Friday, December 21, 2007

Tis the Season Chesterfield

Well this Christmas Season is flying by ansd the big is right around the weekend. Anew Chesterfield tradition for all young and old has to be the Metro Zoo Miracle of Christmas with the animals. I feel as though my children have been looking forward to this all year. It is simply one of the best things we have going during the Holiday season in the County for all to enjoy with free admission.

Okay, the tacky house tour and the lights is always a dad favorite I know, but how many houses can you take the family in the SUV or minivan before you get the chime, "Can we just go to Chick-Filet already?

I have been pretty silent this month as far as the blog, in part there is always a calm before the storm between November and January with the newly elected officials. I noticed though that many of the new leadership sought to further promote themselves with their "pledges" after the election cycle which were published in the local Observer. I wonder though how neccessary it is to use the financial resources of the campaign that may have been left over to be used in such a manner and not I don't know say donate the reources to a Chesterfield endeavor like Habitat for Humanity or someother more localized endeavor to benefit the community other than throwing a pledge up that undoubtedly could be used in four years to undermine any accomplishment one may have achieved. Cynical? Maybe but I still do not get it, unless these leaders plan to carry that pledge along with them to every meeting and read it before each and every time they vote.

There have been some happenings, like the School Board, as of late in terms of the benefit scenario for retiring employees that made some news but the real test will come in 2008 and whether a bridge can be forged between the BOS and the SB on some pretty tuff issues with regard to growth. Should the BOS exclude the SB from areas related to growth they would certainly be held to the fire by many in the community. The time for the Board , SB and Planning Commissions to operate independently without a cohesive strategy for the future is dated and cannot be allowed to continue.

I will say though that as far as New Years Wishes, the biggest political wish I have would be that Chesterfield finally come to grips with the fact that we are soon the be the third largest locality in Virginia in a few years and WE MUST HAVE FULL-TIME BOARD OF SUPERVISORS like so mnay other localities across this nation of like size. Charter, BY-law, whatever it needs to change. This County cannot be run by Part-Time leaders any longer who have other reponsibilities whether it be running a business or working in real estate or being an attorney or whatever. Its time we have leaders that understand that the level of committment required makes this a full time job and the only way one can serve the community in the manner it should is by looking at it from that view. the arguement that it would make government bigger, no matter how Republicanesque that sounds, is frankly absurd. Much of what we face is a direct result of having leadership throughout these growth stages that were overwhelmed with the workload right along with the branches within County government.

In 2008 we should be talking about this issue right along with in 2010 taking the census and adding additional Board members. By that time, each member will be representing almost 65-70K constituents each when population taken as a whole.

If someone can explain to me how one person working Part-Time can represent the interests of that many people, I would love to hear it. Or given the fact on about 30% care to vote in the County is that the perspective of the leadership. If so, I think that may be a very narrow view indeed.

January 10, 2008 will mark the first meeting of the new elected Board of Supervisors and for the first time in a while I am actually looking forward to it. Pledges are one thing but Reality often times rears its head in the face of ones hopes or pledges.

For the record to all those who chimmed my insistance on BUYING CHESTERFIELD this Holiday Season, I have accomplished the mission and avoided buying retail in any other jurisdiction but our own. No Short Pump Towne center and no Stony Point Fashion Park this year, I think I am missing the Flemings Steak and wine by the glass though. Okay, I got some things from the net....Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Two Robious Road Zoning Cases Could Impact Corridor

If you are traveling along the Robious Road Corridor this weekend you will undoubtedly see those pesky little blue zoning awareness signs scattered about with the phone numbers so small you have to pull over in traffic to write down the number to call to get information regarding the case.

I liken this to the small ad that an establishment is required by law to notify the public that they plan to sell alcohol. It is listed so small in the paper and has to be by law that no one really notices. It may just be that both of these things really are intended not to get much notice by the general public nor does anyone really want the public to notice until its too late to do much about it.

