Thursday, April 10, 2014

April showers

Goochland County’s Board of Supervisors held its April meeting on the rainy Monday of the seventh. Following a strategic plan workshop—the board seems intent on getting this right, not just finished—routine matters of local government were addressed.

Jonathan Lyle, one of Goochland’s intrepid Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District Directors, reported that Goochland was mentioned in a Style Weekly story about the AMC Revolutionary War spy drama Turn that was filmed, at least in part, in the county. ( Lyle suggested that Goochland contact the Virginia Film Office to expand business and employment opportunities in the future. He contended that location shoots could bring money and positive attention to Goochland.

Proclamations recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and April 26- May 3 as Hunger Awareness Week were read and unanimously adopted.

The Board passed a resolution urging the governor and General Assembly to pass a timely budget for the Commonwealth so that local governments can operate. Our state politicians lose sight of the fact that their inaction has widespread consequences in the everyday lives of citizens.

The post of county assessor has been vacant since the start of 2014 following the retirement of Glenn Branham. To ensure that statutory requirements are met, the supervisors voted to appoint Commissioner of the Revenue Jeanne Bryant as interim assessor. This arrangement will end when a permanent assessor is hired. Recruitment efforts, which have been ongoing since Brenham’s departure, will continue, said County Administrator Rebecca Dickson.

Senior Management and Projects Analyst Paul Drumwright presented an update on efforts to extend broadband availability to the entire county. The Goochland High Speed Internet Committee, which gathered baseline information and some possibilities for broadband deployment, “went out of business” a while ago. Since then, said Drumwright, some members have continued to pursue remedies for parts of the county that, “suffer from abominable broadband service.”

These include construction of additional cell towers; meeting with Comcast and Verizon to explore the cost of extending fiber to points like the new Hadensville fire-rescue station, Midpoint Industrial Park, Byrd School and the Fife fire-rescue station to ease the way for other providers; seeking ways to attract private sector interest in the area; and investigating the FCCs rural broadband experiments. They are also keeping up with technological developments in this area. See part A of the board packet on the county website for details.)

Board chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, reported that, after extensive negotiations and homeowners paying part of the infrastructure cost, Comcast will be available to 120 homes in the Mill Forest Community in Sandy Hook. Mill Forest homeowners used strategies employed by Somerset and Fox Downs.

In the evening, public hearings were held on the proposed tax rates for calendar year 2014; the county administrator’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015; and the six year capital improvement plan (CIP). Except for the machine and tool tax rate, which is proposed to be lowered to $1 per $100 of valuation, no rate changes are proposed. No action was taken, but these matters will be voted on at an April 21 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m.

The board meeting room was filled with citizens supporting a $500,000 item in the CIP earmarked for the reuse of Central High School. A petition in support of the project signed by more than 300 people who live in all five county districts was presented to the supervisors by Patricia Keel.

Alvarez said that meetings will be held in the near future, probably at the school, to determine the best use of the property.
Following another public hearing, the supervisors unanimously approved a 15 year conditional use permit for Virginia Equine PLLC to operate an equine veterinary practice at 1994 Shallow Well Road. Goochland is horse country, what better way to keep things rural?

The board ended it meeting by going into closed session to discuss plan of development enforcement with County Attorney Norman Sales.

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