Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Water Cycle, or...another ride we're being taken for

Well, Spring has sprung. You may have read the nice bit in the RT-D this week: "Wilder proposal raises water, sewer fees", but even if you don't live inside of Richmond city limits, it still pertains to you. Although the blow was lessened by the subtitle "the increase would be less than was approved previously in Richmond", there's a false sense of hope in that, for sure.

The article is talking about something other 'the old in-out water' fees- it's getting at something bigger. Charging us for for rain.
The "water cycle" in question isn't the Edwardian type (pictured below), it's actually much, much older...

What Wilder is talking about are the new rates that could come on top of a proposed new charge to improve Richmond's stormwater system, which is now up before City Council for consideration. Here's the RT-D's take from Staff Writers Kiran Krishnamurthy and David Ress:

"If the stormwater system is approved, city homeowners and other property owners could expect to get bills in August for new fees ranging from $45 to $135 per year.

Before that, in June, all property owners also would receive notices of what their stormwater assessment would be, based on the square footage of property surfaces that are impervious to water -- roofs, driveways and parking lots that allow water runoff.

Most city households fall into a category that would pay $90 per year, based on 1,000 to 2,400 square feet of impervious surface, according to the administration...

Businesses, nonprofit organizations and city schools also would be assessed, as would state and federal government properties, said Chris Beschler, the city's deputy administrative officer for operations.

Each would pay a set rate for every 1,425 square feet of impervious surface -- the equivalent of the average for a single-family home in the city, or roughly the amount for a 40-by-25 foot house with a 12-by-15-foot shed and a small patio or short paved driveway."

There's also a set rate for nonprofits, such as churches, and other like organizations, equalling $45 for each 1,425 square feet. But for commercial and industrial "users" (as the article called them), the rate would be much higher. $90 per increment!

In other words, a Richmond business with 14,250 square feet of roof and parking space would pay $900 per year! Tell us this isn't coming soon to a Henrico County mailbox near you. Go ahead, write in- we dare ya.

As you may have heard. water is said to be THE commodity of the future, but few people remember that when they're sudsing up the station wagon. You may think how you use the water "you pay for" is your business alone, but other people are making it theirs too. Let's look at this for a minute... (you might wanna turn off that tap while you read this though.)

Local water demand has been exceeding available supply for some time, as noted wonderfully in
local blogger "P. Keip's Hype" last November. Keip, who bills himself as a resident of Richmond's suburbs must live in Henrico, because he wrote about the comic value of Henrico Supervisor's Jack and Jill-like solution to last fall's water restrictions.

Restrictions have been put in place off and on for years in Henrico as a result of dwindling water supplies which are brought on by drought. As far as we can tell, Henrico purchases water from the City of Richmond, which draws it from the James. When the river's down, the restrictions go up, so to speak.

As a well-read resident of Henrico, Keip noted in his blog that the County had let us all know via the Times-Dispatch that an even and odd system, where you can water your lawn or wash your car, was based on your street number (even or odd) and the date. But Keip's real gripe was about HC Supervisors change of heart last November.

The BoS' 'new deal' was what Keip considered comical. We agree, but prefer tragi-comical. Supervisors then proclaimed that "Watering by bucket is allowed anytime." WHAT? A bucket? Yep- here's what the paper reported:

"Henrico County has tweaked its water restrictions to allow residents to irrigate trees, shrubs and other plantings three times a week.
Officials say the changes clarify the mandatory restrictions that took effect Oct. 25 and say they are not expected to significantly increase demand because lawn-watering is still prohibited, except up to 5 gallons a day by bucket.

Still don't get why we're talking about surfaces in the city? Why are we writing about water restrictions from last Fall? Well, because it's Spring, and we all pray for rain year-round here now, but in the city, they're gearing up to pay for rain.

Charging residents for the amount of impervious surfaces is always a possibilty for Henrico too, that is- IF we're ever to have any kind of storm water run-off system.. or maybe it'll be added as another form of tax- who knows. But in the end, it's a knee-jerk response to a much bigger problem. The amount of impervious surfaces in the county has grown exponentially in the last decade.

Think about all of the new construction in Henrico. All of that has the potential to pollute. In Henrico we have a continuous history of water restrictions due to drought- and if there isn't enough for us to water the lawn now, well- what are all of those new residents going to drink- for starters?

