The District 5 Report for February 2017 is designed to keep you informed of local activities and government actions that might impact your family, home, and neighborhood.* Comments and questions are always welcome. I greatly appreciate your help in disseminating the report to other residents.
York County Board of Supervisors
Home (757) 868-8591
Mobile (757) 903-1875
-----District 5 and Crime Watch Report February 2017*-----
It has been over a year since my last report. In November 2015 just after Thanksgiving, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test was the first indication of possible cancer that was later confirmed with a biopsy. Since then, I have completed proton treatment and had several follow up tests, which indicate the cancer is in remission. Annual physicals, outstanding doctors, and modern medicine resulted in very early detection and successful treatment of the cancer. I bring this to your attention because 1 in 7 males are diagnosed with prostate cancer. What amazes me is that men in their 30s and 40s are being diagnosed with the cancer and even early detection does not guarantee that the cancer hasn’t progressed to an advanced stage of development. Generally the cancer is very slow growing but if not treated it can be debilitating and even deadly. While there is some debate in the medical community as to the value of PSA testing, I recommend annual testing to help establish a baseline for identifying changes in your health. Identifying any cancer early in its development gives you more options for treatment and improves your chances of beating the disease. Talk to your doctor to determine what is best for you. I want to thank all of you who gave me encouragement and advice during my treatment.
a. The I-64 widening is critical to the future success of communities in Hampton Roads. Military installations, the commercial ports, ship building, tourism, and closer to home, the value of our homes, community security, and quality public education, are all impacted by the flow on I-64. Fortunately, we now have a funding stream to construct $624 million of lane improvements from near Jefferson Avenue in Newport News to the Route 199 Lightfoot interchange in Williamsburg. This puts the construction cost at around $30 million per mile. Segment 1 construction, which runs from Jefferson to just beyond the Ft. Eustis interchange should be completed in 2018. Segment 2 construction, which runs from Ft. Eustis interchange to the Rte 199 near Busch Gardens, should be finished in 2019. Segment 3 construction, which runs to the Lightfoot interchange is estimated to be completed in 2022. So, we’ll see the widening project for the next six years. However, this is not the end of the construction. The new Ft. Eustis interchange was included in the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization 2040 Long Range Plan with a completion date of 2031 at an estimated cost of $267 million. Added to this is the approved widening of the HRBT, which includes a widening of I-64 from where it connects to I-664 in Hampton and extends over to I-564 in Norfolk. The estimated cost of the HRBT widening project is $3.3 billion and that’s with a 40% contingency, meaning it could cost a lot more.
In the past, incredibly poor decision making resulted in the state spending and losing an estimated $300 million to widen Route 460. It also led to the Midtown Tunnel fiasco where tolls are now being used to guarantee private investors (as in the Public Private Partnership) a 13.5% annual return for 58 years. It is sad to think that politically motivated decision making for construction of the midtown tunnel will negatively impact Hampton Roads for many generations to come. On the bright side, the new state mandated analytical approach to funding large transportation projects resulted in comprehensive engineering and environmental studies that show the widening of the HRBT is not only fundable but provides the best traffic congestion relief. It is estimated that the tunnel widening will begin in 2022.
b. I think we will all agree that the 3-year widening of Route 17 was painful but worth the trouble. The speed limit is back up to 45 MPH and travel along the route has greatly improved. For example, a trip to Historic Yorktown from the Tabb area that once took 45 minutes now takes about 20 minutes. Several citizens asked that VDOT add additional signage to warn drivers that when heading southeast, the Route 17 right lane becomes a right turn only lane onto the Rt 134 overpass. VDOT representatives state that the current signage provides adequate warning.
c. More Widening Projects for Route 17 and Victory Boulevard. The Commonwealth has a dedicated pot of money, about $970 million, for a road program called SMART SCALE, which according to the code of Virginia (§33.2-214.1) is “….about picking the right transportation projects for funding and ensuring the best use of limited tax dollars.” Regional transportation organizations from across the state submit road projects for the program. I believe the total cost of all the projects submitted is around $13 billion. The transportation staff in Richmond (VDOT) has evaluated and whittled down the projects to keep within the funding limits. VDOT will submit a recommended list for funding approval to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in June 2017. This year, of the 52 projects submitted by the HRTPO, 24 were recommended for funding by VDOT at an estimated cost of $223 million. If all are approved, which is very likely, Hampton Roads will receive 23% of all SMART SCALE funding. Not bad! As for York County, we have two projects recommended for funding. The first is the continued widening of Route 17 from Wolf Trap Road (near the Kentucky Fried Cleaners) to Goodwin Neck Road (near Pop’s). This project will cost about $14 million. The second project is the widening of Victory Boulevard between Route 17 and Hampton Highway (Route 134). This project will cost about $4.6 million. I have no further details concerning either project. The next important step is getting CTB approval in June 2017.
