Good Evening, Everyone!
Be Patient . . . . . It Takes Time . . . . . Trust Us . . . . . says the NKC BOS
As you may recall, our No Combat Range in New Kent (NCRNK) group officially requested we be an agenda item on the New Kent County Board of Supervisor (NKC BOS) regularly scheduled meeting on 4 September 2018. At the last minute, we were informed that would NOT happen. Accordingly, we attended the meeting anyway.
It was so heartwarming to see the number of folks there wearing their gorgeous Orange shirts …. . I counted over 50 Orange folks in attendance plus many other supporters wearing normal (much less colorful) attire!
Unable to formally discuss NCRNK, we took the opportunity to address the board during the Citizen Comment Period. As you may recall, you can sign up and speak for three minutes. This feature is available to EVERY citizen at EVERY Board of Supervisor and Planning Commission meeting – and we intend to continue using this avenue to voice our concerns for as long as it takes.
Five of your neighbors spoke directly to the Board members during the Citizen Comment Period last Tuesday night:
#1 — Sandi Gauthier addressed the tremendous growth that has occurred in New Kent County. For over 150 years, the population stayed right around 5000 people. Since 1970, the population doubled … and then doubled again for a headcount of well over 20,000 today. NKC is the second fastest growing county in the Commonwealth. The bulk of this increase comes from what the New Kent County Data Summary classifies as “In-Migration” which means New Folks, with new ideas, new expectations, and new money which they want to invest HERE in New Kent. Since 2001, the “In-Migration” figures include my husband, myself, my sister, our daughter and her husband and their two children. That’s three households of new folks. We hoped our brother would also relocate from Boston however when Curtis CUP 2-18 was made public, he was so turned-off he changed his mind about moving to the community. Our concern is that his will not be the only family who turns away from New Kent because of land use concerns. To that end, our NCRNK group requests the following of our local government:
** Pledge to Do No Harm to Citizens’ Property Values
** Change the Conditional Use Permit process to reflect the Hanover County model. That model requires the county to notify all adjacent property owners by First Class Mail of upcoming CUP submittals BEFORE the CUP is officially entered into the review/approval process . . . . . this would eliminate the gotcha and surprise factor in the future – and allow citizens an adequate opportunity to fully review and address applications. Such a modification in our county procedures requires NO change in zoning codes – no public hearing – no delay … it is a simple administrative change.
** Review Goochland County’s Good Governance approach. To that end, we purchased 15 copies of their book (Ken Peterson author) and are passing it around for members to read.
** Add #11 prohibited land use – Combat Ranges – to our zoning code. And if that is not possible, amend county code to require commercial Combat Ranges to meet DoD Standards for Health, Safety, Welfare, Environmental and Noise for all citizens of New Kent County and surrounding communities. We should be entitled to the same safeguards as our military folks.
#2 — Joe Davis spoke for the third time this summer during the citizen comment period. He said: “My topic has not changed – our “No Combat Range in NK” signs remain firmly in place. I will be brief. Prior to tonight, I and my many neighbors, have offered direction and solutions related to the residual effects of the CUP-02-18 application. As your constituents, we have asked the Board of Supervisors to move forward and react to our concerns as a community. As our request to prohibit tactical, combat and/or military style shooting ranges and training facilities is not being included on tonight’s agenda, I only have questions. My first question is, if not tonight, when? If not on the regular meeting agenda, will you entertain our recommendations at the next work session? If you will not entertain our recommendations at all, will you tell us you are just not interested? Do legal concerns or state law restrict you from acting? Are you aware of any pending applications for another parcel in New Kent? Are you aware of the applicant resubmitting? I am just curious and remained concerned. We only seek solutions and will remain engaged in our efforts.”
#3 — John Lockwood spoke of the group that is fondly referred to as the Orange Shirters. This group came together rapidly and effectively as a force to save our homes and communities. It is a spirited, highly motivated and very dedicated assemblage. Though it is a group, it is composed of determined individuals who see the situation through their own eyes and have their own thoughts about what must be done. And while we may not always agree, our NCRNK group has behaved with restraint and with grace – we have been good ambassadors and have remained respectful of our county employees, elected officials and each other. Recently the entire group (over 500 folks) was publicly maligned by a Planning Commissioner for alleged inappropriate behavior by one person. This is unacceptable and an apology was requested for the group.