"Impervious" means surfaces into which water will not soak. So you can count your asphalt driveway, that lanai you built over your deck, and well- hopefully the roof of your McMansion or farmette. All of this run-off seeks it's own level- it goes down-hill. Like all of that water that sloshed the cars and trucks
in Shockoe Bottom around like rubber duckies in the not so distant past, most of it is supposed to go through storm drains, into sewers and much of it ends up in the river.

But with it goes plenty of silt, that clogs up the James and the Bay. Blocking light from getting to plants that help filter pollutants is only one of silt's many ill effects. The run-off also carries with it that plastic barrette you dropped in the flower-bed, the six-pack holder dropped by your pal, and the fertilizer from all of your neighbors lawns. How do we deal with this?

Well, they now make concrete and pavers which will allow water to soak through the surface and into the ground, where we need it. You could employ these measures yourself if you chose to. This could help stop some people from having to tell you to water that new sod with Jill's bucket, on an 'even-Thurdsay', but..

The wisest solution would be to write and or call your Supervisor. You could also contact County Planning, even call the local papers (if you really care), and ask that a new ordinance be written 'requiring only pervious surfacing be used for all new driveways, sidewalks and footpaths in the county.'

You could tell them that
what we need is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."Now that's what we call 'sustainable growth'!!

Or, you could always just look forward to more growth, expansion, or 'progress'. What you call it doesn't matter, all you need to remember is that you will be footing the bill,
and even worse- you'll be PAYING to POLLUTE.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Knowledge of Comprehensive Plan LOW among Henrico County residents- Survey says.

71% of Henrico residents who responded to the survey on which future planning in Henrico is based said they were not familiar with the "Land Use Plan".

The 2005 "Citizens Survey" was "scientifically administered" (by mail) to a portion of Henrico County residents "regarding their opinions about land use and planning issues". How much basis these survey results will have remains be seen, due to several different factors. The most shocking result of the survey is that out of those who responded, 71% said they were not familiar with it or had never heard of Henrico's Land Use Plan.

The Land Use Plan is described by the County in their Comprehensive Planning FAQ as the component that "primarily addresses development undertaken by the private sector. The Land Use Plan Map depicts the desired future land use (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) of all parcels within the County." The FAQ further discloses that each component (Land Use Plan, Major Thoroughfare Plan, and The Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan) was (will be?) specifically reviewed and approved by the Board of Supervisors following public meetings and public hearings."

One question that the Comp-Plan FAQ does not answer is how much effect County residents actually have on the contents of the final adopted Comprehensive Plan. It is important to point out here that when discussing "the desired future land use (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) of all parcels within the County", that the County is talking about land, much of which is owned by you, the tax-paying residents of Henrico.

Also of interest in that description is the idea that the Land Use "Plan Map depicts the desired future land use of all parcels within the County." Because no current Plan drafts show the effect of resident's input, we wondered while reviewing the draft, exactly whose "desire" it is that land be used in the future in the way the plan describes?

The two charts below contain figures and graphics styles found in the Fall 2005 "Weinberg Land Use Forum News" (.pdf here), published by "Hirschler Fleischer" a law firm based in Richmond and Fredericksburg.

The Survey's initial results and summarization that are now available on the County website as a downloadable .pdf here were prepared for MDC by the "Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory", part of the Center for Public Policy of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"The Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University (SERL) contracted with McBride Dale Clarion of Cincinnati, Ohio (MDC), to execute and summarize a sample survey by mail of the citizens of Henrico County,Virginia...The questionnaire was constructed from a larger draft of topic areas and suggested questions. SERL and MDC staff worked closely with staff at Henrico County on the survey."

Because a number of readers have emailed to tell us that the results were difficult to find, or understand, or that they have slow internet connections and spent hours downloading 'draft" portions of the Plan itself, we reprinted the text of the "Initial Results" in a prior post, to ease reader access.

