Tuesday, June 19, 2018

York County District 5 Report June 2018

Dear Neighbors,


The purpose of the District 5 Report is to keep you up to date on activities in and around our area.  This month’s report focuses on state and local government actions, development along Route 17, and a few items of general interest.  Residents and homeowner associations are encouraged to share the information with others within their communities.  For those who do not receive the report, I will gladly add you to the distribution list upon request to either tgshep@cox.net or shepperd@yorkcounty.gov.  Please include your name and address in the request.  Comments and questions are always welcome.  You can reach me at the phone numbers and email addresses listed below my name.*


I greatly appreciate your help in disseminating the report to other residents of our communities.




Tom Shepperd

York County Board of Supervisors


Home (757) 868-8591

Mobile (757) 903-1875




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1.  Senate Bill (SB) 942 (Historical Triangle Sales and Use Tax).  Most of you have heard about this bill.  It levies an additional 1% sales tax on the three localities that make up the Historical Triangle (James City County, Williamsburg, and York County).  In York County alone the 1% tax will generate about $8 million.  Half of the money ($ 4 million) will go to the Tourism Council of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance (the Council), which we are helping to create.  The other half ($4 million) will go to the County.


The new tax makes York County’s sale tax 7%, which is the highest County sales tax in Virginia.  However, York County only receives 2% of the tax revenue.  The state keeps 4.3% and 0.7% goes to fund major road projects in Hampton Roads such as the widening I-64 and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.


SB 942 was developed at the state level.  It was not a tax sought by the York County Board of Supervisors.  The Board simply asked the state for the same taxing authority as cities.  Why?  It is because counties, unlike cities, have greater limits on their sources of revenue.  Both cities and counties tax real estate and personal property.  However, cities have the authority to tax other things such as admissions to entertainment venues and cigarettes.   As a result, counties must rely more heavily on the real estate tax.  How significant is the real estate tax? Just consider this, the York County Administrator estimates that we will need $139.2 million to support the 2019 budget.  Of this amount, $75.7 million will come from the real estate tax.  If York County had the same taxing authority as cities, we could have avoided the 4.35 cent real estate tax rate increase in the FY 2018 budget. 


So, now that we have this $4 million in revenue where is the money going?  The tentative plan right now is to cover an unexpected budget shortfall that was created when the Board of Equalization reduced the assessment on the old refinery site.  The reassessment led to an unexpected loss of about $1.4 million in tax revenue.   The remaining new revenue in FY 2019 will be placed in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan to help cash fund certain projects.  This will help us avoid interest payments on borrowing.  Next year after things have settled down and we have a better projection on revenue, my expectation is that we should return some of the money to the taxpayer through a reduction in the real estate tax.


2.    County Budget Highlights.  The Board of Supervisors approved the County’s FY 2019 tax rates and budget in May.  The total County budget is $207.3 million.  The General Fund, which contains the operational funding is $139.2 million or an increase of 2.1% over the FY 2018 budget.   Revenue growth for FY 2019 is about $1.6 million.  So how are we doing?  In FY 2018, York County had the lowest per capita cost of any comparable government in Hampton Roads and the second lowest real estate tax rate.  I expect this to continue.


The budget includes the following:


            a.  County employees will a receive a 2% general wage increase and a $750 adjustment to the base salary for those making less than $100,000.  This equates to a salary increase of 4.5% for an employee with a base salary of $30,000 to an increase of 2.83% with a salary of $90,000.  This salary increase will cost the county approximately $1.2 million.


            b.  Employee cost of health insurance was the same as last year but the cost to the County will go up 2.5%.  This is an increased cost of about $1.2 million.


            c.  New positions include four Fire and Life Safety personnel, two Sheriff Deputies, one Assistant County Attorney and one Administrative Assistant in Information Technology.


            d. The School Division received an additional $1.5 million, which places the total annual County contribution at $60.9 million.


            e.  Major Capital Projects include $900,000 for Sheriff Mobile Data Terminals, $1.5 million for fire apparatus replacement, $500,000 for our regional radio system, $800,000 for software replacement of our financial software, $300,000 to expand the Yorktown Library, $1.25 million to replace HVAC systems, repair parking lots, and other building maintenance, and $700,000 for trolley replacements.  In total, all capital projects for FY 2019 will cost just over $7 million.


In summary, there was no increase in the real estate tax rate, personal property tax rate, and water and sewer rate.  Also, the Supervisors changed the County Code on dog licensing.   Currently, dog owners buy a $5 license every year.  Starting in July, dog owners will pay a onetime fee of $10.


