Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Town Center West - What Happened?

Town Center West was supposed to be open for business in "Summer 2007" but this attractive retail development, right next to the mall, is deader than a doornail! Have developers miscalculated?

The only business operating is a very lonely hair salon. On either side of the street, it's a ghost town. The sky-high rent must be scaring off some potential tenants, but if this prime piece of real estate is struggling, how much better can the prospects for business be two miles to the west?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Meet Will Shaw Monday Night


MONDAY, OCT. 29 7:00-9:00 PM


This is an opportunity to meet the Democratic candidate for the 56th District House of Delegates seat, Will Shaw. The 56th district includes all of Goochland County, all of Louisa County, and 8 precincts of western Henrico County.
Meet Will and hear where he stands on a variety of topics. Informal setting, questions & answers.


Authorized by Will Shaw for Delegate
P.O. Box 244 Louisa, VA 23093 540-832-3578

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Vote for Bill Burnet In District 3

If you live in District 3 and are concerned about runaway development, Independent candidate Bill Burnet deserves your vote to serve on the Board of Supervisors. At Wednesday's Meet The Candidates event at Goochland High School, Burnet made a strong showing by demonstrating a clear understanding and vision for how our county should develop. A Mechanical Engineering graduate from Virginia Tech with an MBA from Carnegie Mellon, Burnet ran circles around the two other candidates in District 3. So far, Burnet is the only candidate to take us up on our offer to share his views on how to Keep Goochland Beautiful. Following is his essay:

The current pace of rapid residential development is on the verge of overwhelming our fragile infrastructure. The impacts that this residential development is having on the county is manifesting itself in myriad ways with symptoms becoming more and more apparent. The recent spurt in residential growth is already straining our county’s fragile infrastructure in our public schools, volunteer fire/rescue, sheriff’s department, county administration and roads. The county currently targets population growth of between 2-2.5% annually. In 2005, the county’s population growth was in excess of 5%, which is completely unsustainable going forward. As growth continues, it should be focused within the identified villages to help preserve open space in the surrounding rural area and we must ensure that our infrastructure is adequately funded to keep pace with the growth that the county is experiencing. This is exactly why we need to diversify our tax base, to help fund the county’s growing infrastructure needs while subsidizing the impact on county taxpayers and allowing for the purchase of open space to preserve the county’s rural character.

Evidence of the strain of residential growth and its impacts are readily evident with our volunteer fire/rescue already filling gaps in volunteer staffing coverage with contract EMS support during the day and on some nights/weekends where staffing shortages may jeopardize public safety. I believe that career fire/rescue will be required in the future (this is not a question of if but a question of when). This must be done delicately so as to ensure that the volunteers are not “run off” as they are the lifeblood on the firehouses around the county and must be kept in the fold. I believe that the county should pursue a hybrid staffing model where we augment our volunteer staff with career fire/rescue employees to ensure adequate staffing, reduce response times and ensure that all calls are answered. Our sheriff’s department is also being stressed by the continued growth and increased traffic that occurred with the opening of 288 through West Creek. Increased traffic from 288 having opened is causing increasing numbers of accidents requiring a deputy to respond.

The impacts that the residential development is having on our roads is a public safety risk. Our board says that public safety is their number one priority; however they continue to allow new cuts to be made in our roads without ensuring the safe flow of traffic by not requiring left and right turn lanes at these cuts from developers. I will ensure that any new developments protect the current and future residents of the county by ensuring that both left and right turn lanes are built when new entrances/cuts are made in our roads. I would point to “The Parke at Centerville” (Hockett Road, Rte 623, ~0.5 miles south of Broad Street) as the gold standard in providing both left & right turn lanes as well as a bike lane when constructing the entrance to the new subdivision. I would point to Bridgewater East and West as something significantly less than that (Route 250 ~1.5 miles west of Fairground Road). In this case, only a right turn lane was required for westbound US 250 traffic at the East entrance, and no turn lanes were required for Bridgewater West. Both of these cuts occur in a 55 mph zone near the bottom of a very large hill around a significant, blind curve. This is a public safety nightmare waiting to happen, and it was approved by our current Board.

To preserve the county’s rural character and open space under the onslaught of residential development, the county needs to be acquiring tracts of open land throughout the county (note that the Board of Supervisors currently sets aside $0.01 of the tax rate annually for land acquisition, yet has not announced a single purchase to date). In addition, the county needs to do everything that it can to help the farmers and agricultural producers preserve their land for agricultural production. Once that land is developed it will never become open space again. The “land use” taxation category is one means to help farmers pay a much lower tax rate on their agricultural lands and should be continued. If these lands were taxed at the normal “land” tax rate, the large tax bill could immediately force these farmers to sell their land to developers. The use of preservation easements and land trusts should be encouraged by the county to further help preserve open space through preferential tax treatment while maintaining right of agricultural use of the land. Without agricultural production in the county, Goochland will lose one of the major components of its rural character as well as significant chunks of open space and that would be a terrible shame.

