Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Recyclers Rejoice

Plastics 1 through 7 now accepted for recycling

At their July 5 meeting, Goochland Supervisors authorized execution of a contract with Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, the company that hauls the county’s solid waste AKA garbage to accept plastics numbered 1 through 7 for recycling. This will apply to residential and drop off recycling.

Up to now, only category 1 and 2 plastics were accepted. The others went into general trash. Not only will this new arrangement make recycling a bit easier, it could generate more cash for the county.

District 5 supervisor Ken Peterson, who keeps his eagle eye on the county’s bottom line, was assured by County Attorney Normal Sales, acting as interim county administrator that the expansion of recycling does not carry an increased cost. As the expansion probably will increase the weight of plastics collected, additional revenue may be generated.
The Board had a light agenda for its first meeting of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Marshall Winn, the VDOT representative from its Ashland Residency reported that clean-up from the severe storms in mid-June was about 25 percent complete. A study of traffic patterns on Route 250 from Cardwell Road to just west of Fairground Road should be complete by the end of August and is expected to generate some ideas about enhancing safety in this corridor.

A fatal crash near the intersection of 250 and Fairground Road several weeks ago renewed concern about this area. Installation of low profile speed humps to signal drivers that they need to be alert would be more effective than additional signage, a turn lane, or even a traffic signal.

Legislation hastily passed and signed into law during the 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly, somewhat defanged proffer policies adopted by localities. Assistant County Attorney Whitney Marshall presented a revised proffer policy. The supervisors voted unanimously to repeal the existing policy and replace it with one that adheres to the new state law. This applies only to new residential uses following rezoning.

County Attorney Norman Sales, acting as interim county administrator, said that Goochland never received any complaints about its cash proffer policy.

Proffers, especially cash proffers, were allowed by the state as a way for localities to mitigate the capital costs of new residential development like schools and fire-rescue stations. The calculation to determine the maximum cash proffer a locality could accept—they were allegedly “voluntary”—used a per capita cost for each category and added them up. The cost of operating the new facilities i.e. teachers, deputies, fire-rescue personnel, were assumed to be funded by additional property tax revenues.

The new state law removes libraries from the items that may be used to calculate proffers, but public safety, parks, schools, and roads remain.

Under the county’s new policy, each residential developer—commercial projects are considered individually and encouraged to include turn lanes, landscaping, and other mitigation—must provide a development impact statement and formulate unique proffers to mitigate those consequences. That statement must address impacts specifically attributable to the project in question.

Currently, $13,950 is the maximum cash proffer per dwelling unit that the county will accept. It is payable after completion of the final inspection before the certificate of occupancy is issued. In-kind contributions, including road improvements or land for public uses, could also be considered.

It is hoped that the somewhat vague language will be clarified next year. Indeed, it seems that the General Assembly prefers to legislate in haste and amend at leisure. Unfortunately, that leaves developers and localities scratching their heads as they try to get things done and comply with the law.

It will be interesting to see how this works out as new projects work their way through the rezoning process. Perhaps the newfound flexibility will encourage more ingenuity among developers.

The Board authorized the county administrator to execute construction contracts for communications towers at Companies 4 and 6 that are part of the countywide communications upgrade.

During its evening session, the Board amended the county’s large crowd events ordinance. This was crafted after an initial change to the policy met with a great deal of resistance from the business community.

The ordinance addresses “special events” for groups of 500 or more persons unless alcohol is served, which lowers the threshold to 250 people. The purpose is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community and those attending the event. Applications must be approved by the sheriff, fire marshal, building official, and health department. A plan designating provisions for adequate parking facilities and traffic control as well as contingency plans for rerouting traffic and lane or road closures must be approved by the Sheriff.

In order to be approved, the application must meet certain criteria including that the event does not interfere with normal use of county property by the general public; does not present a safety risk to participants, spectators; and county resources are reasonably available to support the proposed activity.

This permitting process may not apply to indoor events, which are governed by health department and building code regulations.
Bonds to ensure compliance with the conditions of the permit are required. The Board also approved a fee schedule for the permits. Permits for recurring events are available for applicants with a successful track record of conducting special events. The fees range from $25 for a parade permit to $1,000 for seven or more recurring events in a calendar year.

Ironically, this special events permit ordinance amendment was approved about 24 hours after the July Fourth fireworks that reportedly attracted 12,000 people to Goochland’s pyrotechnic display. Many roads east of Rt. 522 were clogged with cars—most from outside the county—for hours.

We all love local fireworks on the Fourth but they may have become a victim of their own success. Our roads are not built for that much traffic. We have been lucky over the years to avoid wrecks with disastrous consequences. One distracted driver, a disabled vehicle, or a rampage of our burgeoning Bambi brigade spooked by the fireworks, could result in calamity. How will Sheriff cars, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles navigate blocked roads to reach people, including those not attending the fireworks, who need help?

It seems like the county exempted itself from the health, safety, and welfare provisions of the special event ordinance for the fireworks. It’s time to stop whistling past the graveyard on the Fourth of July.

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