages and cities evolve; they do not fall fully formed from the sky.

This is not a condition unique to Centerville. The charming bank building at the corner of Pouncey Tract and Broad in Short Pump had a peaked roof and a residential flavor. Vacated by a bank consolidation, it was on the market for years. Finally, it was torn down and replaced with a standard Walgreen’s, complete with a flat roof.

Market forces, funded by private--not government--dollars ultimately decide how land is developed. It’s the job of local government, in collaboration with citizens, to create an environment that attracts private investment. Chickens, easier rules for agribusiness, and Taco Bell, are all part of the process.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Those darn towers

Most of the Thursday, November 6 meeting of the Goochland Planning Commission dealt with an application for a conditional use permit to allow construction of a communications tower, whose height is not to exceed 199 feet, which would require lighting, on 4.6 acres located approximately 1900 feet east of 1259 Millers Lane.

The Commissioners voted 4-0--Matt Brewer, District 2 was absent-to recommend denial of the application after listening to remarks from 17 speakers, mostly opposed to the tower.

The presentation by the applicant Pegasus Tower Company followed the usual script citing the need to improve communications for public safety and to provide greater speed and connectivity for nearby residents.

Propagation maps that purport to show before and after coverage of the area in question often resemble Rorschach tests or the bottom of a birdcage. The “after” always promises significant improvement in coverage.

All cell tower CUP applications contend that they are badly needed to improve--or in parts of the upper end of the county provide--cell phone service. Now they are touted as a remedy to add capacity for the voracious signal consumption caused by widespread use of smartphones.
Wireless communications,the product of technology and magic often fail to deliver their promise. For instance, two cell towers are clearly visible from the front porch of GOMM world headquarters, yet cell phones rarely display more than two bars. Downloading items to a 4G Kindle here requires standing in the front yard and extending the device skyward toward these towers to supplicate the signal gods.

Cell towers are ugly. The faux tree cell towers intended to disguise the apparatus in forests are more noticeable than the steel variety.
Once again, this CUP application forces local government to decide whose property rights, the owner of the site of the proposed tower or its neighbors, trumps the other.

The site of the proposed Pegasus tower is smack dab in the middle of the high end horse country that defines the notion of “rural enhancement area” that appears often in the Goochland Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

A good bit of the land in the vicinity of the proposed tower is open pasture that affords no visual shelter for a tall steel rod reaching for the sky. To make matters worse, a family is in the process of building its dream home 250 feet from the proposed tower’s base.

Goochland’s own zoning ordinance encourages placement of cell towers in non-residential areas where the impact on the community will be minimal.
The balloon test held to illustrate the height and visibility of the proposed tower was also criticized by the neighbors who contended that its duration was shorter than promised, supposedly the result of windy conditions.

A small airport is also in the neighborhood. A report from the FAA opining that the proposed tower would not interfere with flight operations was presented as an after-thought and not included in the packet.

Property in the shadow of the tower location is protected by a conservation easement to protect, among other attributes, its scenic beauty.
Neighbors of the proposed tower turned out to object the tower’s placement in the center of their universe. Others contended that cell phone service needs improvement.

Opponents were eloquent and well prepared. A contention that the tower would have a negative impact on property values for nearby homes was supported by data that suggested a 20 percent reduction in sales price for a home in Rivergate located near a tower. The Pegasus team countered that the Rivergate tower is a lattice, rather than the proposed monopole design.

Ross Mackenzie combined his poetic gift of language and scholarship of the ethos of American governance to declare that to let the right of one property owner trump the rights of many nearby property owners violates the implied compact between the government and its citizens not to change the rules in the middle of the game. That betrayal of the that trust, he said, is incomprehensible.

Opponents expressed skepticism about the need for the tower there and its positive impact on local cell service and characterized the expressed need as “vague and generic.” The Pegasus representative’s responses to questions about service improvements were also vague and generic.
The commissioners had their own reservations about the application.

Commission Chair Joe Andrews, District 4, said that he struggled with the application but believes that the tower needs to be somewhere else.
Tom Rockecharlie, District 5, said that he walked the subject property and had service for his phone.

Derek Murray, District 3 probes about supposed coverage improvements were met with carefully parsed responses that tap danced around the question.

John Myer, District 1, expressed safety concerns with the proximity of the proposed tower to homes. He asked if parts of the towers could become “guided missiles” in 75 mph winds. The Pegasus team contended that the tower is built to collapse in its own footprint, but had “no data” about equipment on the tower.

The tower application now moves to the Supervisors, who have the final say in the matter. It will be interesting to see how they deal with this one. In past land use decisions, they have tried to be consistent across the county.
Last year, the Board approved a similar cell tower CUP, also located among homes near Randolph School. Similar arguments were made by nearby homeowners and tower companies. That CUP was approved, and the tower built earlier this year. To date, no communications equipment is deployed on this tower, which sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Balancing act

Goochland’s supervisors believe that their job is to serve the citizens. Making everyone happy is another story.
A mixed grill of issues was on the Board’s menu for its Wednesday, November 5 meeting.

In the afternoon, concerned citizens protested an ordinance amendment adopted in August, 2014 that gives the county the authority to cut grass in excess of twelve inches on occupied homes in areas zoned residential. The ordinance does not apply to any property zoned A-1 or A-2, or actively involved in agricultural pursuits. Susan Lascolette, District 1, cast the sole dissenting vote on the matter.

Previously, the ordinance addressed only unoccupied residential property.

Tom Dykers contended that ordinance enforcement is complaint driven and enforced by bureaucrats, which he said, is counter to English Common Law. He contended that there are laws on the books, which provide a way to remedy reduction in property values caused by neighbors who refuse to maintain their land.

Others said that Goochland is a nice county of neighbors who help each other when the grass needs cutting and that the involvement of the county in a dispute could exacerbate a conflict.

Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, said that the supervisors never intended that the ordinance would be used for residents unable to cut their grass, but for people who refuse to cut their grass. He cited health concerns as one on the underlying reasons for the ordinance and said that it would be rarely used only after all other approaches had been exhausted.

Alvarez reported that the last round of town hall meetings was successful and the supervisors received a great deal of thoughtful and constructive feedback from citizens. Issues of interest differed around the county. For instance, the Taco Bell in Centerville generated a lot of feedback in District 4 while roads were the center of discussion in District 1.

The Board authorized appropriation of an additional $22,000 to augment the up to $110,000 it authorized in October for slope improvements and related services for the closed landfill under Hidden Rock Park.

John Wack, Deputy County Administrator for Financial Services gave an update on projections for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2015, which began on July 1.

Expenditures by county departments came in at, or mostly below projections. Wack’s report (included in the Board packet) stated that revenues for FY 2015, including an expected 2.4 percent increase in taxable real estate values as of January 1, 2015, are estimated to exceed the budget by approximately $2.8 million.

The Board agreed to a request to approve an amendment increasing the budget to allow $36,000 to be used for a one-time bonus for employees in the Constitutional offices.

An amendment to the school budget was also approved. The details are in the Board packet.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson said that the county will seek a credit rating in the winter. This will be another indicator of excellence in local governance.

The Board discussed referral of an amendment to a zoning ordinance to clarify road requirements in A-1 and A-2 for uses that are considered to generate high public assembly. These would include: churches, fire-rescue stations, wineries and microbreweries. The amendment would require those uses to abut and have direct access to a state maintained road.

