Saturday, August 4, 2007

Chesterfield BOS Strikes Again

It amazes me sometimes how the current Board just keeps moving along in total disregard to the community concensus. We are to believe that our local government knows best in these matters, however what we have is a governing body at odds with its own appointed Planning Commission and the result is complete arrogance.

In an effort to hold back the tide of raising taxes on either citizens or business, one of which is inevitable in the next five years if the County is to be able to offer even the average rate of services throughout the county, the Board continues to approve both new zonings and rezonings applying its pro-growth oriented governance even though we are seeing housing starts slow and homes sales slow down which may result in the largest inventory in the last ten years.

So why the dash to approve these new developments? Elections?

Could it be that the overall sentiment as of late is one of change thus this Fall may represent the first true "change election" Chesterfield has witnessed in quite some time. The Republicans have held a majority throughout this latest economic uptrend and bull market for residential and commercial developers throughout the country. It begs the question as to whether these developers are pushing these developments to either get them done before the election or to lock in requirements and proffers (or in some cases lack there of) now in hopes of developing the areas slowly during the downtrend of the housing markets and then bring them faster along when the market turns around. Either way it does not seem to be in the best interests of the County.

The latest is a "modification" to the Watkins Centre commercial/residential development along the Route 60 corridor at Route 288. I recall a town hall meeting where both Supervisor Don Sowder (R) and State Senator John Watkins (R) addressed the needs for this center and the benefits for the County to have such a "gateway" development. Less than two months after groundbreaking ceremony, the master plan has been changed by the Board.

Evidently, the current BOS did not feel the need to readdress changes with the public nor hold another town hall meeting before review the proposals by Rebkee Partners. Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Kelly Miller was quoted as saying that the measure was "departing from the original zoning". Was it not the original zoning that the community was briefed on at the town hall meeting?

The area in question was orignally zoned industrial. However, the BOS unanimously approved the change to allow retail to be developed on the sites 16 acres adjacent to Midolthian Turnpike. Rebkee will now have these 16 acres in addition to its original 35 acres of approved retail/offcie space at the area designated as Shoppes at Westchester.

No one spoke in opposition, largely due to the fact that people have expressed that they were uninformed of any potential changes to the original plan. The Board Strikes Again.

Its time we in the community Strike Back. Please see the post concerning the debates and town hall meetings scheduled in the coming months for the candidates for the Board to meet with citizens.

The Board can quickly get measures like this past and yet is stalled with solving the Upper Swift Creek Plan, has little plans to solve excessive use of school trailers, is approving developments without formally addressing roads and infrastructure other than to say that the developments are providing land set aside for schools, seeks to implement line item oversight of the school board budget and continues to stay behind the curve of health and saftey protocals regarding food safety certification requirements for business providing food to the public.

I am not sure which amazes me more; that the Board continues to act in this manner or that our community continues to allow them to.

"Concert for Virginia Tech"

With a fairly large contingent of Virginia Tech alumnus within the Chesterfield community it is my hope that the "Concert for Virginia Tech" scheduled for Sept. 6 at Lane Stadium will be embraced and supported by all of us.

There has been some criticism of the concert, in large part from representatives of the families who lost loved ones back in April, claiming that Virginia Tech is somehow exploiting the trajedy.

Vincent Bove, representing families, had the audacity to claim that Virginia Tech is turning this into a "vaudeville show". I could not disagree more. The University was approached by Dave Mathews Band attempting to organize a free concert in support of the survivors of the trajedy as well as to honor those that were lost. To portray the University has having alterior motives in an attempt to "gain publicity".

I think the trajedy itself elevated Virginia Tech's visibility to such enormous proportions that the University does not need to have a free concert for the betterment of itself. The concert is for the student body and is scheduled in a timely manner at the beginning of the school year as a means of attempting to move past and begin a new for the upcoming school year.

While I would have liked to have seen more diligence in terms of the performers (ie Nas and questionable lyrics) I am a firm believer that there is indeed a time for everything under God.

There is a time to mourn, but certainly there is also a time to sing and dance and four months after the trajedy maybe the University has a right to celebrate and embrace the lives of those who have survived as much as we should mourn the ones we lost.

Katherine Waddell Ahead of the Curve

Huguenot Bridge Replacement Project:

While we all continue to atch the fallout from the bridge collapse in the Twin Cities and pray for the families and the city of Minneapolis, I think it is important to sit back and reflect on those in our own community we trust with our safety and that of our children.

While our local government is presently "challenged" in solving our road crisis in Chesterfield, I want to point out that the Independent Delegate Katherine Waddell representing the 68th District in the House of Delegates has been fighting to upgrade our infrastructure since her election in 2005. It was her determination that secured the neccessary resources to replace Huguenot Bridge by 2011.

Waddell campaigned on reforming and a rebuilding of infrastructure initiative that included rebuilding the Huguenot Bridge. She fought to get funding in the VDOT Improvement Plan for replacing the 58 year old bridge and secured it this Spring. The Richmond District will receive 248 million in the VDOT Plan and some of this will go to the Huguenot Replacement Project.

We have to be reminded that alot of measures need visonaries. Up until the last few days I am sure many of Waddells political opponents felt the bridge a minor issue within the Transportation Plan before the General Assembly. Waddell, however, knew better.

Leadership is about being out in front. Its not about chasing policy or polls. I think we all can agree that on this issue Katherine Waddell has gotten it right and continues to represent the district with the baggage of the parties.

30,000 cross the Huguenot Bridge each an every day and though thats not nearly as many as the bridge in Minneapolis I am fairly confident that the residents their now wish someone had pressed State Government harder to get the bridges updated.

Waddell remains ahead of the curve in the General Assembly.