Friday, June 29, 2007

Watkins Centre on the Move

Watkins Centre:

Today, June 29, 2007, will mark what will either be the beginning of one of the most effective and insightful mixed -use planning provisions in Chesterfield County history or merely just another planning effort that fell short of expectation.

Expectation. That is what should have truly been addressed and answered at meetings weeks ago. The following address such expectations:

Revenue expectation: to generate 11 million in tax revenues for the County

from Chesterfield County Public Relations: Watkins Centre will be a "major employment center for the county and the region"

from State Sen. John Watkins (R-Chesterfield) Watkins project will be "used to develop the newest gateway into Chesterfield County and the region"

Friends. These are some very high expectations. High indeed.

The project with components being developed by Zarimbe Metropolitan, Gray Land Development and Rebkee Company, involves land held by Gray Land Development (288 acres), Metropolitan(130 acres) Trammel (35 acres) and remaining land along the project held by Watkins Land .

All of these components are located around the Route 288/Route 60 interchange just west of the Village of Midlothian. There is also condirable land not zoned currently for the project held as well by participants in the Watkins Centre development that undoubtedly will be devloped later. These parcels back to Otterdale Road (175 acres)in one instance and also represent about 50 acres on the opposite side of Route 288.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental Quality have signed off on the project and Watkins Centre is moving forward with approved plans of development.

It is to have: a Village of Westchester on 280 acres with 1,600 home lots (Grey Land Development) a lifetsyle center devoloped by Zaremba and the Shoppes at Westchester developed by Rebkee.

The biggest hurdle that the proposers of the project had to face was the fact that most of the projects that have come in years prior have not lived up to expectations. The concern citizens have is how will this one be any different and what will it leave in its wake?

There is concern for Chesterfield Towne Centers future indeed, but many have forgotten what will be the impacts on The Boulders or Arbortitum in terms of leased office space. Will we be sitting years from now asking ourselves how we fix the problem of not only residential sprawl but also corporate/office sprawl as well. Now, I am not a believer in government involving itself in "free markets" by any means but if it does not consider the local and regional impacts of projects it supports and prepares for them than in the end the citizens of the county can count on larger fees for services and tax increases.

The fear may be one that Mr. Dan Gecker, currently Planning Commissioner for Midlothian addressed back in 2006 in the blogosphere concerning whether the results of projects like Watkins Centre should not merely be the shift of revenues from one part of the county to another. In the free market system that indeed may be the result but Mr. Gecker view hits the issue right on the head. There has to be a greater comphrehensive plan for Chesterfield where such negative impacts could be limited. I personally do not believe we should be giving Corporations in the private sector major concessions or developers zero proffers for any project in the County. The reason I base this on is private sector companies should have to compete on an equal playing field and pay their fair share at getting to the Chesterfield consumer. The only area I see where this may not be the case is one in which we seek to revitalize an area of the county.

Midlothian, an area with the largest household income numbers just under 100K per househould friends is not an area that needs revitalization and the private sector should have to and be willing to pay fair market conditions or like Short Pumps example a premium to get into such a market.

My concern though has to do with how many projects can be sold to us as "unique". Watkins Centre is to be "unique", and yet so is Magnolia Green and then so is Roseland. While I believe Watkins Centre is a project long overdue and managed correctly with the continual feedback and involvement of citizens may in fact succeed but meeting the "expectations" of those behind the project appears a little much.

One of the things I think would really help those of us who consider grwoth a really big issue is for one candidate to simply have a map of Chesterfield County looking out to 2014 drawn up demonstrating the impact of every approved planning case before the county right now and show what are County will look like once all come on board. I am talking housing density, population density, school density, commercial and light industrial, transportation use projections, etc...

Friends, I took a map a simply placed areas where we know development has already been approved and I can tell you that Matoaca, parts of near 360, Clover Hill and Midlothian look like an infrastructure nightmare. This coupled with the Upper Swift Creek Plan pending debate.

We will have to wait and see if Watkins indeed becomes a "gateway" or merely the continuation of the greater problems we face with the growth of our County.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities; Same Past

The say that timing is everything. Well, after spending some time down in Charleston, SC where I happened to spend some years during my college days I returned and found the Sunday edition of the RTD and the article concerning Richmond's slave trail which tells the story of the African Slave Trade and the role of Richmond.

I have been living in the Richmond area virtually all my life and found that though I welcome the vision behind the project and that the story of the slave trade deserves and needs to be told, however, I ponder exactly why in todays times it seems to always come down to one side of the story or another.

What I mean is for years, seems like forever, we have had a City Council in Richmond who at every attempt distances itself from the City's history pre-1865. Those behind the scenes seem content on pushing the Museum of the Confederacy out of Richmond altogether even after demonstrating it was making money. The Council has always in its history refused to acknowledge those African -Amercians who played roles within the Confederate military or those slaves who fought to defend the lands in which they were raised. In the same light as casting every Virginian as a slaveowner are we saying that all African-Americans were slaves. I hope the trail will dismiss some tof the myths behind our own history. I hope that it portrays the truth and not a mere portrayal of how some would like it to have been because if that happens its not "historical" at all but merely a means to continue the divisiveness that always seems to follow any discussion regarding our history.

It saddens me as a father that in 2007 our children do not really get the opportunity to embrace our capital city's history, other than drive-by monuments and a few museums. I look at a city like Charleston, SC which has completely embraced its past, the good and the bad, and has moved in the direction of truly honoring that past by bringing in every aspect of its community's involvement. Charleston tells the story and I hope someday Richmond will follow. Charleston uderstands that its future is indeed its past. It is not today a haven for Fortune 500 companies or big business and is built an economy as a city on what amounts to a great tourist industry built on the backs of hardworking people proud of their history and who have realized the greater good in embracing it.

In Charleston you will find a city telling a rich tale of triumph against the odds. The seaport city has a merchantile history that even today shows its head in its ports of commerce, an architectural history that has defied hurricane after hurricane all along the Battery, an Amerciana history, an occupation history as it was held by the British during the Revolutionary War (think The Patriot starring Mel Gibson) its slave trade history and of course its Civil War era history. Each part of the history is expressed. You see it all has its place because as a people that is who the people of Charleston are. You will find different languages spoken throughout as you walk, dialects from the Carribean and African nations as descendants of slaves identify with both their natural and historical pasts with a low-country soul about it. In all it is quite charming.

This kind of charm I feel is why when travel studies or surveys are conducted Charleston rate so high and Richmond often never makes the list. You see people are not distuinghing our fine city from that of any other and in that lies the problem. The Capital of the Confederacy is a part of our rich history that many would rather have us forget. You see it is still too painful for some they tell us. For me though I think our history is used as a means to keep us divided, to keep us at odds, keep that feeling no matter how small of fear in each other that should one side or another have to fed it with a little political ferver they will from time to time to keep us heading down that same path we have been on since the 70's. What politcians and mouth-pieces of causes know and we often forget is that it is not the promise of the future that will heal this great city but the true honoring and reconciliation of our past that will. Only then will we really come together. Only then can we be one ship made right by truth and forgiveness. Only then will we be ready to show the world exactly who we really are as a people. This city establishment has failed to be the mentor in this respect.

