Monday, August 10, 2015

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

While many folks were worrying if the SPF number on their sunscreen was high enough as they enjoyed summer vacation, Goochland County's elected and appointed officials were hard at work doing the people's business.

At their August 4 meeting, the supervisors dealt with routine matters in the afternoon. These included remarks by Board Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1 stating that details of credit cards used by county employees will be part of the online check registers posted on the county website The school division has been doing this for a while and the board decided it would add to fiscal transparency.

Road construction projects underway that have closed portions of River Road at the Henrico County Line and Ashland Road between I64 and Broad Street Road are progressing at, or perhaps ahead of schedule.

The supervisors voted to endorse support for funding for road improvements at Ashland Road and I 64; Rt. 288 and Broad Street Road; and West Creek Parkway and Route 6.

The Board and Economic Development Authority held a working dinner meeting to discuss the role of the EDA, county economic development; and how the two groups can work together to support existing businesses in the county and attract new ones.

Matt Ryan, the county's director of economic development presented an update.  The announcement last month that Hardywood Craft Brewery will build a $28 million facility in West Creek is just part of the picture. In early July, the supervisors approved a rezoning that will result in construction of a memory care facility on the south side of Broad Street Road on the Henrico line. Both of these projects will pay ad valorem tax to service the TCSD debt and use lots of water and sewer to increase the user base for the county utility system.

Ryan said that the Hardywood announcement spurred interest in West Creek. He also discussed  the challenges that Goochland faces in the local economic development market. Right now, he said, there is something of an office space glut in the region, which is resulting in attractive pricing for existing space. However, looking into the future, Ryan speculated that, as long term  leases in places like Innsbrook expire, companies will be looking for newer, class A space. At that point, office buildings in West Creek might be more attractive. He also expressed confidence that some prospects "in the hopper"  will bear fruit.

As the county has no inventory of existing office, or warehouse space, it is hard to attract companies with no interest in building. 
District 5 Supervisor Ken Peterson pointed out that, as Norfolk is one of the few eastern seaboard ports able to accommodate the larger Panamax cargo ships coming on line.  Items arrive here by the container load that need to be remixed for truck transport to customers.  Goochland, with access much of the east coast and midwest  via I64 and Route 288 would seem to be an ideal location for this activity. 

The two groups agreed to work with Ryan and other county staff members to meet with existing businesses in the county to learn what kind of support they want and need.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson said that the Department of Community Development is trying to keep ahead of the staffing curve to ensure that there are enough people to provide the permits, inspections, and other things needed to speed the establishment of new businesses in the county.

To that end, during the afternoon session, the Board authorized Dickson to sign a contract for design services to improve the efficiency of the Community Development space in the county administration building.

Following a public hearing at the evening session, the supervisors unanimously approved the proposed 2035 comprehensive land use plan with two modifications to the draft plan. Both changes affect the Bellview Gardens community. Th draft plan contained specific buffer distances between Bellview Gardens and any adjacent development. As no development is contemplated qt this time, the supervisors acceded to a request to change the wording to  an "appropriate" buffer, which could be more or less distance than specified, or take the form of a berm or other barrier, to be determined in reference to specific conditions. A proposed road shown in a map of Centerville, that ran between Bellview Gardens and Board Street Road, was removed from the plan.

The supervisors are mindful--and rightfully so--of the need to protect this residential enclave from encroachment of undesirable development as much as possible. Property rights of homeowners must be protected.

Another provision of the 2035 comp plan is creation of the  "Deep Run Hunt Community,"
which will also offer protection against inappropriate development in the equestrian heart of Goochland. Indeed, Peterson remarked that a lot of the time, effort, and heartache expended in the past few years to repel a cell tower and large church from this community could have saved had this provision been in the 2028  comp plan.

All of the supervisors heartily thanked Principal Planner Jo Anne Hunter, who headed the comp plan revision, county staff, and the planning commission for their hard work and commitment to crafting the new plan.

Dickson said that the next step is revision of all zoning ordinances to support the plan.

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