Friday, January 14, 2011

Chesterfield: Politics as Usual

I want to take this opportunity to express how so very disappointed I am in the current Board of Supervisors. This Board, not unlike the Congress in 2007, was ushered in by those in the media as bringing a new day, tone and transparency to the process. As a nation we had had seven years of leadership under George Bush and voters turned over Congress to the Democrats and here in Chesterfield, an historically conservative County turned the Board of Supervisors over to Independents(Democrats) after decades of Republican control.

I am hear to tell you that the result of such action has been as negative here in Chesterfield as it has nationally in terms of the last Congress. We all know what happened in November. Voters rejected the path in which both Congress and Obama were taking the nation down and now here in Chesterfield I can tell you that citizens are rejecting not only the policies of this Board but in fact are questioning its motives.

Yesterday, there was a meeting regarding the new Comprehensive Plan in Midlothian. (More on that meeting later for its deserving of its own post). In attendance were the usual suspects; Supervisor Gecker(Midlothian), Supervisor Durfee(Matoaca), Patty Carpenter(School Board-Midlothian) and many Planning officials but also there sitting respectfully in the back of the meeting room was Supervisor Jim Holland(Dale) who just a day earlier had been the victim (yes victim) and some of the political engineering as so often has expressed itself in Chesterfield County. So much for a new day and tone!

Or should I say so much for "Planning not Politics" as Supervisor Gecker's campaign slogan suggested . Oh folks, "Politics" is alive and well in Chesterfield and in part due to people like Mr. Gecker.

Instead, what the County gets is once again the status quo of leadership. If the County voted out the Republicans and they currently remain somewhat in the minority given the current political make-up; 1 democrat, 2 Independents, and 2 Republicans. Remember, there were 5 seated Republicans going into the last election. Why on earth than would the Board continue to shift backward to Supervisor Art Warren you ask? Simple. Politics.

Warren has held the Chairmanship of the Board a few times in his 20 years as a Supervisor, but there is more to it than that. The County is at a crossroads with regard to its future. It appears as though the powers that be wanted the power of the Chair in the hands of a friend, given Mr. Holland was just recently elected and has been a bit of a wild card on the Board. Truth be told, I have the greatest amount of respect for Holland who appears to vote his conscience and appears not to persuaded by the powers. Holland, however was betrayed on those closest to him and those people he has worked beside these last few years.

I have no doubt the disappointment felt by Mr. Holland and frankly the surprise that such a back room deal orchestrated by his fellow Supervisors would be sprung on him at the very meeting there was to be a vote. Everyone assumed Mr. Holland would take over as Chair and then at the last moment the plan unraveled and Warren was secured the Chair by a vote of 3-2.

Supervisor Jaeckle's(Bermuda) position in the matter was known. After all, she is a Republican and has voted alongside Warren for the last few years, but what was quite surprising was the switch made by Supervisor Gecker(Midlothian) who had supported Holland until the vote when he joined Jaeckle in supporting Warren. Gecker has had the current Chair this past year.

Supporters of gecker at the Planning meeting voiced that his actions demonstrated his "independent" nature, however those of us who have observed Gecker these last nine years know he is a pure politician. It is my opinion that Gecker made a politically calculated move because he knows the Midlothian District is in large part a Conservative area. Gecker made a calculated move in 2006 to run as an "Independent" after losing to Donald Sowder-R in the Special Election running as a Democrat. In 2006, Gecker challenged Sowder again and defeated him this time running as an "Independent". It was a calculated move based on politics and Gecker understands he will not be able to yield the same kind of sentiment for "change" like he did in the historic 2006 election and will need many Republicans to support his re-election bid.

Again, Mr. Gecker has demonstrated his desire to engage in the worst kind of politics. The politics of selfishness. Gecker had an opportunity to bring about an historic vote in Chesterfield which would have seen the first minority Chairman in County history. Instead, Gecker hands over the reigns to Warren for the third time in four years.

Now that's "change" you can believe in!