Another point revealed by the "Initial Results" is the small percentage of Varina residents involved. The survey was mailed out to equal numbers of residents in each district, and it is reported that the budget allowed for 3100 residents to participate. Among five districts, that equalled 620 residents surveyed in each. Within the survey's "Additional Findings" it is stated that

"There was differential participation in the survey by magisterial district. Equal numbers of surveys were mailed to households in each magisterial district. Unequal numbers are in the data file. Twenty percent of the survey respondents should be in each of the five magisterial districts, but Tuckahoe has 26%, Three Chopt has 25%, Brookland has 21%, Fairfield has 15% and Varina has 13% lag. Weighting by magisterial district and race adjusts for much of these discrepancies."

As an illustration, the chart below was created by one of our readers, who goes by the nickname "Indigenous".
When we were emailed by a reader and made aware of the fact that 13% of 725 respondents were the only Henrico residents to represent Varina in the Citizen Survey, we began to get much more interested. 13%, that's 94.25 residents. What is the "weighting by magisterial district and race [that] adjusts for much of these discrepancies"? Does this mean that of the 620 potential participants from Varina that 525.75 results were estimated by the county? The way that this is worded is too vague for us to be sure.

After doing some research, we came up with the following figures relating to Henrico Magisterial Districts relating to the same year. This information came from a 2005 newsletter released by the law firm of "Hirschler Fleischer", based in Richmond and Fredericksburg. The firm releases a quarterly newsletter, called the "Weinberg Land Use Forum News". In the Fall of 2005, the news included an article written by James W. Theobald, Esq., which he "VARINA Where It’s At and Going To Be", found within the.pdf here.

We have to give some credence to the statistics in Mr. Theobald's piece, as it was published by a firm that includes lawyers who specialize in "Land Use" issues, some of whom have a history of working with Henrico County. One way or the other, after reading his article, and sharing it with other members of our group, we received from an "HV' reader, the donation of 'recreations' of the two of the pie-charts ('Total Acreage' and 'Vacant Acres', shown above) that were used in his article. The graph below was based on the one in the same issue of the "Weinberg Land Use Forum News", but has been adapted by our reader to include the two additional '%Survey Input '05' and 'Varina's % of Total' columns.

Theobald's article opened with the statements that "Tuckahoe and Three Chopt are largely developed, with Brookland and Fairfield still enjoying development and redevelopment opportunities. But a look at Varina suggests that the bulk of undeveloped land in the County is obviously in the East End."

Comprehensive Planning to establish a vision for the future growth and development of Henrico will have an immeasurable impact on those currently residing in the Varina District, as it should now be obvious the bulk of 'undeveloped land' lies within our district boundaries।

To date, the majority of the meetings addressing the Comp-Plan draft have been either closed work sessions, or public meetings where no comments from residents are allowed.

In many locales Nation-wide, local governments have invited residents to participate in "Citizen Planning Workshops", where instead of just being shown what will happen in their future, they are encouraged to participate in the planning of their own cities and counties. These workshops are one of the best forms of open-government, because they are based in transparency and the inclusion of local participants.

Instead, in Henrico we see vague language, goals and rationales, and indecipherable graphs pertaining to 'housing demand' and 'potential growth scenarios'. Developers plans are "approved with conditions"- the conditions being listed in a numbered 'code'- no doubt to save time, but is this "open government"?

The 2026 Comp-Plan will be the tool by which our future use of your land is decided. There is no doubt that lands which are now 'open-space', farm land, and forests, will be sold by their current owners, mostly for future development. It is the undisputed right of these owners to sell these lands, and yet- as current residents all of us have a right to be involved in deciding how the rural character of our district is preserved.

Our review of the Comprehensive Plan is what spawned the idea for this blog. Our concern is that the drafts now available suggest including commercial areas within current residential areas, as a way to "create infrastructure" for future development. All of us are for "Common Sense Growth","Smart Growth", and the creation of "Green-Infrastructure", but we believe that residents should be included as active participants with a voice in land use planning.

The creation of infrastructure, fire-houses, libraries, schools, sewers, new roads, additional retail and commercial establishments is a given necessity of growth in any area. But the jump from rural or rural-suburban directly to urban (outside of new developments)is more than many of us expected. There are a number of large planned developments based on rezonings already in the works in Varina which by estimate will increase our District population by 20,000 residents in the next ten years.

