Sunday, November 30, 2008

Local Press exposes Henrico planning shortcomings

Supervisors agree now is not the time to help farmers and other land owners protect their land from future development.

What? Isn't the 2026 Plan supposed to guide land use for the next 18 years? So much for looking ahead.
* * * * * * *
This post covers the latest actions of Henrico Supervisors as reported by The Henrico Citizen and a nice Style Weekly track-back to a big Comp Planning issue: “The law says people have a right to develop their property,” by asking 'but does the law say people don't have the right to choose not to develop their property?'

Take a moment here to think about your children or grand-children's future, when there may be no sources for locally grown produce. In a future when there may be no natural forests, or large open tracts of land to filter the pollution that's a known byproduct of sprawl.. which can happen because now is not the time to plan for the future?
* * * * * * *

"The Henrico Citizen" started the holiday giving season early- with real in-depth coverage of the latest county Comprehensive Plan happenings. Finally. Local press goes where our state's number one newspaper won't.

H .......U....... R.......R.......A.......Y.......!..!
You can read the whole Henrico Citizen article Officials Review Draft of 2026 Plan yourself,

but in this here post, we'll talk turkey about the meat of the Citizen's coverage... with that fine periodical's work in green, followed by our crew's responses.
* * * * * * *
Citizen: "Henrico planners have been working for more than three years to craft a draft version of the document, which represents the county’s vision for future land use, road systems, parks and open space. The existing Comprehensive Plan was last updated in its entirety in 1995; the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors use the plan as a guide when voting on land use issues."

HV: Three years is an awful long time, considering what still needs to be done...And the county continues to call the Comp Plan a "guide". The official "Comprehensive Plan FAQ" states the plan cannot re-zone your land, but HV posts have pointed out that the Plan will change the accepted use for your land raise your taxes.

Local case studies show that this is not usually something that can be changed. Read about higher taxes and land use designations here, and here, and earlier this month, here.

Citizen: "During a joint work session with the two bodies Nov. 12, Planning Director Joe Emerson said that officials had received 365 comments from the public during the process, with about three-quarters relating either to the purchase or transfer of development rights (PDRs and TDRs) or the need for more bicycle and pedestrian facilities."

HV: Good grief! 365 comments in three years? Something's wrong with this picture.

If over 3/4 of those resident's comments ask for programs to preserve land, or bicycling and pedestrian plans, shouldn't officials respond with action?

If residents ask Henrico to make bicyclists and pedestrians safer, and the county refuses, what happens when people get hit by cars in areas that could have been adapted to provide residents a safer passage?

Citizen: "Members of Envision Henrico, a citizens group that seeks to preserve county land and history, contend that the county hasn’t been proactive in its attempts to inform, educate and solicit feedback from citizens about the plan. They believe that hundreds more comments are necessary in order to gauge the public’s true opinions about the plan."

HV: At least we aint alone in worrying about what's going on around here. Looks like these folks are still working hard to make the public aware. Keep it up!

Citizen: “[W]e believe that outreach to the community and public input has been inadequate given the potential impact on landowners, taxpayers, neighborhoods, history and environment of the county,” group officials wrote Nov. 10 to the Board of Supervisors and other county officials."

HV: No contest.

Citizen: "But Emerson told the two bodies Nov. 12 that county officials had undertaken “numerous efforts” to reach the public since 2005, including a citizens’ survey, an internet site devoted to the plan and proceedings, press releases and frequent updates on the county’s cable TV access channel, among others. Envision Henrico members point to one of the results of the survey that showed 71 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with the Comprehensive Plan as proof that Henrico has work to do."

HV: Alright- here we go with the "numerous efforts" line. (This one causes a large amount of chatter over here).

It don't matter what the county has done, if it aint working. Do more.
It obviously aint working.

Refer back to HV 10/27 post, where the HV crew met to compare the 106k dollars spent on Henrico's "Zip Code Campaign" to the 2,300 dollars spent on advertising the Comp Plan in the last three years.

Citizen: "At last week’s work session, board members discussed the possibility of re-examining the PDR issue, which they considered in 2003 before rejecting. Though they advised staff members to prepare a report about existing programs, supervisors agreed that the time to implement such a program in Henrico is not now."