30 comments:

sara said...

Gecker made a point to mention that people assume there are back room dealings - politics being played - by the Chesterfield BOS, but then reassured the audience that none of that was going on.

I really had to hold it in on that one, almost had to leave the room for laughing so hard. I'm sure Mr. Holland felt the same.....

And talk about playing to the conservative base in Midlo. Not one time during the entire presentation were the words "sustainable development" mentioned - not one time. Which is incredible, given the background of Vladimir Gavrilovic, senior planner/consultant of the Plan.

sara said...

My post above refers to the public meeting on the Comprehensive Plan, held after the board voted in Warren.

JoeinBonAir said...

I thought that was very curious as well sara. Both Gecker and Durfee ran on a platform of smart growth, open space, green space; I wonder if SportsQuest qualifies- ha.

Does the proposed plan support this notion of "sustainable growth". I have not read the plan yet but I wonder if it is mentioned anywhere, potentially in the Implementation section.

I particularly thought that Gecker's deferment to the consultants and then to the Planners about the school issue was also very telling. Durfee kept shifting in her seat, especially over the whole "resdistricting" mentioning. I don't think they really have any solutions for what we face in Bon Air/Midlothian with schools other than to say we will not be getting any new ones. I am fine with that as long as they than stop approving any more zoning developments in the district. Its obvious they will continue to force capacity until there is a major outcry from the public.

Anonymous said...

Lets see if the members of the Chesterfield County Democrat Committee have the backbone to challenge Dan Gecker in the Fall.

Since the era of Ed Barber in Midlothian, Democrats have always seemed afraid to mobilize and basically have demonstrated a complete apathy for elections.

Maybe this situation can be the spark that finally lights the fire.

James David said...

"Politics As Usual"- has it ever changed? Its the same people behind the scenes AOF.

People have failed to realize that the figure heads on the Boards are simply the face. The same people have been running the local government from the inside out. Look at the Budget and Audit Committee, the Planning Department and other areas within government itself that have a vested interest for government to frow beyond its means.

The new "Plan" for the County simply places more centralized power in the hands of these government departments and they are unelected. If you really think that the Supervisor is going to determine what you can and cannot do with your land you are naive. They will get a reccomendation from the Planning department and then Planning Commission (appointed not elected) and than vote on it. How many times have the Board gone against these people in the development process over the years? The Supervisors put a stamp on it but hardly make the real choices. The Planning Department will say whether a case "meets" the Comprehensive Plan guidelines and the "Plan" will be used as a sword against property owners EVENTHOUGH they are out touting this thing not as a "Law" but a "guideline". Just what is it going to be used for as a guideline? Frankly, limiting your ability to do with your property what you wish to do with it unless it fits into their narrow, unfocused sustainable community agenda.

It saddens me to see Chesterfield go this route. Others have tried this kind of "Plan" and have fallen into the trap of unintendeed consequences. I question whether these official really see them as unintended. Any measure that will put more power in the hands of Daniel Gecker and others I think they are fine with truth be told.

Anonymous said...

The CCDC did release a rebuke of sorts regarding the back room deal or compromise by Supervisor Dan Gecker to win favor by backing Warren. He did not nominate him, but knew it was going to go down and did not even have the integrity enough to let Jim Holland know about it. Shameful political startegy is correct, but than thats Gecker.

They should channel this contempt for this good ole boy tactic and run against him in Midlothian!

DOJ 302 said...

Change is coming to Chesterfield this fall. We are going to sweep the stench of party politics out of local government. That includes our closed door School Board.

You are also going to see some of the holy Christian superstar politicans to have some very soiled laundry and fiscal dealings.

The Bulletproof Monk said...

Alter --- wanted to make sure you're still feet down, not feet up.
Happy New Year. You were missed.

JoeinBonAir said...