d. The construction of the Wythe Creek Road improvement project will begin in 2018.
e. The construction of new bridges across Route 134 at the York County and City of Hampton line will begin 2019.
f. I want to remind everyone that York County, unlike the surrounding cities, does not own roads. All the roads in York County belong to VDOT and VDOT is the government agency responsible for road maintenance to include mowing, plowing, stormwater drainage, signage, potholes, surface treatment and paving. Report road problems to VDOT online at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ or for immediate action call 800-367-7623.
g. VDOT’s tentative paving schedule for this year includes the following:
(1) Route 17 northbound from Wolf Trap Road to Falcon Road
(2) Route 17 southbound from Fort Eustis Blvd. to Goodwin Neck Road
(3) Route 171, Victory Blvd. (east and westbound) from Route 134 to just west of Route 17
(4) In the Running Man neighborhood – Kinnakeet Run from Pohick Run to Kanawah Run
2. Land Development.
There is a lot of new development and construction planned in and around our area. The list of projects below starts with projects closest to District 5 and moves further up Route 17 towards Historic Yorktown. Some of the projects are “by-right,” meaning they did not come before the Board of Supervisors for approval. Some were previously approved by the Board of Supervisors and are now just getting underway. Some are still in the conceptual or planning stage and may require Board approval.
a. Commercial and residential developers are beginning to approach the County with proposals to develop the 101-acre Smith Farm along Victory Boulevard across from the Running Man subdivision that abuts Victory Boulevard and lies between Calthrop Neck Road and East Yorktown Road. One very tentative proposal includes a 40,000 square foot grocery store. The entire property is currently zoned Rural Residential (RR), which equates to one house per acre. Any change to the current zoning will require approval by the Board of Supervisors.
b. The Legacy of Poquoson residential/commercial development along Victory Boulevard was approved by the City of Poquoson. The project will include 40,000 square feet of retail space and 556 residential units, including 200 apartments, 107 townhouses and 249 single family detached homes. Traffic from the development will generate about 5,600 trips a day. We should anticipate a new traffic light at the Victory Boulevard entrance and exit point. The project was submitted two years ago to the Army Corps of Engineers for environmental approval. Approval is still pending.
c. The County received a rezoning application for the 112-acre parcel located at 517 Yorktown Road and situated between Plantation Acres/Mount Vernon Elementary and the Taylor Farms subdivision. The request is to rezone the property from RR-Rural Residential (low density residential) to R-20 (medium density residential). The proposed rezoning can yield 146 lots, as compared to the estimated 75 lots that the current RR zoning will yield. Most of the homes within District 5 subdivisions are on lots zoned R-20. The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will conduct public hearings on the rezoning application prior to any final decision by the Board. The first public hearing on the rezoning will be conducted by the Planning Commission on March 8, 2017.
d. A developer has expressed interest in establishing a 184 unit independent and assisted living facility with a memory care unit on 9.6 acres of undeveloped property located on the south side of Victory Boulevard between the Coastal Community Church (the former Kroger grocery store) and the Leonard Buildings establishment on Route 17. The developer is seeking access to the property at the traffic light on Victory Boulevard across from the entrance to Walmart. The Board of Supervisors must approve the rezoning of the property from residential to limited business and submit a letter of support to VDOT for the entrance on Victory Boulevard.
e. Play-a-Round Golf and Go-Karts. This project was approved by the Board of Supervisors and is under construction. It is located on a parcel just north of Ken Matthews Nursery and will include a miniature golf course, a track for electric go-karts, and a building housing arcade games.
f. Construction is underway on a 78 townhome project called The Townhomes at Martin Farm. The site for the townhomes was the former Grafton (golf) Driving Range property between the Rainbrook Villas and Glen Laurel townhouses. The property is zoned RMF-Multi-Family Residential. No Board of Supervisors action is required.
g. Planning is well underway for a new Fire Station No. 1. The fire station is being relocated from its current site due to the recent widening of Route 17. The new site is the County owned property at the intersection of Dare Road and North Constitution Drive, which is just off of Route 17 behind the IHOP.
h. Lidl Supermarket is coming to Route 17. A site plan was submitted for a 36,000 square foot Lidl grocery store on a 6.9 acre portion of the Grafton Shopping Center site bordering the northern edge of the IHOP restaurant property. The proposed building would be oriented toward a reconfigured shopping center parking lot in front of the Post Office. The building that once was the site of Stinky’s Restaurant is being remodeled for another business.
i. State Farm Office Building (under construction): A 10,000 square foot office building located on a 1.4-acre parcel on the east side of Route 17 just south of Greene Drive (AutoHaus corner). The building will include three separate office suites, one of which will be occupied by the owner, a State Farm Insurance Agent.
j. Construction is underway at Yorktown Crescent, which is located on the Fort Eustis Boulevard extension behind Wendy’s and Arby’s. Yorktown Crescent will have a maximum of 210 dwelling units (a combination of townhouses apartments and condominiums) and at least 28,000 square feet of commercial space (floor area) and 3,000 square feet of community space.