In conclusion, the rapid residential development is on the verge of overwhelming our fragile infrastructure. Without swift and significant action, the unfunded service needs from all of this residential construction will be left to be paid for by all of the county’s residents in the form of rapidly escalating tax bills and further deteriorating infrastructure. To combat this, the county must diversify its tax base to become less reliant upon residential real estate tax revenue and personal property taxes by bringing additional business and commercial tax base to the county.

Bill Burnet
Candidate for Goochland County Board of Supervisors, District 3

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Down The Stretch They Come!

This is getting good! Growth and taxes dominated the discussion tonight as voters had a chance to "Meet The Candidates" at Goochland High School, and once again the slugfest between Pat Turner (upper left) and Jim Eads (right) in District 5 grabbed the spotlight. No doubt sensing that he's in trouble, incumbent Eads went on the attack. "I don't believe anybody should come in from outside Goochland County and tell us how to develop it," an obvious referral to Turner being a real estate appraiser. But the challenger hit back hard, noting that he found it amusing for Eads to criticize him when "I know of no residential development he (Eads) has stopped in the last five years." Turner seemed to be challening Eads when he announced that "I am the only candidate to publicly state I will vote against any rezoning application before infrastructure is in place."

Eads never responded, but spoke in general terms about his growth philosophy, noting that "Goochland is the envy of the entire metro area. From the time I was elected eight years ago, my motivation has been to keep people outside from developing Goochland County they way they want to develop it." Eads had no specifics to offer on exactly what he will or will not do to control growth.

The eight year incumbent is in the unusual position of having to attack a political newcomer running as an independent. If Eads was smart he would match Turner's bold pledge to reject rezoning requests with insufficient infrastructure (i.e., Satterwhites strip mall), but he seems to be playing it safe by not making any promises he can't keep.
Meanwhile Turner has the guts to say he would actually "shrink" the scale of the frequently debated "villages." Now, I don't know whether that's a good idea or not, but I give Turner credit for being honest, and based on many conversations I've had throughout the county, honesty is not something the current Board of Supervisors is known for. If I lived in District 5, I would be voting for Pat Turner.
Only two other candidates focused on growth during their opening remarks: Kathy Crockett, running as a challenger in District 1, and challenger Bill Burnet in District 3.

Crockett spoke eloquently about the passion she has for Goochland, noting that growth "is what this election is all about." Crockett acknowledged that development is coming whether we like or not, but "we can't let it outpace infrastructure." "I love the character of this county, but once it's gone, it's gone forever and the way things have been going, we're losing it." I may have missed it, but District 1 incumbent Andrew Pryor had little to say about growth.

Bill Burnet is an independent candidate in District 3 who no one had ever heard of until recently, but after an impressive performance tonight, Mr. Burnet served notice that he is no lightweight. With a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon, you could say the thirtysomething Burnet represents "new" Goochland. He's only lived here four years, but clearly has done his homework and delivered some of the most memorable lines of the night. "I believe the current Board of Supervisors is out of touch," said Burnet. He accused them of "rubber stamping" bad developments and charged that "everything that is great about living in Goochland is being threatened if changes are not made. If we foul it up, there's no do over!" Let's hope we haven't heard the last of this gentleman.

(posted by Jim Hale)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Important Public Meetings

Please spread the word about attending these important community events this week!

Comprehensive Plan "Discussion" With The Goochland Business Community

Tuesday, October 23rd

10:00 AM

Redeemer Assembly of God Church

1700 Cardwell Road (Crozier)


Candidates Night Forum

Wednesday, October 24th

6:00 - 9:00 PM

Goochland High School

Candidates for the Board of Supervisors will participate between 7:00 - 8:30 PM

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why I Am A Republican Protester

" A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative. "
-Rod Dreher

Those who knew me ten years ago as a conservative political firebrand would get quite a chuckle upon learning that I am now working on a grassroots effort to fight suburban sprawl! Before moving to Goochland two years ago, I worked five years in Washington on some highly controversial and emotionally charged issues. I was worn out and had no interest at all in becoming politically involved locally. But reading Rod Dreher's book "Crunchy Cons" opened my eyes to some things about my political past that forced me to examine my motives and stated beliefs in a radically different way. Dreher is a committed conservative who found himself increasingly at odds with the form of conservatism that had come to dominate national politics. Dreher realized that he was a "crunchy conservative" (read article):

"In the crunchy-con view, right-wing indifference to natural beauty extends to the man-made world. Today's conservatives don't say enough about the importance of aesthetic standards. Ugly suburban architecture, lousy food, chain restaurants, bad beer, and scorn for the arts are defended by many rank-and-file Republicans as signs of populist authenticity, as opposed to the "elitist" notion that aesthetics matter. In previous generations, it was taken for granted among conservatives that cultivating taste was a worthwhile, even necessary pursuit in building civilization. Nowadays, talking like that in front of a number of right-wingers will get you denounced as a snob."