I look at a city like Charleston, much smaller than Richmond, and yet a community that is using its rich history to benefit its future. Charleston has its share of issues; schools, poverty, jobs but it appears that together as a community they recognize that one of the biggest economical impacts they have is their city itself and all it represents. I ask myself exactly when will it come to pass Richmond has horse-drawn carriage tours taking people up and down Monument Avenue daily telling the story of Richmond's history pre and post Civil War all the while narrated by an African-American who is descended from the very people he his telling the story of. When that happens. When we can take pride in the fcat that we have embraced our past no matter how painful and a Virginian descended from slaves can where the uniform of a Confederate or drive a carriage that has the stars and bars emblem on it we will know that the powers that seek to culturely divide us have begun to lose their grip on our great City.

It is my hope that the Slave Trail and other historical endeavors in Richmond will be marketed effectively and that the counties in and around the city opt to make it a part of public school education. I will take my children but in the end my friends I will teach my children that it takes more than a statue placed within the confines of the city to bring "reconciliation", but a committment to dialogue with a foundation that we are ALL Richmonders and ALL Virginians and have much to be proud of together.

If there is doubt in anyone's minds what "real" reconciliation brings maybe we only have to look as far as Charleston, SC. Indeed its a tale of two cities with the same past.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wachovia to Outsource

Well we should have seen this coming to. Not the original announcement that Wachovia would be moving certain operations to St. Louis, but the fact that Wachovia will follow in the path of many Fortune 100/500 companies in its efforts to cut costs by moving portions of its operations out of the United States.

The trend of companies moving call centers and help desks by way of "outsourcing" continues well below the radar nowadays. It so common that it is almost not even news anymore. Thats sad.

It is a by-product of an inefficient corporate tax system that rewards companies for not employing Americans and hiring other nationalities on the cheap as cost cutting practices that benefit the bottom line in a competitive marketplace.

It is also the by-product of a global economy and trade policy that is completely unbalanced.

First Wachovia leaves Richmond, changes the big billboard and now evidently is taking its logo to the Phillipines as well. Surprised? The only surprise to me was it wasn't India.

CCRC announces BBQ for Don Sowder

The Chesterfield County Republican Committee has announced on their respective website that there will be a BBQ event held for supporters of Supervisor Don Sowder of the Midlothian District who will be seeking re-election in the Fall after serving since the interim election of 2006.

Mr. Sowder will face the same opponent again this time around in Dan Gecker, Chairman of the Chesterfield Planning Commission.

The BBQ will be held this weekend. Visit the CCRC site for details. You can use the link on this site.

Former Virginia Senator George Allen is to be in attendance at the event.

Friday, June 15, 2007

So whats a House Race cost anyway?

A buddy of mine sent me over some information found on a great website which I have placed in the Daily Rant section. Click on the site for Virginia Election Resources.

So have you ever though about what it would cost to run for the House of Delegates?

These are some numbers from a few area races from 2005:

House District Votes Expense $$ Expense per Vote$
63 Dem 15,685 $121,097 7.72
65 Rep 24, 619 $ 43,496 1.77
66 Rep 21,890 $156,693 7.16
68 Ind 26,886 $639,188 23.77
69 Dem 14,527 $481,799 33.17
70 Dem 13,745 $37,863 2.75

I thought that this was some pretty neat info regarding what a campaign must deal with in terms of finances to simply stay in the hunt.

If anyone is unsure or unaware of which Virginia House District they may currently be residing in simply leave me a comment in the comment section below and I will get back with you on it ..Or you can use the link to House Boundaries in the Daily Rant section.

The Road to November

With the Primaries in the rear view mirror for most of us, we now look to the Genral Election which comes in a mere four months in early November.

The last two days have been very active in the blogosphere as one would imagine. There's always some kind of drama in and around elections, even if they are primaries.

The most blogs seem to be centered around two Virginia Senate races in the Hanger v. Sayre and the Stosch v. Blackburn where the word is on the street Democratic participation in Republican primaries had an impact on the election result.

Most of that stems from the feeling that Sen. Hanger enlisted Democrats particpate in the primary in his district. From then on its down hill as the debate goes. Until election laws change, people can vote in these type of primary events regardless of political view and they are well within their right to do so I guess.

Locally I recall a piece in the Village News where residents of the Democratic camp were advised that their participation in the Republican primary in the Bermuda District of Chesterfield was welcome in determining the race between Dorothy Jaeckle and Jack Wilson. The implication was one in which Democrats should support Jaeckle in the primary over Wilson.

Jaeckle went on the defeat Wilson, though I have no way of knowing the true numbers of Democrats who may or may not have particpated but turnout was a little better than expected. Jaeckle will now face Democrat Ree Hart for the seat on the Board of Supervisors.

I know alot of people get pretty upset over that kind of stuff, but I do not subscribe to it. People as it stands have the right to do so I guess, I am not saying its ethical to support someone for the sole purpose of voting against them in four months, but its perfectly permitted under current state of things.

If enough people get fed up with that kind of stuff maybe thing will get changed but that will not be a very easy undertaking.

If these things really do occur it is saddening I must admit for those who are on the losing end. It doesn't seem fair, but well we all know about fairness is in line when talking about politics. Shouldn't be that way, but thats the reality.

I think fairness was one of the things we should have learned in kindergarten.

The good thing though we can now focus on is the road ahead and the actual General Election and have fun with the fair analysis of all the races. I for one a glad that The Road to November is upon us.

Dan Gecker to Run Independent

After the June 12, 2007 primaries across the County, now has Dan Gecker, current Chairman of Chesterfield Planning Commission, listed as an Independent (I) candidate for the seat of Midlothian Board of Supervisor.

The current Supervisor serving Midlothian is Mr. Don Sowder (R) who defeated Dan Gecker, running as a Democrat last Fall to fill the seat left vacate by the departure of Ed Barber(D) who had served the Midlothian for quite some time.

I will attempt to contact Mr. Gecker and see about his platform for his candidacy.

As of yet no debates between the candidates as been announced.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Democratic Party of Virginia Doing Great" ugh??

A blog I like to read frequently is Raising Kaine. Today Raising Kaine published a blog stating that the Democratic Party of Virginia was doing a "Great" job these days across the State.

I am sorry but I do not share that level of enthusiasm. I realize that the Republican Party just lost 2 moderate incumbants within primaries of their own Party to what the blogs identify as "more conservative" candidates of the right wing of the Republican Party, one even seeking to eliminate government from public education. While I am very concerned with the direction of the Republican Party these days, I think it has more to do with the fact that the serving Republicans are failing to abide by its own Republican creed. The biggest arguement for the downfall of the "moderates" has been that they have supported additional taxes and the backlash against them was well deserved because they were not acting like Republicans. The implication is if they are not acting like Republicans they must be acting like Democrats.

How about all of you act like Virginians for a change?

With the defeat of two moderates, blogs appear to be claiming a victory with the rationale that people will be less likely to vote for ultra-conservative candidates in the Fall over Democrat options. And this is where I fail to see exactly how the DPV is going "great".

You see there are too many examples across the State where the Democrats are not even a voice nor even try to be. Its not that there are no Democrats in these localities, its simply that there is no one engaging in the debate. Sound surprising?

One: Take my little part of the world. Chesterfield managed to bring what amounts to three total Democrats to the debate for Board of Supervisors. Two in Matoaca squared off with Bill Hastings prevailing. Ree Hart will run to represent Bermuda. And Holland will face Miller.Thats it. IN THE 4TH LARGEST AREA IN THE STATE....four people sought to engage in the debate for Supervisor. There are 5 seats of the Board. There are numerous Independents and one former Democratic nominee in Dan gecker now running as an (I) in Midlothian.
* this begs another question. Why are there so many Independents all of a sudden on ballots in Chesterfield. I will leave that the the CCDC and the CCRC to determine. Is there a movement growing or simply a dissatisfaction with status quo?