Wording of the proposed ordinance seemed vague with regard to existing operations. Bob Minnick, District 4 contended that the intent about grandfathering needs to be clearer before it goes to the Planning Commission.

Alvarez said that the intent of the ordinance amendment is not to “Shoot down” and existing use, but to look forward for new uses.
Ken Peterson, District 5 observed that this is an attempt to move away from “one size fits all” regulations for uses in rural areas.

The Board went into closed session with County Attorney Norman Sales to discuss the process for filling vacant elected offices.

Following a public hearing that was almost a love fest between affected citizens and the supervisors, the Board voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to define and differentiate between commercial and private kennels.

This ordinance was the result of a great deal of discussion between county staff and local kennel owners. The terms had never been defined, which led to a great deal of confusion.

Whitney Marshall, assistant county attorney, explained that, in Goochland County, there is no such thing as a “kennel license.” The Treasurer’s Office sells dog licenses in bulk, which has no bearing on the “legality” of any dog, cat, or hybrid facility.

The main difference between commercial and private kennel is that commercial kennels have regular business hours and offer services including boarding and breeding in return for compensation.

Pete Lenk, who owns a kennel, reported that there are about 233 kennels in Goochland, 84 percent of those are on land zoned A-1 or A-2. He supported the ordinance, which was unanimously approved.

Last, but by no means least, the supervisors voted 4-1 with Bob Minnick, District 4 in dissent, in favor of amending the Tuckahoe Creek Service District rules requiring entrants into the TCSD after January 1, 2015 to pay only an additional 20 percent “upcharge” on utility connection fees.

Only parcels with an existing residence that are not connected to the utilities will be permitted to leave the TCSD every two years beginning in September, 2016. There will be no refunds of paid ad valorem taxes. Land of equal or greater value must be admitted to offset the exclusion.
The original organizing documents of the TCSD required owners of land added to the district after its founding in 2002 to pay back ad valorem taxes for several years with interest. The fee, according to Dickson, was never applied. County Attorney Norman Sales said that the penalty did not comply with state law.

Property added to the TCSD last year on the north side of Tuckahoe Creek Parkway apparently did not pay the penalty. Instead, that project proffered, at its expense, badly needed improvements to utility lines, which is expected to mitigate the “smelly” water problem that has plagued users.

The revised ordinance, also in the Board packet, seems to levy ad valorem tax based on the full assessed value of land in the TCSD that participates in land use. This is an important change and should bolster debt service revenues in the TCSD.

Jeff Wells, a resident of Kinloch, who described himself as “the water ghetto guy,” strenuously objected to the idea of expanding the TCSD. He contended that about one quarter of the TCSD is developed and growth should be concentrated there.

Wells told the supervisors that instead of looking to expand the TCSD, they should be concentrating their energies to attract development. He cited an upscale retirement community as something that would complement West Creek and increase property value. Wells has a very good point. West Creek still has the option of developing some sort of high density housing.

He objected to essentially giving new entrants into the TCSD a pass on the debt service burden carried by landowners since inception in 2002.
Wells concluded his remarks by noting that the supervisors and staff took the time to work with citizens to craft the kennel ordinance, but do not meet with TCSD residents to seek equitable solutions to the debt issue. He characterized that as the “Goochland good old boy network.”

Alvarez conceded that Wells made some good arguments against expansion of the TCSD, but said that the county cannot force landowners to develop their property. There has been some interest in expansion, but there are no pending applications.

Discussion about fairness ensued. Homeowners in the TCSD contend that their ad valorem tax burden is unfair (Wells said he pays $2,200 annual ad valorem tax on his home) and want a more equitable solution. Some contend that, because all Goochland citizens derive benefit from the TCSD, the debt service burden should be spread to all land owners.

Dickson explained that the county’s general fund “contributes” several hundred thousand dollars to the TCSD financing each year. That is money that could be used for law enforcement, fire-rescue, schools, or other services.

Minnick, said that there is a “lot to wrestle with” on this issue. He suggested that the Board take more time to evaluate the matter and the working toward an equitable solution is worth the extra time.

Ned Creasey, District 3 moved to accept the amendment as written, with the condition that it will be “tweaked” to deal with the fairness question.

The TCSD is the gift of dysfunction left the previous regime that just keeps on giving heartburn to all involved.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The people speak

No, this is not about Tuesday’s election. This is about an essential facet of rural character--attitude.

Goochland County is still mostly rural in persuasion, where folks believe in self-reliance and being neighborly. Our population, about 21,000, is small enough that people can know their elected officials and vice versa. Got a bone to pick with your supervisor? Give them a call and they’ll be happy to hear you out. (For contact information, go to the supervisors’ tab on the county website

This week, thanks to Election Day, the Supervisors and Planning Commissioners held back to back meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. At both meetings, citizens rose to address several issues, each with a unique constituency. (There was a great deal of information for GOMM to digest--detailed posts will be along soon.)

Issues that raised the most comment included ordinance amendments addressing kennels and expansion of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, and a proposed cell phone tower in the heart of Deep Run Hunt Country. At the start of the Supervisors’ afternoon session, speakers used the citizen comment period—reserved for remarks on items not otherwise on the agenda—to protest the recent adoption of an ordinance that allows the county to mow grass on occupied homes in areas zoned residential, after exhaustion of all other remedies, as an infringement of Constitutional rights.

All of the speakers were passionate about their subjects. The Supervisors and Planning Commissioners respectfully listened to all remarks.
Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, and District 5 Supervisor Ken Peterson attended the Planning Commission meeting. Their presence indicates an interest in the concerns of all citizens.

Long time—some multi-generational—residents expressed their love and attachment to the land that is Goochland. They pretty much want local government to butt out of their lives and protect their peace and privacy.
The small town feel of these hearings, and the required community meetings that are an important part of the process to change land use, is rural character at its best.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Honor those who make America possible

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014 Goochland American Legion Post 215 will present a Veteran’s Day ceremony at Goochland High School. The event will begin at 11 a.m. This follows the tradition of pausing at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to honor all veterans of our armed forces.

Tuesday will also mark the beginning of a new tradition in Goochland. The Veteran’s Day observance will be conducted by the newly instituted Goochland High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps.

The keynote speaker will be Col. Catherine Hundley, who was the first female to attain the rank of colonel in the Virginia Army National Guard and the first woman in the Army National Guard to attend the Army War College. She served 32 years as an Army Nurse.

Our veterans--from the Minutemen of the Revolutionary war to those brave souls currently deployed--left the comfort and safety of home to go in harm’s way in defense of the liberties we take for granted. Please take a few minutes from your day to honor their service.

Monday, November 3, 2014

In pursuit of "rural"

The strategic plan recently adopted by Goochland’s Board of Supervisors includes the intent to preserve the county’s rural character. (See the county website for the entire plan.)

The notion of “rural” has different meanings to different people. For many, it goes hand in hand with agricultural pursuits, which tend to be noisy, smelly, and sometimes messy. This runs counter to the sterile perfection of concentration camps for the affluent that means “rural” to others.

Goochland is a big place—we have more land area than Henrico and a fraction of its population—there should be room for all versions of “rural” to dance around each other without stepping on toes. The trouble is, too many people want to impose their version, whatever that may be, on everyone else.

Although some form of "preservation of rural character" has been on the lips of elected and appointed officials for decades, the current review of the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Comp Plan) addresses the issue for the first time. The Supervisors are considering ordinances and fee structures that encourage agribusinesses.