Add to those projects smaller "by-rights" infill developments already under application, and you'll see what is occurring even prior to the adoption of the new Comprehensive Plan. Henrico County representatives have repeatedly addressed their desire for development of only the "highest quality" in Varina, but smaller developments, not requiring rezoning fall outside of the grid. One way to assure sensitive development in by-rights projects would be to adopt much stricter ordinances to address preservation of areas both natural and historic. This has been done in other parts of the Commonwealth, why not in Henrico?

In the past as an "effort to get a handle on the pace and impacts of residential growth, both Chesterfield County and Henrico County have adopted policies which amount to de facto moratoriums on new rezonings for a period of time." The previous description comes from another Hirschler Fleischer newsletter article "Chesterfield and Henrico Counties Put Rezonings in “Time Out”",(in .pdf here) which actually happened in 2004. Why not do this again, now?

While the 2026 Comprehensive Plan is still in review and during the current building 'slump' it's the perfect time for the County to study growth rates, density and water quality impacts in the Varina District. If Henrico truly means to stand by their desire for only the "highest quality development", we and readers who have written in would love to see this work begin now. The necessity could not be higher, and the timing is perfect.

General Disclaimer: The opinions found herein are solely those of "Historic Varina" and some of our readers, and do not in any way reflect the opinions of "Hirschler Fleischer", James W. Theobald, Esq., "The Weinberg Land Use Forum News" or any of their employees or assigns. Some of the graphics above were based on those found in materials published by the above mentioned, and Historic Varina is thankful for their work.

Graphics Credit: The graphics above were donated to 'Historic Varina' by a crafty local resident, who asked as payment only that we mention that "he LOVES farm land, parks, history and open spaces", which is why he says he moved to Varina over a decade ago. Oh, and he likes to be referred to as 'Indigenous'. Thanks again, Indigenous!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Restored 'Henrico Theatre' put to good use

Varina Town Hall Meeting

"Join Varina District Supervisor Jim Donati and special guest Henrico County Manager Virgil R. Hazelett for his "State of the County Address" on March 17, 2008 at 7:00 p.m., at the Henrico Theatre, 305 Nine Mile Road."

Monday March 17th, at 7:00PM
at the beautifully restored, art-deco "Henrico Theatre"

if you haven't seen it yet,it's a great night to get out

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Media coverage of Henrico Supervisory meetings a COUP for "Open Government"

WoW! It's been a long time coming, but thanks to the continued hard work of our own Varina residents, locals from other districts and the Honorable Mrs. Patricia O'Bannon, (Supervisor of the Tuckahoe district) Coverage of Supervisor's meetings via H.C. Channel 17- as well as internet-streaming might be "beginning perhaps in October"

Thanks to the continuing coverage of Henrico County news from Will Jones, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer who reported yesterday:"Henrico plans for meetings video: The supervisors' sessions will be put on cable TV, the Internet -- or both" "Last July, the Henrico supervisors agreed to record audio of their meetings on a three-month trial basis, reversing a policy to prepare only written summaries of the proceedings."

"At the time, Henrico was one of three localities in central Virginia that did not record audio of its board of supervisors, town council or city council meetings." The RT-D also allowed Will Jones coverage of this issue in last Friday's paper, where his work was entitled: "Next for Henrico Board of Supervisors: video" (links to both of his works at post's end).

Well, arriving at this media high-point is the culmination of several years of hard work on the part of- among others, a very special lady from Sandston... anyone know who we mean? More than a handful of HV readers have touted her efforts in this arena. We sense an award coming her way...

Because we keep hearing about the 1 BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET, and as an example of where our tax dollars go, we include a link to the summarized minutes of the 2007 July Meeting which was called so that Supervisors could discuss this subject. County Supervisors Special Meeting (minutes in .pdf here)

We were pleased to find out that some form of written minutes will still be required by Va. State law.The H.C. meeting summaries are sometimes full of typos (we feel bad for the typists, really that can't be much fun. we mean that). Minutes can also be noted for patterns. What is said, what isn't said, what is said repeatedly, and who talks or does not talk.

The phones have been ringing in our small group, we're all wondering.. Live or lag? hmmm, will they EDIT the meetings, or give us full coverage? Will there be 'bloopers"? So many questions.