Two: Take the 68th House of Delegate race. Zero Democrats primaried for a shot to run against Manoli Loupassi (R) and Katherine Waddell (I). Thats I do not want to get into whether the (D) see Waddell as one of their own or not because to me thats a cop out. The fear that if they get involved a three way race will cause the (R) to win...ya ya ya ya.

Three: 7th Congressional: while the Democrats did run a candidate against Eric Cantor (R) last year, exactly what did the DPV do to help the guy in a Congressional race. In a year where Democrats were picking seats off in the national forum, even one Senate spot with Jim Webb here in Virginia, they did very little to aid in the campaign efforts in the 7th.

My point is simply, and I responded on the RK blog, is before people start praising the DPV for doing a "great" job, we need to take the time to consider and understand the big picture, ie the future. You cannot be doing a great job when races all over are going uncontested. I am tired of both sides only fighting where there is some perceived chance of victory. It is this ideology and the mass media for that matter that allow areas constantly to be portrayed as "red and "blue" as if that is descriptive of the entire population.

Ask yourself, does being a Republican or Democrat incapsilate exactly who you are? For me, it does not. The blogosphere seems to think that the lose of two moderates is a course to celebrate, but I rather tend to believe that it means that MORE gridlock is at our door. You see, the moderates on both sides are what make up the center in the General Assembly. Remove that and you have the extremes trying to get the "peoples" business done. Good luck.

Again, this not an attack on the DPV or CCDC, but simply an observation that things are not "Great" as RK proclaimed.

**Added June 15, 2007 by J. Scott

My original post of RK as spurred some debate. I want to again make the point that I am addressing what is the "perception" and there are many blogs addressing that. I want to point out that I do not beleive that one has to be a member of a local committee to be "involved" in the debate. We all have the power to influence others outside of that rhelm. Countless people have blogged to me about their issue with such committees. We should address that. Why are people leaving the debate. Why are Democrats/Republicans becoming Independents?
Both sides need to undertake some self-reflection on their own houses sorta speak and start asking the hard questions.
If only 8 to 12% of the voting population are going to cast a vote in the first place, no one can afford the have former candidates or supporters for that matter leave the debate.

Ukrops and its Future

I have to admit that when I first moved to Chesterfield almost thirty years ago I came from Northern Virginia (Loudon County) where you basically had Safeway, A&P and later Giant. Even back then Ukrops was considered a higher end store and most of its business was generated from the middle class and up in the Richmond area. I have always been impressed with Ukrops operations and the level of service it provides both inside its stores and to the greater Richmond community. Lets face it, anybody who was anybody was shopping at Ukrops.

Yesterday I was out and about and tuned into to Mac's show on WRVA 1140 and listened in on what I determined was a prediction for Ukrops demise. The contention is that Ukrops will not survive given the change in consumer patterns and the change in Richmond demographics. You see way back it was Richmonders shopping at Ukrops who for the most part grew up here. Now with the growth rates in population in the area continuing to rise and for the most part from outside the region, Ukrops is an unknown. It is not a national player on the grocery landscape and upon arrival most lean towards a familiar "brand" mentality. As new residents assimilate into our consciousness they learn more and more about the charm of Ukrops.

Charm. Thats pretty much a luxury these days. Ever gone into a Walmart, ever? Then you can easily see a "big box" with little charm. Talk about a nightmare. However, in the end thats what Ukrops is facing going forward. Big box retailers want a slice of the pie in terms of the grocery segment and they are a big force. Target is expanding its grocery square footage, Walmart is moving towards more Supercenter formats and replacing its old smaller units and then you have the grocers in Kroger and Food Lion. Kroger has done the best at re-creating itself. Its high end feel stores like Rt. 60 in Midlothian are leaps and bounds ahead of its first stores it opened in the Richmond area. But again, in the end we have to look at how we have gotten here.

Remember, Safeway was here, Farm Fresh was here, Welcome, Inc. ( which I think was a Krogeresque experiment in late 80's) A&P was even here way back and all of these are a distant memory. All the while Ukrops has endured and continued to build its local style brand.

The contention that Ukrops will not survive is a bit pre-mature. It is true that its market share has been decreasing but on a store by store comparison has it really?. The company still generates more sales per store than any traditonal grocer: (they did close one store)

Ukrops : 22m per unit
Kroger: 20 million per unit
Food Lion: 11 million per unit
(overall sales by number of stores)

A traditional Target does about 12 million in total sales and a Walmart can do over 30, which includes all of its catagories and services.

A closer look at determining whether a company is facing demise is how much it is costing them to generate the revenues they are producing. Obviously, Walmart is a winner here thanks to China. Sorry thats another story! But Ukrops is generating increasing sales in areas where others are not thanks to area facilities like the bakery operation in the West End as well as the grills on site that are producing high quality food at reasonable pricing if compared to eating out in restaurants. Mind you this was a play that Ukrops moved into with great criticism by the industry because it was a new, untradtional thing. Ukrops was as we say in technology a "first-mover" in Richmond to do this and it has paid off. Kroger is spending huge sums of money to compete in the area and they are close behind Ukrops in sales , but have already put their stores in the high end corners of the market often by nearby Ukrop stores and are now looking for the secondary areas which will not generate the same level of sales.

One thing that I think Mac touched on during his show was to the point. When you consider the current state of tax policy, wages, cost of living increases in the area that does not play toward Ukrops favor. Ukrops has traditonally been known to be a little more expensive, though my wife insists that not actually true depending upon what you are shopping for, and lets face it when life is good and theres gas in the tank with no worries and money in your wallet you go for service. Edge Ukrops. However, as taxs go up, gas prices climb, people worry about property tax issues (if your elderly being able to actually pay them going forward) you think less service and more value. People will force themselves into the stores like Walmart that they adhore because of the value that they may get and fact is have to get in order to maintain their quality of life. I agree with Mac on his point about tax policy issues in that government is forcing the hand of homeowners, especially the elderly and retired on limited income, to make choices that seem completely unfair. Its a huge dilemma.

In the end, I am not concerned about the future of Ukrops. They are a model for private business in how you grow, slow and steady. I am not worried that they closed a store or may close another because thats simply is a part of managing your business. Kroger has closed plenty nationwide as it has grown and takes a market approach to each of its areas. Another aspect you have to consider is how much land Ukrops may own across the area that they have not developed yet. You can bet the Krogers and the Food Lions are heavy into leasing in the centers they are in while Ukrops has the edge in the market and contacts to get in on some of the better real estate transactions. All of that goes to the health and financial stability of a company.

Now, I took some heat yesterday and got some emails about my call for a Wegmans or Whole Foods at Watkins Centre on Rt 60/Rt288. My point was simply for that development to bring in something new as a draw. If that were to happen, that would create a pickle for Ukrops in the Midlothian area and Kroger could take a hit at its Rt 60 unit as well. I have not heard too much from the Ukrops on the Watkins Centre publically, but you would think that such a project would have a direct impact on its Sycamore Square unit. So stay tuned they may have some plans we are all unaware of. Also keep in mind that both Wegmans and Whole Foods ARE more expensive than anything here but they back it up with great quality and selection. Ukrops continues to evolve within their industry and I see no reason why they will not survive in the market as it stands today.

If their sales per unit growth or sales per square foot began to decline over the course of the next few years then that would be a major concern for the grocer. That said however, they have what virtually every company seeks ; Brand Recognition.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Watkins Centre Re-visited

First and foremost I consider myself to be a pretty open-minded individual, fiscally conservative at heart and also the kind of person thats gonna tell you if I think I (and the collected we) am being sold a bill of goods.

