Thursday, February 5, 2015
The February 3 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors lacked the drama that extended January public hearings into the wee hours of the next day. Most of the day—the supervisors started in the morning—was taken up with budget presentations and other housekeeping matters.
A scheduled public hearing on a conditional use permit application to allow construction of a 199 foot cell tower on land near Millers Lane was cancelled when the applicant, Pegasus Tower, withdrew its application.
Following the announcement of the withdrawal at the afternoon session, County Attorney Norman Sales explained that the applicant may refile for the CUP, starting the at any time. Had the supervisors held the hearing and voted to deny the CUP, Pegasus would have had to wait 12 months before trying again.
Speakers during the citizen comments in the afternoon and evening sessions implored the supervisors to find a way to bring some sort of affordable high speed internet capacity throughout the county.
A Mr. O’Hare contended that, without broadband access, Crozier is an “economic desert.” Indeed, almost every building there seems to be vacant and for sale. O’Hare explained that when a business that had been operating in Crozier was driven out in search of better intent access, it took five high paying jobs with it. On top of all that, O’Hare said that the assessed valuation on his property, which has been on the market for some time, rose a bit more than two percent.
Later in the meeting, Paul Drumwright, Senior Management and Project Analyst presented a broadband update. He reviewed presentations made at the January meeting by other entities engaged in trying to expand broadband in rural areas. (See the January board packet on the county website www.co.goochland.va.us for details.)
In essence, Goochland is still searching for an effective and cost-effective way to deploy broadband throughout the county. Cost and regulations are the primary obstacles.
District 2 supervisor Manuel Alvarez, Jr., who chaired the Goochland High Speed Internet Committee (GHSIC) a few years ago, explained that there is a lot of fiber optic cable, including along Rt. 6 through Crozier, in the ground here. That cable operates a little like an interstate highway for through traffic. Construction of “on ramps” to access the fiber is essentially prohibited by cost and regulation.
The county continues to monitor all initiatives in this area, including use of “white space,” the frequencies between television channels, for broadband. Ideally, the county would like to encourage private companies to invest in connecting all of Goochland.
Drumwright reported that equipment on the new cell tower in Crozier is expected to be “live” in March. Work to put antennas on the tower on Triple Estates Lane near Randolph School is expected to begin next summer and be operational in about a year. Remember, this was the tower that was “urgently” needed almost two years ago.
Perhaps Goochland needs to adopt a new policy requiring cell towers to be up and running within a small time frame, weather permitting, after CUP approval or quickly removed at the expense of the tower owner.
The supervisors approved a resolution endorsing a certificate of need and construction of an outpatient surgery facility as part of the MEDARVA complex in the Notch opposite Wawa. This would be like the Stony Point Surgery Center.
Fire-rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that a third 24/7/365 paid EMS crew will be in place in the next few weeks. Coverage at the other three county fire-rescue stations will depend on the availability of volunteer crews.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hadensville Company 6 fire-rescue station is scheduled for Saturday, February 21 at 2 p.m. The site is on the south side of Route 250 in Hadensville. Citizens are welcome to attend.
The first round of town hall meetings for 2015 will be held in March as follows: District 5, Wednesday, March 18, 7:00 p.m., Manakin Fire-Rescue Station(5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. informational session on Tuckahoe Creek Service District) • District 4, Thursday, March 19, 7:00 p.m., Grace Chinese Baptist Church (5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. informational session on Tuckahoe Creek Service District) • District 1, Wednesday, March 25, 7:00 p.m., Byrd Elementary School • Districts 2 & 3, Thursday, March 26, 7:00 p.m., Central High School Gymnasium.
A community meeting about the Broad Street and Ashland Road Corridor Transportation Plan will be held on March 11, 2015, 7:00 p.m. at the Centerville Fire-Rescue Station.
The committee for the future use of Central High School was appointed. County administrator Rebecca Dickson thanked Frances Anderson for helping to identify potential members and pulling the committee together. Those appointed are: members selected by the community: Ruth Johnson; Gloria Turner; William Henson; Virginia Robinson; Teresa Howell; Sekou Shabaka – NAACP; Calvin Hopkins – Rosenwald School (Non-Profit); alternates selected by the community: Kellen Jones; Dot Ruqus; Etta Brown; members selected by the County: Sally Graham - Goochland Free Clinic & Family Services; Debra MacKay – Community Member; Kimberly Jefferson – Goochland County Social Services; Derek Stamey – Goochland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities; Dr. James Lane – Goochland County Public Schools, Dr. Peter Gretz(as an alternate for Dr. Lane); Keisha Carroll – Goochland Recreation Advisory Commission (RAC); Bonnie Creasey – Goochland Chamber of Commerce ;Jennifer Layton – Community Member. Staff to the Committee: Rebecca Dickson – County Administrator; Paul Drumwright – Senior Management & Projects Analyst; Matthew Ryan – Economic Development Director; and John Wack – Deputy County Administrator.
Board Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1 said the Central High School project is an excellent example of what makes Goochland a great place to live. She thanked everyone on the committee for their interest in the committee and said she “can’t wait to see” the results of this community collaboration.