3. District 5 Crime Report – The following events, as reported by the Sheriff’s Office occurred over the past several months.
a. Last year I reported on efforts by the Sheriff’s Office to discourage panhandling at busy intersections, particularly around Walmart and the Kiln Creek shopping area. The overall effort has been somewhat gentle. However, one panhandler was arrested last summer when he ignored repeated warnings to keep clear of the a busy intersection. Recently, a panhandler became overly aggressive in that he blocked the way of an elderly gentleman in the parking lot and was seen shouting at a lady for not rolling down her window. Evidently quite a few people experienced his aggressive behavior. Eventually, a photo of the individual along with a license plate number was given to the Sheriff’s Office. The car was traced to an address in Gloucester. There, the panhandler received, what I would call, a pretty frank talking to by one of our senior Sheriff’s deputies. I can’t tell you what was said to the individual other than to say it would not be in his best interest to return to York County. He hasn’t returned.
Comment: Many of us are very sensitive to the plight of those down on their luck and are willing to throw a few bucks their way to help out. However, such action not only encourages panhandling but increases it throughout the area, which undermines the security and safety of the shoppers and businesses. The Sheriff’s Office informed me that some panhandlers have discovered that they can make more money panhandling than actually working at a full time job. One deputy observed a panhandler at the end of the day go behind a business and climb into a $20,000 truck and drive away. I’ve personally seen this situation in the City of Hampton. I suggest you give some thought to the repercussions of supporting panhandling in our area. And, if a panhandler ever appears aggressive or makes you uncomfortable, simply dial 911 and report it. You’ll be amazed at how fast the Sheriff’s Office responds to your call.
b. I completed a review of several months worth of calls to the Sheriff’s Office and have two observations to report. The first is that we do not have a significant crime problem. The second observation is that “Larceny From a Motor Vehicle” and “Damage to Property” seem to be the most prevalent crimes in and around District 5. Last year, it was thought that gangs were the primary culprits for car break-ins. The low risk of getting caught and the high reward of taking cash and other valuable items made the crime worth the effort. Now it appears that many more are getting into the act. Young, old, men, women, and even children are becoming involved. Also, as we have seen in past reporting, the higher densely populated areas and those closer to major thoroughfares such as Route 17, Hampton Highway and Victory Boulevard are seeing most of the larcenies. Here are just some of the neighborhoods where Larceny From a Motor Vehicle occurred over the past two months:
(1) Belmont Apartments
(3) Four Season Apartments
(5) Meadowlake Farms
(6) Shady Banks
(6) The Greenlands
(7) Woodlake Crossing
(8) Woods of Tabb
(9) Wythe Creek Farms
Remove valuables from your vehicles at night and please call 911 to report any tampering with your motor vehicle. By reporting the incident, you will be helping our Sheriff’s Office identify trends and areas that need increased patrolling.
4. Board of Supervisors and Other Government Actions
a. Last year, the General Assembly initiated a study of legislation that would prohibit local governments from establishing zoning regulations for short-term rentals of rooms and entire residences through booking platforms such as AirBnB. While on the surface this may seem a good idea, in reality it creates a business in a residential community and has the potential of eliminating any recourse for neighbors when the business becomes a nuisance. Residents of Queens Lake near Williamsburg had numerous problems with an unauthorized AirBnB when guests would speed through the neighborhood, park their cars on the front lawn, litter the area with their trash, party to the wee hours of the morning, and be verbally abusive to local residents. There are other downsides to include having strangers in the neighborhood on a routine basis and that AirBnB rentals do not follow the same taxation and health rules that regulate hotels, motels, and Bed and Breakfast facilities. This undercuts revenue for the County and puts local brick and mortar businesses at a significant disadvantage. This year the study is complete and Senate Bill No. 1578 (Norment) was passed and forwarded to the House of Delegates for consideration. The new Senate Bill revised the original bill and contains provisions for local government approval. The new bill also does not supersede HOA covenants. York County Board of Supervisors are watching closely as Senate Bill No. 1578 makes its way through the House of Delegates.
b. In October 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance Number 16-10 at the request of the owner of the Marquis Shopping Center, at I-64 Exit 242 next to Water Country USA, to amend the York County Zoning Map from Economic Opportunity (EO) to Plan Development Residential (PDR) and to amend the Overall Development Master Plan for the South Pod of the property.