The first step in political leadership is getting elected,” added a businessperson. “If you can’t get elected, how good of a leader can you be? Warren has almost 20 years on the board including many years as chair. If your business was going into a tough year, would you hand over the reins to two people with just six years of experience or one guy with 20?” (chesterfieldobserver1/19/11)

This sums up what we face in the County. Bring back someone like Warren with the 20 years- 20 years along with Daniel Geckers 10 years of digging us in this hole to begin with. Who is the blame for the overcrowding and poorly conceived planning in the County? Is it two people who have been on the Board for three years (Durfee/Holland) or those like Warren and Gecker that have been around for decades? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

The Chair's vote had nothing to do with Jim. ART WARREN was the SWING.
It wasn't Dan. I know this because i had three individuals call me the week before the meeting to ask me to make calls.
The calls were NOT about Jim and NOT about Dan. This happened because the business community didn't want Marleen as Vice Chair, even though the position doesn't really mean anything.
I am not saying this to cause discord or unrest. I really just want people to understand what really happened.
I know some of you aren't Gecker fans but trust me, he cares about his district far more than most of the other Supervisors.
And to be fair, if you look at his record while on the PC, he NEVER voted for a case that represented western sprawl...not one time.
But anyhoo, this nightmare was about Art and Marleen.

James David said...

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Daniel Gecker has never voted for a case that has contributed to western sprawl....umm Okay I guess Magnolia Green, Brandy Oaks, Carters Mill, Charter Colony, Harpers Mill and oh the grand daddy Roseland never ever happened.

My guess you are so void of the facts Anony which is why you will not put your name on your statement.

Gecker had been on the Planning Commission under Ed Barber who was the Midlothian Supervisor who appointed him. He later was Chairman. He was part of the largest expansion of residential developments in the history of Chesterfield and has contributed more to the over capacity of schools as any other local official both directly and indirectly.

The fact is and I know this personally that Gecker and Jaeckle have aligned themselves as in this case. It was simply a matter of the developer class in this community fearing that the Comprehensive Planning which ultimately is a boon for them would be jeopardized with a Holland/Durfee leadership.

The fact as you say that it was "not about Jim" tells us everything we need to know about Gecker. In fact, it should have been about Jim Holland, but instead of providing the same opportunity that gecker was provided whuen he moved up from Vice to Chair; he decided that it was best to play politics.

It will be interesting to see how things play out this year though. Forces are aligning against Gecker which is why he has recently been reaching out to the local GOP in hopes have some favor come November given his switch -and he DID switch his vote. With the formation of a Midlothian Tea Party from the infrastructure created for the Bayne campaign for Congress I would expect Gecker to be targeted very hard through the blogoshere and social media.

We will have to wait and see if the local CCRC is swayed by gecker given Donald Williams efforts to get warren the Chair, but then they could be too occupied with the whole Jamie Radtke membership application. Yes. That Jamie Radtke running for U.S. Senate.

Anonymous said...

In terms of Mr. Gecker there can be no question that his hands have been on much of what we face in terms of pain with regard to growth. Thats not to say that Mr.Gecker is the sole culprit, but his liberal-progressive policies with regard to sustainable growth principles has contributed to the impending capacity crisis we face in the County in terms of schools.

While I have no doubt regarding Mr. Gecker's intentions within the district, he routinely shifts accountability to others with regard the issues we face eventhough as James stated has been involved for over ten years in the process.

For example, it was Mr. Gecker who thrawted the proposed increase by Mrs. Durfee and Mr. Holland for much higher cash proffers. Gecker instead offered up a much lower increase than was proposed by Durfee and of course got Warren and Jaeckle's support. The County since 1991 has realistically only received about 36 million on proffers and is much less than other localities of the same size and growth patterns (Loudoun County, Prince William County). Mr. Gecker attacked Mr. Sowder (r-Midlothian)in 2006 for being pro-developer and part of the Republican establishment that was cozy with developers and yet since in office Gecker has done more than Sowder ever did to benefit the developers. This includes many of the approved zonings that Gecker saw when he was on the Planning Commission in the early stages.