Some of these initiatives were sparked by the findings of the Rural Economic Development Committee, formed last year to focus on enhancing the commercial aspects of agriculture. Yes, commercial. When people put their land in enterprise use, it is far less likely to sprout a crop of houses.

Agribusinesses provide jobs, generate tax revenue, and tread gently on the land. Ideally, they go hand in hand with soil, water, and natural resource conservation.

Designating the majority of the county “rural enhancement” gives decision makers justification for denying intense land use in certain places.
The “village concept” that has been the foundation of the last few Comp Plans seeks to concentrate growth, especially commercial development, in places like Centerville, that have public water and sewer to support high density uses.

A concurrent matter under consideration by the Supervisors and Planning Commission is multifamily and mixed use zoning. Currently, the only sanctioned apartments in Goochland exist in the Retreat opposite the Wawa on Broad Street Road.

Opponents of high density housing fear that the county will be overrun with apartments and our schools inundated with new students. This is a valid concern. However, given the small portion of the county served by the public water and sewer than make high density housing possible, the threat is manageable.

Given the higher cost of housing in Goochland, we do need some starter living options to help our young people who grew up here stay in the county for cultural continuity.

Residential rezoning applications must include a fiscal impact statement that projects the need for additional county services and offers mitigation strategies.

The villages will not be theme park renditions of Christmas card New England towns. However, they should be as aesthetically pleasing as possible while providing services to the surrounding population.

Development is driven and funded by private dollars reacting to market forces. People disparage the fast food and other “downscale” businesses in Centerville. They overlook the fact that these establishments provide goods and services, pay taxes, and support the community. They located in Centerville because they saw an opportunity and risked their money. Fast food venues also offer job opportunities to our young people.

The variety of viewpoints on issues is what makes Goochland a vibrant community, where citizens care about what happens here. Pay attention, stay engaged in the process.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


The candidate forum sponsored by the Goochland Chamber of Commerce at Benedictine Preparatory High School on October 23 for those seeking to represent the Virginia 7th Congressional District was not intended to produce a “winner.”

(The forum will be rebroadcast in its entirety on WCVE 88.9 FM on Sunday, October 26 at 6 p.m.)
Kudos to the Chamber for inviting all three candidates:Dave Brat, Republican (; James Carr, Libertarian(;and Jack Trammel, Democrat ( participate.

The auditorium was nearly full; Brat’s Tea Party supporters were notable by their absence, perhaps caused by the firearms free venue.

While “victory” in the event was in the eye of the beholder—few in attendance probably changed their minds—Carr definitely won the congeniality award. His remarks were thoughtful and free of rancor. He generously took issue with democrat hecklers who rudely disrupted Brat’s remarks a few times.

Regardless of political or attitudinal preferences, heckling has no place at events like this forum. It only belittles those making the fuss.

Brat, who turned the world of Virginia Republican politics upside down with his decisive primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, began his remarks by condemning Obamacare. He pledged to repeal it and replace it with options including Health Savings Accounts and reduce health care costs through free market access.

Trammel contended that the Affordable Care Act--what Democrats call Obamacare--saved everyone in America at least $1,000 last year. He said that the ACA is here to stay. Many of the gray heads in the audience shook an astonished “no” in response to that comment.

Carr said he absolutely favors repeal of ACA and characterized the notion that the system individual mandates can be fixed as “ridiculous.”
None of the candidates favored tax hikes to reduce the federal deficit. Carr literally waved a copy of the Constitution while saying that he favored a reduction of the federal government functions to those enumerated by the Founding Fathers. He advocated intelligent cuts and elimination of crony capitalism.

Trammell said that the federal government needs to balance its checkbook like everyone else. Taming the deficit, Trammell contended, is not a democrat or republican issue.

Brat, who figuratively waved the Constitution, said he favors unleashing the free market system by getting rid of governmental controls that stifle productivity, which would increase revenue without raising taxes.
The candidates generally agreed that Social Security, Medicare, and veterans benefits for those currently receiving them are untouchable entitlements.
Trammell said that those programs are “a promise we have to keep.”

Brat, who sniped at Trammell for falsely accusing him of wanting to eliminate benefits for current seniors, acknowledged that the programs will have soon have funding issues and need to be tweaked for future recipients by raising the retirement age. (Remember that 65 was an arbitrary number selected as retirement age more than a century ago because few people lived that long.)

Carr said he believes that the term entitlement has a negative connotation. He favors allowing people to opt out of Social Security and manage their own retirement benefits, which, he contended, provides a better return.

On the efficacy of background checks to prevent gun related violence:
Carr said that there is no need for additional checks when those currently in place are not being enforced and have no material impact on gun violence. He contended that the federal government’s “Fast and Furious” program that put guns into the hands of criminals is a blatant example of failure. “Do you want to trust the government that did that?” Carr asked.
Brat contended that the federal government’s job is not to manage, but rather protect, rights. He said that background checks should prevent guns from being in the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and others. He would make mental health a high priority.

Trammell said that the checks have an appropriate role in the management of Second Amendment rights, but mask a mental health epidemic.

Trammell and Brat both support the notion of impartial redistricting, probably knowing that it will never happen. Trammell decried the years of republican domination that resulted in gerrymandered majority republican districts, conveniently forgetting the days when things were the other way around.

Carr quipped that he has yet to see a majority libertarian district. He contended that more voters adhere to libertarian principles than those of the two dominant parties. “They just don’t know it yet.” He supports a truly transparent redistricting process.

Brat said that he already ran on his principles and won an election. Trammell said that he will “reach across the aisle” to work with like-minded legislators of both parties on important ideas.

Carr quipped that there are twelve people who run the Federal Government. “I will never get to talk to any of them.” But he also will not be beholden to power brokers. He acknowledged that the other candidates had made some valid points and, if elected, would take them to Washington with him.

Moderator Curtis Monk, president and CEO of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting, deftly handled the program. Timekeepers were Keith Flannagan and Robin Lind of the Goochland Electoral Board. Thanks to the Chamber and its president Ed Lawton and executive director Bonnie Creasey for staging the event. Thanks to the citizens who submitted questions for the candidates.

Citizens have the right to vote, which carries the responsibility to cast educated ballots. Please take the time to research each candidate and decide for yourself how to vote on November 4.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


NEWS FLASH: A public hearing on a conditional use permit for Taco Bell in Centerville scheduled for the November 5 supervisors’ meeting has been deferred until the application completes the Design Review process.

The District 4 Town Hall meeting that kicked off the latest round of these sessions at the Grace Chinese Baptist Church on October 16 provided an interesting snapshot of citizen reaction to issues facing Goochland County.Supervisor Bob Minnick began the session with an overview of things going on.

County Treasurer Pam Johnson explained that, going forward, the car licensing fee, will only be levied on cars garaged in the county on January 1 and not prorated as it has been. This change, said Johnson, eliminates confusion for people who change cars during the year.
Johnson also said that bills for the second half of real estate taxes, which are due on December 5, should be in the mail soon.
If you have not received your bill, and do not escrow taxes, call her office. “Taxes,” said Johnson, “are still due even if you do not receive a bill.” Late penalties are stiff. She also explained that the Tuckahoe Creek Service District pay ad valorem tax is a tax, not a utility fee and mortgage companies should show it as such on statements.

