Thursday, January 16, 2014
On to 2014
Goochland supervisors started 2014 with a full day of meetings. Beginning at 9:30 on a frigid January 7, they worked on the strategic plan with consultant Lori Strumpf. They are getting closer to a final product, which will be presented to the citizens before adoption. Discussion about the plan reveals that this board holds Goochland County and its people in high regard. They want to put policies in place to ensure that the high weird dysfunction of all will not return.
At the start of the afternoon session, the board recognized George Gill--who with wife Carol, recently relocated to Kentucky—for his years of community involvement, most recently as the president of Goochland Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Gill was also instrumental in the Goochland Leadership Enterprise, Rotary and served on the Board of Zoning Appeals. His presence will be missed.
John Wack, deputy county administrator for finance, reported that the real estate assessments will be mailed on January 15. The total taxable assessments for the entire county rose about 3.8 percent. Property owners have until February 15 to appeal assessments. Instructions for appeal are included in the assessment notice.
The current assessment values all land in Goochland at $4.21 billion, 82.5 percent residential and 17.5 percent commercial. (For details including valuation of new construction and land use see Part A of the board packet on the county website www.co.goochland.va.us)
Mike Cade, administrator for the VDOT Residency in Ashland, which oversees all road matters in Goochland, was asked about the recent study that found no need for a traffic signal at the Hockett Rd./Rt. 250 intersection by newly elected board chair Manuel Alvarez,Jr. District 2. Cade explained that the data in the warrant study, which was about three years old, included only incidents with damage in excess of $5,000. Alvarez asked that all crash data be gathered from Goochland records and used to verify the decision.
In response to a question about installing a four way stop at that notorious Centerville corner from District 4 Supervisor Bob Minnick, Cade explained that VDOT does not favor that method of traffic control. He contended that four way stops tend to increase the incidence of “rear ending.”
Minnick observed that as traffic in Centerville increases, Goochland needs to be ahead of the curve and find a short term resolution to the problem. Cade said that a realignment of Hockett Road to connect with Ashland Road is probably the best long term solution. He promised to consult with VDOT engineers for other options.
The board voted to amend the fiscal year 2014 budget to fund $1.6 million of school capital improvement projects. These include: a field house addition; career and technical center renovations; security upgrades at Byrd and Randolph elementary schools; security cameras at the high schoo, and engineering for upcoming items. The funds were reserved from the 2013 fiscal year.
A zoning ordinance amendment to define "data center" and include it as a permitted use was referred to the Planning Commission for review at its February meeting. As a portion of West Creek was recently approved as a location for a data center it is vital that the county have zoning in place to support this use to entice data center operators to Goochland. One drawback to development here is the lack of ready-to-go sites.
Following a short and amiable public hearing, the supervisors unanimously approved a new ordinance governing companion animals that constitute a public nuisance. After several iterations of proposed ordinance and many hours of meetings and discussions with owners of hunting dogs, show dogs, and service dogs, agreement was reached on mutually acceptable language. The new ordinance includes civil penalties to address grievances caused by irresponsible animal owners.
County attorney Norman Sales assured hunters of nocturnal animals that their activities would not be affected by the revised law.
Alvarez said that a companion zoning ordinance that addresses permitted locations for kennels will be taken up by the supervisors later this year.
The care taken to ensure that this ordinance provides a means to address irresponsible animal owners without punishing conscientious ones shows that these supervisors listen to the citizens and value their input on policy issues. The board thanked everyone who contributed time and insight to craft the ordinance and encouraged them to remain engaged in local government.
The board's long day—more than twelve hours—ended with a workshop on the capital improvement plan that lists projects hoped to be funded in the next six years. Items on the list include vehicles, parks, a new circuit courthouse, and an elementary school. It appropriates funds on an annual basis until a goal is met or another funding source identified. This also provides a good picture of the county’s indebtedness with respect to the general fund and helps the supervisors plan for financial needs.
The CIP will be revised before its adoption during the budget process.
To get an idea of the thought processes involved in crafting the CIP, listen to the recording of this workshop available on the county website.
Integrity, ingenuity, and industry guide our county’s leadership these days.
The board adjourned until the morning of Wednesday, January 22 for a budget workshop.