I want to point out something very important. The two major feathers in the cap for the liberal-progressive land use policies of Gecker and Durfee have defaulted. Both Roseland this year and Magnolia Green over a year ago have seen its developers default on loans and force them into bankruptcy. How much money did the County spend throughout the zoning process only to have both these developers default. Who now will build the schools that were part of the zoning packages? Will the new Comphrensive Plan include these schools?

Mr. Gecker has been very careful to steer people away from using words like "sustainable" with regard to this Comprehensive Plan but in fact is a staunt supporter for Agenda 21. The consultants behind the Plan are also supporters of this philosophy based on previous projects and reccomendations. The impact of the policies that Mr. Gecker endorses in fact, will result in declining property values and higher taxes.

How will this happen? Property values in the centers will rise over time because available property for development will dry up and vacant lots will decrease, but in areas not designated as an Urban Center, such as a Corridor or Countryside, the number of homes per acre will be drastically reduced. This creates less homes paying less as a tax base. The property values in the rural areas decline because homes can only be built on 25 acres. Thus if you are sitting on ten acreas today and Gecker's vision is approved and you live in Matoaca you will not be able to build a home on the parcel. If a home cannot be built on that parcel, its value declines thus resulting in a decline in property tax generated.

Mr. Gecker believes this Plan will reduce the number of residents by 100,000 moving forward if adopted, but if we decrease the number of homes (by increasing required acreage limits) thereby decreasing the potentially the number of residents and government refuses to cut spending will not the net effect be an increase in taxes on those that live in Chesterfield.

Mr. Gecker informed citizens at the Midlothian planning meeting that eventhough the Plan may reduce the costs of planning ( projected to be 772million) that the government would not be reducing such things as the Capital Improvement Plan. Eventhough the Plan states that there would be less schools required, less libraries, less firestations and police substations our government would still spend as if the old plannining models were being used. His attitude may as well be "we can always find things to spend money on"!

Anonymous said...

Chesterfield is and always has been a Conservative community. Mr. Gecker's plans are hardly Conservative. In fact, he has probably been the biggest Liberal-Progressive to ever represent the Midlothian District in the history of the County. His record I believe demonstrates this.

Anonymous said...

Mr David:

Magnolia Green was zoned in 1989 (case # 89SN0343) Charter Colony in 1994 (case 94SN0138), with John Tyler proffered instead of cash Carters Mill (subdivision approved 2/23/90) Brandy Oaks (subdivision approved 2/14/89)
Gecker joined the commission in 2000, after these areas had been zoned.
He did support Harper's Mill (case 02SN0209) because of the transportation and school proffers.
The first phase of Roseland, N. Hallsley, was zoned in 1989 (case 89SN0354)before Gecker...again, and the remainder of Roseland was approved because it represented the quality of growth the county wanted for the future,with more land, infrastructure and facility improvements than any other case in history.

All of this information is easily accessed on the county's website.
Is this factual enough for you?

My post was to explain what had happened prior to the vote.That is the only reason I posted as ANON.

If you know anyone in the business community, please call them and ask for yourself. The pressure was on Art Warren. He was the one who changed his mind and provided the third vote against Marleen. I agree with you inasmuch as it should have been about Jim. He's a great man.

Jonathan Scott said...

On the surface of things the information provided in the last post is accurate, but does not tell the full story.

The reason being is the poster should make themselves aware of the following:

"amendment of conditional use planned development"

This is commonly used as the developer makes changes, usually at the request of the Planning Department as it phases in the project from the initial approval or in this case zoning.

That said, Magnolia Green went through this process after Daniel Gecker was seated on the Planning Commission. I attended many meetings regarding the various zonings during this time period. Back in 2006, Magnolia Green went through the revison process in large part because of the courtcase between Lifestyle Homes and Sal Congiano who owned almost 4,000 acreas which became the development. Thought the area was zoned pre-Gecker initially, it was further rezoned and approved again in 1991 amidst heated debate from Supervisor Humphrey whom at the time wanted more commercial than residential as was in the original proposals. What would come out of these events would be the Lower Magnolia Green- finally adopted in 2007.