Comment: The significance of this approval is that the developer is now proffering to increase a proposed elementary school site from 6.5 acres to 14.4 acres. In addition, the overall mix of residential units would be reduced from 650 units to 600 units. New developments always raise concern over the increase in traffic and number of potential students. In this particular case, traffic capacity is not an issue. However, the addition of an estimated 258 students is a concern. The proffer of land given to the County is an effort by the developer to help offset cost concerns over public education. Nevertheless, a new elementary school will cost the County approximately $23 million and take about 3 years to build. It is interesting to note that development of the Marquis is not a driver for the new school. Two of our elementary schools, York Elementary School and Magruder Elementary School, are near capacity and the School Board’s Six Year Capital Improvement Plan has identified a need for a new elementary school for many years. The incentive for the proffer is that placing a school in the development makes the residential property more attractive and reduces the cost of education for the local government. This is a great example of how proffers can benefit the community. Unfortunately, enactment of anti proffer legislation in 2016 by the Virginia General Assembly will have a significantly negative impact on future use of proffers for development.
c. In December 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance Number 16-14 to rezone 6.5 acres located on Bulifants Boulevard in the upper County from EO-Economic Opportunity to PDR Planned Development Residential. The purpose of the rezoning is to allow for independent living senior housing with 130 units.
Comment: The senior population is one of the fastest growing age groups in York County. From 2000 to 2010, the population of residents 65 and older grew by 54% while the overall growth of the County was just over 16%. Today, seniors (65 and older) represent about 12% of our total population. According to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, by 2020 the senior portion of the County’s population will be nearly 16% and by 2030 it will be around 20%. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that developers are pushing to create more senior housing.
d. In December 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved R16-131, which granted a Special Use Permit to authorize a 40 unit senior housing assisted living facility as an addition to the existing nursing home located at 113 Battle Road.
Comment: Again, this action reflects the increasing demand for senior housing in York County. The benefits of senior restricted housing is that it does not add to the County’s school population and quite often generates a positive tax revenue. The downside is that senior housing generates more calls for emergency medical services than non-senior housing.
5. Fun Facts:
a. There are 95 counties in Virginia. York County at 105.6 square miles is the third smallest (Arlington and Mathews are smaller) and ranks 29th in population among counties and cities.
b. York County has 658 people per square mile as compared to Arlington County with 9,072 and Fairfax County with 2,859. The population distribution within York County varies considerably. For example, in upper York County near Williamsburg, the population is about 32 people per square mile while in District 5 the population density is approximately 2,100 per square mile. Also, according to the US Census Bureau there is a census track within York County that includes Yorkshire Downs and Bethel Housing where the population density is approximately 7,500 per square mile.
c. Of the 3,144 counties in the United States, York County ranks 21st in household income of $84,167.
6. Many of you may not realize that the Victory YMCA next to the Tabb Library sits on land owned by York County. Over 15 years ago, in lieu of rent payments, the County worked out an arrangement with the Y where citizens would receive a discount on the price of membership. Since its establishment, the Victory Y has grown in membership and popularity. Today, there 13,202 members of which 68% are families, 4,484 are members under the age of 18, and 34% receive financial assistance. Over 1,411 individuals and families receive scholarship dollars valued at $394,303. The Y offers not only opportunities for exercise, it provides opportunity to learn about childhood obesity, offers a Y summer camp, teaches swimming, and so much more.
On Saturday April 15, 2017 the YMCA will conduct its 3rd annual Victory at Yorktown 10K Run/Walk & 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk beginning at the Historic Yorktown Waterfront. The 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk starts at 8 a.m. and the 10K Run/Walk, which is a USATF Certified course, starts at 8:30 a.m. There will be T-shirts for all and finisher medals to all who participate in the 10K. Post race activities include music, refreshments, an award ceremony and door prizes. There is a registration fee with all proceeds benefitting the Victory Family YMCA to help families in our community. You can find more information and register for the event online at www.RunSignUp.com. When you get to the online site, type in “Victory at Yorktown 10K Run/Walk & 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk.”
* Homeowner Associations are encouraged to use portions of this report in preparing their association newsletters. Comments and opinions expressed in the District 5 Report do not necessarily represent the position of the other members of the York County Board of Supervisors. All email correspondence to and from this address is subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and to the Virginia Public Records Act, which may result in monitoring and disclosure to third parties, including law enforcement.