HV: Not now? If the county is currently planning our future for the next two decades, then when are they planning to preserve land? In 2026, when there's nothing left to worry about preserving?

Out of the suggestions Henrico received, the Citizen reports high numbers requested a PDR program is made available, and the Board just says no? What about those resident's rights, huh?

How can Henrico reps keep hollering about "property rights" without providing these rights to the folks who own and live on the land and want to keep it undeveloped? This kind of planning will succeed in squeezing taxpaying landowning folks right on out of the picture.

Citizen: "Through PDR programs, localities permanently preserve undeveloped land (typically farmland) by buying the development rights from landowners, who otherwise might be inclined to sell to developers. Such programs exist in nearly 20 states and are considered popular because they provide a steady stream of income to the landowners (usually over a period of time) while allowing them to remain on their property and pass it down to family members."

HV: What the venerable Citizen missed here, is that no one is asking Henrico to buy their land. Other "localities" could "permanently preserving undeveloped land" here, "by buying the development rights". So some other area that wants to build more where they are, could buy the rights of Henrico landowners who don't want their land developed.The real story:

Residents are asking for these programs to be made available. This means: residents are asking for these programs to be recognized by our county. PDR and TDR programs are funded each year by the State of Virginia. There are also a whole bunch of different ways to do this. Many areas have come up with creative ways to support these programs, but those are areas where the officials listen to their constituents. Henrico residents are asking the county look into it, but our officials are saying no. Again.

Between 2000 and 2003, petitions asking for PDR and TDR programs in Henrico were submitted to county officials. Documents with over 600 signatures from Henrico residents were given to Mrs. O'Bannon, the Tuckahoe District Supervisor. She and County Manager Hazelett met with petition sponsors, some of whom belonged to the local Sierra Club chapter. Residents from these groups attended many county meetings, sometimes making comments supporting the need for these programs- until... those residents were politely asked "not to come back", because county officials would not support these programs.

Residents are still asking, and it looks like Henrico is still saying no.

If you want to learn more about how these programs work, VDACS- The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has the answers.

Citizen: "But Henrico would need to develop a funding source in order to implement such a program, and the tight economy means that would be difficult.“Realistically, you don’t have a source of funds probably for the next two to three years,” County Manager Virgil Hazelett told the board and commission."

HV: Again,the State of Virginia provides funding each year, and even if all realistic funding sources were 2-3 years out, or even an unrealistic decade- these programs should remain a possibility for Henrico landowners. PDR/TDR programs are legal and popular in Virginia, and are a right that should not be removed from county residents. If the Comp Plan goes through without including this, it will not be a possibility in 2-3 years.

Does anyone really think this will
be remedied by retroactive amendments to the comprehensive plan on a case-by-case basis? Better ask Santa now. Start writing.

Citizen: "Some landowners in the county have taken creative approaches to preserving land. Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O’Bannon cited two examples of residents of her district who voluntarily zoned portions of their property as conservation districts, which reduced the value of the land and, consequently, their taxes."

HV: Mmmm, "creative approaches". What Mrs. O'Bannon is still completely missing is that new "Land Use Designations" proposed in the Land Use Plan Map now in draft, will remove resident's rights to apply for and get conservation easements.

Maybe Mrs. O'Bannon didn't read Style Weekly's coverage of this topic, "Where the Grass is Greener", that included:

Style Weekly- July 16th, 2008: ""Jernigan is equally pragmatic: “The law says people have a right to develop their property.” Of course, the law limits that right through zoning and permitting and land-use plans. And when asked about the limits Henrico’s proposed plan would put on property owners’ right to get conservation easements, Jernigan voices surprise. “So if it shows SR1 [suburban residential 1], you can’t put it in conservation?” he asks. “I’ve never heard that. I’d like to find out about that.”

Donati, a self-proclaimed “property-rights guy,” suggests that the problem can be remedied by retroactive amendments to the comprehensive plan on a case-by-case basis. He cites examples of exemptions the Board of Supervisors passed to allow high-density development in parts of Henrico where it conflicted with the comprehensive plan.