The two most pressing issues along Robious Road are two zoning cases or measures which could make road congestion and noise related concerns even worse. Robious has seen increased traffic resulting from its widening in the last ten years as route connecting Midlothian Tnpk to Huguenot Road and beyond to the Powhatan County line. The intersection of Huguenot and Robious has always been one of those with increased traffic pressure. Currently there are commercial development projects along the eastern portion of Robious Road approaching the intersection that will bring strip type retail opposite the Huguenot Shopping Center, which itself has seen expansion in recent years with Great Big Greenhouse's operation. Further back Robious has seen condo style housing and assisted living (Sunrise Asssited)) go in at the corner of Robious and Cranbeck Road where the first of these zoning cases may be taking root.

In an attempt possibly to alleviate the cogestion at the Huguenot and Robious intersection, zoning is considering the extension of the road all the way to Chesterfield Towne Center. This extension would allow for the creation and zoning of more commercial properties which is likely its intent. In fact, it will be required if there is to be the new Costco store that is being considered. Connecting Huguenot to Chestefield Towne Center via the Cranbeck roadway on balance may look attractive from a Powerpoint perspective, but concerning the impacts on Robious Road itself and the surrounding area of neighboorhoods there is plenty of room for concern.

A canvass during the election cycle showed that 90% of the people asked living in the Greenfield, Settlers Landing, Heritage Village, Heritage Commons and Bon Air Terrace communities were unaware of the potential plan. Once communicated about the potential for such an extension some 80% opposed such measures. 80%.

I certainly hope that Mr. Gecker, the newly elected Supervisor for the District of Midlothian, pays particular notice to this percentage as he managed to secure the precincts in this area in his bid for election. This extension would directly impact everyone of those voters on a daily basis and a petition may be planned joining all these communities in addressing this issue.

This may be the first test of the new Planning Commission and Board in this area as much of the quadrant has already experienced its fast growth stages of development. The standby that the land is already zoned commercial and the plan is suitable and meets the Comphrehensive Plan jargon may be on the horizon. If I recall correctly I believe the residents of these precincts sent the message in the election that the so-called Comprehensive Plan needed to be revised, this could be the first opportunity where residents will be given the opportunity to remind those new Board members of the message.

The second is a zoning for the intersection of Corner Rock Road and Robious which is along the western corridor of Robious Road and is the means by which many residents of the Roxshire community enter the Robious roadway. This intersection ahs long needed a traffic light. If you have ever traveled this roadway at 6PM you will often see that the left turn lane from westbound has never been long enough to accomodate traffic during rush hour. It appears as if the zoning is for the purposes of residential homes fronting Robiouis Road along the southern side at Corner Rock. This should be a rezoning increasing the number of homes per acre that may be built if I understand it correctly. For arguement sake, say the land has the ability to add fifty for homes with two cars per household resulting in 100 additional cars accessing that intersection would contribute to the road congestion further along the corridor. Certainly, any development here would require a light be built at this intersection and if not then certainly should not be approved. Corner Rock Road itself is virtually an unlined narrow road accessing the subdivision about a half mile back off Robious. This case could certainly benefit the area with certain conditions like the traffic light, but the other factor is many residents of Roxshire like the fact that the current dynamic buffers them from the noise and congestion of Robious Road.

Both of these cases will increase the congestion along the corridor to be sure. The question lies in what benefit would the cases bring to the community. The arguement to me lies in community value not comprehensive plan or zoning guidelines that are applicable. I realize thats not very politically correct, but should we not be asking our Supervisors to demonstrate or defend the value that future projects will bring to our community while also addressing potential impacts. Should we not be cautious about adding fifty or more new homes to an area that aleady has overcrowded schools? If the average home in Chesterfield has 1.53 children do we have the room for those children now in local schools like Robuious Elementary and Middle School or James River High to accomodate education or are we simply hoping we can fit them in somewhere. Seventy five students does not seem like much but if you want to keep class sizes to twenty five that is THREE classes which require THREE rooms per period to educate them.

And is the Cranbeck extension merely an attempt to prop up access to Chesterfield Towne Center resulting from the perception that it may be adversely affected by thwe Watkins Center project?