I want to state for the record that I am impressed with the Watkins Centre. The size and the scale of the project I believe are want was envisioned for the area when Route 288 was being funded years ago. I think we have to understand that once RT288 was completed and the bridge from Powhatan into Goochland County was completed that we would be faced with potential projects like these sooner or later. Folks thats really the underlying reason that roadway was built in the first place. I know I will get that it was built to connect Chesterfields population with that of the West End and offering easy access for those that work and or shop across the river. Wait. I think I have heard that before somewhere recently. Could it be Watkins Centre?

The meeting held back on June 4th convinced of one simple truth; we were being sold this project by sales folk. Now I understand that there is some vested interest in the project by parties involved and on thats not at all the issue in my mind. I have supported the proponents of this project, as Sen Watkins and Supervisor Sowder whose district the project will be located so this is simply not some political hack job taken at these individuals but what it seemed and to many I have spoken to since was this thing is all but done. Presence at the very meeting was like you unknowingly party to it all. This was a community meeting but truly for what end. Were we really involved? Is are insight or views part of the debate? Is their really any debate at all? Someone will need to help us defone within our county exactly what me mean when we say "community".

Look, I am not opposed to Watkins Centre, but the process our leadership continues to go through in its considerations for such projects. I recall during the Rt288 debate the powers that be used the rhetoric that the roadway would give us greater access to the other side of the river and now we need Watkins Centre as a means to limit the number of residents having to travel across the river and spend their hard earned money. The goal is to provide a mixed-use for business/office and retail with retail going in first and they want to impress upon us that we should support Chesterfield business and stay home. Okay. That begs the question then why do we have Rt288 in the first place. They want us to shop and in my estimation locate new business along the corridor so we work here as well and not feel compelled to travel across the river anymore.

My only real issue is that it will not matter what so ever if the mix of retail is not just right. If they cannot bring "new", okay thats something that gets thrown around all the time and I do not mean a new Walmart SuperCenter, I mean "new" retailers not operating in Richmond at all that are at the higher end. The beauty of Short Pump has not been its location or relatively easy access by residents, but the mix of small and large format retailers that were not here before, anywhere. Nordstroms, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Cheesecake Factory, were just a few that Richmonders wanted and Short PUmp brought them in and lets not forget about Stony Point.

So what does Watkins Centre plan to offer, really? All I think is that the size and scope of this project should have a site plan with signed leases by anchor tennants and other retail as a requirement BEFORE it goes any further. I am sure that the arguement over feasibility in that will be raised, but if I am not mistaken the developer had something similar to that for Short Pump which was delayed if I recall. Without providing new retail I believe the project will not meet expectation. The site must balance family needs, young urban singles, and seniors (a growing poulation in Chesterfield that is virtually be ignored the last five years) within a complex and to pull that off it must do more than simply state it will be high end mixed use-it must deliver it.

Some discussion of the project included that a grocery store would be one of the anchors. Opinion: if its not Wegmans, Shoppers or Harris Teeter big deal. The leadership is so content on coming from the perspective that "free market" philosophy should dominate the discussion and Chesterfield Towne Center will have to change and adapt to compete if fails to look at itself in the rhelm of how it is in fact impacting that landscape through its commercial growth view. We are allowing shiopping centers to go up a stones throw from one another and continue to build out Rt360 like the Rt60 and West Broad Street of old. Did we not learn our lesson? What do they really expect to be left behind? What will be the real impact on us?

Fact: Today it took me 19 minutes too drive from the RT60/Rt288 interchange down to Courthouse Rd and Chesterfield Towne Center. 19 minutes. These are the little things the powers seem to miss when they tell people about great it will be to have a shopping mall in their backyard and the financial impact on the county will be tremondous--how about this earmark the impact for very defined avenues, ie the increase seen will go to very specific things and mandate it before all of this even happens. I know , now thats just plain silly.

Preliminary Debates Scheduled for BOS Matoaca Seat

It has been announced that there will be two debates scheduled in the Fall to be held at Cosby High School where all the candidates seeking the Board of Supervisor position are invited to attend.

The format of this debate as yet to be released. The two debates are sponsored by the Chesterfield Business Council and the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce.

The debate sponsored by the Council is scheduled for October 27, 2007 right before the election in November and a little of a week after the October 17, 2007 debate sponsored by the Chamber.

Once the official format is disclosed and agreed upon by the candidates I will update it as we move forward. It is my hope that there will be a community question format in addition to one where the sponsors ask the questions. Only in that we are really having a true open dialogue and debate about the future. I do not think I could take a debate of countless "softball" questions aimed at favored candidates or the pushing of a groups agenda via a "debate".

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bill Hastings Takes Democratic Primary in Matoaca

8:36PM June 12, 2007

As expected, Bill Hastings has won the primary nomination for the Democrats in the Matoaca District of Chesterfield. Hastings, who almost upset the current Supervisor of Matoaca, Renny Humphrey in the last election cycle took 12 of the 15 areas outright over Don Wilms.

Votes %
Bill Hastings 558 78.15

Don Wilms 156 21.84

Total Votes 714 (42,795 potential voters)

Wilms won in areas South Manchester, Birkdale and was even with Hastings in Spring Run. Hastings was up big in Ettrick, Deer Run, Matoaca, and Winfrees Store.

*** I am saddened however that the Matoaca District had a mere 1.68% turnout. It begs the question exactly what message other than apathy is being sent. Renny Humphrey has announced she will not be seeking re-election and the Democrats will be facing Mark Tubbs, the Republican Primary winner and two Independents in this Fall election. If Hastings has a chance in the Fall in such an open field, the Democrats and the CCDC will have to do much better.

This race will come down to two very important issues; Smart Growth and Schools. We can expect platforms from all the candidates in the coming weeks, but my feeling is that the Independents in this race have already gained some ground. Supporters have quitely attended community meetings over planning and development and are quick to make this the focal point of any discussion about Chesterfield.

It is my hope that everyone will get involved in the coming months and engage in the debate. The most important thing we all, Red, Blue or Green, can do is engage in the dialogue, otherwise you get exactly what you put into it...absolutely nothing...

A Victory for Grassroots: Dorothy Jaeckle Takes Bermuda Primary

8:31PM Tuesday June 12, 2007

A shot just was sent across the bow of the Chesterfield County Republican Committee ship and it came from the grassroots effort of supporters of Dorothy Jaeckle running for the Republican nomination for Board of Supervisors.

Jack Wilson, Bermuda Planning Commissioner, had the endorsements of most of the Board of Supervisors (all Republican), the school board member from Bermuda in Marshall Trammell, Jr. and even the Lt. Governor. However, the endorsements were not enough. Mr. Wilson found himself in a dogfight that admittedly few could have predicted with Dorothy Jaeckle.

The Results: Some 8.53% of eligible voters (35,990) Bermuda District (3,070 votes were cast)

How Jaeckle did it?

Area: Belwood 53%
South Chester 63%
Enon 53%
North Chester 65%
Drewry Bluff 62%
Harrowgate 60%
Wells 62%
Ecoff: 62%
Dutch gap 50/50 even
Ironbridge 58% Jack Wilson
Absentee: 52%

This is a huge victory for citizens in Bermuda and the countywide who sought to send a message to the CCRC and the BOS that the concerns for the citizens and the impacts of our quality of life (thanks Bill) have to be the main priority of leadership and not simply acting as a part of Economic Development engine with regard to planning for Chesterfield's future.