Such a gesture of support from the county would satisfy the law, Reed and Wilson agree. And some counties have amended comprehensive plans to accommodate easements, though it’s a lengthy process requiring two public hearings. Neither Henrico or Chesterfield has ever made such an exception for an easement.""

HV: For more on this, read "Where the Grass is Greener" from Style Weekly, or HV's post: "Turf War depicted in Style"

Citizen: "Henrico County itself owns 7,845 acres of land in the county – about 55 percent of which is vacant or being used for recreation or parks, Emerson said. In addition, the National Park Service and Civil War Preservation Trust own more than 1,000 acres in Henrico, all of which are preserved as open space."

HV: Who is "Henrico County, itself"? Isn't that us, the taxpayers? Didn't our tax dollars buy that land too? But we can't decide what will happen to County land or the land we own privately? This could be read to mean the county is not preserving open space, but the two groups above are.

How many readers are sick of the term "vacant land"? Farmland and forests are not vacant, and do not cause Henrico residents taxes to rise. What does cause tax hikes is when county officials decide it is necessary to extend water, sewer and other infrastructure into "vacant" areas. That will raise all of our taxes.

Citizen: "Emerson told the board and commission that the draft plan has addressed a number of issues relating to pedestrians and bicyclists, such as encouraging sidewalks and bicycle paths with new development. But he said the board could add to the 2026 plan a countywide bicycle plan to encourage the construction of bicycle lanes on county roads, either with all new roads only or with renovation projects as well."

HV: Didn't the article say cycling and pedestrian paths are one of the top two requested items sent in by residents? The Board "could" add a bicycle plan? What about "will?"

Citizen: "Planning officials will revise the plan and present it to the Planning Commission during a 6 pm work session Dec. 11 at the Glen Echo Building at the county’s Eastern Government Center.

They tentatively hope to hold one or several public hearings in January prior to the eventual consideration of the plan by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, which holds ultimate decision-making authority."

For details or to read the Draft 2026 Comprehensive Plan, visit

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WTVR6 to cover Vanishing Virginia- tonight and tomorrow

Local Richmond Channel 6 will cover "Virginia Vanishing" on November 18th and 19th. Tuesday night at 5:30 and 11 PM, and Wednesday at 5:30, the series Morning Anchor Greg McQuade has spent several months on will show the effects development and sprawl are creating on our state.

Virginia Vanishing Part 1

Virginia Vanishing Part 2

In related news, 390 Acres in Henrico County began the path toward their ultimate preservation.

This would not have happened without the hard work and dedication of our Governor, Tim Kaine,
House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, and state Sen. Ed Houck, D-Spotsylvania- we appreciate James Lighthizer and CWPT's support. Thank you gentlemen!

Standing as further evidence that rarely except through State, Federal, and private actions, are historic places and open land in Henrico spared development.

"Virginia awards grants to protect 15 Civil War battlefields, including Chancellorsville and Brandy Station"
Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star By CLINT SCHEMMER

"Virginia stepped forward yesterday to help save portions of 15 Civil War battlefields from encroaching development.

The commonwealth will provide up to $5.2 million to front-line private groups defending Civil War battlefields--including Chancellorsville and Brandy Station. Preservationists must come up with $10.4 million to get the 21 matching grants awarded by the state Department of Historic Resources.

The resulting total, $15.57 million, would be one of the largest sums earmarked for Virginia battlefield preservation in decades.

"I am pleased that we are able to join with these private organizations to save important open spaces and cultural landscapes while we still have the opportunity," Gov. Tim Kaine said of the initiative yesterday.

"Battlefield protection preserves Virginia's historic as well as its natural landscapes. It is an integral part of my administration's goal to protect 400,000 acres of open spaces by 2010."

Tapping the state's Civil War Historic Site Preservation Fund, established by the General Assembly in 2006, the department's grants will save 1,571 acres.

The money comes not a moment too soon, as Virginia and conservationists race to preserve some of the nation's most threatened hallowed ground from urban and suburban growth.

