Goochland County has seen significant progress over the years. Our schools are AAA rated with an abundance of activities that are available to area youth, students, and adults. Our Parks and Recreation department has increased services and facilities. With anticipated population growth in the County mindset, new housing developments are being built to accommodate growing families and residents moving into our beautiful area. New community services, like Goochland Cares, are now open and available to the public. So why then are the topics of economic development, revenue, and housing such hot topics in Goochland?
Today, I will be addressing, in this article, two areas that have caused a good deal of debate.
First let’s look at the proverbial elephant in the room:
• Goochland County maintains one of the lowest tax rates in Virginia.  With new housing developments that start around the $300,000 price point, some people have voiced concerns that the new homes being built are disproportionate in value to existing homes, which raise property values and thus taxes. This is a legitimate concern for those homeowners who are not in the selling market and who are not directly affected by an inflation of their property value.
What can be done to mitigate these concerns of where tax dollars are being spent in such a way that allows for community growth while preserving our community in a way that remains accountable to the existing taxpayers?
One idea relevant to this sort of win-win accountability is to reaffirm to incoming developers, making it abundantly clear, that the building of fifty homes does not grant them the endorsement of building an additional seventy homes. This was the point recently brought up by a friend who is a local business owner / resident, and I am absolutely inclined to agree with him. Sell what is built first, and then continue to develop accordingly. This ensures that there are not empty housing developments, which has been an ongoing issue in parts of District 2, and allows local services in law enforcement, EMS, and community services to pace their hiring according to the needs of the population in a more consistent manner. New residents will pay their own property taxes, and the County will have additional tax revenue to invest in continuing development and investing or incentivizing future projects.
• While some Goochland residents are eager to see an increase in new businesses, others have strong objections citing that they do not wish to see Goochland become a copy of larger cities and surrounding counties. However, new businesses bring jobs and while much of the shopping development has been taking place towards the eastern end of the County, there is certainly room to expand that further into areas such as Sandy Hook. Tax-break incentives may entice new businesses, but I believe there should be a sort of vetting process to ensure that these new businesses are sustainable sources of revenue rather than an entity who may, or may not, settle into the area for six months before pulling up stakes and relocating.
In the Courthouse Commons shopping center, where once a hair salon, pizza franchise, and frozen yogurt business used to exist and dissolved in just a few years, there are now three new businesses with long term track records: Dunkin Donuts, Verizon, and Allstate. These businesses have names and offer services that people are already familiar with. Additionally, these new businesses bring a level of sustainability in potential revenue along with them because they carry a strong and familiar customer base. This allows local County service agencies to plan, in a more accurate and detailed way, the long term anticipated requirements that come with maintaining safety and prospective growth known to occur with business expansions.
Goochland County has also added local business shopping options, especially including room for a farmer’s market near Courthouse Commons. As this particular market grows, agricultural growth is sustained, farmers and growers are able to further develop, and our economy is stimulated with the exchange of revenue in the same County rather than traveling outside of the County to spend money on goods and services.
There are a lot of benefits to shopping locally that far outweigh the alternatives. Resources and local businesses thrive while the revenue and taxes sustain the County overall. While the topic of development is a finely attuned series of balancing resources, anticipated future growth, and ensuring the best interests of Goochland’s residents, it remains a topic that requires ongoing discussions, participation, and should remain an open, fluid, conversation not be squashed for fear of what new development may bring to our County.