So, if the basic equipment is already there, why not air coverage during the 2026 Comprehensive Planning period, which is much more important in the long run. So we request just that: We want TV coverage during ALL the rest of the Comp-Planning related Meetings, please! What do you think? Vote on it in our new POLL, page right.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Read more about 'Video/Internet coverage' in The Richmond Times-Dispatch, from 2-29-08, or 3-04-08.

Or tell us what YOU think about this issue, by clicking COMMENTS below

Sunday, March 2, 2008

And the....."Survey Says!"

Readers of Historic Varina have written in to tell us about the results of the 2005 Citizens Survey, which Henrico is said to be using as background research to design the 2026 Comprehensive Plan now in draft. Other readers have written in asking us where to find the survey, or report the results difficult to find, we have decided to post the 'Initial Survey Results' to facilitate reader education and understanding of the process.

In posting this public document on this site, we also state we are not affiliated with Henrico County in any way, other than as concerned residents.

The document below has not been altered form its original form, other than where we have hit "return" to break up long blocks of text- to make for easier reading, or where the text has been made bold by us, for effect.

The document's table of contents has been omitted here (to save space), and the text given below begins on page 3 of the Survey Results .pdf here, available online for download from the Henrico County Planning website.

We could find none of the appendices mentioned below available online. Writing in to Henrico County at to request that they are added to the same website is something we suggest and support.

The beginning of the survey results describes how the survey was administered, the results themselves fall under a heading further down the page, labeled "Major findings".

_____Text of document begins below this line_____

McBride Dale Clarion Henrico County Plan Update:
2005 Citizens Survey

Summary of Results

Prepared for McBride Dale Clarion, Inc.


Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory
Center for Public Policy
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University

James M. Ellis, M.S.

May 9, 2005

______Table of Contents (skipped)______

Organization of the Documents
This document provides an executive summary of notable results from the 2005 Henrico Citizens Survey, a component of the Henrico County Vision 2026 process designed to update the county’s comprehensive plan for the next 20 years. The document was delivered in electronic PDF format. There are four Appendices to this document that were delivered separately as electronic PDF files. (The Methodology section of Appendix A is also a part of this executive summary document.) The page numbering is sequential starting from page one in all of the five PDF files. The files were delivered separately to facilitate use and distribution.

Summary of the Methodology for the Survey
The Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University (SERL) contracted with McBride Dale Clarion of Cincinnati, Ohio (MDC), to execute and summarize a sample survey by mail of the citizens of Henrico County, Virginia, regarding their opinions about land use and planning issues. The questionnaire was constructed from a larger draft of topic areas and suggested questions. SERL and MDC staff worked closely with staff at Henrico County on the survey.

The sample was selected from the county’s existing list of residential addresses that is used for the Triennial School Census (2005 is a Triennial School Census year). This list was provided to SERL and had magisterial districts coded in by the county’s geographic information systems (GIS) team. The sampling plan was designed to represent the views of citizens in the five magisterial districts of Henrico County: Brookland, Fairfield, Three Chopt, Tuckahoe and Varina. Within each of the five magisterial districts, 620 addresses were selected at random to receive a survey invitation.

Overall, 725 responses were received. After accounting for undeliverable addresses, the response rate for the survey was 25%. Given the relatively low levels of familiarity with the county’s plan and the length of the survey, this response rate should be taken as neither overly disappointing nor overly positive. Those who did respond, however, contributed some strongly held opinions.

The survey data file was weighted to adjust for those different probabilities of selection and racial/ethnic classifications. The weighting scheme moves the survey data more in line with the known distribution of magisterial districts in the sampling frame, and race/ethnicity in the county as a whole.

The sampling error for questions answered by all 725 respondents is approximately +/- 3.6% at the 95% level of confidence. Sampling error is only one source of errors in surveys. Although every effort was made to eliminate processing errors as well as more subtle errors – for example, those related to the wording or order of questions or answer categories – many errors in surveys are difficult or impossible to measure or detect.

Readers are reminded to be aware of the limitations inherent in survey research. For more detail on the methodology of the survey, please see Appendix A.

Summary of Results
Overview. This summary of results is based on a review of univariate and bivariate data tables and is a guide to the more notable findings from the simple data tables executed for this report. The data file has a large number of variables, and there are more extensive analyses that might be done with these data in the future. The electronic data file and documentation allowing independent use are also being delivered as part of this project. The need for balancing development priorities comes out in several aspects of the survey responses.

