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 www.co.goochland.va.us 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 glnd.k12.va.us 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!