The grants will save key parcels by enabling private organizations to buy parcels or obtain easement rights on land that will stay in private ownership. Those deals will enlarge or join together previously protected battlefield tracts."

"The 15 affected battlefields lie in the counties of Amelia, Appomattox, Culpeper, Frederick, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Spotsylvania.

The sites' military histories are varied, including significant Union and Confederate victories as well as the scenes of horse-mounted battles, such as Brandy Station in Culpeper County--where the largest cavalry fight in North American history was waged.

"These purchases will allow us to secure places with the power to connect us and future generations to the lessons of a defining period of our history," said Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Historic Resources Department."

"The aid comes as groups across Virginia slate events for the Civil War's sesquicentennial, which begins in 2011." read more

The battlefields saved in Henrico are:

Glendale Battlefield, Henrico County- In June 1862, General Robert E. Lee's army attacked the Union line and surged eastward hoping to isolate half the opposing forces. However late in the day Federal reinforcements counterattacked and held the line. Lee's best opportunity to trap and destroy the Union army was lost. The Civil War Preservation Trust is purchasing four parcels totaling 87.5 acres within the core area of the battlefield. One parcel includes a study area of the First Bottom battlefield, while another one connects to land at Richmond National Battlefield Park on Malvern Hill, resulting in nearly three miles of contiguous protected areas. All four parcels are adjacent to nearly 362 acres of the battlefield already saved by the CWPT.

Malvern Hill, Henrico County- Also known as the Battle of Poindexter's Farm, this July 1, 1862 battle was the sixth and last of the Seven Days Battles of the Union's Peninsula Campaign. Gen. Robert E. Lee launched a series of disjointed assaults on the nearly impregnable Union position on Malvern Hill. The Confederates suffered more than 5,300 casualties without gaining ground. Despite his victory, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan withdrew to entrench at Harrison's Landing on the James River, ending the Peninsula Campaign. The Civil War Preservation Trust's purchase of 178 acres in the core and study area of the Malvern Hill and Glendale Battlefields will secure the site of a historic house and road, and the area where Confederate Gen. John B. Magruder supervised his troops while under fire. Due to significant development in the immediate vicinity of Malvern Hill, the area to be acquired is at high risk for single family, residential development.

First Deep Bottom Battlefield, Henrico County- This July 27–29, 1864 battle was part of the Siege of Petersburg. During the night of July 26 and 27, the Union Army II Corps and two divisions of Gen. Phil Sheridan's cavalry under the command of Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock crossed to the north side of James River to threaten Richmond, diverting Confederate forces from the impending attack at Petersburg on July 30. Union forces abandoned efforts to turn the Confederate position at New Market Heights and Fussell's Mill after Confederates strongly reinforced their lines and counterattacked. During the night of July 29, the Federals re-crossed the river, leaving a garrison to hold the bridgehead at Deep Bottom. CWPT's purchase will preserve 125 acres entirely within the core area of the battle, specifically a historic farm that was the scene of the heaviest fighting, where total casualties surpassed 800. Because of extensive recent development in the area, this is the only sizeable portion of the July 28 battlefield that can feasibly be saved.

Click here to see the complete list of 15 Civil War battlefields receiving preservation grants announced Monday by the Virginia Department Historic Resources.

Chesterfield Nixes "Downzoning" Back to Ag- Current Henrico Planning will raise taxes too

Henrico states 2026 Comprehensive Plan changes won't "rezone" your land, but local news shows a different pattern altogether. Higher taxes could soon be coming your way, because planning in agricultural areas will have an effect on all districts.

The Henrico Comp Plan FAQ asks and answers the question.

"Will the Comprehensive Plan rezone my property?
No. The Comprehensive Plan only recommends future land uses. Any changes in zoning would still require public hearings by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors."

But Chesterfield Observer coverage shows that a county's Comp Plan is much more than the loose set of guidelines Henrico has been selling ours as.

Changes made to "Land-Use Designations" can raise landowners taxes and start a series of events that could actually create patterns for much more poorly planned future developments.

Once new designations are adopted, many counties will not allow what they call "downzoning" back to agricultural use.

