From The President
As we enter the New Year and reflect upon 2014 the PDCs of Virginia continue to work regionally to deliver much-needed services to their member localities and to the Commonwealth. The coming year offers an opportunity for us to continue our work to make even more happen. Our legislators take great interest in our 'best practices' and regional activities. Documenting and sharing these practices solidifies our commitment to working collaboratively with State government and helps the Governor meet his goals on regionalism, economic development initiatives, environmental issues, and workforce development.
I urge each of you to continue to develop relationships with state agency staff, cabinet officials, and most especially, legislators. Meet and talk with them concerning working regionally for effectiveness and efficiency and continuing the Commonwealth on its successful path.
For more than forty years our commissions have been working arm-in-arm with local governments; the Commonwealth of Virginia; industrial development agencies; public service authorities; and private business and industry on projects which contribute to the overall progress in the communities which they serve. VAPDC and its 21 PDCs across the Commonwealth continue to work on community issues with regional cooperation and collaboration.
The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions continues to refine and refocus its activities to serve member PDCs in the best possible way. The VAPDC Strategic Plan continues to be updated and provides a useful tool for the organization to keep on track. Thanks to DecideSmart for their positive and progressive assistance.
VAPDC's upcoming Winter Conference, A Regional Approach to Virginia's Workforce
Challenges and Opportunities will focus on how PDCs can be instrumental in workforce development regionally and add value for all of the Commonwealth's citizens. VAPDC is proud to partner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond this year to offer this unique and focused program. For the fifth year the Winter Conference will be held in conjunction with the VACo County Government Day on February 5th at the Richmond Marriott. For program information or to register for the VAPDC Winter Conference go to www.VAPDC.org. You can register and navigate around our website.
I am proud to work with such a great team and know that by working together we can accomplish great things.
Wishing you peace and prosperity in the New Year,
Virginia's Planning District Commissions
Cumberland Plateau PDC
Mount Rogers PDC
New River Valley PDC
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany RC
Central Shenandoah PDC
Northern Shenandoah Valley PDC
Northern Virginia RC
Thomas Jefferson PDC
Region 2000 LGC
West Piedmont PDC
Richmond Regional PDC
George Washington RC
Northern Neck PDC
Middle Peninsula PDC
Hampton Roads PDC
VAPDC Connections is published quarterly by the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions.
The deadline for the next issue of the newsletter is
April 15, 2015
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VAPDC 2015 Winter Conference
A Regional Approach to Virginia's Workforce Challenges & Opportunities
February 5-6, 2015 | Richmond, Virginia
The VAPDC Winter Conference is multi-faceted in its Following VACo County Government Day on Thursday, February 5, 2015, the VAPDC Winter Conference will kick off with a dinner-worthy reception at Richmond CenterStage (Rhythm Hall), ending with a featured speaker.
Join VAPDC Board Members, PDC staff, elected officials and other as we gather for networking, food and beverage at Richmond's CenterStage. This 501c3 organization provide diverse local and world-class performing arts, transformative arts education experiences for students of all ages, and inspirational venues-all to strengthen the cultural and economic vitality of Greater Richmond.
The VAPDC Reception will be in Rhythm Hall, a multi-purpose venue on the first floor of Dorothy Pauley Square. This facility features local performing artists and an array of activities, concerts and community gatherings.
Online registration closes at 5 pm on Friday, January 30, 2015.
No cancellations or refunds after 5 pm on Friday, January 30, 2015.
Northern Neck Flood Mitigation
The Northern Neck Planning District Commission has administered several FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance grants for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The goal of the grants is to reduce or eliminate claims under the National Flood Insurance Program. In the second half of 2014, work began on the elevation of five homes in Lancaster County's Windmill Point area. In general, federal grant funds pay up to 75 percent of the eligible costs. The remaining 25 percent of eligible costs must come from non-Federal sources. Most homes that are being elevated in the area are single-family frame structures, but cinder-block houses on concrete slabs can also be raised and set on new, engineered foundations that can withstand flooding and even wave action (the type of foundation designed depends on the flood zone where the structure is located).
With about 1,426 miles of coastline, the Northern Neck has numerous waterfront communities that have seen increased flooding activity in the last two decades. For homeowners in these communities, flood mitigation (by home elevation) is also a way to keep up with the rising costs of flood insurance.
New River Valley Aging in Place Workshop
On October 22nd, 2014, the Aging in Place Leadership Team of the New River Valley hosted a follow-up workshop, Home Matters: Lifespan Friendly Homes, Neighborhoods and Communities that Support Aging in Place - Moving from Vision to Action. The purpose of this workshop was to explore the financial, policy, and decision-making obstacles that traditionally interfere with making homes and communities truly lifespan friendly-great places to grow up and grow old.
This workshop is in response to the overwhelming response received from the first aging workshop, held in August of 2013. From that workshop, a 46 page community guidebook, Home Matters, was produced, and can be found on the Planning District Commission's website under the Publications tab.
