Monday, April 25, 2016

Our little corner of the world

Volunteers, including Goochland Sheriff James L.Agnew, pedaled for 12 hours on April 13 to raise funds so second graders can learn to swim at the Goochland YMCA

Anyone who’s lived in Goochland for more than a minute knows it’s a special place. Some days it seems like every one of our approximately 22,000 residents, except those who are “guests’ of the Commonwealth, is out doing something to boost the community.

Goochland Schools recently received the Governor’s Volunteerism Award from Gov. McAuliffe after having been nominated by Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS), a volunteer jewel in its own right.

Pitching in to is nothing new to Goochlanders.

Perhaps the most basic, and vital, example goes back to 1952 when Goochland Volunteer Fire-Rescue was founded. Though dwindling in number, our fire-rescue volunteers devote untold amounts of their time and impressive talent to save lives and protect property in Goochland. They are well-trained, highly skilled, and dedicated; we are grateful for their service.

There are many other examples.

The Friends of the Goochland Branch Library fought for years to obtain larger quarters for Goochland’s only public library, in spite of a Board of Supervisors who seemed to believe that the existing library, crammed into an unsuitable old bank building, was perfectly adequate to meet community needs. (Rumors that these supervisors were functionally illiterate were never proven.)

Undaunted, the Friends lobbied the General Assembly and raised their own funds until the supervisors relented. Nevertheless, the folks who declared that it would be a cold day in Hades when Goochland got a new library had the last laugh. In fact, the day the community turned out to move the books from the old library to the new was exceptionally frigid.

Church groups and those who help out with local sports activities, GYAA and GUSA to name two, help kids learn valuable lessons that equip them with tools to thrive wherever life’s path takes them and have fun to boot. Scouting is strong in the county thanks to dedicated volunteers.

Shalom Farms on Rockcastle Road ( grows food for the inner city with volunteers helping with the work. This not only enhances nutrition for the economically challenged, it provides an opportunity for people, especially children, to learn where food comes from.

Volunteers with the Goochland Historical Society use their skills and interests to preserve area history and share it with the community. They are partnering with the county to restore the old jail and enhance the Courthouse green.
In return for the horticultural education Goochland-Powhatan Master Gardeners receive in their training program, they volunteer to share their knowledge with the community.

The Friends of Goochland Parks work to improve and promote county parks. It was instrumental in the creation of Tucker Park at Maidens Crossing and its continuing evolution into a recreational jewel for Goochland.

The Chamber of Commerce provides a mechanism for local businesses to network and support each other to enhance the county’s economy.
Our Rotary Club ( participates in good works locally and globally. Rotarians are active in many other county organizations; this “cross pollination” is a tremendous asset for the community.

The Goochland Woman’s Club raises money to support an array of good causes.

Our schools benefit from the volunteer efforts of the Goochland Education Foundation.

Other groups try to make things a little bit better for those less fortunate. GFCFS provides a wide range of services and programs for those who fall through the cracks of other programs. Its annual food drive is under way, fill a bag if you can.

The Kates Foundation works with the Virginia Correctional Center for Women—known locally as “the women’s farm—to help offenders mend their ways and become productive citizens when their debt to society is paid. The annual Kates Day event, which offers an opportunity to visit the VCCW; buy amazing plants grown by the offenders; learn about the mission of the VCCW; and eat dinner prepared and served by offenders will be held on May 4. Visit for complete information.

Habitat for Humanity; Goochland Christmas Mother; and Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA); the Lion’s Club; and FLAG, our local animal rescue group, all depend on volunteers.

This list is by no means all inclusive, but it shows just how much we Goochlanders care about our little corner of the world. Each of these very worthy groups brings people together to do good and in turn creates bonds that build community.

(Hat tip to Margaret Reynolds for this post theme.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Supervisors approve tax increase

At an April 18 meeting, the Goochland Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a tax increase of a fraction of a percent. The tax rates for calendar 2016, 53 cents per $100 of valuation for real estate and 32 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for the Tuckahoe Creek Service District ad valorem tax, remain unchanged from last year.

Under state law, the supervisors were required to advertise the proposed tax increase because revenue generated by the 53 cent tax rate is more than one percent higher than that generated last year.

The January 2016 taxable values for the entire county increased by approximately 3.07 percent excluding new construction over the previous year. As assessments, for most land owners, have not yet returned to 2009 levels, tax bills will be lower than they were seven years ago. All other tax rates will remain unchanged from last year.