Beth Hardy, who represents District 4 on the Goochland School Board, reported lots of good news from our school system. She said that the school board meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays and everyone is invited. (The meetings are live streamed, see the county website for details.) All Goochland Schools, said Hardy, are 100 percent accredited, one of 22 such divisions in the Commonwealth’s The graduation rate is 95 percent and Goochland Schools outperformed Henrico and Chesterfield in the top three required categories of testing.

She said that the school board is very vocal, plugged in to education leadership at the local and state level. “They know who Goochland is.”
Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Schools, recently named one of the “40 under 40” by Style Weekly added to the recital of achievements by our schools, students, and staff. He reiterated thanks for the fiscal support from the Board of Supervisors to implement the Marine Corps Junior ROTC program at the high school. Right now, Lane said, 20 percent of the student body at GHS participates in this program. Visit to see details about our schools.

Our school board and school staff are definitely doing their homework to the betterment of our kids and community.

Marshall Winn, a representative of VDOT reported that the long awaited traffic signal at the corner of Hockett and Broad Street Roads in Centerville should be operational by Thanksgiving.

Bids for the construction contract to replace the failing corrugated metal pipe under Ashland Road, whose fragile condition caused imposition the current detour for vehicles weighing four or more tons, will be advertised in January. If all goes well, he expects installation of a sturdy box culvert will be complete by the end of August, 2015. The contract, said Winn, will include an incentive for early completion.

Most of the meeting time, however, was absorbed by residents of the Parke at SaddleCreek in Centerville who are angry about McDonald’s and the possibility of a Taco Bell.

They are worried about what sort of people fast food outlets open to all hours of the night attract to Centerville, especially “vagrants from I-64.”

Ironically, when the land that is now The Parke at SaddleCreek was rezoned in late 2006, residents of the equestrian enclave on the southern border of the subdivision opposed the change because it would have a negative impact on their property values, would destroy the rural character of Centerville.

They said that those homes would overwhelm narrow roads roads with traffic, and increase crime because, who knew what kind of people would want to live in houses on tiny lots.

Speakers from SaddleCreek arrogantly contended that they live in an upscale rural subdivision and expect upscale amenities. (For truly upscale rural, see the homes to the south of SaddleCreek, valued upwards of seven figures on acreage with imposing homes, beautiful barns and generous fenced paddocks.)

As one gentleman, who lives west of Centerville, pointed out, there is nothing rural about the Parke at SaddleCreek. It is a suburban subdivision, albeit a nice one, no different from those in Henrico. Wonder how they like the Fall Festival of Firearms, which should start any day now.

The new residents complained that they “were told,” no doubt by someone who lives elsewhere eager to sell them a house, that Centerville would have upscale shops and restaurants. Instead, we have McDonald’s. They demanded that the county put “better” businesses there. Goodwill, Dollar General, and Food Lion are enough, they declared. Wonder if they realize that the corner behind them is zoned for a strip shopping center? CVS anyone?

Ironically, without the homes in SaddleCreek, Centerville’s population density might have been too low to meet McDonald’s “rooftop to retail” threshold.

Minnick and Board of Supervisors’ Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, tried to explain that the county does not decide which businesses locate here. Development is funded by private money and market driven. A landowner takes the risk that money invested will generate a reasonable rate of return.

“It’s not like we had a choice between McDonald’s and Ruth’s Chris,” said Minnick. “We don’t pick and choose.” Local government cannot be arbitrary and capricious in land use matters.

Fragile conditions in the rest of the region have an impact here, Minnick contended. With the Richmond region glutted with existing office space, why go to the bother and expense of building more in Centerville?

Longtime Centerville resident Joyce Gregory asked if the new residents patronize exiting local businesses, or turn up their noses at old buildings and take their business to Short Pump.

Places like McDonald’s bolster a meager supply of starter jobs for our young people so they can learn how to work. Upscale restaurants, with the complication of adult beverage service may need older workers.

Maybe they could pool their money and open a business to their liking.

The SaddleCreek folks were also upset about the ongoing odor issues with TCSD water, which supposedly takes 15 days to reach Goochland taps from the Henrico source. Minnick, who gets regular reports on the problem from Mrs. Minnick, said completion of a utilities master plan, and other changes in the mechanical aspects of the system are in the works. This is a very valid concern, and should be corrected.

The Taco Bell CUP application is on hold until the aesthetics issues are addressed, which is a wise move.

There’s lots of homework for everyone to do. Pay attention to what’s going on, and ask questions about the reasoning behind the decisions.
The District 2 and 3 Town Meeting will be on Wednesday, October 22 at Reynolds Community College; District 5 October 29 at Manakin Company 1 Fire-Rescue Station; and District 1 October 30 at Byrd School. All begin at 7. Stay informed!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Goochland is getting noticed--at last--in a good way.

A letter dated September 25, 2014 announced that Goochland County, under the leadership of our intrepid County Administrator Rebecca Dickson, has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the current (FY 2015) from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Goochland is one of 1,424 government entities to receive this honor for budgets beginning in 2013. According to a press release, to receive the award, the reporting unit must meet guidelines that assess how well the budget serves as: a policy document; a financial plan; an operations guide; and a communications device. Proficiency 14 mandatory criteria within those areas must also be demonstrated.

The budget also meets a locally imposed goal, transparency, by being posted in all its glory on the county website. Go to to see for yourself. The budget contains a great deal of useful and interesting information about Goochland and is well worth a perusal.

Thanks and congratulations go to Dickson and the entire team that crafted the budget. Stewardship of public funds is vital for cost effective government and can only be achieved through hard work, dedication, and good leadership at all levels.

Speaking of leadership, Goochland School Superintendent Dr. James Lane has been named one of Style Weekly’s “top 40 under 40.” Go to for details.

The Goochland School Board is to be commended for hiring Lane two years ago and recently extending his contract to ensure continuing dedicated and innovative excellence in education.

Goochland is changing for the better. Good schools and competent, accountable government are just the beginning.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blood moon

The October 7 meeting of the Goochland Board of supervisors ended a few hours before the “Blood Moon” eclipse.

A stirring and appropriate invocation by the Rev. Jeff Spence, the Supervisors began the proceedings.

County employees marking five year service anniversaries were recognized. This year’s group represents over 275 combined years of working for the citizens of Goochland County.

Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2, mentioned that the next round of town meetings will be held this month. Another meeting to discuss the future of the Old Central High School building on Dogtown Road will be held on November 18 at 7 p.m. in the Reynolds Community College meeting room. The building itself will be open for tours on October 18 from 11:30 to 1 p.m.; Monday October 20 from 9-11 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. for those interested in the matter.

On November 12, a meeting about the Centerville area arterial management study will be held at Centerville Company 3 fire-rescue station at 7 p.m.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson reported that the 2014 edition of The Goochland Observer is available on the county website A limited number of hard copies are available. The shift to a primarily electronic publication represents a significant cost savings over mailing a copy to every household. This is essentially the county’s annual report to its “stockholders,” the citizens. It contains a great deal of useful and interesting information, but is written from the county’s point of view.

The board voted to authorize Dickson to execute a contract to spend $13,000 for the 2015 Fourth of July fireworks that is expected to improve the grand finale of the pyrotechnic display. The contract is included in the board packet.

Several fire-rescue items were addressed during the meeting. The Board approved a request to use $37,158 of funds generated by EMS revenue recovery to purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe to replace a 2004 vehicle used by the Deputy Chief of Operations. Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that the emergency medical technician (EMT) class currently underway is full, but, so far, none of the students have joined Goochland rescue squads.