#4 — Bill Francavilla addressed three things: #1 – a pledge from the county to its citizens to Do No Harm by impacting property values; #2 – honest concern about safety – no one would want to see any citizen (child, adult, elder) hurt by a stray bullet from a commercial shooting range; and #3 – an appreciation for the moral issues and approaches that are involved in county business. Our morals should be clear in New Kent County – and they involve areas like honesty, accountability, integrity and dedication which create trust between the county, its citizens and potential clients and visitors.
#5 — Katheryn Jeremiah, owner of Jeremiah Real Estate LLC of 3605 Good Hope Road, Lanexa, VA 23089 gave a succinct talk on the detrimental and immediate effects of a Curtis-type land use – even an application for one – on surrounding property values. As a professional, licensed and practicing appraiser, Ms. Jeremiah discussed the concept of “External Obsolescence” which is a factor OUTSIDE your home that causes the value of your property to decrease permanently – and there is nothing you can do to overcome it ….. such as a combat range being permitted in the neighborhood. Ms. Jeremiah can be reached at 804-966-2316 should you need her assistance. We truly appreciate her willingness to speak at the BOS Citizen Forum and provide expert testimony. She is a definite asset to this community. She reaffirmed what we had been concerned about all along – direct and permanent detrimental impacts on many, many properties as a result of the Curtis CUP.
This concluded our NCRNK Citizen Forum speakers. Afterwards, Mr. Evelyn (NKC BOS Chairman) told the audience that the board heard us but we would have to be patient. They were going to look at reviewing all the zoning codes but it would take time.
Surprise and Much Appreciated Support:
Mr. Ron Stiers, BOS Member, shared that he and his wife had personally traveled to Montross, VA to visit the O’Gara Training Facility. They’d been told by Curtis CUP 2-18 presenters that the Montross facility would be similar to the Curtis Combat, Counter-Terrorism Training proposed for Barhamsville. Mr. Stiers spoke with residents of the town of Montross and reported the following: residents hear loud gun fire all day and night; buildings shake from the noise and impact; residents cannot sit on their own front porches; the air is filled with the constant sound of squealing and screeching tires from O’Gara’s evasive automobile driving ranges; foreigners continuously wander about the community unsupervised and unescorted; home values are directly impacted to the point owners cannot even sell their properties …… the only positive item was some young folks who enjoyed working at the facility as “hostages” at $10/hour. Mr. Stiers also spoke with Curtis folks and numerous Barhamsville residents before making his own determination that he could not support a combat range in New Kent. His statement was met with immediate and enthusiastic applause from citizens attending the BOS meeting.
So What Happens Next?
To be sure — Our property values have been directly impacted – and will continue to be impacted until the county takes positive action to prevent harmful CUPS from being slipped into the administrative review and approval cycle. The county must make it clear it will not support land uses that directly harm New Kent County communities and destroy property values. Decreased property values – caused by the Curtis CUP – will have to be addressed. More on this later.
We could sit silently and wait patiently for a perhaps rewrite of zoning to occur someday…. Or we could continue to press at every meeting to officially be heard and addressed. We have offered to assist in rewriting New Kent County zoning ordinances and codes but our offers have thus far not been accepted. The NCRNK group is blessed with talented and dedicated folks who are determined to have a direct and lasting impact on county governance. We are not going away. We will be heard. We will get results – for this is our home and our county. Be we long term, generational families or “In-Migration” folks as the county describes, we all want and deserve the same thing – a peaceful and predictable community of family and friends where we can ALL prosper and grow together.
Look for our next news email soon …. We are working to set up a big picnic party in October to rehash past actions and plan our way ahead. It will also be fun to get together again …. We’ve all met interesting folks in this group and made lasting friendships — we are truly blessed with awesome neighbors. And for that, we are all eternally grateful!
In the Meantime:
Keep those beautiful orange NCRNK yard signs proudly displayed (but perhaps just put them away for a day or so in case of hurricane winds) — did you know Virginia’s 1st Congressional District Representative Rob Witmann recently drove through Barhamsville and noticed them? He is following our campaign with great interest!
Keep your ear to the ground and your eyes wide open for signs of any activity we should all be aware of — and then share that information!
Keep the faith — this is a community-wide struggle and we will prevail!
STAY SAFE OUT THERE ….. be watchful of Hurricane Florence and check on your neighbors. We are accustomed to hurricanes here in Tidewater however this looks like a particularly big and bad one.
Proud member of NCRNK.