What is surprsing to me is how many of my longtime conservative friends agree with Dreher at varying levels. Only one of my friends has accused me of "going wobbly." Indeed Dreher has been written off by some for being a traitor, but this stuff really hit home with me:

"A child who grows up in a neighborhood built for human beings, not cars, may think of man's relation to his world differently from one raised amid the throwaway utilitarianism of strip-mall architecture. One's sensitivity to and desire for beauty, and its edifying qualities of order, harmony, "sweetness and light," has consequences for the character of individuals and ultimately for civilization. It's perilous to forget that."

I challenge all conservatives to think about this, especially politically conservative Christians. We need to think about what God meant when He gave us dominion over all the earth and pray about what it means to us and our children.

(posted by Jim Hale)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

VDOT Says No Traffic Light Planned for 621

Contrary to public statements made by District 4 Supervisor Rudy Butler, the Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) confirms that there are no plans to install a traffic light at the corner of Manakin Road (621) and Broad Street. On several occasions in the past two years, I've heard Mr. Butler say that VDOT was planning to install a light, and to flatten the notorious hill on Broad Street, just west of Satterwhite's Restaurant. Neither is true.

I sent an email to VDOT last week requesting information on exactly what is planned and received a very courteous response from Public Relations Manager Dawn Eischen the next day:

"Thank you for contacting us to try to clear up some of the confusion. I imagine your Web site will be a useful communication tool, especially when we start making improvements to Broad Street in Goochland.

We had a design public hearing for the Broad Street widening project on Nov. 29, 2006. Our chief engineer approved the design in May 2007 with the following modifications to the initial design:"

  • Installation of OPTI-COM lighting system (provide by Goochland County) for emergency operations at the Centerville Fire Department; and

  • Installation of a westbound left turn in at the approximate mid point between Route 621 and the fire department.

Here is what was originally posted on the VDOT website last December (read entire page here):

The section of Broad Street from about one-quarter mile west of the intersection with Manakin Road (Route 621) to one-tenth mile east of the intersection with Hockett Road (Route 623) will be improved and widened to a four-lane divided highway.

So, the bottom line is that NO traffic light is part of the plan! How could the county even consider a shopping center for the already busy and dangerous intersection of 621 and Broad Street?

Widening Broad Street without a traffic light could actually make things more dangerous because now you will have to cross two lanes of traffic when turning left onto Broad. With the addition of a busy shopping center behind Satterwhite's adding hundreds of more cars into the daily mix, this would be insane!

Today Project Manager Emily Peter called to let me know that plans could change and a traffic light could become part of the plan if the county advises VDOT of an increase in traffic volume. But this project is not even scheduled to begin until Spring 2009, and an eventual traffic light would no doubt come long after the opening of a new shopping center.

This adds up to a significant public safety issue for thousands of Goochland County residents. Voters should demand that all candidates for the Board of Supervisors pledge to ensure that safety considerations will take priority over generating tax revenue by allowing land to be rezoned for commercial development. To make it simple, a light must already be in place before any more land on Broad Street is developed commercially.

(posted by Jim Hale)

Monday, October 8, 2007

If You Care.....VOTE!

Comment from Sandra Randell of Centerville

I attended Mr. Pat Turner's (5th District Supervisor Candidate) public meeting at the Manakin Firehouse last Wednesday night, and was very pleased to hear Mr. Turner's comments regarding his plans for development in Goochland County, if he is elected.

However, I was very disappointed to hear an unoficial comment from another individual that the proposed B1 devolpment at Broad and 621, along with the Peace Palace were a "done deal".. I certainly hope not. This points out how vital it is to Goochland residents that we exercise our right to vote, and that we use our that vote to put those in office who will have some measure of control over planned growth in our county.