The Supervisors adopted a resolution to establish a standard for EMS response times in the county. Going forward, a 15 or fewer minute response time for areas of the county east of Rt. 522 south of the Louisa line to its intersection with Jackson Shop Road to Route 6 and 20 or fewer minutes for areas to the west is the goal. There is no sanction for failing to meet the goal, but this is the first time that response time standards have been established. The supervisors will receive periodic updates on response times.

MacKay said that three career EMS crews will be on duty 24/7 by November 1 and augmented with volunteers when available. The career crews will be deployed east, central and west in an attempt to cover the whole county.

Every EMS crew wants to be instantly at the side of a patient. Many factors go into response time beyond the number of crews on duty at any given time. Weather, geography—a major obstacle in long, narrow Goochland—and what else is going on plays a part. If you are in a jurisdiction with 1,000 career staffed ambulances and your call happens to be the 1,001th, you will have to wait your turn.

MacKay said that, countywide, the EMS response time is 15 minutes or less 77 percent of the time and 20 minutes or sooner 92 percent of the time. He also cautioned that extenuating circumstances affect this. For instance, if all on duty EMS crews are out of the county transporting patients to area hospitals, response time will be longer.

Goochland fire-rescue is working hard to get care where it’s needed fast. In addition to ambulance crews, all apparatus has some EMS equipment on board because so many of our providers are cross trained in fire and EMS skills. Red and white fire-rescue vehicles staffed by advanced life support providers can reach patients and provide life-saving care while an ambulance, perhaps from the opposite end of the county, is on its way.
Establishing a measurable standard is a better way to determine the need for additional personnel than anecdotal reports of a long wait for an ambulance. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. (Please chime in with comments about this issue.)
The tricky part is that you can’t plan emergencies.

Goochland Fire-Rescue adopted stringent protective protocols concerning Ebola transmission a few weeks ago.
The slope over the close landfill that is now Hidden Rock Park needs work again. The supervisors authorized appropriating up to $110,000 from the parks development fund for mitigation.

Qiana Foote, Director of Information Technology made a presentation about retaining the firm CivicPlus to redesign the county website. This initiative will improve transparency and help increase citizen engagement in Goochland government. The new website will be tied to social media in an effort to get information to citizens in formats that they regularly use.

CivicPlus will also handle live streaming of county meetings. The current system in place, which is a free service, has some issues, and has commercials.

The first year fee for the project package is $25,565. Annual services going forward are $4,734 subject to a five percent annual increase in year three of the contract and beyond.

During the citizen comment period at the start of the evening portion of the meeting, Cathy Crockett and Baird Stokes voiced concerns about the application of biosolids--the end product of municipal waste water treatment plants--and industrial sludge-- stuff too icky to think about—to land in Goochland.

Crockett contended that the county needs to be sure that biosolids are not being over applied to the land to the detriment of surface water. She said that there is a rumor that biosolids could be spread on as many as 8,000 acres of county farmland. Crockett also alleged that there is no strict adherence to or oversight of proper land application of these substances.
Stokes said he is concerned about the negative impact of sludge and biosolids, as differentiated from animal manure, on values of property near the application sites. He worried that people will fearful to live near those sites. “I believe in property rights,” said Stokes. “But you need to be mindful of the effect of your actions on your neighbors.”
Jonathan Lyle, Director of the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation observed that “nutrients are nutrients” regardless of their source. He opposed regulations on farmers, who are also businessman that would lessen their economic competitiveness. (Biosolids are applied to land at no cost to farmers.)
Lyle supported biosolids application that is done safely, property, and does not intrude on anyone else’s property. Industrial sludge, he said, is different and he urged caution until more is known about its contents and long term consequences of land application.

Alvarez said that the Department of Environmental Quality will hold a hearing on the subject at its offices at 4949A Cox Road in Glen Allen at 7 p.m. on October 23. He favors increased testing standards for industrial sludge. The county will request a hearing for application of these substances to land in Goochland.

Board vice Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1, pointed out that the county has no power to regulate or stop application of these substances in Goochland. Putting some regulations on storage is about all local government can do.
The Board approved a lease for Verizon wireless to locate equipment on the Centerville water tower. This does not necessarily mean that cell service in the area will improve.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Celebrate fall for a good cause

This coming Sunday, October 12, Manakin Volunteer Fire-Rescue Company 1 will hold its annual chicken barbecue and field day at Benedictine Preparatory High School, 12829 River Road, rain or shine, from noon to 4 p.m.

Barbecue tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12, little ones eat free. They can be purchased at Portico Restaurant.
Lots of other things will be going on.

As October is fire prevention month, the Manakin fire-rescue providers will have their equipment on display. There will be demonstrations of fire operations including vehicle extrication—cutting up a car with the “jaws of life,” and search and rescue dogs.
Photo ops with fire-rescue providers and apparatus are encouraged.

A MedFlight helicopter will land; its crew will explain the role that they play in saving lives in Central Virginia. (Be sure to offer a prayer when you see a MedFlight helicopter-- the crews deserve it and the patient needs it.)

The kids can enjoy a moon bounce and face painting.

Fire prevention and disaster preparedness displays will provide helpful tips for staying safe, no matter what.

Local organizations including the Goochland Historical Society, Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services will be on hand to explain their role in enriching our community
This is also a great opportunity to visit the lovely grounds of Benedictine Preparatory High School, greet old friends and make new ones!

Monday, October 6, 2014

There, not here

The October 2 meeting of the Goochland Planning Commission was a sampler of issues facing the county.

Applications that, if approved, would have paved the way for distillery on Broad Street Road, roughly opposite the Hickory Notch, were withdrawn in the face of stiff opposition from the community.

An ordinance amendment addressing the location of kennels was passed as introduced in September. Revised language, which added more restrictions on kennels, was thrown out after strenuous objections from owners of existing kennels. Commission Chair Joe Andrews, District 4, had asked for the stricter rules because he was concerned about existing kennels impinging on new subdivisions. To truly preserve rural character, perhaps developers who want to build subdivisions near kennels should apply for conditional use permits (CUP) to avoid interfering with the kennels.

An application for a CUP filed by Burger Busters to operate a Taco Bell with a drive through on the parcel just west of the Centerville McDonald’s, was recommended for approval, in spite of staff opposition to the appearance of the building. The vote was 3-2 with Commissioners Tom Rockecharlie, District 5 ad John Meyers, District 1, in opposition.

Elevations included in the packet, show the proposed Taco Bell is a brutal, brown box. (See the complete packet in the planning commission tab of the county website )

As proposed, the building essentially thumbs its nose at the Centerville Village overlay district standards. Among the objectionable elements are storefront windows, flat roof, and metal slat detail on the façade. The elevations lack a representation of the order kiosk. While landscaping is specified on the plan, it will take years for the plant material to soften the dreary aspects of this structure.

As Paul Costello pointed out, citizens volunteered many thoughtful hours to collaborate with staff on overlay district standards to ensure attractive, high quality buildings appropriate in scale and appearance for a village. He asked that the application be resubmitted after it had been reworked to comply with the overlay standards.

McDonald’s worked through several design iterations before arriving at a somewhat acceptable design. However, ordering kiosks for that site were never included in submitted in elevations, and should have been part of the overlay standard discussion.