I want to point out that this Lower Magnolia was fully supported by Daniel Gecker and in fact he was a strong proponent for the "District" that was established where home owners residing in the area pay an additional tax of about $500 a year on top of their poperty taxes that was supposed to go towards infrastructure and potentiall the expansion of the Powhite. This proposed expansion has been on hold for some time due to economic concerns, but nonetheless Daniel Gecker is on record supporting this extension (9 miles to Grange Hall) though not as a toll road. This expansion is currently illustrated in the Comphrehensive Plan 2010 currently under review in the County.

I would further point to the zonings of Sappony, Stony Glen (Chester Plan) Woodland Pond and even adjustments to Charter Colony, Roseland (Hallesley) that were in one fashion or another, revised amendments, or conditonal mixed use additions all of which at one time or another came up before the Planning Commission or the Board while Daniel Gecker was seated. Let us not forget the Upper Swift Creek Plan either.

JoeinBonAir said...

Anonymous:
"The quality of growth" wanted by the County has resulted as stated above in the two developments mentioned are now unable to meet or follow through with the obligations set forth by the zoning approvals.

You will recall schools were to be built to support Roseland's buildout and yet now Sowers has filed for bankruptcy protection.

This "quality" standard supported by Daniel Gecker and to a lessor extent today Marlene Durfee than when she was an activist is called "sustainable growth"

The new Comprehensive Plan 2010 is the embodiment of this progressive principle that if examined with any level of integrity in other areas has demonstrated will limited property rights, drive up taxes and lower property values. It puts the power in the government's hands to pick the winners and losers through land use determinations.

If you reside in an area they seek to designate Countryside Rural you options for developing your property will be severely limited.

I wish to point out that the arguement that has been made at three of the Planning meetings regarding the notion that the Plan is not an ordinance but simply a "guide" rings hollow.

This "guide" will be the presiding doctrine used by the Planning Department to render judgement of every zoning case when it makes its reccomendations to the PC and Board. Everytime a case for rezoning is denied you will hear that it was denied because it did not adhere to the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the County.

Anonymous said...

@Joe:

That is very true. I want to make it clear that the County will have the power just like they did with Magnolia to create "tax districts" where they can levy additional taxes on citizens who reside in this designated areas. You will recall these were called that "Transportation Authorities" were struck down in Virginia as a means of levying a tax on citizens because these did not have authority under the law to demand taxes. These "districts" are merely another solution born out of that same mold.

Gecker, Warren and Durfee will not answer whether they would or will form these to pay for roads given they have no plan for infrastructure nor have they even attempted to create one. The fact that the Comp Plan today is creating different zones will make it very easy for them to create these areas for designation. Urban Centers could be made to pay a tax as could Corridors and then like at differing points. We are already seeing this implementation being attempted along RT 60 with business being assessed addtional taxes to pay for landscaping are we not?

Whats to keep these people from basically slicing up the County in the same manner? Afterall, is that not just what the tennents are for Sustainable Communities. in the first place.

Gecker calls it "New Urbanism". I call it Wrong for Chesterfield!

Anonymous said...

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Hopefully I can contribute here!

Anonymous said...

Why is it every time we hear that the County is cutting spending its always a bunch of bunk.

Last year, I attended a community meeting intended to heal some of the wounds between the School Board and the BOCS talking about the budgets with parents.

We were told that the local government was cuttign spending by simply not filling vacant position. Is that really cutting anything. I mean thats cutting not from existing spending but spending that has really not occurred. I guess since the belief system held is they have the money coming anyway its perceived as a cut but is it really. Is a pay freeze really a cut as well? I mean it implies that you were arbitrarily going to raise wages across the board as well. Must be nice.

I find it strange that elected officials appear to be going out of their way to inform parents that there are no back room deals happening and then we read about the selection of the Chairman of the BOCS and how that went down. I have yet seen any real statement from Mr. Gecker about his participation given the reports he was the one who changed his vote at the last minute. He likes to advocate transparency except in cases where it applies to himself and his actions.