Friday, October 5, 2007


My name is Paul Costello. The main reason why myself and others have formed Keep Goochland Beautiful is that the time has come for us to speak out. The Board of Supervisors (“BOS”) is now keenly aware of the strong community opposition to the proposed business rezoning and strip mall development behind Satterwhite’s Restaurant. The outcry against this proposal has been clear and concise. In fact, it is great to see so many residents speaking out in public forums and then following up with formal letters to the BOS about the significant concerns we have with this half-baked proposal.

To those who live close to this area, this proposed project is absurd due to the obvious traffic and safety issues. However, the BOS have conveyed to us they have a responsibility to consider all rezoning applications.

Fortunately, we have already shown that the proposed rezoning of this 10.29 acre site is NOT a matter of public necessity, convenience, and general welfare, and will clearly fall short of good zoning practice.

Site of proposed new strip mall behind Satterwhites

The definition of “good zoning practice” can mean different things to different people. To developers it could mean bigger is better, higher density, greater profits, etc. To the residents of Goochland, is means to preserve our rural setting and control growth.

As it pertains to this site, the Comprehensive Plan prepared in 2003 initially showed this 10.29 acre site as suitable for limited business within the context of the Village Concept.

However, the following year, an independent study was prepared in cooperation with Virginia Commonwealth University Urban and Regional Planning Program which formally recommended that this 10.29 acre site not be rezoned from Agricultural Limited, District A-2 to Business General, District, B-1. In fact, this unbiased, objective, “good rezoning practice” report recommended that the Comprehensive Plan be amended to rezone this site to residential.

Fast-food joints and other chain stores would ruin the character of Centerville

It would be irresponsible for the BOS to approve this project given the facts at hand. Even so, we have been notified that two partners, Richards Nuckols and Lit Thomson’s (aka Manakin Properties, LLC) will be filing their application to rezone the 10.29 +/- acres designated as Tax Map Parcels 47-1-34 & 47-1-34A from Agricultural Limited, District A-2 to Business General, District, B-1 within days. Although ridiculous, they have already hired a lawyer to help them convince the BOS that they are in a position of unnecessary hardship unless they can rezone this property. In my book, simply saying they can’t make as money as they want doesn’t cut it.

My hope is that BOS will not try to punish the residents for speaking out against this proposed rezoning and approve it just to prove they have the power to make things happen – with or without community support. If this scenario plays out and the BOS does approve this rezoning request against our traffic, safety and zoning concerns, we would be in very strong position to file a lawsuit appealing their approval.

Turning left onto Broad Street from Manakin Road is already a death defying act

The Compressive Plan and the VCU Study both establish a unified vision for Centerville Village as represented by the following key attributes:

· The master site plan for Centerville Village will be designed to preserve the rural character of Goochland
· Centerville Village will be largely residential in use, characterized by village orientated shops or stores (not allowing any new individual shop or store to be in excess of 2,000 square feet of floor area)
· Open spaces
· Slow speed limits within Village boundaries
· Sidewalks, cross-walks, bike lanes, pedestrian scale lighting
· Complimentary building designs and architectural treatments
· Retaining as much of existing landscaping as possible and avoid mass clearing because its easier for developers
· Add trees and other supplemental landscaping that ensures against large expanses of parking. Build new infrastructure that aligns parking areas with internal roads and driveways to create a village grid system.

Centerville "Village" should be a showcase for Goochland County

We clearly have the opportunity to create a distinctive sense of place in Centerville Village that we can all be proud of. We can not succumb to having traditional retail and residential areas in our village be replaced with large, generic strip malls. If this rezoning application is approved, we will soon wake up one day to find that our beautiful rural landscape has been consumed, and that our agriculture and residential areas have been converted to commercial uses.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Let Your Voice Be Heard

If you are a taxpayer in Goochland County and concerned about growth related issues, please take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to this forum. All candidates for public office and their supporters are welcome.
I'll be happy to come by and take your picture if you don't have a good one to send me. Try not to use too many cusswords and please keep your comments to 500 words or less.
This is an issue that effects us ALL! Tonight at 5:30 I sat in a line of at least 15 cars on Hockett Road (623) , all trying to turn left onto Broad Street. No traffic light is planned for that intersection in the foreseeable future, but the county can't wait to open new business on either side of Hockett. This is a classic case of infrastructure not being sufficient for development.
The battle has begun. Who is going to win?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Town Hall Meeting With Pat Turner

Pat Turner had some things to get off his chest during the town hall meeting held Wednesday night at the Manakin Fire Station. "I'm sick and tired of of people talking about builders and developers as being thieves," said the challenger in the hotly contested 5th District Supervisor race. "I'm proud of my profession. It's an honorable profession." But the man who has spent his entire professional career as a real estate appraiser in both public and private practice emphatically stated that "I do not work for developers - let's get that real good and straight."