If the FAQ tells us the Comp Plan won't change zoning, how could this be irreversible? Wouldn't it be the same in Henrico as shown in Chesterfield?

So WHY in this economy, with the the real estate and building markets at an all time low, would anyone want their land to hold a higher 'Land Use Designation"?

So you could sell your land at rock-bottom prices?
Or be guaranteed to pay higher taxes?

This aint rocket-science folks.

If you choose to sell your land in the future, the buyer could always apply to re-zone at that time. And in case you haven't noticed- our friendly Henrico Supervisors and Planning Commissioners are usually happy to help a developer.

Even though the Henrico County Comprehensive Planning FAQ points out that Comp Planning
can't "rezone" your land, it actually can. Read how this has happened right next door in Chesterfield.

Chesterfield Observer

"Branner Station faces uncertain future"
November 12, 2008

"The owner of the 1,614-acre Branner Station site is now looking to sell the property. An agent for Thomas Company LLC, which owns the site, met last week with a potential buyer, but the company won't say who is interested or when a decision might be made. Acting on behalf of owner Nina Shoosmith, agent Sonny Currin declined to give details.

Asked if one option is to downzone the property back to agriculture as has been speculated, Currin said, "I don't have any comment on that."

Properties zoned agriculture pay the lowest tax rate. If the property keeps its current residential zoning, real estate taxes will be far higher.

The Chesterfield Planning Department is cool to any revision of the rezoning passed late last year when HHHunt committed to building an offsite road network estimated to be worth $130 million as part of its proposed Branner Station development. The zoning plan included a north-south road connecting to Chestertown Road and then Route 288 and an east-west road to Interstate 95.

"The staff would not support a rezoning back to agriculture because it wouldn't be consistent with the county's comprehensive plan," said Planning Director Kirk Turner.

Turner is also concerned about any plan to break up the parcel and sell it off into smaller developments because the county would likely get the same number of homes without the needed road improvements and land set aside for public facilities. Turner said that was his impression of what happened when the county allowed Greensprings development to split after Investor Management Group went bankrupt.

The 1988 Greensprings rezoning called for 2,300 single-family homes on 1,300 acres north of the Swift Creek Reservoir. In 1995, the late Bernard Savage amended the rezoning for land along Woolridge Road which extends between Genito Road and Old Hundred Road and now includes the Edgewater community. While the amended rezoning did include some road improvements, the county lost right-of-way for the Powhite Parkway if it is ever extended. In 2002, Doug Sowers received approval for similar amendments for the other portion of Greensprings.

Late last month, HHHunt suspended its plans to buy the Thomas Company property and build Branner Station with 2,449 singlefamily homes, 1,331 condos and townhouses, 908 apartments, 300 assisted living units and 470,000 square feet of office and retail development over about 20 years. One of the premier builders in the Richmond metro, HHHunt has built Charter Colony (1,800 homes) in Chesterfield, Wyndham (2,600 homes) and Wellesley (800 homes) in western Henrico County and other planned communities.

But when HHHunt requested an extension of its contract to purchase the land, the Thomas Company declined. With a housing slowdown and tightening credit, HHHunt Vice President/General Manager Dan Schmitt said the company couldn't move ahead at this time, but with a three-year investment so far, he hoped HHHunt could in the future.

Though Branner Station was rezoned on a controversial 2-1 board of supervisors' vote, a group of citizens continues to fight the development. The Bermuda Advocates for Responsible Development has focused on the road network outside the community that might displace 100 families where the eastwest road connector is planned to Interstate 95. The county's thoroughfare plan has the road going near Carver Middle School and Harrowgate Elementary School. HHHunt was doing engineering studies when it ceased work on the project."

Nice work Mr. Pearson!

So there you go. Henrico is following the same pattern right now.

Property can be given a higher density "Land Use Designation", be bought, the economy bottoms out, no building goes on, and TAXES ARE HIGHER.

Henrico's current "Land-Use Plan" draft will also remove residents right to place their land in "conservation easements" in many areas of the county.

If the draft is adopted, you can't "go back".

Not if it's better for the environment,

Not if it would create less sprawl...

Because once the big machine gets rolling, there is no reverse.