The workshop began with an overview of aging demographics, issues in housing, health, and quality of life in the NRV. Concepts discussed in the previous workshop regarding aging in place were reviewed, and emergent consumer demands and service delivery models were introduced. Participants self-selected to attend one of three concurrent sessions:
- Policy Drivers: this group addressed zoning and community development issues relevant to the work of local government staff and elected officials. The group explored examples of best practices both locally and nationally as well as focusing on planning and zoning tools that could facilitate better community design for aging.
- Developing & Building Lifespan Friendly Homes and Communities: this group focused on community issues relevant to developers, builders, realtors and appraisers; and
- Deciding for Ourselves: focused on decision-making challenges faced by older adults, their families, and how this strains the resources available to the eldercare workforce.
The workshop concluded with a "Call to Action," where participants shared recommendations and implementation strategies to overcoming obstacles to aging in place in the NRV identified in concurrent sessions.
For further information about the Aging in Place Leadership Team, please contact Jennifer Wilsie 540-639-9313, ext. 204.
HRPDC Adopts Legislative Agenda
by Julia B. Hillegass, Public Information & Community Affairs Administrator
The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission adopted its legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly session. Key issues were water quality, emergency management and protection of area military facilities. The Commission also supports education, increased funding for PDCs and opportunities for increased recycling. Other issues of concern are possible changes to the Freedom of Information Act, plastic bags, balloon releases and unfunded state mandates.
Water quality and funding for water quality programs remains a high priority for the region's local governments. TMDLs and stormwater regulatory requirements continue to place more responsibility for water quality improvements on localities, usually without adequate funding. In addition, the Commission has requested changes in groundwater permitting; land subsidence; water and groundwater studies; increased funding for agricultural best management practices; cost-share for sewer hook-ups and a state cabinet level position to coordinate efforts relating to sea level rise and climate change.
State and regional vulnerabilities continue to strain local resources in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies and disasters and a dedicated funding stream is needed. Specific issues relating to emergency management include insufficient shelter capacity, shelter evaluation, alternative power for fueling sites and emergency planning for assisted living and day care facilities. The region's emergency management planners stress the importance of these issues in maintaining regional readiness.
The defense sector plays a significant role in the economic vitality of Hampton Roads. As such, localities are making strides in mitigating encroachment around area military facilities, but more funding is needed to fully protect existing resources. Onshore and offshore energy proposals will also be monitored for impacts to military bases in Hampton Roads.
The Commission recognizes the vital role of education at all levels and supports adequate funding for staff and a realistic alignment of Standards of Learning and Standards of Accountability with state Standard of Quality funding level.
Despite increased public awareness of the benefits of recycling, beverage container recycling has been declining in recent years, while beverage sales increased. In order to assist localities in meeting their required 25% recycling rate, localities need the authority to require certain businesses to recycle glass. In addition, other incentives are needed to increase business recycling participation.
The Virginia FOIA Council is currently reviewing often cited exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act. The Commission opposes any changes that would unduly burden local governments and reinforces its position against the costly standard of advertising public notices in local newspapers.
It is anticipated that legislation will be introduced again this year regarding plastic bags. The HRPDC supports legislation that would provide localities with the option of restrictions on the use of plastic bags through increased voluntary programs, incentives, taxes or outright bans.
New to the legislative package this year is the issue of balloon releases. State Code currently allows the release of up to 50 balloons an hour; however balloons present a significant threat to wildlife and the environment. The General Assembly is requested to limit the release of balloons to 10 or less for balloons that are made of non-biodegradable or non-photodegradable material.
New Enterprise Center
As part of a broad-based community effort to enhance and grow the small-business ecosystem in the Northern Neck, Macedonia Community Development Corporation (MACorp), in cooperation with its partners-the Northern Neck Planning District Commission, the Northern Neck-Chesapeake Bay Region Partnership, the University of Mary Washington's Small Business Development Center, and the Department of Housing and Community Development's Building Collaborative Communities Program-established the Northern Neck Enterprise Center in Warsaw, which opened in the fall with both private office space and collaborative working space. This wi-fi-enabled location is also available for teleworking. The mission is to aid local small-business owners in achieving their goals of growing a successful business.
The Northern Neck Enterprise Center Network is a training-based business incubation model. As such, it requires ongoing training and consulting for clients. The University of Mary Washington's Small Business Development Center provides consulting, business training, marketing advice, and business planning. Rappahannock Community College Workforce and Community Development offers accounting classes, human resources training, program management, workplace skills, and customized courses for specialized knowledge or skill development. For more information, Click Here
To inform the community about this program (as well as about other education, finance, marketing and services available in the region), a Northern Neck Resource Fair will be held on March 4, 2015, at Rappahannock Community College, Warsaw Campus. Designed to bring together entrepreneurs, job-seekers, local and regional employers, and service providers, the Resource Fair will have exhibits and workshops ongoing throughout the day on topics such as Marketing, Finance, Workforce Options, and Starting a Business. For more information on the Resource Fair, call 804.333.1919.