Turner repeated many of the same themes he offered during last week's forum on growth, but during the question and answer session, he made the boldest statement that any candidate has offered so far by saying that if he is elected he will vote against commercial rezoning requests that don't have sufficient infrastructure in place to sustain it. When pressed to say whether that included addressing traffic safety issues such as a light at the intersection of Broad Street and Manakin Road, he said yes.

The difference in Turner's response is that he is the first candidate to actually say that he would vote against a rezoning request, as opposed to just saying he supports having infrastructure in place before new commercial development. This is a subtle but huge difference. Of course this has major implications for the proposed development at Broad Street and Manakin Road, behind Satterwhites Restaurant. The Board of Supervisors will likely vote on the request to rezone that property in early 2008, which would pave the way for a new strip shopping center.

According to District 4 Supervisor Rudy Butler, the Virginia Department of Transportation says road improvements and a traffic light are not planned for that intersection until 2009. If Mr. Turner is elected, one of his first major decisions will be to follow through on his commitment to say no to developers until VDOT has done its job. The safety of thousands of Goochland residents is too important to allow an already dangerous intersection to get any worse.

Overall, this was another strong showing by Mr. Turner, who appears to be relishing the challenge of trying to dethrone four-term incumbent Jim Eads. At times he's too buttoned down with the talking points, and his list of priorities needs tweaking. It seemed to catch his audience off-guard when he pointed to the need for a sheriff substation as being his top priority, arousing absolutely no interest. Surely this is a worthy goal, but his number one priority?

Virtually every comment and question from those in attendance focused on growth, and that's where Turner let loose, firing off one soundbite after another. He said his appointees overseeing growth would "be knowledgeable....and have a backbone." One couldn't help but wonder if he thinks that current political appointees are spineless? As far as Centerville is concerned, it will take "vision, courage and determination" to make it economically viable and "aesthetically pleasing and safe."

Turner has lined up impressive support from renegade Republicans who've abandoned Jim Eads and many were in attendance. Indeed, I've spoken to a good many old timers who think he's going to pull it off in November. He'll need the "'growth" vote to do it, and it appears he's making headway as the one month countdown approaches.

(posted by Jim Hale)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Questions For The Candidates

Please try to make one of these two events on Wednesday night:
Pat Turner (Dist. 5) Town Hall Meeting
Manakin Fire Station 6:30 to 8:00PM
Districts 1&2 Candidates Forum on Growth
Goochland Library (across from YMCA) 7:00PM
These are some serious times for Goochland County residents. Decisions that are being made right now about the future of our county will reverberate throughout the 21st Century and beyond. Will this beautiful place we call home only exist in pictures for our grandchildren? At least a dozen For Sale signs are ominously positioned on Broad Street between Satterwhites Restaurant and the Henrico County line. It won't be long before all this property is sold and the five elected members of the Goochland County Board of Supervisors will largely determine how this farmland is transformed into commerical development. Has the East End of the county been written off completely? Is it time for us to just accept that the time has come to kiss our "rural lifestyles" goodbye?

Candidate Question: Judging by the amount of available commercial real estate within a small area, Centerville appears to be in danger of becoming one big strip mall. How do you plan to prevent that from happening?

To the best of my knowledge, this weather beaten bench in the Food Lion shopping center is the only public seating available in Centerville! If you want someplace to kick back outdoors and enjoy a good cup of coffee in pleasant surroundings, you've got to go into Short Pump. That's a crying shame.

Candidate Question: How do you plan to make Centerville an attractive, clean, pedestrian friendly community that all locals residents can be proud of?

I took this shot two days ago and these sewage and water pipes are now underground. With access to public water and sewage, the flood gates to commerce are about to open. We are going to see some rapid and drastic changes around here in the coming weeks and months.

Candidate Question: Centerville is the gateway to Goochland County. Please share your specific vision for this vital area.

Candidate Question: Whatever happened to this?

(posted by Jim Hale)

Monday, October 1, 2007

The British Are Coming!

This anguished looking gent is Mr. William Hite from somewhere in Britain and he's not too happy with me! Earlier today he and some fellow Maharishi followers bombarded the comment box on this website with their Transcendental Meditation propaganda. Now he's ticked off that he's been "censored," prompting him to fire off a letter to the editor at the Goochland Gazette.

Well sir, I draw your attention to our header which reads in part:

"....we welcome the participation of all residents of Goochland County?"

What part of that, sir, are you having trouble with? Sounds like some Yogic Flying is in order to address your anger. Perhaps it would be helpful to remind you that British influence on the affairs of Virginia came to a halt in 1783!