Monday, June 9, 2014

June highlights

Goochland’s Board of Supervisors worked its way through a routine agenda for its June 3 meeting, last of the 2014 fiscal year.

Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, announced that sessions for public input on the draft county strategic plan will be held on June 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. in the Board meeting room of the county administration building at 1800 Sandy Hook Road in Courthouse Village. He encouraged all county residents to attend. Comments about the plan may also be submitted to your supervisor. (The plan is on the county website This Board really does want to hear from you. A lot of thought and work has gone into this initiative, please take a look and share your thoughts.

Alvarez also reported that the Board expressed opposition to the use of industrial bio solids in Goochland County to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Although localities have no power to stop the practice, the supervisors felt it important to officially comment on the matter.

Dr. Gary Rhodes, President of Reynolds Community College-- formerly known as J. Sergeant Reynolds—made his annual report to the supervisors. The institution’s rebranding also changed the name of the local branch from the “Western” Campus to the “Goochland” Campus. No indication that the college is going to get rid of those awful flashing signs.

Rhodes characterized the community college as the “on ramp” to higher education, a place where students not quite ready for the climate of a four year college can get up to speed before entering the mainstream. This, Rhodes contended, fosters a successful educational experience.

Another feature of Reynolds is that students can start their higher education there and save money. Programs that ensure admittance to four year state colleges also help students complete their education.

The partnership between Goochland High School and Reynolds allows students to obtain college credits while still in high school. A new program will even allow eligible students to earn a two year college degree concurrently with a high school diploma.
Rhodes thanked the Board for appointing Goochland Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Lane to the Reynolds board. Lane is the first local school official to serve in this capacity, said Rhodes, and his participation adds a positive dynamic.

During the monthly report from VDOT—the state agency whose motto is “Oops!—Ken Peterson, District 5, asked if bike lanes would be included in the upcoming replacement for the River Road bridge over Tuckahoe Creek. Peterson said that the existing bridge is too narrow to safely accommodate both motor vehicle and bicycles. As the number of cyclists on all roads in Central Virginia is expected to dramatically increase he advocated inclusion of extra lane space to mitigate the hazardous conditions. The VDOT representative was unable to respond to Peterson’s query.

County Director of Economic Development Matt Ryan presented a progress report on the Rural Economic Development Committee (REDC,) which was formed last fall. Unfortunately, the data Ryan presented on the economic impact of agriculture and related enterprises included the entire Commonwealth instead of focusing on Goochland.

The REDC was created to explore potential for nurturing businesses that reflect the rural nature of Goochland that everyone seems to want to protect. Ryan said that one of the biggest challenges faced by the REDC was defining rural.

Finding a regulatory balance that does not require a small seasonal business to jump through the same hoops as a large corporation was seen as needed to encourage small, agriculturally based businesses. Ryan said that a full report, including some specific recommendations, will be presented in the summer.

Going forward, the supervisors will need to exercise great care to protect property rights of all landowners.

A summary of land use applications indicated that a Taco Bell is in the works for the parcel of land next to the soon-to-open McDonald’s in Centerville. No, this is not a surprise. When the proffers for Broadview Shopping Center were changed a few years back, the intention to locate two fast food restaurants on the outparcels was clearly expressed. Perhaps this will create the critical mass of traffic to convince VDOT to signalize the Hockett/St. Matthew’s/Rt. 250 intersection.

John Wack, Deputy County Administrator for Finance, shared the good news that the county managed the citizens’ money well and, barring unseen events, will end the fiscal year with a surplus of about $5.4 million. The supervisors approved amendments to the FY2014 budget to reallocate the remainder.

Among the reallocations were $500,000 to a revenue stabilization reserve, a “rainy day” fund to even out shortfalls in lean times, and an additional $1.8 million to build a new fire-rescue station at Hadensville. (See board packet for all the numbers.)

According to Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay, the approximately $220 per square foot cost of the new station, which will be a pre-engineered structure, is less than similar buildings in other jurisdictions. The 12,000 or so square foot station will include vehicle storage, meeting rooms, dormitories, showers, living quarters, and, we hope, a kitchen that does not have a brush truck parked in it.

MacKay said that site work, engineering, and architectural services are costly. As the new, improved Company 6, is considered “critical infrastructure” because it can serve as an emergency shelter, it must meet seismic resistance building code standards, which also add to the cost. Initially, the onetime approximately $2.5 million windfall the county reaped by moving to semi-annual personal property tax was set aside for the new Hadensville station. MacKay said that an initial estimate put the cost around $3.9 million. The project will be put out to bid in the fall.

Director of Information Services Qiana Foote shared progress on the county website update, which is long overdue for renovation. Foote explained that the initiative includes rebranding, with a new county logo and color scheme for use on all documents, signage, and the website. Foote expects the site to be complete by June 1, 2015.

The goal is to make the site informative, attractive, and easy to navigate, and provide fast downloads for internet users in all parts of the county. The site is expected to be interactive and have a search engine. It will include a frequently asked question for each department and allow online tracking of things like permits. The site will be expandable so it can grow with the county. The amount budgeted for this task is $50,000.

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