- NKC natives and officials recognized;
- Racial intolerance decried;
- Equivalence of Broadband and water/sewer infrastructure claimed;
- VDOT Speed Studies explained;
All NKC Supervisors were present.
Recognition: The meeting began with recognition (posthumously) of Jesse Alfred Meekins, a longtime New Kent resident and a command sergeant major in the United States Army, who was the first African-American appointed to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, and special recognition of retiring officials:
- W.R. Davis, District 5 Supervisor for 20 years
- C. Linwood Gregory, County Attorney for 30 years
- Norma C. Holmes, County Treasurer for 8 years (worked in Treasurer’s office since 1973)
- Eugene R. Williams, District 3 EDA board member for 8 years
The citizen comment period was dominated by 2 issues: a racial intolerance situation and an argument against the Bottoms Bridge Service District.
Two citizens (one a NKC resident and one from Williamsburg) testified in support of a Sri Lankan former professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, Sasikumar Balasundaram (Sasi), Ph.D., who has bought property in NKC and has been the subject of harassment and intimidation by his next-door neighbor, for which the police have been involved many times.
John Moyer spoke against county involvement in broadband Internet access and in favor of repealing the Bottoms Bridge Service District.
Mr. Moyer lives in Patriot’s Landing, which is within the Bottoms Bridge Service District, so he pays an extra $450/yr as an ad valorem tax to repay the costs of building water and sewer lines that supply the district. He argued that the water is free, but the county must pay to transport it. He then argued that the Internet is free, but someone must pay to transport it to individual premises.
He linked the two by anticipating the county paying for the Internet infrastructure that he thinks would benefit only a limited number of residents (the currently unserved), while proposing that the Bottoms Bridge and Patriot’s Landing water/sewer infrastructure should be paid for by the county, even though it serves only a limited number of residents.
Mr. Moyer feels strongly that the county should not consider paying to expand broadband Internet access unless they are also going to get rid of the extra tax paid by owners of property in the Bottoms Bridge Service District, which encompasses businesses on parts of the 249 and Rt 60 business corridors, and the residents of Patriot’s Landing, who are the only ones paying the additional tax.
He pays $250/month for cable TV and $300/month for cell phone service (that includes Internet access) and considers these services adequate for all county residents and businesses.
[The Bottoms Bridge Service District was created in 2004 (http://www.co.new-kent.va.us/Archive/ViewFile/Item/449), after the BoS “received requests from certain landowners in the Bottom Bridge area for the provision of water and sewer service to their property.” It was amended and re-created in 2007 (https://www.co.new-kent.va.us/Archive/ViewFile/Item/332).]
VDOT Residency Administrator’s report: The highlight of the VDOT Residency Administrator’s report was a presentation by Richmond District Traffic Engineer, Robert Vilak, PE. In response to several Supervisors’ expressed frustrations regarding speed limits, speed studies and citizen safety on NKC roads, Mr. Vilak described the rules and procedures for setting speed limits on public roads.
Speed limits are set by state statute at 55 mph for rural roads, 25 mph for residential areas, and 35 mph for business districts. Those are the speed limits on state roads, whether posted or not, unless an engineering study determines that a different limit should apply. An engineering study takes into account many factors, including traffic volume, observed traffic speed, crash history, parking along the road, and other activities. One of the most important and objective measures is the 85th percentile speed; this is the speed that 85 percent of reasonable and prudent drivers will drive at or below, under free-flowing conditions. Most people don’t drive according to the posted speed limit, but account for the visual aspects of the road and a ‘feel’ for the road. Mr. Vilak cited a study showing that lowering the speed limit does not result in drivers slowing down; for every 10 mph reduction in posted speed limit the average actual speed of vehicles was reduced by only 1 mph.
The supervisors were universally disappointed and frustrated.
Mr. Lockwood said he could not understand why safety of local residents can not take precedence over other factors. Mr. Tiller described a “cut-through” street in his district that was plagued with fast drivers; however, when a speed study was done by VDOT, the recommendation was to raise the speed limit! Mr. Evelyn, citing his frustration with the process, said he won’t ask for any more speed studies, calling them a waste of the taxpayers’ money.
Also, VDOT engineer Phillip Frazer, PE described the “SMART SCALE” program (http://vasmartscale.org/). SMART SCALE is about investing limited tax dollars in the right projects that meet the most critical transportation needs in Virginia. NKC is allowed 4 applications for funds. Ms. Paige indicated that NKC is already aware of this program and is preparing applications.
Appointments: Among numerous appointments, Joe Davis was appointed District 5 member of the Planning Commission and Charles Karow was re-appointed at-large member of the Broadband Advisory Committee.
Closed session: The BoS then went into closed session to discuss personnel matters and a proposed new business in the county.
Prepared by Charles Karow and Kate Ferris.
NKC Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda: (http://va-newkentcounty.civicplus.com/625/NovusAgenda).
Meeting Schedule: The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 9, 2020 and the next work session at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, both in the Boardroom of the County Administration Building.