I expect now that the real debate over Smart Growth will begin. Dorothy Jaeckle has proven that she can get the vote out in Bermuda and will have to again against Democrat Ree Hart in the Fall election.

I expect both candidates to set a platform for their campaign in the coming weeks.

It is my hope that all of us challenge each and every candidate to articulate a clear vision for Chesterfield regardless of Party.

Monday, June 11, 2007

June 12th Primary Day: Get the Vote Out

Tommorrow primaries will be held across various districts of Chesterfield County to nominate party candidates for the general election this Fall. The Bermuda District will nominate a Republican candidate to run against the Democratic nominee Ree Hart, while the Matoaca District will nominate a Democratic candidate to run gainst the nominee from last months Republican primary in Mark Tubbs.

If you live in the Bermuda District, there are two Republicans on the ballot tomorrow for your consideration. Dorothy Jaeckle, a representative on the County's Futures Committee has worked to the benefit of the county by working with the Council of PTAs as well as working with School Board officials addressing some of the county's most pressing issues. Her opposition is Jack Wilson, a Planning Commissioner from the Bermuda District and as a local attorney has a great deal of experience in urban planning and land use issues that face the County. Both nominees have been involved with the Chesterield Republican Committee.

If you live in the Matoaca District, there are two Democrats seeking nomination. Bill Hastings and Don Wilms square off tommorrow in an interesting contest in that both candidates have extensive experience in the area of education. Mr. Wilms is currently working as a high-school teacher in Chesterfield and Mr. Hastings retired after thirty years of service as a science teacher in the county and recently was a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Board. The dynamic of this debate is that both candidates have very distinct experience and visions for some of the major issues facing the county as a whole. Mr. Hastings involvement with Fire Services within the county, his service on the Water and Soil Conservation Board and the simple fact that he was invloved in the "growth" debate with the current Republican Supervisor in Renny Humphrey in the last election and narrowly lost to her in ehat has been described as a very "red" district. Mr. Wilms is addressing aot of current issues in terms of school overcrowding, growth and strategic planning , and one of the more interesting issues in this election year and that is the determination of the neccesity for more districts (ie additional Supervisors) within the County.

A few issues to consider:

1: The County spent 60 million on Cosby High and now faces a potential 80-90 million estimated cost to replace Clover Hill. There are currently two new middle and elementary schools under construction. In the event the County remains unable to keep up with growth would the nominee approve for funding for schools (43% of total budget) or simply offer the alternative of another bond referendum. **the 2004 bond of 230 million will not be enough to meet the gorwth requirements

2. In the event that it is determined that the County is unable to reduce the overcrowding of schools and cannot get support for another bond referendum, would you support raising the taxes placed on business fees or that of individual residents over reducing the rate of growth via planning.

3. Will the nominee make a committment that by 2014 Chesterfield County will not educate its children in make shift classrooms via trailers

4. Would the nominee support the increase of development cash proffers per lot to offset county services and asist with road construction costs *voted down by current Board* and eliminate the planning exemption of paid proffers to any development that is not deemed as "revitalization

5. Would the nominee seek direct oversight over how the School Board uses the funds that the Board provides for their budget. By "direct" does the nominee believe the Board canmandate what funds are or are not used for.

6. How would the nominee address the current transportation crisis with our roads and infrastructure and dependence on State funding resources

7. Chesterfield has seen a rise in crime as reported in the RTD from 2004 to 2006, especially in the area of robberies. How would the nominee address funding for police with the expansive growth rate the county is experiencing

8. How would the nominee seek to lessen the burden if any of "illegal" immigrants of the county services, ie social, health and police

9. Would the nominee support the requirement for the County to require all food service operators within the county to have at least (1) Certified Food Handler on premise at all times during operations in addition to raising the Food Safety Regulations fees

10. Does the nominee support the Upper Swift Creek Plan as it in its present form or should both the Board and Planning Commission use for time to create a more comprehensive growth plan

11. Would the nominee support the creation of (2) additonal Districts with the next census or before thus bringing the total number of members of the Board of Supervisors to 7 from the current number 5.

Chesterfield County Sheriff Race:
Republicans will nominate their candidate for Sheriff on Tuesday. the current sheriff, Dennis Proffitt faces a challege from Robert Poland and Garland Stafford within the Republican ranks. Mr. Proffitt assumed interim duties as Sheriff with the retirement of former Sheriff Clarence Williams. The Republican nominee will face the Democratic candidate Anthony Demay and two Independents in Kendrick Hall and Steven Neal.

Circuit Court:
Republicans will nominate eitherincumbant Judy Worthington or challenger Dennis Collins. Worthington with sixteen years on the job is heavily endorsed by the establishment, while Collins hopes to get the vote out with the people. Collins has been using the issue over the dispute between Worthington and Circuit Judge T.J. Hauler where it is Collins contention that Worthington cost taxpayers almost four hundred thousand dollars over a defammation of character suit filed by Hauler against Worthington.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Remember that there are primaries in Chesterfield scheduled for June 12, 2007.

If you would like to see information about those seeking office or nomination please check back to this site for upcoming features.

Until then please use to get you connected to the debate.

I will laso post this site in the daily rants section so you can review it from time to time. Thanks.

If You Build It (They) Will Come

Lately I am reminded of the words, "If You build it, he will come" from the movie Field of Dreams, but these days it has little to do with baseball in Chesterfield. In my mind, it has more to do with planning and growth in the county. According to estimates we are expected to build some 10, 000 new residential lots in Chesterfield by the end of 2007. By "new" I mean those yet to be zoned for such use but have been asked for in plans. In addition to the new lots, there is also still an inventory of over 40,000 lots in Chesterfield that are currently ready for development and have come through the planning process successfully but have as yet been built upon.

In listening to the main stream media reports regarding the economy and national home sales it appears as though Chesterfield will have a surplus of inventory by years end. In fairness, Chesterfield and the Metro Richmond area has continued to beat the national average of homes sales/starts for quite some time, however some have expressed the view that the peak in the market is well behind us. For the record, I am not a real estate expert. That said, however, what I see at least in Chesterfield's Midlothian district is home sales are appearing to slow way down. I say this because as a long time resident in the area I have seen homes sell extremely fast the last two years but now are staying on the market much much longer.

Another aspect is the fact that sellers are reducing their home prices for the first time in years. I have seen a property located in the James River High School area reduce its selling price twice already, where early last year the home would have sold above the original asking price fairly easily. This trend is a by product of changing market conditions and above all else inventory.

The more inventory that remian for sell and longer it takes to move said inventory the lower prices will become. We have seen this before at brief period in the markets housing history. The looming challenege however, is the fact that the County is experiencing large growth in "New" construction. In the end this to could effect existing home sale values and the number sold in the coming year.

The biggest question most new families are looking at are schools and services. Lets face it, home values have not been a high priority per say largely due to the fact that a predominant number of new residents are coming to Chesterfield from the Northeast United States where home values are much higher. Chesterfield is seen a a great value, especially say to a family of four coming from New Jersey where not only are the values of their homes there higher, but their taxes are drastically higher than Chesterfield across the board. Simple speak: our cost of living is more reasonable and you get more home for your money. To continue a true growth reality, however, we have yet truly faced lack of schools and services to accomodate such new plans that as a county we have currently before us.

