Sunday, May 7, 2017

May pole

Now that the budget has been approved and the tax rates set, Goochland County supervisors had a rather quiet May meeting.

The afternoon session began with an invocation by Rev. Emily Dunevant, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church. Her prayer reminded our elected and appointed officials that they serve the citizens and asked for divine guidance as they make decisions.

Shannon Grayson of the Goochland Extension Office was selected as employee of the month for April by Virginia Tech for her 13 years of exemplary service. Shannon’s boundless good cheer and exceptional professionalism makes her an excellent representative of Virginia Tech outreach. Shannon, who is believed to be able to herd cats, sends out notices about programs sponsored by Extension, including the Goochland Leadership Enterprise program. This recognition is well-deserved,

Beth Moore, who helped guide Goochland Fellowship through some rough waters; worked to create the Friends of Goochland Parks and improve Tucker Park; and now serves as executive director of Goochland Habitat for Humanity, was inducted into the Parks and Rec Wall of Fame.

The Tennessee native, who embodies the notion “bloom where you re planted,” brings a wealth of relevant experience and a bottomless well of good cheer to every task she undertakes.

The Supervisors also approved a proclamation presented by Senior Connections, the Capital Area agency on aging, recognizing May as Older Americans Month. “Goochland County joins in amplifying the many voices of older Americans and raise awareness of vital aging issues across the country.”

These ceremonial recognitions pay homage to citizens whose efforts build the Goochland community.

Once again, Goochland received a certificate of achievement for excellence in Financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers’ Association. County Administrator John Budesky thanked Director of Financial Services Barbara Horlacher; Debbie White, Director of Finance for Goochland Public Schools; all Constitutional Officers; department heads; and county staff for their hard work and consistent management. “When you start doing these things well, this (award) becomes expected,” said Budesky, pointing out that not everyone earns this recognition.

In an effort to relive the throbbing toothache that is traffic at the Rt. 288/Broad Street Road intersection, Budesky, District 2 supervisor Manuel Alvarez, Jr.; Sheriff James L. Agnew; Principal Planner Tom Coleman; and Assistant County Administrator Todd Kilduff trekked to Colonial Heights on May 1 to speak at a VDOT public hearing on “smart scale” road project. Their purpose was to bring the gravity of Goochland’s traffic issues to the attention of the people at VDOT—the state agency whose motto is “Oops!”—in the hope of expediting the turn signals, additional storage lanes and other upgrades that have been approved and funded, but, may NOT BE INSTALLED BEFORE 2020.

Anyone who would like to encourage VDOT to make these upgrades to the Broad Street Road/ Rt./ 288 intersection may submit comments by email or mail by May 16, 2017:, or Infrastructure Investment Director, Virginia Department of Transportation 1401 East Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219.

Marshall Winn, VDOT rep for the Ashland residency, which includes Goochland, reported that the paving of Fairground Road should be completed by the end of the week. (A VDOT notice implies that overnight paving on May 7 should finish that job.) He said that guard rail reinforcement work will then occur. He also promised that Blair Road will be paved sometime between July 1 and August 1 “for sure.”

County Assessor Mary Ann Davis said that state code requires annual recertification of property with land use taxation status. This year’s update went very smoothly, with only one property not reporting. Davis said that landowners responded well to the county program to update its data and that “residents stepped up and worked well with us.” Going forward, she said, the process will simply require confirming that information on a mostly completed form, sent by the county, is accurate. She said that farmers often change the use of parcels from year to year, and their land use records should reflect that.

The Board approved a request from schools to appropriate just under $90 thousand dollars for a long term demographic and educational facilities planning study. The tricky part of this will be accurately predicting the number of school children going forward. At a recent community meeting, a mother whose children attend Randolph Elementary School complained that the apartments in West Creek were responsible for the trailers installed there to handle a burgeoning school population. Planning staff explained that the majority of the new students moved into existing homes. It will be interesting to see how that phenomenon is addressed as empty nesters are replaced by families with school-aged children.

In their evening session, the supervisors approved an amendment to the rural preservation zoning ordinance that abolished the Public Recreational Facility Authority, and moved responsibility for maintenance of the preservation tract to the homeowners’ association. This removes the possibility of responsibility for the preservation tract reverting to county control.

Rural preservation zoning was established in the early days of the century to prevent dreaded sprawl of housing tracts consuming all of Goochland’s farmland. The premise was that a significant portion of a subdivision’s land was to be left undeveloped in a preservation tract, whose uses were to be overseen by an appointed Public Recreational Facility Authority. RP zoning encouraged smaller, clustered home sites.

The permitted uses of the preservation tract varied from agricultural to passive recreation. The ordinance was tweaked several times to deal with particular situations. Breeze Hill, currently under construction on Fairground Road, and perhaps the iteration of RP that fulfilled its purpose best, was zoned about a decade ago. It was perhaps the last RP zoning.
In recent years, most residential rezonings have been smaller lots on land served by public utilities.

This change is part of the ongoing rewrite of county zoning ordinances. State code governs the responsibilities of homeowners’ associations. Let’s hope that realtors selling homes in RP subdivisions, especially those based outside Goochland, do a good job helping potential buyers aware of what they are getting into.

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