Thursday, February 21, 2008

Henrico, VA: 'There is no such place'

Feb 20, 2008

Henrico Tool & Die Co. embodies the duality that has long defined Henrico County.

The business is on Dabbs House Road, on the eastern end of its namesake county. But its mailing address, like many in the county, is "Richmond, VA."

Its president, Jim Hepper, will be among the folks the county plans to survey to see if they'd prefer having their addresses changed to "Henrico, VA"

He isn't wild about the idea.

Hepper's company, founded by his father in 1965, manufactures machine components that punch out aluminum cans. He survived the demise of Reynolds Metals Co., and is loath to put his business at risk.

"I'm a little concerned about that with my customers," he said. "They'll get confused and things may not work out."

"Richmond, Va., is a landmark, easy to identify," he said. "When we talk to someone in Denver or overseas, they say, 'Hen-REEK-o?'"

About 80,000 surveys will go out to properties in 11 ZIP codes. Unaffected will be folks with Glen Allen and Sandston addresses and those in ZIP codes that include properties in the city. The postal service says it will make a change if a majority of respondents agree.

Henrico officials say the address change could redirect tax revenues -- say, a share of sales taxes from national retailers with "Richmond, VA" addresses -- that end up with the city but should be going to the county.

I hope this isn't part of a suburban drive to purge itself of all things Richmond. But revenue aside, there are factors to consider here, like the inconvenience and potential complication residents and businesses face with a change of address.

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Several people asked about the impending survey wore a bemused expression.

"I'd rather just stay Richmond," said Ken Thomas, a Short Pump resident. "There is no such place as Henrico, VA. It's a county. I identify with the Richmond community."

He's mystified at the county's argument that it's losing tax revenue. "The address should drive that, not the name of the city."

He sees no benefit in changing his address to Henrico, VA. "If you change anything, change it to Short Pump," he said.

LaTeka Otey, a resident of the Varina area, said she didn't understand the purpose of the proposal.

Does she wish to keep her current address? "Oh definitely. I wouldn't have it any other way. . . . . That's the only address I've ever known."

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Instead of the silly exercise of inventing an amorphous post office, why not ask our legislators to examine an independent cities setup that makes sense only to Virginia? Our system leaves cities with no annexation leverage and strips jurisdictions of any incentive to cooperate.

Let's address city-suburban disparities, instead of manufacturing an identity crisis.

Contact Michael Paul Williams
at (804) 649-6815 or

(a few of the)Richmond Times-Dispatch "Reader Reaction":

the following "Reader Reactions" are shown here to illustrate responses to proposed Henrico 'policy' and responses mentioning Varina.

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 07:05 PM by Anonymous
I think it's an excellent idea to not necessarily incorporate neighborhoods, but allow a specific allegience to where you're from, esp. close-knit places like Varina, Laurel and Lakeside. I'd suggest not just Henrico, but some of these communities to become your official address. As the other respondants said, when I lived in Henrico, it was hard to explain by saying it was officially Richmond and not the city. But no matter what it's called, when will the TD actually cover the counties!

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 05:45 PM by Anonymous
I have not heard Richmond County taxes being misdirected to Richmond City or vice-versa. Mechanicsville doesn't pay taxes to Mechanicsville, it pays to Hanover County. Highland Springs doesn't pay its taxes to Richmond or Highland Springs, it pays Henrico. Why are they being asked to change? How could anyone send their taxes to where they don't live? I hope Henrico residents aren't fooled by Hazelett's continuing quest to continue stab Richmond in the back and destroy chances of regional unity.

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 04:24 PM by Anonymous
I agree with most of the comments posted. My first reaction when reading about the proposed surveys being sent was "it will be the decal fiasco yet again. Mr. Hazelett and the board "please spend our money wisely!"

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 01:47 PM by PA
Speaking as a long time Henrico Co resident, sure, I'd like to see a "Henrico Co, VA" address but the costs associated with such a change would be far too much. I don't see this as a politcal thing or even as Henrico loosing money (Virgil's lost his mind I think) but a way to be a bit different and yes not associated so much with the city. And as for this :"Richmond should annex the entire county and call it all 'Richmond'..." How about HENRICO annexing Richmond and calling it all Henrico? Hmm.

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 01:20 PM by Anonymous
You mentioned the solution to the technical problem in the article - we can't change any areas that share a zip code with the city; why not just re-draw the zip codes so that they are unique to jurisdictions? Then analyze all data by zip codes. Zip codes change frequently. Can it be any simpler than that?