Black respondents, and in some cases other non-white respondents, place greater emphasis on creating and funding employment opportunities as part of the development plan. Black respondents also tend to indicate a desire for more growth than do other respondents. Black and other non-white respondents are somewhat more supportive of multi-family housing, apartment development, and condominium development. At the same time, there is strong support across the board for environmentally sensitive planning, and for funding in support of education.

The verbatim comments contributed by the respondents cover a range of concerns and suggestions for improving and innovating in the county, but also include worries about too much growth and unraveling of the social fabric. It is worth the time to peruse the appendix with these comments. The survey questions cover a wide range of development strategies for the future. The status quo (continuation of the current residential development pattern of cul-de-sacs and detached single-family homes) garners a small plurality, but there is no clear consensus among the respondents on this issue.

The different patterns of responses by magisterial district and race, where they exist, indicate that local conditions and personal experiences shape perceptions about the county as a whole. This summary cannot hope to address these complexities in depth. The summary is designed to highlight the issues that seem to be clearly expressed in the survey data. The electronic data file and the data tables are available for further exploration.

We are grateful to the respondents. They took the time to provide their opinions even though the county’s Comprehensive Plan was not familiar to many of them, and the survey may have represented a different perspective or vocabulary regarding development and quality of life in the county.

Major Findings. The following issues appear to stand out strongly in the survey results.

(1) Senior citizen complexes were the only type of development that a majority of respondents thought was in short supply Support for more senior citizen complexes is fairly strong across the board. Overall, 54% of respondents said there was less than the right amount of this type of development.

The comparable numbers regarding mixed use developments and developments that offer a variety of housing options were 34% and 33%, respectively. No other type of development was thought to be in short supply by more than 21% of the respondents. The support for more senior citizen complexes remains above or very near majority levels across all categories regarding race/ethnicity, length of residence in the county, age groups, and magisterial districts.

(2) Sidewalks and public transportation are sources of strong dissatisfaction for large proportions of respondents. Overall, 65% of respondents are less than “somewhat satisfied” with the number of sidewalks in the county (37% are “not at all satisfied”) and 64% are less than “somewhat satisfied” with public transportation (bus service) in the county (39% are “not at all satisfied”).

Regarding the quality of sidewalks in the county, 44% are less than “somewhat satisfied” (22% are “not at all satisfied”). Newer residents of the county were more likely to express dissatisfaction with sidewalks and public transportation.

(3) Overall, 82% of the respondents support further restricting or managing new development in rural areas not served by county sewer. Not surprisingly given such a large percentage, support was strong across all categories of respondents that were analyzed for this summary. Overall, a slim majority (52%) thought that the minimum lot size in areas not served by county sewer should be one acre (the current requirement), while 25% said it should be two acres and 17% said it should be five acres.

(4) Respondents support adopting fees or charges that developers or “new growth” would pay to offset infrastructure costs associated with the new development.
Overall, 60% said it was “very important” that developers pay for infrastructure and services for the new development, and 62% indicated they would support the county in adopting development fees or charges that would make new growth pay more fully for costs associated with it (such as school expansion, road improvements, fire service expansion, etc.).

Black respondents agree that it is “very important” that developers pay for infrastructure and services for the new development (60% say so), but are less supportive of the county adopting development fees or charges. Forty-eight percent of black respondents indicate support, compared to 65% or higher among whites and other races/ethnicities.

(5) Land use and transportation were rated as being the most important issues to be covered by the Comprehensive Plan. Overall, 72% rated land use and 66% rated transportation as “very important” to the Comprehensive Plan.
Utilities (61%) and public facilities (60%) also received attention as being “very important.”

Environmental issues (53%) and economic development issues (51%) were rated as “very important” by slim majorities. Park and recreation facilities (37%) were least likely to be rated as “very important” to the Comprehensive Plan. When asked to rank their top issue, 40% named land use and 20% named transportation.

Black respondents were somewhat more likely to rate nearly all issues as “very important” than were white respondents or respondents of other race/ethnicity. More notably, even given this overall tendency, a higher percentage of black respondents (77%) rated economic development issues as “very important” to the Comprehensive Plan than did white respondents (44%) or respondents of other race/ethnicity (50%).