Write your Supervisor today, and tell them why

"This is wrong for Henrico."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Varina District "Unofficial" 2008 Election Results by Precinct (..Henrico too)

As a 'Special Feature' we're providing some links and images that will allow readers to check out the "unofficial" Henrico results of the 2008 Presidential Election.

Each Varina District Precinct's "unofficial results" are shown below. Just scroll down and click your precinct's image for a closer view.

Our focus is on the Varina District, so if you live in Brookland, Fairfield, Three-Chopt or Tuckahoe, click the main link to results to see your district's precinct results.

Henrico's Precincts:
A helpfully interactive verison of the map above is available via the Henrico Registrar's Office, if you want to check out your own precinct all close-up and personal, and learn your own boundaries.

The Registrar's version allows users to mouse-over each precinct to see its name, and each one can be clicked to bring up an expanded close-up in a separate window. This is of use to residents from all 5 Henrico Districts who want to see themselves on the county map, and understand their surroundings.

As of November 5th, 2008 the following "unofficial results" were given for each of the Varina District, Henrico County,Virginia Precincts:

501 Antioch (click to view larger)

502 Cedar Fork (click to view larger)

503 Chickahominy (click to view larger)

504 Donahue (click to view larger)

505 Dorey Park (click to view larger)

506 Eanes (click to view larger)

507 Elko (click to view larger)

508 Highland Springs (click to view larger)

509 Laburnum (click to view larger)

510 Masonic (click to view larger)

511 Mehfoud (click to view larger)

512 Montrose (click to view larger)

513 Nine Mile (click to view larger)

514 Pleasants (click to view larger)

515 Sandston (click to view larger)

516 Sullivans (click to view larger)

517 Town Hall (click to view larger)

518 Whitlocks (click to view larger)

519 Rolfe (click to view larger)

District 3 Absentee (click to view larger)

This map borrowed from We promise to return it some day.

Varina Antioch Cedar Fork Chickahominy Donahoe Dorey Park Eanes Elko Highland Springs Laburnum Masonic Mehfoud Montrose Nine Mile Pleasants Rolfe Sandston Sullivans Town Hall Whitlocks 2008 General Election Elections Biden McCain Obama Palin Henrico Election Precinct Precincts Results

Saturday, November 1, 2008


It's Varina’s Future too-
The future of our county is quietly being planned without reflecting residents input
concerning the need for agricultural "developmental rights" programs..

Let your Supervisor know now!
The 2026 Comprehensive Planning "process" is not complete
without in depth focus on resident's planning input.

"Best Practices" does not mean
behind closed doors


On November 12th, 2008, Henrico County's Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will 'review' input given thus-far by residents on the 2026 Comprehensive Plan "draft".

This is the plan that has been created by county officials and their paid consultants to set the pattern for how Henrico will grow during the next 18 years. Never heard about the plan?

Not surprising,
because our officials have put forth only the minimum effort required by law (plus a
tiny bit more... say $2,300) to educate residents that the Comprehensive Plan exists.

Even though Henrico's scientific "2005 Citizen Survey" showed
71% of those polled didn't even know what the "Land-Use Plan" is.

Shouldn't a survey result like that show the county that they need
to tell residents what they're up to?

Did you know that Henrico's "Zip-Code Campaign"
cost the county over 106 thousand dollars?

And $2,300 is all they'll spend out of the 2008 one billion dollar Henrico budget to advertise and educate us about the plan for our county's future?

Does this make it seem like they want us to know about "their" plan?

So we're encouraging Henrico residents to let our county officials know that

None of us moved here to watch every square
inch of Henrico become "developed"

None of us moved here to watch
bulldozers destroy forests and farmland

There is enough traffic already, focus on the need for alternative
and mass transit prior to encouraging more development, please.

Henrico contains many "aging neighborhoods" that deserve attention and repairs- prior to the county focusing on further aiding developers to "build-out" farmed and forested areas.

Current residents 'quality of life' deserves as much attention as those who aim to keep developing Henrico for profit. (Isn't our environment worth more than that?)

If all of our neighboring counties and the City of Richmond each involve their residents in planning. So WHY hasn't Henrico?