The fee schedule for animal protection was amended and a reduced charge for small trailers was added to the convenience center fee schedule. A modest increase in public water and sewer rates was approved. This applies to all users of county utilities.

The proposed budget as presented by the county administrator last month was adopted with some adjustments involving state funds and moving items from one category to another. The county’s General Fund budget for FY 2017, which begins on July 1, was adopted by spending category.

Both the county administrator and superintendent of schools were authorized to transfer up to $7,500 from the unencumbered appropriated balance of one category to another. No more than one transfer may be made for the same item causing the need for a transfer, unless the total amount to be transferred for the item does not exceed $7,500. Larger transfers require the approval of the board of supervisors, and for school items, the school board.

A request from the school board to have its budget appropriated in a lump sum, rather than by category, was declined by the supervisors. This “ask” was made in February, before superintendent Dr. James Lane announced he was leaving to run Chesterfield County Schools.

According to Deputy County Administrator for Financial Services John Wack, given the current vacancies in the positions of county administrator and superintendent of schools, the supervisors chose to retain the current policy of allocation by category. As the supervisors have never declined a request from schools to reappropriate funds, Wack said that they could change the policy at any time.

Board chair Bob Minnick, District 4, announced that the supervisors will meet in closed session on April 21 for interviews and deliberation about the selection of the new county administrator.

Monday, April 11, 2016

More apartments for West Creek

Elevations for the apartment buildings in The Bristol at West Creek

The Goochland Planning Commission gave a thumbs up to the conceptual master plan filed by the Bristol Development Group for an up to 373 unit apartment/town house complex in West Creek. “The Bristol at West Creek” is located on 22.471 acres near RT. 288; the Strikers soccer complex; and the new Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. The project density is approximately 16.6 units per acre.

As West Creek Associates received approval in 2012 to develop up to 60 acres of its business park in multifamily residential use, no rezoning or other action requiring public input was needed. The ordinance permitting this multifamily use applies only to West Creek.

According to Principal Planner Tom Coleman, this will leave a bit less than 18 acres available for additional multifamily units in West Creek. Apartments in The Notch portion of West Creek, opposite the Wawa on Broad Street Road, are in the final phase of construction. Those apartments have added very few children to the school system and placed no undue burden on other county services.

The Bristol seems targeted at Millennials, especially those who work in the nearby West Creek Campus of Capital One. The project includes relatively small apartments and some modest town house units with high end finishes. There will be no three bedroom units. Onsite amenities include an internet café; fitness studio; pool; fire pits; shade structures; and pet wash and recreation areas. The main buildings have elevators and garages will be available.

As Goochland’s population is aging, an influx of younger residents will be a good thing. Perhaps it will help to retain younger teachers. A strategic plan for economic development adopted by the County in October, 2011 suggested siting multifamily housing in this area.

The Bristol will be connected to county water and sewer, but it is not a part of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District. Utility capacity is what is left of arrangements made for the Motorola plant that never materialized.

West Creek's stringent design standards governing building materials; setbacks; road access; and landscaping will apply. While residential use was not part of the original vision for West Creek when it was created almost 30 years ago, the world has changed. Now, small pods of high density, upscale housing is appropriate and desirable to complement other activities in the planned business park and attract new businesses.

The rest of Goochland will probably not even know it’s there.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Carrying on

Norman Sales, Esq.

The Goochland County Board of Supervisors started its April 5 meeting by appointing County Attorney Norman Sales interim county administrator while it searches for a successor to Rebecca Dickson, who retired at the end of March. Sales, who has been county attorney since early 2010, worked closely with Dickson and is familiar with day to day operations of local government.

Sales is a graduate of Old Dominion University and the Marshall Wythe School of Law at William & Mary. His experience includes decades of service in the City of Richmond, culminating with the position of City Attorney, from which he retired before coming to Goochland. His skill, attention to detail, and gentle demeanor will keep things on course.

Board Chair Bob Minnick, District 4, said that the nationwide search for a new county administrator continues. The supervisors held two offsite closed meetings for the purpose in late March and have two more scheduled for April 11 and 12. Selecting the chief executive officer for the county is perhaps the most important task this Board has so far undertaken. It is appropriate and fair to conduct this search behind closed doors. The supervisors must be mindful of the trust that the citizens have placed in them as they complete this task.