I supported Mr. Gecker three years ago. I was seeking a change in direction but like Washington the change has been something of a disappointment. My wife in the end has been right regarding the fact we should not have expected someone who has been so deep in the process for the last decade that he could be a change agent. She said then Gecker was simply on the same team, but wearing a different suit. It so happens she has been right.

Needless to say, niether of us will be supporting Mr. Gecker should he decide to seek re-election this year. I am not aware of any candidates as of yet but will embrace anyone who seeks to put the County above self-interest and hopefully it will be from new and exciting blood and not from the field of usual suspects.

Good day.

Anonymous said...

Good grief people, this is simple! Developers and real estate interests are paranoid about the new plan taking shape. Phone calls were made to do everything possible to lobby against Marleen and Jim, the two supervisors most likely to support the plan and the least likely to make deals with the development community. Not to mention, Dan who stood to gain brownie points with the GOP for supporting Art. Who knows maybe the GOP offered a weak opponent in Midlothian in exchange...More outragious things have happened.

About the upcoming plan and all the sustainable growth hysteria being spat about on this blog, any comprehensive plan comes down to simple questions like where future growth should go and who is going to pay for it. Government and our elected representatives have the final say (Code of Virginia) and if you want those representatives to have a legal leg to stand on if they want to deny zoning cases then you had better have a plan that is clear, predictable and data driven. Freedom to do whatever an individual wants to do with his property is not "free". We can have whatever development pattern we wish to pay for. If sprawl is cheaper than planned development then give me more sprawl, but I highly doubt it. I'm sick of developers crying about proffers, high taxes and crappy infrastructure. I'll take my chances with the new Plan.

Anonymous said...

I do not quite understand why the last poster feels there is "hysteria" here. I believe the word in concern.

Anyone who has lived in this County for more than twenty years knows just how bad government will continue to foul things up regardless of what Plan is in place.

Remember the elected officials are using the "steering" folks as cover. This is Geckers plan more so than it is Durfee or Hollands. In fact, insiders know that a Holland Chairmanship and Durfee Vice Chair would have put more restrictions on the developers and demand more open, green space. Eventhough Gecker has supported those things as well, there is great anyomosity between Gecker and Durfee. It goes back to when she was working with Responsible Growth and as a community activist going before Gecker's Planning Commission.

I tend to want to look to examples before we "take a chance" and study the impacts that such a measure would really have on our County. We know right now that though Vlad has stated that the consultants feel adopting the measures principles would save the County 772 million goinf forward and reduce 100K people residing in the County that the current plans have projected. How does it do this? Whats the impact on property values? The impact on property rights?

If other examples, like Portland, OR or Seattle, WA are any indication what some of the impacts will be regarding property values and taxes I think residents deserve some honesty from our leaders as to what to really expect. What is the true purpose of designating differing types of zones; Urban Centers, Corridors, Countryside, Regional Center, Countryside Rural if these guidelines are not going to used to set zoning standards within those particular areas. There has really been alot of dishonesty in this regard. If the County has no intention os using the Plan as a sword than why must we need it in the first place? Why can't we just create a Rehabilitation Plan for the County and amend the current Comprehensive Plan taking into account the varying elements of those Plans as they are today. Was not the current Plan-they say there are some 22- used to set zoning standards for those areas? Why then are people like Gecker telling us that its not a law or an ordinance but a guide if in fact it will be used as they underlying foundation as to what may or may not be zoned.

It saddened me to hear that Gecker has no intention of lessoning the Capital Improvement Plan should this Plan be approved. The Plan calls for a reduction in schools, libraries, ect that require alot of revenue resources (or the 2004 bond- for example Monacan gym expansion SB CIP) and yet eventhough the required number of schools could be reduced by the Plan Gecker does not see reducing the CIP as a good for the County. If less people are to be moving into the County, should not the Utility portion of the CIP also be reduced given the decline of residential lots in the Countryside and Countryside Rural areas?