Transportation was more likely to be rated as “very important” in Three Chopt, Tuckahoe, and Fairfield than in Brookland and Varina. Respondents in Fairfield rated utilities, public facilities, park and recreation facilities and economic development more highly than did respondents in other districts.

(6) Traffic and street/exterior lighting lead the ratings of the design features that most influence opinion about all four main types of development; buffers are also rated highly for residential development. Overall, 54% rated traffic circulation and access as “very important” to their opinions of single-family residential development, while 53% said street lighting and 52% said buffering or screening from adjacent major roads were “very important.”
When asked to rank their top issue influencing their opinions of single-family residential development, 33% said traffic circulation and access was the most important issue.

Overall, 55% said street lighting was “very important” to their opinions of multi-family residential development, while 52% said traffic circulation and access, 50% said parking, and 47% said buffering or screening from adjacent major roads were “very important.”
When asked to rank their top issue influencing their opinions of multi-family residential development, 31% said traffic circulation and access was the most important issue. Overall, 72% rated traffic circulation and access as “very important” to their opinions of commercial development, while 68% said parking and 65% said exterior lighting were “very important.”

When asked to rank their top issue influencing their opinions of commercial development, 43% said traffic circulation and access was the most important issue. Overall, 64% rated traffic circulation and access as “very important” to their opinions of industrial/employment centers, while 58% said parking and 53% said exterior lighting were “very important.” When asked to rank their top issue influencing their opinions of industrial/employment centers, 49% said traffic circulation and access was the most important issue.

In general, white respondents were less likely to rate any factors as “very important” than were blacks or respondents of other race/ethnicity.
Black respondents were more likely than were other respondents to rate street/exterior lighting as “very important” and to rank it as a top influence on their opinions of all types of development. Black respondents were also more likely to rate recreational amenities as “very important” to their opinions of multi-family development.

(7) County funding for school or education facilities receives strong support. Overall, 66% said it was “very important” for the county to fund school/education facilities. This was the only item out of seven in this question to receive a majority rating of “very important.”
When asked to rank their highest priority for county funding, 47% said school/education facilities.

Development of industrial areas was rated as the lowest priority for county funding
among the items listed in the question. Support for funding education wanes as the length of residence in the county increases (from 70% among those living in the county for eight or fewer years to 58% among those living in the county for 40 or more years).

(8) Quality of life in the county was generally rated as good and getting better over the last 10 years, but respondents were less favorable when rating the sense of community over the last 10 years. Overall, 59% of the respondents rated the quality of life in the county as above average (19% rated it as excellent), and 49% said it had improved in the last 10 years compared to 24% who said it had decreased (27% said it had stayed the same). But 36% of the respondents said the sense of community had decreased on the last 10 years, compared to 22% who said it had improved (42% said it had stayed the same).

Black respondents are more likely to rate the current quality of life as “average,” but are also more likely to say that quality of life and sense of community have improved over the last 10 years. Residents in Fairfield and Varina were much less likely to rate quality of life as “excellent.”

(9) Respondents seemed to think the rates of residential and commercial/retail growth have been enough or too much, but not so for the rate of industrial or employment center growth. Overall, 7% said the rate of residential growth over the last few years in the county was less than “just right” and 59% said it was more than “just right.” (The remaining 34% said it was “just right.”)

Similarly, 10% said the rate of commercial or retail growth over the last few years in the county was less than “just right” and 56% said it was more than “just right.”
But 29% said the rate of industrial or employment center growth over the last few years in the county was less than “just right” and 29% also said it was more than “just right.”

Black respondents were more likely to say that rates of growth for residential and commercial/retail development have been “just about right,” and are more likely to say there has not been enough industrial/employment center growth.
Newer residents were somewhat more likely to say that rates of growth for residential and commercial/retail development have been “just about right.”

Respondents in Fairfield and Varina were more likely to say that rates of growth for residential, commercial/retail and industrial/employment center development have been too little or “just right.”

There was some support for creating a storm water utility that could be integrated into a larger Greenbelt/Greenway system of open spaces, parks and naturally preserved areas. Overall, 60% of the respondents supported doing so. Support was somewhat stronger among newer residents of the county, those living in the Brookland magisterial district, and black respondents.