Let your Supervisor know that the current "2026" Comprehensive Planning "process"
is not complete without residents participation.

...any resident of Henrico can voice this concern- whether you live in Varina or not- because the decisions Supervisors are making will affect all Henrico residents. And if you don't care about the environment, then what about your taxes?

because farmed and forested tracts in Varina actually keep
other districts taxes lower... got your attention now?

* want a free bumpersticker like the one above?
want to find out about the future of your taxes
in Henrico? read on.

This May 2026 Comp Plan meetings began. Henrico did only the minimum to advertise them, so don't be surprised if you didn't hear about them.

Please take the time to educate yourself and neighbors about Henrico's current 2026 Comprehensive Plan 'draft', which suggests the urbanization of many green areas in Henrico.

To find out if your neighborhood would be affected, look at the 2010 and 2026 Land-Use and Major Thoroughfare links in the right column. Compare the two and see the changes being desined for your area (without your input).

You can get up to speed by reading this blog, joining 'Envision Henrico' (it's free) and spreading the word to other Henrico residents. Tell them our future depends on it.

Ask yourself: how much "development" is too much? Because

the future of our county is quietly being planned without reflecting public input.

* * * * * * *
Some Stats:

2004 Department of Environmental Quality reports made public the fact that many Henrico watersheds have high 'tmdl' counts.

In Varina, they reported that over 60% of the watersheds are polluted.
Similar patterns exist in other Henrico districts. Non-profits and residents have been volunteering to change this for several years now. We need County planned watershed cleanup programs started now.

Henrico currently has no ordinances planned to prevent "light pollution". One solution would be a simple as requiring all exterior lighting in new developments and businesses to be down-turned to face the ground.

Henrico County has still not taken the opportunity to join the Cool Cities- Cool Counties campaign, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other surrounding areas have, but not Henrico.

'Cost of Community Services Analysis' or 'COCS' (which Henrico should make public, under the Freedom of Information Act) show that each acre of open-space, forest or farmland requires less tax burden for the creation of necessary infrastructure, than each acre of residential, commercial, or industrial-use land does.

Each acre of residential, commercial, or industrial-use land requires additional financial input from the county. That means Henrico has to spend more than each tax dollar which residents pay into county coffers to support development than to preserve open-space, forested or farmed land. This may be the reason behind the county's marketing itself as a prime location for business developments to be built by the Chinese.


But as outlined in the Richmond-Times Dispatch on April 9th, 08, in 'Development Debated at Session'. The article subtitled "Speakers, supervisors offer explanations about growth impact".

County officials 'explained' that they don't ask developers to pay 'proffers' (like other counties) which would help foot the bill for local infrastructure (schools, roads, firestations, etc) made necessary by new development, because instead:

Henrico plans to keep revenues rising by supporting more and more 'economic development'. If developers don't 'pay in' to support the infrastructure needed for each 'housing unit' they build, then doesn't that mean development is increasing your taxes? Don't let them fool you.
Yes it does.

Sure- we all need jobs, but do you want commercial and retail establishments to be built IN your neighborhood? What about high-rise buildings?

Because those are among the guidelines for growth that the 2026 Plan 'draft' will set for many areas of Henrico.

..this list could go on and on, but if you clicked the 'Varina's Future' tab above to find out what you can do, check out Envision Henrico. They aren't asking for money. It's free and takes little effort on your part. You could sign a petition, or attend the upcoming Henrico Comprehensive Plan "hearings". Voice your support for a sustainable future.

Get involved in keeping Henrico the kind of county you would want your children and grandchildren to live in in the future.

If you have no children or grandchildren, then come share some of your time, and help us build a brighter future- while surrounded by like-minded residents who will be happy to meet you.

Thanks for your time. Now: talk with your neighbors, call or write your district Supervisor asap, and help spread the word!

* * * * * * * *


...and if you'd like a bumpersticker like the "Farmland Lost is Farmland Lost Forever"one shown above, click here to visit The Piedmont Environmental Council (the sticker is free, just sign up for PEC environmental email alerts- and you'll feel great about your small part in protecting our Virginia's environment)