Andrea Epps said...

Hi all!
Happy New Year!
This string is just too much for me to resist. I'm going to attempt to inject a few additional facts into this discussion and most likely, a few opinions.

First issue: Magnolia Green (and most other old zoning cases): I worked for Magnolia Green,(until they decided not to listen to me) so I feel qualified to make the following statements:
1. Magnolia Green NEVER re-opened it's zoning. In fact, they ended up hoodwinked into a 37 million dollar CDA because they refused to reopen the old zoning, and their lawyer didn't have the courage to take it to court. The first court case was fought because Mr. Cangiano received a better offer for S. Magnolia a few days after it was sold and tried to breach the contract.The Supreme Court divided the permitted densities between N and S when it rendered its opinion.
The CDA was orchestrated and approved by the old BOS and old administration. Mr. Gecker had no part of it. I think he would be all too happy if there was no MG CDA, because that would mean more debt capacity he could try to get for his district.
The approvals Mr. Scott is referencing are the Subdivision approvals. Like it or not,the county has far less control at the subdivision level. When a property is zoned with conditions, it can't legally be downzoned by local mandate. However, they can make the subdivision process a long and painful one.

2. Comp Plan: I served on the steering committee and appreciate the comments of some of these posts. However,the spine of the plan will be the zoning ordinance. the ordinance will determine what is permitted, and staff will only recommend what the plan supports.
As it is now, the plan...isn't.
Until it is adopted by the BOS, it doesn't do a thing. I am fairly confident what ends up adopted will be significantly different from what you see now. That's the process, and the Plan is required by law.

3. The CIP: I really don't think the Plan (and associated PFP) is going to be adopted this year. Until it is, the CIP is based on the CURRENT public facilities plan. By the time the new plan is adopted, the CIP will be due for another revision, and we might well see significant differences from the current trend. I suppose we'll have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

@ Andrea-

Last night in Matoaca we learned that there no is no intention of lowering the CIP EVEN after adoption of the proposed Comprehensive Plan. I would have to say that 2/3 of the people were not supportive of the Plan in its current form. I sat behind was appeared to be a contingent of "Tea Party"/Campaign for Liberty supporters and they hammered away at the threat to property rights that this mess represents.

Some of Mr. Scott's points were validated last night in both the presentation and the question and answer period. Especially those regarding the debate over zones of influence with the planning and how such a plan would be used by the government to review zoning cases and rezonings.

It came up last night and it is interesting that someone on the thread here mention that Sup. Gecker has not contributed to western sprawl given he supports the extension of Powhite Parkway. This extension is pretty well illustrated in the Comprehensive Plan. Originally he had supported it to be extended a mere mile, but word last night is he along with Art Warren and Dot Jaeckle are endoring it.

Is'nt it weird that this coalition has formed between the three of them. Don't think anyone saw that coming. Many thought it would be a Durfee, Holland and Gecker trio but Sup. Gecker has "seen the light" or the money from the construction industry.

Sup. Durfee and Sup. Gecker appear to still have one big thing in common; arrogance!

Jonathan Scott said...

Andrea:

Welcome back. It has been awhile but then local issues always seem to create the dialogues that we so desperately require these days in Chesterfield.

With regard to the CIP (Capital Improvment Plan) for both the County at large and the School Board CIP it is true that the current public facilities planning is being used as the "guide" for what we require in terms of infrastructure improvements and buildouts throughout the County, however I find it deeply concerning that on the one hand we use the facilities plan for such purposes but some of our elected officials on on record as stating that the Comprehensive Plan 2010 is "not a law or ordinance and is merely a tool to help the Planning Department" (Daniel Gecker-I Midlothian at Midlothian Planning meeting this month. Would not the Comprehensive Plan if adopted replace the existing facility plans that have been developed throughout the years in different parts of the County. I thought the original goal was to unfiy those plans.