The county needs to decide if it is really trying to create a cohesive village in Centerville and enforce the standards, or just not bother with the overlay district. The Burger Buster representative agreed to appeal the building exterior design to the Design Review Committee to obtain certification of adherence to the overlay criteria necessary to proceed to construction. He’s going to get a surprise there.

Other citizens objected to another fast food outlet in Centerville. They want the county to do a better job of selecting businesses for Centerville. This is the latest episode in the continuing Centerville development drama. People don’t like Goodwill or MacDonald’s, but are unable to offer constructive alternatives. More homes in Centerville attract new businesses like fast food.

District 3 Commissioner Derek Murray cautioned people who live in Centerville, including the Parkes at Centerville and Saddlecreek, that development is coming to the Broad Street corridor and nothing can stop it. The southeast corner of Manakin and Broad Street Roads, for instance, is already zoned for commercial use.

Applications filed by Ned Massie to rezone land just east of the Creekmore Park community on the north side of Route 6, adjoining the Richmond Country Club, were met with fierce opposition.

Massie proposed construction of two buildings, totaling approximately 18,000 square feet on just less than three acres. Massie said that he has retained several engineering and architectural firms to address the challenges of developing the site but as yet has no clear plan for the parcel. A Creekmore Park resident who opposes the plan contended that Massie is “trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”

Massie seemed to indicate that he expects the structures to be used for retail purposes. It’s hard to see how small outlets here would succeed. In late 2006, a de facto mixed use project was rezoned on the corner of Manakin Road and Route 6, also facing strong opposition from nearby residents. No retail space was ever developed there. Mary Anne Cisne said that when West Creek Business Park was rezoned more than two decades ago, citizens were assured that all commercial development would be contained there. A commercial area further east on Route 6 has struggled to succeed.

Land fronting Route 6 backing onto Creekmore Park was zoned residential office (RO) when the residential parcels were created, but remains undeveloped.

The neighbors contend that Creekmore Road, which would be used to access the proposed development, is narrow and already overburdened with traffic.

They also contended that existing serious drainage issues in the subdivision would be exacerbated by the proposed development. Massie retorted that the land in question slopes away from Creekmore Park.

The Commissioners sided with the homeowners on this one and voted to deny recommendation for approval. They agreed that RO would be the best business use for the parcel.

A companion rezoning application for the rear portion of the parcel to create residential lots was unanimously recommended for approval following no comment during the public hearing.

These matters will move to the Board of Supervisors for another public hearing and final disposition, probably in November.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Semper Fidelis

Goochland MCJROTC color guard

From the Halls of Montezuma to the fields of Goochland High, the United States Marine Corps embodies the best of America.

On Wednesday, October 1, a unit commissioning ceremony for the Goochland High School Marine Corps Junior reserve Officers’ Training Corps ceremonially launched the program, which began at the start of the school year in August.

The current commander of Goochland American Legion Post 215, Col. Joe Wadle, USMCR, retired, acknowledged the debt Americans owe the veterans who secured the rights they take for granted. He said that the MCJROTC program came into being thanks to the vision, dedication and hard work of many people. Wadle’s involvement undoubtedly expedited deployment of the program in Goochland.

School Board Chair, Mike Payne, District 1, said that MCJROTC embodies a vision and goal of the school division’s strategic plan to inspire students to make a positive impact. The values of the Marine Corps: honor, courage, and integrity cannot be faked, contended Payne.
He gave special thanks to the Board of Supervisors for authorizing funding for the program.

Superintendent Dr. James Lane thanked all veterans and military personnel on active duty for their service. “We are proud to being the opportunity to participate in the MCJROTC program to Goochland, and inspired with a new culture in our school.”

The school division had three years to get enrollment in the program up to 75 students, yet nearly 120 students responded to the initial class.
Board of Supervisors’ Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2 explained that the MCJROTC program was highly requested by constituents he and District 2 School Board Member Kevin Hazzard met while running for office.

“This program is not about politics, it’s about promises kept,” said Alvarez. “Here, we are offering courses to build character, develop critical thinking, teamwork, and practice skills most people never get until much later in life.”

Guest of honor Col. Wesley Lee Fox, USMC (ret.) and holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is often conferred posthumously, shared sage advice. “If you’re not happy with who you are, drugs or alcohol aren’t going to change things.”

Fox encouraged young people to have a plan for their lives based on core personal values of courage and integrity.

The Quantico Marine Corps Band provided stirring music. The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, an elite unit that exemplifies Marine discipline and professionalism, performed. This drill includes a series of precision movements while handling 10.5 pound hand polished M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The ease with which these 24 Marines twirled and tossed their weapons is the result of countless hours of dedicated practice.

Enriching the high school years of Goochland students with positive role models and worthwhile activities will guide them to successful and satisfying lives. Not all students who participate in the MCJROTC will serve in the military, but the lessons they learn will help them to be good and productive citizens wherever life takes them.

Oo rah!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rock and roll

The earth moved on August 23, 2011 in central Virginia without warning and caused widespread damage. Since then we’ve been jolted with several aftershocks. There will be more.

On October 16, the Great Southeast Shakeout ( scheduled. This event, sponsored by a host of emergency preparedness/management agencies, has lessons about surviving an earthquake. The website includes links to a great deal of interesting and useful information.

Our weather of late has been relatively benign, so it’s easy to be complacent. Satellites keep a watchful eye on the weather and give plenty of advance notice of the arrival of hurricanes.

But tornadoes can pop up in the blink of an eye spawning death and destruction in their path. Remember the derecho that smashed through the region a few years ago that left downed trees and power lines in its wake?

Bordered by Interstate 64 and the CSX tracks along the James River, much of Goochland is vulnerable to a hazardous materials incident that could happen in a instant.

While September, the traditional height of hurricane season, is national preparedness month, it’s also a good time to give at least a fleeting thought to being able to take care of yourself and your family for a few days with no outside help. In a widespread emergency, first responders, the people you expect to come to your aid when you dial 911, could be overwhelmed. The ability to take care of yourself and your family is vital.

Remember the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel in 2003? High winds knocked out power to a large part of eastern Virginia for extended periods of time.

Last winter’s bitter cold and the deep snows of 2010 brought other challenges.

Grocery stores are over run the day before a storm, but what if you had no warning? As you read this, would you be able to stay where you are for three days if told to shelter in place?

Please take a few minutes as the days grow shorter, to check the batteries in your smoke alarms, find your flashlights and fire extinguishers and make sure they are in working order. Tuck a little extra non-perishable food in your pantry, and maybe some bottled water if you don’t have a generator to keep your well pump going.

As many of us range far afield from home during the workweek, it’s a good idea to designate a meeting place in the event your family is unable to get home.

For more strategies to prepare for the unexpected, visit A little foresight and common sense goes a long way to being safe not sorry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A broad brush

The phrase “another tool in the toolkit” as applied to land use is getting stale. However, the notion that zoning policy should be flexible to ensure appropriate--not restrictive or runaway--growth and development is a good thing.

Goochland’s Planning Commissioners have begun work on the regular five year update to the county’s comprehensive land use plan (comp plan) mandated by the state.

The existing plan is basically sound, but way too complicated. Some policies are not supported with zoning ordinances. (See the planning section of the county website for the entire 2028 comp plan.)

In the spring of 2007, the last comp plan review got off to a rousing start with well-attended community meetings all over the county. Citizen made substantive and thoughtful comments about how and where Goochland should grow.