All that said. Chesterfield faces a tremondous amount of planning issues going forward with the new residential inventory that could be phased in. Setting aside all the commercial developments of the day, Chesterfield is looking at new residential communities such as Roseland (5,140 lots) Magnolia Green (4,886 lots) Branner Station (4,688 lots) Harpers Mill (2,392 lots) are the ones that are significant in terms of size and are currently in the planning stages. Of course all of these lots will not be built at once and will be phased in over the next ten to fifteen years, nonetheless all of the zoning in up for planning in 2007-08. These issues do not consider the vast number of other additional projects before the Planning Commission that incude areas of Swift Creek Village, lots along Lake Chesdin, and along the corridors of Route 360, Route 60 and down towards Chester.

One aspect that really has not been addressed, though in terms of development may Branner Station is the proposed solution, is the planned expansion of the Ft. Lee military installation of the next five to ten years. This base will draw more military to Chesterfield, which currently is home to some 26% of military personnel stationed at Ft. Lee. Chesterfield will not only be tasked with planning for the expansion impacts, but also looking at an overcrowding of schools as it is in the county.

Chesterfield continues to build and build, but I still have doubts that with every piece of planning approved that the powers that be some how have a real disconnect with the results and the simple fatct remains that"If you build it (they) will come"--we had better prepare for their arrival alot better than we have in the last five years or we may just become another Fairfax.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Chesterfield School Board moving Forward with Pre-School program

The School Board is moving forward with the Pre-School program that it had originally budgeted for in its FY2008 budget before the Board of Supervisors sought to play politics and in essence used a make-shift line item veto-like manuever to remove the 750k from the budget of the School Board that was to go towards this program.

Credit goes to the School Board because instead of playing politics themselves and get into a drawn out duel with the BOS over its unprecedented vote over its budget means they determined that they ineed wanted the program and they are making it happen. Now I suppose there are those among the BOS that will say that this is how government should work, but please. The BOS is giving our SChool Board around 43% of the overall county budget which is under as a % of most of our neighboors and still managed to reduce it a further 750K by seeking to eliminate the pre-school program for at-risk children.

The School Board will not fill 18 new teacher positions and 12 bus driver positions in order to make sure that they can offer the pre-school program in the Fall opposed by the BOS. While not having thiose new teachers does present some concern, I imagine that the School Board felt these were positions that their budget could do without.

Seven area schools will be able to take advantage of the Virginia Intiative pre-school program; Bensley, Beulah, Davis, Falling Creek,Providence, Reams, and Harrowgate.

Registration for the program is JUne 8, 2007 at particpating schools. Their are many programs at play here invloving TitleI and Headstart as well as Virginia Preschool Intiative. To be eligible each child must:
be 4 years old by Sept. 30, 2007
live in the school district of a particpating school
demonstrate need; at or below poverty line status

Title I will operate at Bellwood, Chalkley,Ettrick, and Falling Creek

Headstart will operate at Bellwood, Bensley,chalkley,Ettrick, falling Creek,Harrowgate, and Hopkins and have its own set of requirements for participation. All pre-school related forms are available at each participating school.

Chesterield County Republican Breakfast

There will be a breakfast event on Saturday, June 9th at 8AM at the Ocharley's at 12401 Tennessee Plaza at Hull & 288 hosted by the Chesterfield County Republican Committee with special guests slated to appear are: Judy Worthington (Clerk of Circuit Court) and on the JUne 12 ballot and J. Horbal, Commissioner of Revenue. Guest welcome.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mark Tubbs takes Matoaca Republican Primary

Today, Mark Tubbs won the Republican nomination in the firehouse primary over Kevin Salminen with 52% of the vote. Tubbs will take on a undecided Democrat at the present time in the election this Fall for the Matoaca seat on the Board of Supervisors.

I want to voice my sincere admiration for the campaign run my Kevin Salminen. I truly hope that Kevin continues to voice and advocate his position because there are indeed many Republicans in Chesterfield who believe in the issues that he made a focal point in his campaign.

As for Mark Tubbs, hopefully he will communicate more of his issues in the months ahead. Frankly, I am impressed that someone who entered the race what seems weeks ago managed to bring people out to the polls the way he did. I am just not satisfied with the fact he has failed to communicate a clear vision for the county. Mr. Tubbs had the support of the greater Chesterfield GOP and I am sure that played a huge part in garnering support.

The Democrats will hold a primary June 12th for its nominee and two Independents have declared . I would like to see at least one Town Hall/debate meeting scheduled to hear what the nominees have to say on the issues before November. Maybe if residents scream loud enough it could happen.

Folks. You want answers for the road problems, tax issues, trailers outside your schools, funding of schools at only 43% of total budget, and how the development will impact all of us over the next ten years...well you better get in the fight now before we send more people to the Board who were never required to articulate their positions on the record or had them challenged or debated gets on the Board.

Just got a call asking if I thought Kevin would consider running as an Independent. Good question...good question indeed.

No word whether Dan Gecker will re-challenge Don Sowder in the Midlothian District, but folks do not seem to chipper about this whole Watkins Centre thing in his very backyard and last years election was closer than people thought it would be.

FreadHead: Thompson visits Richmond

Fred Thompson, FTD for short was in town over the weekend. I for one did not attend the Republican Gala so it is called where FTD spoke after Eric Cantor delivered some words as well.
After a weekend with the family I was able to watch his speech on CSPAN who covered the event.
I have to say that I was very impressed with Fred Thompson. His speech and delivery reminded me quite a bit of some of those given by Reagan and some of his critique on the current state of Washington was right on. The current state of affairs in Washington is solely bent on undermining the war effort, bringing down George Bush and the adminsistration, and winning the election in 08 and NOT the peoples business. His biggest point to make the case was the debate on immigration in Washington and rallying the crowd when he basically implied; secure the border first Stupids!!!
What reminded me most of Reagan was the style in which he delivered his views. FTD is not an apologist, he knows there is work that needs to be done, but what people are missing is the Democrats in Washington are coming from the perspective that America is'nt "Great" anymore, that we have lost our standing in the world and that it is no longer great to be an American and the only way to change all that is to put them in the White House in 2008.

Well thats a year away. What is America to do until then. While all the talk continues about what these folks seek to do in beginning in 2009 the American citizen is left in the dark with no one to life them up and address their needs. Finally some real passion.

I get the feeling that FTD cares more about being an "American" than he does being a "Republican". Now that is some refreshing stuff.

I may just become a FredHead.

Shades of Blue the Democrats Debate

While I try to stay on top of some of the local issues here in Chesterfield, and lately there have been plenty, I am not deaf to whats going on on the national scene. I have to admit that at times it drives me crazy that people pay so much more attention to Washington and all the media plaugued politics than they do there own backyard and whats impacting their neighboorhoods, schools, workplace and simply their quality of life. Washington's not addressing that so much these days. We need to look to our local leaders for alot of our concerns and force them to put pressure on the people they need to to make things happen. ie transportation and roads where our local leaders should be putting pressure on our State Senators and Delegates to bring the funds to Chesterfield and Richmond.

Instead people worry about pointless things like how much John Edwards paid for his haircut, How John McCain appears so tired, How Obama is becoming an electrifier or whether Thompson or Gingrich enter the race ...honestly I'm following that one cuz I likem both alot. So in an effort to get in touch I watched the debate of the Democrats Sunday and will watch the Republicans tonight.

What did I learn from the Democrats? First and Foremost Not all Democrats are Alike! There are indeed different Shades of Blue.

First in formeost that the guy probably most qualified to actually be presidential has little chance. Bill Richardson appears to have all the goods but little charisma and delivery. His experience as Governor, Secretary, Ambassador are undeniably impressive. The only one real issue I found completely dissappointing was his ideas on immigration, but given the fact he has no chance of winning the nomination what other perspective is he going to have coming from New Mexico. I found the others, with the possible exception of Joe Biden, to be for the most inexperienced politicians with alot of rhetoric but little substance. Biden delivered I think some reality to the bunch on exactly what is required to get the thing done others were proposing. His vote not in line with the others was long as there are boots on the ground he is going to get them what they funding.