The reality is that once this new vision for the County is adopted and in all likelihood save community pushback it will, it will replace existing planning doctrine and WILL be used as the baseline moving forward regarding any planning matter.

I find it ironic that a subdivision such as Magnolia Green, which was touted as a "smart" growth community very well could never be established in the future in Countryside or Countryside Rural. This point was raised Thursday night in Matoaca at its Planning Meeting.

I can tell you that Matoaca as a district has the most loss should this new vision be adopted. Why? Midlothian is basically or at least will be by the time this vision is adopted virtually 90% built out in terms of available property for development. In short, it is a mature, established community. Matoaca, not so much.

Also pointed out at the Midlothian and Matoaca meetings is the fact that the vision changes and moves away from practices already in place in working well. For example, the new vision would prevent an Elementary and High School on the same planned area, which is exactly what James River and B. Weaver do so successfully. Why the change? No one seems to have an answer.

I guess my biggest concern is the reality that our elected officials are offering up very little in terms of the whys and hows or even the potential impacts of such changes nor are they addressing what a future CIP would or even should look like. Is not the purpose of the planning two fold; create a better quality of life for the community and bring the costs of government and growth down? The latter appears lost on this bunch.

Andrea Epps said...

Hi Jonathan!
It's good to be back...(I can't excuse getting so busy I don't take time to check in with the blogosphere)
Well, if I am going to be totally honest, I would have to say that a good number of people on the steering committee aren't happy with the plan either. Myself included.
I think staff did the best possible job they could with 33 non planners on a committee, and the plan contains many, many, good policy goals. However, that's all it contains. The way it is currently structured, all of the implementation will be done after adoption.
The Plan is the "Guide" but the zoning and subdivision ordinances will be where the rubber meets the road, where property rights will be impacted the most.
My other issue is sewer capacity. But, I'm not gonna get into the poo!!!! (for now)
As an aside, the draft public facilities plan suggests co-location of facilities everywhere possible...I thought?

James David said...

We learned last night at Cosby that they have changed the "co-location" aspect to move away from elementary/high combinations to middle/high but the fact remains the County needs more elementary and high schools than middle. The reason being middle has three years, but the later have four and five grades.

I know Jonathan has proposed many solutions that could be addressed to end trailers at schools and plan more effectively for the future with regard to schools, but we always end up with three things being considered:

1. Redistricting- Cosby, Watkins, Robious Middle all must be. Cosby is frustrating because people here like Joe, Jonathan, and others advocated for a larger school and placing a middle school with Cosby instead of plabinf Tomahawk where the County did and the County leaders ignored them.

2. Trailers- Gecker in Midlothian has stated that no middle schools should be built in the SB CIP and that the solution to address those schools are #1 and adding more trailers.

3. School Schedule- 1/2 day kindergarten at elementary schools or resetting the structure to k-5, 6-9, 10-12 allowing 9th garders to still particpate in jv high school sports...uphill battle and little politcial will but still should be examined over building out 40-80 million dollar schools

Disappointed with M. Durfee last night. She felt compelled to play activist for the Plan instead of elected official and was borderline attemtping to sell the Plan not on its merits but on her own philosophy of planning.

Sports Business Course said...

If the County voted out the Republicans and they currently remain somewhat in the minority given the current political make-up; 1 democrat, 2 Independents, and 2 Republicans. Remember, there were 5 seated Republicans going into the last election.

Tutor said...

Politics as usual is correct, but the Commission is equally guilty. I'm really amazed that so few people realize the Upper Swift Creek Plan hasn't really changed. The Green Zone isn't quite what it seems, most of the staff and anyone that understands land use ( in contrast to those that stand at the podium and act like they have a clue)can see this. The water quality issue can only be addresed with ordinance amendments. If anything were to change on the map for water quality purposes, the recommended densities would increase.

Edinburgh Geothermal said...

Voters rejected the path in which both Congress and Obama were taking the nation down and now here in Chesterfield I can tell you that citizens are rejecting not only the policies of this Board but in fact are questioning its motives.

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