Just after Thanksgiving that year, when folks were focused on holiday activities, a draft comp plan that allegedly addressed citizen insights was presented at a second set of poorly attended meetings. No further action was taken on the 2028 comp plan until 2009, when the administration was reeling from the utilities mess and the sudden retirement of the county administrator. As approved, the 2028 comp plan contained provisions not previously discussed in public.

This time around, with a different board of supervisors, planning commission, and many new additions to the planning staff, the goal of the comp plan review is to craft a streamlined, high level document that will be supported by detailed zoning ordinances.

If the comp plan is to be used as a “guide” in land use decisions, broad goals and policies are needed rather than “weedy” details.
Indeed, the first comp plan revision of the 21st century included details about the width of sidewalks and street grids in the Oilville Village. Since then, new development in the Oilville Village has consisted of a nice, but cookie cutter residential community and an attractive strip shopping center that do not connect to each other.

The intent for this go round is to paint land use goals with a broad brush, letting comprehensive zoning ordinances spell out the details of things like sidewalk width, setbacks, landscaping requirements, and so forth.

To that end, the planning commissioners have been holding workshop sessions to address one section of the comp plan at a time.
On September 4, the planning commission discussed land use/village/community character goals and strategies.

In general, Goochland’s comp plan has been based on a “village concept” that strives to encourage growth inside of areas designated as villages to keep the dreaded sprawl out of the countryside and preserve the rural character.

Results of the 2010 census indicated that growth was spread evenly throughout the county, so maybe the village concept needs a bit of tweaking.
Instead of swaddling goals and strategies in dense layers of text, staff used bullet points for suggested revisions.

The first, and probably most important goal, is balanced growth, aiming for a 70/30 tax base ratio of residential to commercial use. This includes targeting major villages, Centerville, Courthouse, and, if it ever gets utilities, Oilville, for growth. Although there has been a fair amount of residential development, especially in the northeast part of the county, connected to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, balanced growth urges that water and sewer be reserved for commercial and industrial use.

Another suggestion is to change the designation of Crozier, Hadensville, Georges Tavern/Fife, and probably Sandy Hook, from village to “rural crossroad community.” This would recognize the reality that limited commercial activity providing services to the immediate area will be the extent of growth in these locations for the next few decades.
Manakin and Oilville will be classified as emerging villages, whose further development will be driven by expansion of public utilities and demand.
Identified as a gateway to the county, Centerville is expected to be the epicenter of growth and development in the next five years. The county seat, Courthouse Village, is also designated as a major village, but growth there will be restrained by limited water and sewer and road access.
Suggestions for updating the Centerville section include: reviewing the overlay district regulations and changing if necessary; installation of street trees, sidewalks, distinctive lighting and street furniture; underground utilities; construction of service roads north and south of Broad Street; and concentration of commercial use on Broad Street in the “village center.”

The goal is to create an environment conducive to “high quality” development. This is where the McDonald’s detractors howl that all is lost because “off the rack” design templates for fast food emporiums will be allowed to circumvent design standards because they will contribute lots of tax revenue to the county coffers. The Taco Bell in the planning stages supports this thesis.

The protests that McDonald’s is desecrating the rural beauty of the Centerville Village, a commercial area with a gracious plenty of cinder block buildings, seems a bit ingenuous. However, it would be nice if, going forward landscaping requirements include evergreens to provide all season screening.

The concurrent discussion about the possibility of some sort of mixed use zoning—no decisions have yet been made—is important to Centerville development. A carefully designed mixed use project, with density appropriate for a ruralish location, would set a high bar for subsequent development to emulate. This would be market driven.

Rural enhancement areas, pretty much everything outside of a designated village, encourage agricultural and related uses. Residential enclaves here should be low density.
Perhaps the most interesting factoid presented at this workshop, according to Coleman, is that there is a movement to define “Manakin-Sabot” as a specific community within the zip code. It would encompass the gracious estates of the equestrian heartland along Manakin Road, Millers Lane and environs that have long been lumped in with Kinloch, Broad Run and The Meadows. While elegant in their own right, these uber upscale residential communities have a very different feel from the rest of horse country.

According to Coleman, this was the result of the recent kerfuffle over a proposal to transform a horse farm into a large worship center.
Over the next few months, more workshops will take place. Expect discussion about the comp plan at next month’s round of town hall meetings. Both the planning commission and supervisors will hold at least one public hearing on the comp plan revisions before they are approved, probably during the summer of 2015. This is the time to pay attention to land use matters.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Treading carefully

Goochland County's current supervisors have had a busy few years and they still have much to do. 
After Labor Day, they began to delve into the possibilities of mixed use and higher density residential zoning. To be clear, no decisions have been made. As "balanced development that contributes to the welfare of the community and preserves its rural character" is a declared goal of the recently approved strategic plan, this discussion is timely.

Before its September 2 meeting, the Board gathered with members of the planning commission for a discussion on the matter that included a background presentation by planning staff.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission held its own workshop on the update of the county's comprehensive land use plan following its September 4 meeting. The confluence of the two initiatives is a very positive development. If all goes well, the comp plan will designate areas appropriate for certain  kinds of development, which will be supported by zoning ordinances.

The eastern part of Goochland has been designated as a "growth" area for a generation. Until "Beautiful Downtown Short Pump" became reality, significant growth in Goochland seemed like wishful thinking.

While Centerville has many of the elements--roads and public utilities--to support commercial, high density residential use, there are no zoning options in place to make this possible. The row crops and grazing cows along Broad Street are not rural character props, but exist because there are few land use options there.
In early 2012, the supervisors approved a proposal for multifamily housing limited to 60 acres in West Creek. This paved the way for the 30 or so acre upscale apartment complex, The Retreat, just coming online opposite Wawa. West Creek still has approval for multifamily housing of some sort for the remainder. To date, no other plans for multifamily housing in West Creek have been made public.
Higher density housing could mean lower cost homes, which are in short supply for our deputies, teachers, and fire-rescue providers. School Superintendent Dr. James Lane contends that the high price of homes in Goochland can be a barrier to retaining good teachers, who prefer to live in the community they serve, if they can afford to. Options for seniors to stay in Goochland when they downsize are also limited.

Moving land from agricultural to business or residential use increases its value, which in turn, raises revenue. Downside consequences of higher density development is congestion, an increased demand for government services, and loss of the county's rural feel.

Balancing the benefits of more intense development versus the cost is a very delicate task. Indeed, the cost of building new schools to accommodate incoming families and hiring additional deputies and fire-rescue providers could easily outstrip the amount of additional tax revenue.

The notion of mixed use--allowing one or more different land uses on the same parcel--is relatively straightforward. The possible manifestations are many.
In its simplest form, mixed use exists when the proprietor of a business "lives over the store." Urban high rises with varied uses, or large, master planned complexes that contain several types of residential, office, industrial, and retail in "bays" in close proximity are other examples. Matt Ryan, Director of Economic Development, discussed existing mixed use projects in Central Virginia, which ranged from Oyster Point in Newport News to an eight acre version in Powhatan with 48 apartments and 107,000 square feet of retail space.

The question that the supervisors and planning commissioners are wrangling with is "what kind of mixed use is appropriate for Goochland?"

County administrator Rebecca Dickson explained that the supervisors, in general, desire to be able to accommodate some type of "mixed use product" as a general concept, not focused on a particular parcel of land. Only Centerville and Courthouse Village are served by public water and sewer, a necessity for high density residential communities.