3.  Economic Development along George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17): 


            a.  7120-7124 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy – The York County Economic Development Authority (EDA) owns a 1.25 acre parcel, located adjacent to Freedom Office Park, which is just north of Old Hampton Highway. The Office of Economic Development continues to market the property with an eye towards a full-service, upscale-casual restaurant. Also, York County acquired the property across Route 17 from the proposed site as part of a regional drainage improvement project. This improves marketability.


            b.  4628 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy. - York Veterinary Clinic – In May 2017, the EDA awarded $50,000 to York Veterinary Hospital for the renovation and expansion of their facility on Route 17. This work now underway and will improve the attractiveness of the adjacent property for commercial development.


            c.  Autobell Car Wash – The Board of Supervisors approved a new car wash, to be located at 2029 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy., across from the salvage yards. The company will be submitting a site plan to the county in the near future.


            d. Bubba’s Shrimp Shack – Washington Square will soon have a new seafood restaurant located in the space formerly occupied by Twice Upon a Time. The owners are currently working on the build.  The business is now open.


            e.  7-Eleven  -  Recently, I was approached by a representative of the property at the corner of Oriana and Rt 17.  According to the representative, VDOT has granted approval for an entrance/exit from the property.  This was a major sticking point which led to an earlier denial of a special use permit by the Supervisors.  It is uncertain but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another request for a Special Use Permit within the next six months.


            f.  Junk Yards – Action is afoot to consolidate the junk yard properties for commercial development.  This ongoing effort, if handled properly, could lead to a real positive setting along Rt 17.


            g.  Caliber Collision – The company applied for a special use permit for an auto body repair shop on a 3.3 acre undeveloped parcel, located at 1920 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy., adjacent to the salvage yards.  The Planning Commission recommended denial primarily due to wetlands and stormwater issues associated with the property.  The proposal is not yet scheduled to come before the Board of Supervisors.


            h.  Dodd RV – The Board of Supervisors approved a Special Use Permit to expand the existing facility on an adjacent 5.6 acre parcel next to the existing business.


            i.  Lidl – The German-based grocer purchased 7 acres adjacent to Grafton Shopping Center in 2017.  Lidl has an approved site plan for the property. There is no additional information regarding a projected opening date.


            j.  Play A Round Golf – The business is taking shape and will featuring miniature golf, laser tag, and concessions.  The owner says they are planning for a June or July opening.


            k.  Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital - In April, Riverside Hospital broke ground on a $25 million, 52,000 square foot rehabilitation facility, located at Theater Road and Route 17, across from Walmart. The project will bring 200 jobs to the county. There will also be a 3 acre commercial outparcel created in front of the hospital.


            l.  Wawa Convenience Store – There is a proposal in the works for a Wawa and a Valvoline oil changing business on the outparcels next to the Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital across from Walmart.  Wawa is known for selling gas but what may surprise you is that most of its revenue comes from convenience store operations, which sells groceries and prepared food.


            m. The Chipper – 5619 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy. – This is a Fish & Chips restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Smoking Joes.  It is now open.


            n. Tractor Supply Company (TSC) – The Board of Supervisors approved a Special Use Permit for a new store, located on 3.3 acres in the 7400/7500 block of Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy., next to C.A. Barrs. Founded 1938, TSC is the largest operator of rural lifestyle retail stores in America with annual revenue of over $7 billion. What can you buy there?  Everything except tractors.  TSC's products include: clothing, equine and pet supplies, tractor/trailer parts and accessories, lawn and garden supplies, sprinkler/irrigation parts, power tools, fencing, welding and pump supplies, riding mowers and more.  This is one of my favorite stores.


            o.  Destination Athlete – On March 17th the OED held a ribbon cutting for this sporting goods and apparel retailer located at 2900 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy., which is about a quarter mile south of the Rt. 134 overpass.  Destination Athlete focuses on outfitting teams.  This is the second retail franchise on the east coast. 


4.  Paving Schedule -  VDOT have been working hard to complete the 2018 paving schedule.  Here are the projects (some have been completed):


            a. Theatre Road Route 760 - Tabb neighborhood, Route 134 to Joseph Drive.


            b.  Jessica Drive (Route 1470) - York Colony subdivision, Jessica Drive to Cary’s Chapel Road to cul-de-sac.


            c.  Zachary Place (Route 1471) – York Colony subdivision, Zachary Place to cul-de-sac.


            d.  Seth Lane (Route 1472) – York Colony/Victory Meadows subdivisions, Zachary Place to Elliott Lane.


            e.  Hampton Highway (Route 134) to Mount Vernon – Now under way.  Should be completed by June 22nd.