Marshall Winn of VDOT reported that work on the Rockville Road box culvert replacement hit something of a snag when it was discovered that the old culvert was sitting on rock. The area is called “Rockville” for a reason. Mitigation activities are underway and Wynn is optimistic that the project will soon be back on track. He also reported that his son, Matt, plays catcher for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

The eons old dispute between Goochland and Louisa counties over the exact location of the boundary between the two jurisdictions may be nearing its end. Following a ruling by the Virginian General Assembly, permitting the use of GIS to resolve the boundary, Louisa finally agreed to finish the task, if Goochland picks up most of the tab. According to a memorandum of understanding approved by the Louisa County Board of Supervisors at its April 4 meeting, both counties will collaborate on the location of the new boundary using a combination of GIS technology, property records, and traditional survey methods after which they will petition the Circuit Court to obtain court orders confirming the agreed upon border.

Goochland will pay the costs of engineers and surveyors up to $100,000. Louisa will contribute staff time and pay for its publication and notification costs. As Goochland tends to be conservative when budgeting for items like this, we hope the final expenditure is far less. It’s past time for this issue to be resolved and end confusion over emergency response; school attendance; and taxation. Given that Louisa is considering increasing its current real estate tax from 72 cents per $100 of valuation to 74 cents—Goochland’s is expected to remain at 53 cents—landowners might want to be in our fair county.

Goochland Assessor Mary Ann Davis reported that reassessment notices were sent to owners of all 14,759 parcels of land in the county in January. Appeals were made on 149 assessments, of which 55 were satisfied by phone. Of the remainder, follow up letters were sent resulting in value decreases for 53 properties; four assessments were increased; and 37 remain unchanged. The estimated total land value for Goochland, including minerals, is $5.1 billion. Currently, there are three outstanding appeals to the Board of Equalization, two residential and one commercial. That number could change as the deadline for appeals is April 15, which will be addressed at the BOE meeting expected to be held on June 10.

The Board approved a resolution permitting a rabies clinic at the corner of Sandy Hook and Fairground Road on April 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. A fee of $10 will apply to each cat or dog.

Authorization for the county administrator to execute a contract with the firm of PBMares for the fiscal year 2016 audit was approved.

The Board voted to proclaim the week of April 24-30 Hunger Awareness Week and encourage all citizens to participate in food drives to support local food distribution centers including the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services’ Food Pantry and the Victory Christian Food Pantry. The proclamation noted that western Goochland is considered a “food desert” where populations live 10 or more miles form a grocery store in rural areas.

April was designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The county Department of Social Services and Goochland Community Partners who work to prevent or mitigate this scourge on society include: the 16th Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Services; Goochland CASA; Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services; Goochland Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library; Goochland YMCA; Goochland Council of Churches; Goochland Powhatan Community Services Board; Goochland Health Department; Chamber of Commerce; Goochland Office on Youth; and the public schools and parks and recreation department. Swaths of blue pinwheels around the county support this event.

The Board authorized what amounts to refinancing of a portion of water and sewer bond debt through the Virginia Resources Authority incurred about ten years ago for utility improvements in the Courthouse Village area. This will result in an annual savings of approximately $48,000.

During its evening session, the Board approved a conditional use permit (CUP) to permit Ragland Memorial Church on Sandy Hook Road to build an addition. A CUP was needed because the larger building will exceed the 10,00 square foot threshold in county ordinance.
A rezoning application to add a final 8.67 acres to Kinloch for a new entrance off of Hermitage Road and a few more exquisite home, was also approved. No turn lanes will be added and, at the last minute, the applicant offered full cash proffers on the lots, even though the application as recommended for approval by the Planning Commission, did not include this item.

A CUP for the latest iteration of property located at 12594 Patterson Avenue for use as a hardscape/pool supply business was approved. The change will add additional landscape buffers and business to the corridor near West Creek.

After considerable discussion with a wide range of entities that could be affected, an ordinance amendment addressing road usage for places of pubic assembly uses in agricultural and residential districts was approved. Going forward, places of public assembly must either directly abut a state maintained road, or be accessed by a private road that is not shared by other properties or uses.

This amendment contains generous grandfather provisions that exempt structures or uses in existence prior to July 1, 2016, which may be expanded or enlarged upon. The ingenuity of Goochlanders brings new land uses to the county that do not fit neatly into existing pigeonholes. This ordinance change should mitigate potential conflicts before they begin.

The Supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 17 to vote on the proposed budget and set tax rates for calendar year 2016.