West Broad Village in Short Pump has been both lauded and panned for its approach to mixed use. Originally touted as an option for young professionals and empty nesters, WBV has instead, become a mecca for young families.

Currently, the maximum residential density allowed in Goochland, outside of West Creek. Is 2.5 units per acre in residential planned unit development (RPUD) zoning. Coleman said that there are currently 648 dwelling units in the Centerville Village. An additional 193 homes are in some stage of the building process as The Parke at Saddle Creek and The Retreat. Two other subdivisions, which have received zoning approval but not started to build, Reader's Branch and Swanson Ridge, will add another 306 homes in the Centerville Village. 

The Parke at Saddle Creek is a de facto mixed use because the southeast corner of Manakin and Broad is zoned for commercial use, just waiting for someone to come along and develop it. Currently, it is used as a mulch yard.
There are five parcels of undeveloped land in the Centerville Village's Broad Street Road corridor of 20 or more acres, which could be lend themselves to mixed use of some sort.

Ned Creasey, District 3, said that he would like to know what higher density uses, housing in particular, will cost in county services like law enforcement, schools, and fire-rescue, in relation to expected revenue.

Some supervisors said they would like to see what developers want to do before they approve an ordinance. Dickson explained that developers will not submit plans without an ordinance in place "to design around." Indeed, drawing a master plan for a mixed use project is an expensive proposition.   Developers want a fair shot at approval before  committing their money.

Ken Peterson, District 5, said that a strategic plan goal is to provide a variety of housing types while maintaining a fiscally responsible revenue base without overwhelming county services. "How do we do that?" He asked, articulating the crux of the matter.

Planning Commission Chair Joe Andrews, District 4, contended that details should be spelled out in ordinances and not left to the vagaries of the Design Review Committee or staff interpretation.  "Developers  need to know what is expected of them upfront, they don't like surprises. The more everyone understands the rules, the better, Andrews declared.

Coleman said that the Board needs to decide how much commercial development is enough because developers need to know what is mandatory versus what is preferred.

After obtaining a general consensus from the supervisors and commissioners to move forward with the investigation of how mixed use zoning could work in Goochland, Dickson said that staff will bring back some possible mixed use applications--remember this is still in the early discussion stage, no decisions have been made--for further discussion.

In the coming months, higher density development in Centerville will get a lot of scrutiny by the supervisors. Given the outstanding Tuckahoe Creek Service District debt and growth pressures, it is inevitable that some sort of "mixed use product" will emerge. It is important that the citizenry pay attention to what is going on here. The supervisors seem very wary of multifamily housing--apartments-- even though, so far, according to Dickson, The Retreat had added no children to the school division.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Summer's end

The Goochland Board of Supervisors had no public hearings, or evening session, at its September 2 meeting, but addressed some important ongoing issues.

After about a year of discussion and digesting citizen feedback, the Board adopted its strategic plan. It is posted, in its entirety, on the county website, The final version contains a great deal of good information about the county and assumptions going forward. It is interesting to note that Goochland’s population skews toward the older and more affluent, but, as yet, no upscale retirement communities are located in the county.

Supervisors expressed satisfaction with the adopted strategic plan, but contend that it is a fluid document and expect it to change over time.
The next round of town hall meetings has been scheduled for October. There will be a session in each of the county’s five districts providing an opportunity to discuss items of interest with supervisors and school board members. A wide range of topics, not just schools, are covered. The strategic plan, as well as the upcoming review of the county’s comprehensive land use plan will be on the agenda.
During citizen comment, Rhona Blank of Randolph Square expressed deep concern about the possible closure of the River Road Bridge over Tuckahoe Creek for an extended period of repair next spring. She explained that she has medical issues, which sometimes result in the need for emergency medical service transport to a Henrico hospital. Thanks to a mutual aid agreement with Henrico, ambulances from Station 17 near the corner of Gaskins and River Road, about 1.2 miles from Blank’s home, often respond to emergencies there. Manakin Company 1 is not staffed 24/7 and is farther away.

Blank said that, should the bridge be closed, area residents would use Blair Road, whose inadequacy for heavy traffic has been a sore subject for years. She contended that the increased EMS response time to Randolph Square could result in life threatening situations.

According to Blank, VDOT—the state agency whose motto is “Oops!”—claims that the total closure of the bridge during repairs saves about $385,000 and five months versus closing one late at a time. If VDOT had used the appropriate turn lane template for the southbound Manakin/Broad corner a few years back and not had to build the corner twice, the money it didn’t spend there could be used to close the River Road bridge one lane at a time.

In other VDOT news, representatives are working with residents of Elm Creek Drive in Manakin to restore that road to the way it was before “improvements” that no one believed necessary made their lives miserable. Had this agency never heard of the adage “measure twice, cut once?”
Marshall Winn, the VDOT spokesperson, said that the Ashland Road culvert repair is expected to be advertised for bid in December, with work to start as soon as practical. He also said that VDOT is looking in to beefing up the pavement on St. Mathew’s Lane so it may be used as an alternate detour during those repairs.

In a sane world, some of the equipment deployed in the widening project for Interstate 64 would be diverted to repair the Ashland Road culvert as soon as possible.

Winn also reported that a speed study on Hockett Road does not indicate a need for a change in the speed limit.
There will be a rabies clinic at the corner of Sandy Hook and Fairground Road on Saturday, October 11 from 9 to 12. The fee is $8.00 per dog or cat.

The supervisors formally adopted the county’s legislative agenda, essentially Goochland’s stance on a laundry list of items, for the 2015 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Subjects include: sludge, its application and possible ill effects; the bridge to connect Ridgefield Parkway in Henrico with Tuckahoe Creek Parkway in West Creek; expansion of the Department of Corrections water tank; expedited SOL retakes; and elimination of the requirement for the school year to begin after Labor Day. See the board packet for the complete list. Perhaps the most important are objections to unfunded mandates and granting counties the same ability to tax as cities.

The initial report from the Rural Economic Development Committee (REDC) was presented. The goal of this group is to make it easier to operate small, agriculture related enterprises. Initial recommendations include: definition of certain agricultural practices to being them into agreement with state code; creation of a rural plan of development; simplify and reduce fees in the permitting process; allow chickens, no roosters, to be kept in rural residential and rural preservation zoning district.

Discussion on this initiative will continue in coming months.

A couple of years ago, state law was changed to ease the procedure to add or delete parcels from a service district, like our very own beloved Tuckahoe Creek Service District. Indeed, parcels on the north side of Tuckahoe Creek Parkway have already been added to the TCSD in exchange for infrastructure improvements. The supervisors discussed proposed amendments to the existing ordinance. A public hearing on the matter will be held at the board’s November 5 meeting.

The western TCSD boundary will be Hermitage Road. Parcels may be added at any time but can exit only every two years, beginning in September 2016. The changes will bring the ordinances into alignment with existing practices and clarify connections fees and clearly delineates which lines are to be built by the TCSD and which are the responsibility of landowners. The intent is to balance loss of revenue from parcels leaving with those of equal or greater value being added to ensure that debt service requirements are met.

A request to lease space on the Centerville water tower for cell phone use by Verizon Wireless was discussed. The supervisors, who read and seemed to understand the contract, expressed concern about some of the provisions.

Ken Peterson, District 5 was troubled by a first refusal clause that could be used by Verizon to block co location by another carrier. The matter will be researched by staff and brought back to the board in October.