5.  Street Signs – VDOT prohibits the placement of any signage in the right of way without permission from VDOT.  Nevertheless, all type of signs such as “we will by your car” or “we will buy you cell phone” along with garage sale, yard sale, open house, etc continue to pop up from time to time.  VDOT is not sufficiently manned to routinely remove illegal signs so the County’s work crews usually do the job.  However, I believe there is a distinction in signage and I’ve asked the County to be somewhat less aggressive in removing certain types of signs.   For example, signs of a very temporary nature that highlight a weekend yard sale, garage sale, open house, school event, neighborhood event and public safety are normally removed by the owner within a couple of days.   As a general guide, the County will continue to remove signs but will be somewhat discerning when it comes to signage of a temporary nature.  It is all a matter of placement and litter.  I cannot give you more guidance other than to say, if signs become a litter problem, the County will become more aggressive in removing the signs.  Be smart and remove your signs after a couple of days.


6.  VDOT Revenue Sharing Program.  In October 2017, York County submitted a transportation revenue sharing proposal that include $1 million in sidewalk improvement.   Much to our surprise, VDOT recommended approval to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).  We should know pretty soon which projects the CTB approves.  Here is the list:


            a.   Big Bethel Road -  Running Man Trail to Tabb Elementary School.


            b.  Route 134 (north side) – Autumn Way (Edgewood subdivision) to Lake Dale Way (Woodlake Crossing subdivision)


            c.  Route 17 (east side) – Fort Eustis Blvd. to the Yorktown Library


            d.  Route 238 – Woods of Yorktown Apartments to the Lackey Free Clinic


            e.  Hubbard Lane (west side) – Colonial Avenue to Erin Leigh Court


            f.  Penniman Road/Merrimac Trail – Magruder Elementary to James York Plaza Shopping Center.


Note:  If we can ever get funding to widen Victory Boulevard, the road will have a multiple use trail that connects well up into the County.


7.  Sinclair Sewer Project –The Sinclair area is north of Victory Boulevard across from the Running Man subdivision and next to the Mormon Church.  The sewer project will remove 25 homes from individual septic tank systems.  Installation of the sewer system will involve running a sewer line near all the homes and connecting to the system in the Olde Port Cove neighborhood. The project will be starting very soon and is estimated to cost about $1 million.


8.  Coyotes – Yes, we have coyotes in York County.  No one seems to have a good handle on just how many but, from the reported sightings, we know they now live among us.  Coyotes are generally not a threat to humans but I’ve seen a video of one attacking a human who was toying with it.  What a dumb move!  Coyotes normally range in size from 15 to 35 pounds, which is about the size of a Collie, and normally roam around at night looking for food.  Quite often they are mistaken as stray dogs.  They benefit us by eating road kill, mice, and raccoons.  The down side is that they will eat small pets such as dogs and cats.  They travel as a pack – usually a breeding pair, often including offspring. They are reclusive, which is why people don’t always see them.  Seeing a coyote does not mean it has rabies.  Do not try to entice a coyote to come to you, especially with food and don’t even think about cornering one.  That’s a great way to get bitten and ending up with a series of rabies shots.  If you want to reduce the risk of having a coyote in your yard simply restrict access to food. Cover your trash and do not put meat scraps in the compost.  Leash your pets. Bring your cats inside at night and don’t feed feral cats or wildlife; that food can attract coyotes.  Coyotes are very difficult to trap and are not allowed to be relocated.  York County Animal Control at 757-890-3601 will help you with information concerning coyotes but are not allowed to trap coyotes.  Animal Control can euthanize a sick animal.  If you are having a coyote problem, call the Wildlife Conflict Hotline at 1-855-571-9003.  To remove an wild animal from your property, you will need to contact a licensed wildlife removal company.


9.  Crime Notes .


The April 2018 District 5 Report was focused entirely on crime reporting.  I was asked by several residents why I did not report on several major crimes, in particular the murder on Route 17 near the County Grill Restaurant and the shooting in Bethel Housing.  As a general rule, I do not report on crimes that are well covered by the local news or involve domestic and juvenile abuse.   What I believe is of value to our community are criminal activities that show trends, impact a large portion of our population and can be mitigated by citizens working with law enforcement within the communities.  Each case is unique and will be handles as such.


As for the County Grill incident that took place in 2016, the shooter was caught, tried, and found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.  The jury recommended he receive a 13 years.  As for the Bethel Housing shooting, the incident involved a juvenile member of a military family that has since relocated out of state.  The victim was uncooperative with the Sheriff’s Department.  It is believed that the case was drug related.


There have been two reported robberies in Historic Yorktown.  Both are drug related.  In the first case, a crewmember of a visiting liner was looking to buy marijuana late at night.  He ended up getting shot.  Quick response by the Sheriff’s Office resulted in the apprehension of the two robbers.   One is a juvenile.  The second reported robbery is very questionable.  It also involved marijuana but no reported violence.   The investigation is still ongoing but it appears a group of individuals were trying to rip off a drug dealer they know.


The Sheriff’s Office has increase bike patrols in Historic Yorktown, which have paid off.  Just in one week eight arrests were made for possession of marijuana.  The patrols will be operating until the wee hours of the morning. 


* 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.