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.


Anonymous said...

You mentioned use of the equipment on I 64 being used by VDOT to make repairs. The equipment on I 64 does not belong to VDOT as the company doing the roadwork is the owner.....

S. E. Warwick said...

Of course the equipment does not belong to VDOT and cannot be diverted to another use. The entire process of letting contracts and building roads has gotten so complicated that it is a wonder anything gets done.
After the "miscalculation" by VDOT engineers, presumably in a bunker in an undisclosed location, that resulted in the need for a do over on the southern end of the Manakin/Broad corner a few years back, it's hard to believe it has any idea how to build roads.