The funding issue for Iraq was probably one of the one topics I felt made the stage pretty transparent. Biden voted his conscience and to his credit went against the majority of those on the left. John Edwards has been outfront since the beginning on this issue in demanding that the funding be withdrawn and the war ended. Edwards made a call for all his supporters and called on MoveON to influence all of its memebership to call on the Reps in the House and get them behind withdrawing funding and used as much free media to get his views out. While I do not support Edwards on this issue, he in effect has earned my respect for taking a leadership position, albeit on the other side, of this issue. Obama and Clinton were very disappointing. Not in the debate per say mind you, but in their continual lack of leadership on any issues. Obama has great presence and is a great speaker, but as of yet has been short on substance...other than his vote against the war initially in the Senate. His Healthcare plan seems no more visionary than Clintons back in the 90's....universal designed and guided by the insurance companies. Clinton at this point is gun-shy on healthcare...still after ten years...and copped to the country not having the "political will" to get it done during Bill Clinton's term. Seems to me she has been the one to lose the political will. In her years in the Senate has she proposed a single meaningful bill in committee or the floor on healthcare. This was her major issue as a First Lady and she has left it like a bad habit.
Both Obama and Clinton, as pointed out by Edwards were MIA on leadership for the Iraq funding vote, waiting til the last votes to cast their own. Now that was simply politics at its best. They both were either waiting to see what each other were thinking or waiting to see the vote count before the cast theirs; either way that NOT leadership and I agree with Edwards. The moderator seem to play to the top three in Clinton, Obama, Edwards but occaisionally would let Gravel or Kucinich chime in with could only be defined as "political realities". Honestly I think these guys would be great anchors covering politics becuase they are great at calling "Bull**** as Bull****" from the others as they play politics. I thought Chris Dodd was the most improved from the last debate and he got a little more time I think.

So in the end: I thought

Edwards: did quite well as the attack dog defining that the next leader will have to deal with Iraq,Healthcare,Global climate change, Korea, etc A-

Obama: articulate, challenged/defended his positions well, but nothing new B+

Richardson: very statesman like , has a firm grasp on most of the issues but will not crack to top three B
Biden: experienced politician, defended his votes/views, outlined governement reality, armor for troops and is leadership on that B

Clinton: the front runner I felt defended her ground, but still references what she feels were the Clinton days too much (thats the past we are talking about the future) good speaker I think but never says too much about what she "would" do....too much we all need to talk and get together as one in the world and in America...and then refuses to go to the Black Caucas debate on Fox. B-

Kucinich/Gravel: interesting television. I think Kucinich would be great for a national Libertarian Party but as Democrat at the national level he's dead in the water. C/D

Crosland and Cloverleaf's Chippenham Place

Lets be honest. There is a tremondous amount of development going forth in Chesterfield. Much of it is underway in terms of residential projects with many more like Magnolia Green and Roseland to come, but some of the mixed-use developments are either entering the preliminary stages of talks or just coming out of them in terms of re-zonings and planning approvals.

While much this week will be centered around the feedback from the community on the Watkins Centre project from the town hall meeting Monday night, we must remind ourselves that during the same phase of development Crosland on the opposite end of Route 60 may also be building their proposed Chippenham Place development. So over the next three years Midlothian could see that on each end of its corridor; beginning with Cloverleaf Mall and at the other end with Route 288 , two very large projects underway.

Crosland's plan appear to be aligned with the 1998 Boards descision to revitalize the Eastern Midlothian Corridor. The County was advised by consultants that as a county it had to "actively participate in the redevelopment" of the corridor and that the private sector could not bear the burden alone due in part because the area had been allowed to decline relative to other sites in the county. Okay. In the end you know this inevitably means giving something to the developers inlieu of reduced or none for that matter cash proffers, ffes or assisting with water/utilities etc etc. etc.

On 1/24/07 the Board agreed to a purchase/sale agreement with Crosland regarding Cloverleaf's 80+ acres for around 9.2 million for the structures of the mall itself. The County does not currently own the actual land (ie ground) of the site currently, but is in process of negiotiation to acquire the "ground space" to move the deal forward. The COunty does own two parcels adjacent to the site outright. The ground space totals some 46 acres at the original offer price by the Chesterfield of 4.5 million was declined. The County also will have to pay off the leases of some 20 tennants of Cloverleaf in order for the projuect to move ahead and allow Crosland to raise the site for development. Estimated price tag for the buyout could be almost one million dollars.

The proposed development for the site appears appropriate in many respects. A mixed -use statisfies the Eastern Midlothian Corridor plan in that it afford the opportunity for both commercial and residential to balance the project from a planning and economic standpoint. Currently, Kroger is said to be the proposed major anchor lease for the site so far. I know, Kroger does not exactly come to mind for Richmonders when it thinks of higher end retail, but in all fairness it has positioned itself well as one of the growing chains along the southeast and has redesigned it stores to compete against the Harris-Teeters and the Ukrops of the world. That said, it is important that we take a look at Crosland. It always amazes me how folks look at plans and believe in the "this is what we are going to do" versus taking a look at the company behind the project and looking at "this is what we have done". Frankly, some 22 developers made proposals for the Cloverleaf project and there was alot of this is what we will do. What makes Crosland stand out?

While I like many of us are still concerned with the specifics, the County it appears got this one right. If you look at the projects currently undertaken by Crosland, you will find some very nice properties that work a site plan for the benefit not only of the project but the community. Crosland has projects Birkdale Village; 52 acres, 285K sq feet retail, 320 urban style apartments in the Charlotte region and also the Blakeney development off of I-485 in Charlotte which has 270 acres of mixed-use with 45 acres of greenways, a Park,495K sq. feet retail use anchored by Harris Teeter, a Professional centre with 220K sq. feet and residential housing Blakeney Green (364 homes by Ryan and Saucey Burbank) as well as Blakeney Preserve with 216 homes by Pulte. The site also has 206 Apartment-style housing units. Crsoland also has a project in Cary, NC called Residences at the Arboretum that also demonstrates its creative use of aprtments, townhouses and commercial development to support the project.

Not having really any insite into what is planned for Watkins Centre at R60/288, I could not help but begin to visiualize that project interms of the Crosland properties that I have either been to, shopped at, or viewed online as the plan is discussed. It makes me hope that the developers of that project are as aligned to the needs of a given site as Crosland appears to have been with its projects. There is still alot up in the air (actual costs by the county) with regard to when the Chippenham Place project will get underway, but I think the county has a done itself right by placing the future of the R60/Chippenham site in Crosland's hands.

Crosland "Its Our Place to Improve Yours"

Monday, June 4, 2007

Matoaca Primary for Republican Nominee for Supervisor

The Chesterfield GOP has organized its Primary for the Republican nomination for the seat on the Board of Supervisors and will hold a "firehouse" primary on Tuesday.
The seat on the BOS currently held by Renny B. Humphrey is in play largely because of Humphrey's descision not to seek re-election. The GOP has two candidates in the primary; Kevin L. Salminen and former lobbyists and relatively late comer to the race Mark Tubbs.

One of the side issues of the debate within the community regarding this particular primary has been the direction that the County has an opportunity to take with the elecction in the Fall.