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 01:12 PM by P Martin
I can't imagine the incompetence that lead to this idea even becoming public. At most businesses, an idea this stupid would be shut-down at the water-cooler. But in County-government, we need to waste TENS-OF-THOUSANDS-OF-DOLLARS to get the taxpayers opinion on the validity of this idea. If Henrico can't figure out if everyone is paying their tax payments, that's an administrative and finance issue to be RESOLVED BY PROFESSIONALS (an accountant and a database guru).. Simply ludicrous

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 12:57 PM by none
This article is correct -- there is no such place as Henrico, Virginia. The suggestion to change county residents' addresses is absolutely outrageous!! Surely our elected county officials are competent enough to come up with a solution to properly direct tax revenues to the county without inconveniencing all county businesses and residents!

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 11:09 AM by anon
If county residents decide Henrico, Virginia is the address they prefer, just wait 'til they tally up all the costs of new business cards, stationery, signage and ancilliary changes they'll encounter. It's a rubbish idea!

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 10:37 AM by Glendale
Who trusts Henrico, the govt. that lied about not raising taxes for years; sneakily transformed an internationally known botanical gem (Elko Tract) into an industrial site with no public hearings; spent our taxes for a car decal they then trashed; is excited about eminent domain to eliminate the little rural land that is left, with no land to grow food?

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 10:11 AM by Anonymous
I live in Henrico and I think this is the worst idea the county has come up with since that huge vehicle sticker. What's next? Petition to change Richmond International Raceway "Henrico International Raceway"? Change the airport's name to "Henrico-Richmond International Airport"?

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 09:33 AM by Anonymous
Virgil Hazlett thinks we are stupid. He wants us to beleive that either Henrico Co does not know where its taxable parcels are - and he can't send mail to them, or he wants us to beleive that Henrico taxpayers are paying their tax payments to the city! In order for the later to be true, Hazlett would then have to be idly standing by, and ignoring deliquent tax payments. Either assumption is absurd and obviously false. What we have here is unvarnished anti-regionalism - Henrico style.

Posted February 20, 2008 @ 09:27 AM by Varina resident
Ever since I moved to Varina over 20 years ago I wanted a Varina address. There are many instances when a street, RE: Mechanicsville Tpk, has the same street number in Richmond and in Mechanicsville. If put the wrong city in Mapquest, you get sent almost to Tappahannock. The boundries need to be clear, and it has nothing to do with cutting out Richmond. It's a shame EVERYTHING has to be made political.


Tom Christoffel said...

A link to this post will be in the February 27, 2008 issue of Regional Community Development News. It will be on-line February 28 at Please visit, check the tools and consider a link. Tom

Anonymous said...

For years I've wished we had a Varina postmark instead of Richmond. I understand we must have "more rooftops" before the US Postal Service would consider this. Here's the conundrum: more "rooftops" equals more people equals more business equals more congestion and all the unlikable issues of city life in order to get the Varina postmark and the likable parts of city life. Is it worth it? Certainly not for a Henrico postmark. Better ways to fix the wayward taxes situation that won't cost us all a fortune in time and reprinting and address corrections. I also resent Henrico's newspaper insert telling us how to vote rather than asking our opinion.

LaVerne G. said...

This change does NOT affect me, I have always had a Glen Allen, VA address, it affects my children who do not want the change. I ALSO wondered WHY/HOW a person could/would send their taxes to the incorrect place, BUT after reading something in the paper concerning I understand it is NOT the taxes that residents are paying and sending I understand from what I is the SALES TAXES that the COMPANIES ARE SENDING to the localities of the person's address...when PURCHASES ARE MADE well as ordering online, by mail...etc. if this is TRUE..then it DOES explain it a little better. COMPANIES ARE DIVERTING THE SALES TAXES TO RICHMOND THAT SHOULD GO TO HENRICO, BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THE RESIDENCE IS PHYSICALLY LOCATED..INSTEAD THE SALES TAXES ARE BEING SENT TO RICHMOND BECAUSE OF THE CUSTOMERS' MAILING ADDRESS.

WHATEVER THE REASON, I'M EXPECTING THAT IT WILL/SHOULD BE EXPLAINED CLEARLY TO THE RESIDENTS who would be affected... the reasons what/why/how this has been done. Some people are wondering...WHY is it just NOW AN ISSUE..since the sales tax has been around since the late sixties or early seventies..right!???!! Correct me if I'm wrong.