Additional Findings. The following issues are also noteworthy

(11) There was no strong consensus on ratings of how well the county has managed growth over the last few years. Overall, 49% said it varied depending on the development in question, 24% tended toward positive ratings, and 26% toward negative ratings.

(12) There was differential participation in the survey by magisterial district. Equal numbers of surveys were mailed to households in each magisterial district. Unequal numbers are in the data file. Twenty percent of the survey respondents should be in each of the five magisterial districts, but Tuckahoe has 26%, Three Chopt has 25%, Brookland has 21%, Fairfield has 15% and Varina has 13% lag. Weighting by magisterial district and race adjusts for much of these discrepancies.

(13) Black respondents are generally more satisfied with how growth has been managed so far. In addition, as noted above in separate items, compared to white and other respondents, larger proportions of black respondents think that there is too little development of various types in the county. It should be noted that Fairfield and Varina have the largest proportions of black residents in the county, and these districts on the eastern end of the county appear to have experienced much less development than have the more central and western districts of the county.

Citizen knowledge of the Henrico County 2010 Land Use Plan was somewhat low. Overall, 71% of the respondents said they were not familiar with it or had never heard of it, 27% said they were somewhat familiar with it, and 3% said they were very familiar with or well informed about it. Given this relative lack of familiarity with the plan, it is heartening that so many citizens were willing to take the time to express their opinions about these issues.

(15) After sidewalks and public transportation (bullet 2, above), additional items of some concern are: streetscape appearance, how well the county’s roads handle traffic, drainage and storm water runoff, preservation of open space and environmentally sensitive areas, the number of parks and playing fields, affordability of housing, the quality of employment opportunities, and the quantity of employment opportunities. For all of these issues, between 20% and 38% of respondents said they were less than “somewhat satisfied.”

Items that do not appear to be of great concern are: sanitary sewer facilities, drinking water quality, environmental quality (air, water, etc.), community landscaping, the design of new development, park landscaping, the quality of parks and playing fields, variety or availability of housing, variety of shopping, and the quality of information available via the county’s various communication channels. For all of these issues, fewer than 20% of respondents said they were less than “somewhat satisfied.”

There was clear-cut support for preserving sensitive environmental areas and moderate support for other recreational amenities. Overall, 45% said it was “very important” that the county provide funding to secure and preserve sensitive environmental areas, while comparable ratings for other amenities such as parks, recreational facilities, bikeways and walkways ranged from 18% (bikeways) to 34% (pedestrian trails and walkways).

When asked to rank their highest priority for county funding of amenities, 27% said securing and preserving sensitive environmental areas, while other amenities ranged from 6% (bikeways) to 20% (mid-sized community parks such as Deep Bottom Park).

(18) There were moderate estimates of future use of river trails and bicycle trails if they existed. Overall, 23% said they would be very likely to use a James River or Chickahominy River trail, and 18% said they would be very likely to use bike trails, if either of these trail systems existed in the county.

______End of Document______

Saturday, March 1, 2008

1920's White Clapboard Varina Farmhouse

Because 'Historic Varina' has from the start, been designed to include reader input, here is the text from a current realty ad that a reader sent in to us, knowing how we all value history. To the best of our knowledge, this property does not belong to the reader who sent the ad in, and it does not belong to anyone involved with 'Historic Varina'.

Twenty Eight Acre 'Horse Farm' with 1920 Clapboard Farmhouse FOR SALE in Varina

(This farm appears to be on the corner of Charles City Road and Beulah Road, but the plat has the side street as 'Bealuleh' Road)

4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2800 square feet, on 28.00 acres

The ad says there is a lot of road frontage

Barns, Shops & 'Lovely Setting'

Visit this site to see a plat and some more pictures. Lot Features: Fence (Horses) Frontage: (Fronts on two roads), Horse Facilities:(4 Stall Barn and Fenced), Zoning (AGRI). "View", School Information: Elementary School: Seven Pines, Middle School: Rolfe, High School: Varina

DISCLAIMER: ...Hey, we aren't realtors, this is someone else's ad. We'd just love to see anyone buy a farm in Varina. Might make for a nice Sunday drive. Enjoy!