Mr. Salminen for example brings a young, fresh approach in his proposals for the way in which the county should do business. I would say that he is not in the status quo camp by any means and there have been some who have tried to use Mr. Salminen, a thirty-something, against him.
Though a Republican, my take is Mr. Salminen is almost considered or at least partly portrayed as an outsider within the Chesterfield GOP itself.

I see the County with an opportunity to place members on the Board that have a willingness to embrace the accountability that comes along with the position. One of the biggest criticisms of the most recent BOS has been its reluctance of holding business to the level of accountability it should, whether it be developers in terms of cash proffers or increasing business fees in line with needs of the county. We have seen a rise in such things as utilities and the costs associated with services, but not increases across the board levied on the business community in line with those the residents are experiencing. The current BOS did lower the property tax rate to assist residents with that burden but there is question whether they have been forthright in holding business pay its share. These are the very questions before these nominees.

Frankly, I am really unfamiliar with Mr. Tubbs platform in large part due to late entry into this race for the nomination, but Mr. Salminen, who has been getting the word out for about ten months has built some momentum and is addressing the issues before the County with some possible solutions in paying for the growth the county is experiencing and the issues in our schoolsystem.

One committment I would like to get from one of these nominees is the requirement for restaurant and foodservice operators to have at least one certified food manager on premise during operating hours. The County should implement a program through Department of Health which creates a foodservice card, very much like Fairfax, Arlington and othe counties do, which require food service operators to pass testing regarding food safety and be issues a County Food Handlers Card. This measure I believe was shot down in the past by this BOS with its portrayal as simply a tax on business. Fact is, it is a health safety program that holds business accountable for how they operate. This measure is but one way of holding business accountable for the safety of its customers and guests and revenues could be used to more than sustain the program and go towards other ends as well.

Please make sure that if you live in the Matoaca district that you get out and vote. The Democrats will hold a primary on June 12 to nominate a candidate for the race.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Community Meeting Monday 7PM

For the life of me I just do not get how we allow government to get away with all they do. On Wednesday May 30th it was announced that MOnday night June 4, 2007 at 7PM there will be a community meeting held at Midlothian High School to discuss the new Watkins Centre project along the 288/Midlo corridor. This is a one of the bigger projects in review by the BOS and Planning Commission , along with Magnolia Green and Roseland developments, in terms of impact on the community. I am frankly disturbed that notice for such an issue with such impacts would be FIVE days as released on the Chesterfield County website. As a community we need to be more involved in the process. We have seen this with impromptu debates like the Upper Swift Creek Plan going back and forth between the Board and Planning Commission. IT is obvious that these two instruments of government have too very different of visions and missions for that matter. In the end, only our community get get government on the right track toward smarter growth pans and these two bodies have to work together to that end.

Attending will be Don Sowder, Midlothian Board of Supervisor, Sen.Watkins (family land owner of parcels) and the developers , Rebkee Co. and Zarimba Metro.

Though this project is in the Midlothian District, I ask for anyone residing in Chesterfield to come and be heard or just listen and be part of the solution for smart growth for Chesterfield. The more of us residents who take the time, which I know is very scarce these days with work and family committments, to show we are going to be in the know and hold these guys accountable the better.

It is my hope that that those who support Smart Growth strategies for our county will challenge the speakers for clear visions and impacts of the project. It is my hope to see Marleen Durfee, who will be running as an Independent in the Matoaca race in the Fall for Supervisor, will leverage her extensive knowledge on smart growth and help us address some of the impacts this project will bring.
As long as we are all well informed of such projects and have the opportunity to address concerns in our community in the end I think we create a better place to live, work, raise our kids and enjoy life.

FYI; next BOS meeting is June 27, 2007 at 3PM

Friday, June 1, 2007

Still Waiting...Bass Classic opts for South Carolina

I am simply just down right frustrated. BASS, no owned by ESPN, annouced that the 2008 Bassmaster Classic will be Feb. 22-24 at Lake Hartwell near Greenville, South South Carolina. Call ne nostalgic but I have been awaiting the return of the Classic or any Bass event in the Elite Series to return to the James River for what feels like forever. Many of the guys I remember at the weigh in in my youth when Downtown held three Classic events have since put the rods down professionally. I am amazed Rick Clunn wiiner here in 90 of the Classic is still thrownin down on the Tour. Gary Klein though not a winner here is still fishing as well. I rooting for Woo Daves of Chester, Va and having my heart broken as we watched Guido Hibdon take the 88 Classic. Hey Woo remember back then I think it was 50K to the winner. Now the Classic winnner walks with a cool 500K large.
I only voice my frustration because though I know as all of us local fishin guys does that floods and droughts have challenged our beloved James but it is coming back, especially when you consider that Pro's get the James, Chickohominy, Appomattox and lots of other water to fish. We have to think about we are talkin 250horses nowadays on the Elite level. Back in 90 I doubt the Pro were running that much. The Pros can cover alot of water and alot faster. The James is still one of the most respected fisheries, but it begs the question why we are going on 17 years without a visit from the top Tour level.
It saddens me but many over the City of Richmond when you ask them about it haven't a clue and I think thats the biggest problem. There is some sort of rooted resentment towards holding Bass Events that began in the mid nineties that I just have never really understood. It as if these folks portray the BASS Elite Series as some sort of "redneck" pastime.
While I praise the folks in Bedford and Franklin County, which will host a regular Bass Elite Tour event next week, it saddens me that the City of Richmond has no will or desire to bring the vent, either a Classic or a regular Tour event back to Richmond. It is my understanding the City has not even attempted. Again it amazes me the two counties can work together to host an event that will be huge economically for the Smith Mountain Lake area, but a City has large as Richmond can't even put togther a group of people to make a proposal to BASS.
You can bet when I bump into Mr. Loupassi I will be sure to ask him exactly why it is the City of Richmond has failed to host a BASS event in over 17 years, or at least why it hasn't while he was on City Council.
Regardless, I will travel to South carolina and spend my money down there just as I did in Alabama this last year on Lay Lake for the 2007 Classic.

I just wish we had an arena large enough in Chesterfield to host such an event of that magnitude. I know we probably have enough access on our side of river for the Pro but the weigh-in and all that with 40-50K people may pose a problem. Wishful thinking or probably dreaming!!

Cinderella Cosby Pulls Upset over Kinights

Unseeded and Cinderalla Cosby High School approached the Central Region Semifinals against 19-0 Thomas Dale with a very relaxed and calm tempo of a verteran squad. This was Cosby's first year of varisyt soccer and with no seniors on the team surprised a more experienced Thomas Dale team. The Knights looked solid, controlling much of the possession but found themselves collapsed upon approaching the eighteen by the Cosby defense. Offensive threats were clearly marked by the Cosby defense. It was if Cosby was in the heads of the Knights and knew what Thomas dale wanted to do and set up and simply just shut it down. Dale continued moving the ball very efficiently and with skill through the midfield all night but could not capatilize when the opportunity presented it. Cosby turned the tables on the Knights and shut them out 2-0. The loss ends a 67 game win streak for the Knights and send Cosby High into the Finals of the Central Region and guarantees them a spot in States.
You have to take your hat off to both teams. One for extending a streak to 67 games and winning back to back State titles and the other for defeating a team that no one including myself felt the would be able to contain for full time. Cosby proved they have the ability to shut down a very potent offense and will meet Hanover High school who jumped all over Deep Run early and held them off for a 2-1 victory.
Cosby and Hanover will meet tonight at 7:30 at Cosby High. Will the Titans contuinue a cinderalla run!!!Lets hope so. Good luck boys.