CSPDC and Project Impact Publish Popular Preparedness Calendar
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission published its popular Shenandoah Valley Project Impact calendar in December. The locally produced project features a unique collection of historic photos from around the Shenandoah Valley, amusing "holidays" for each day of the year as well as important disaster preparedness tips for each month. Organizers from Shenandoah Valley Project Impact (SVPI) and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) expect demand for the free calendar to be brisk. For folks that have enjoyed the unique calendar, grabbing a copy from government centers, libraries and other locations in the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, Lexington and the counties of Augusta, Rockingham, Rockbridge, Highland and Bath has become a tradition since 2003.
The calendar is funded by a federal emergency management grant and is part of SVPI's ongoing efforts to create awareness about preparedness. Since its inception in September 2000, SVPI has conducted hundreds of trainings, demonstrations, surveys, forums and planning meetings, as well as developed important plans and printed materials to educate Valley residents on ways to protect their families, homes and properties, and businesses from the impact of severe weather, emergencies, and disasters. The SVPI was also recently selected to be a pilot community for the Resilient Neighbors Network, a national program that will forge stronger efforts within local communities to prepare and respond to emergencies. Contact Rebecca Joyce for more information 540.885.5174.
HRPDC Staffer to Lead State Climate Change Workgroup
by Julia B. Hillegass, Public Information & Community Affairs Administrator
Hampton Roads has been identified as one of the most vulnerable areas to sea level rise in the country; second only to New Orleans. To address the myriad challenges to state and local government as well as coastal stakeholders, Governor McAuliffe has convened the Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission. Our own Ben McFarlane will be chairing the Land Use & Transportation Work Group as a part of this initiative. The work group is charged with reviewing recommendations from various reports to evaluate and prioritize actions for the next two years.
The work group was formed during a recent conference titled, "Adaptive Planning for Flooding and Coastal Change in Virginia: Next Steps for the Commonwealth." Other actions of note included the Governor naming Eric Moran as Chief Resiliency Officer for the Commonwealth. This position will work to facilitate communication across all state agencies involved in climate change and sea level rise issues. In addition, a sea level rise planning protocol will be developed for coastal areas of Virginia.
Southside PDC's GIS/IT Coordinator Recognized
Southside Planning District Commission's GIS/IT Coordinator, Andy Wells, won third place in the Virginia Association for Mapping and Land Information Systems, VAMLIS, poster session for the interpretive sign and map "Meherrin River Watershed". The VAMLIS conference and competition was held in Richmond last year.
The interpretive marker is located on two separate parts of the Tobacco Heritage Trail: near the Meherrin River in Brunswick County and in the Town of Victoria. The map depicts information about the Meherrin River Watershed.
Wells collaborated with both the Department of Environmental Quality and representatives from the Roanoke River Rails to Trails.
One of Wells' collaborators, Heather Susee, the Roanoke River Trails Coordinator, began the map making process when she spoke to the Albemarle/Chowan Watershed Roundtable about the possibilities of donations and involvement from the group.
"After the meeting the group expressed an interest in creating and donating an interpretive sign to go to the newest section of the Tobacco Heritage Trail right near the Meherrin River," said Susee.
After many phone conversations, hours researching the terrain, picking photos, and composing text, the map was complete.
"Andy did a majority of the work," said Susee. "Not only did he create the map, which included topography, but he designed and edited the layout of the sign as directed by the committee."
Mararet Smigo, DEQ employee and Chair of the committee that donated the sign, worked with Susee to make sure the text of the map was not just technical, but informative.
"We really wanted to make the sign educational so that anyone using the trail and reading it would go away with some tips on being responsible with water consumption and waste disposal that could affect the watershed," said Susee.
HRPDC Releases 2014 Summary of Permitted Groundwater Withdrawals in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area
by Tiffany Smith, Water Resources Planner
Aquifers in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area are important drinking water sources for the Hampton Roads region. On January 1, 2014, the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area was expanded to include the majority of the Virginia coastal plain. All groundwater withdrawals of more than 300,000 gallons per month within a designated groundwater management area require a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
As of October 29, 2014, a total of 177 groundwater withdrawal permits were on record in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area, allocating approximately 147.3 million gallons per day (mgd) of groundwater for public water supply, industrial, commercial, agricultural, landscape irrigation, and other uses.
Public water supply and industrial uses account for 44.56% and 50.29%, respectively, of the permitted withdrawals. Another 2.27% of withdrawals serve mixed use developments that include public water supply, industrial, commercial, and irrigation uses.
Approximately 144.3 mgd of the 147.3 mgd of total permitted withdrawals (98%) come from the Potomac Aquifer, the largest and most heavily used source of groundwater in the Virginia Coastal Plain.
The map below (download PDF) summarizes active groundwater withdrawal permits for 2014. Each point on the map represents the general location of a permitted withdrawal. The green symbols identify permits that have been issued or withdrawals that are occurring based on a certificate of groundwater rights. The yellow symbols represent permits that are pending issuance. Clicking on a permit symbol in this interactive map viewer reveals the permit holder, the permitted groundwater withdrawal, the water use category, and the source aquifer.
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission Receives Two NADO 2014 Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards
The Commission recently received two Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). The NADO awards showcase organizations for noteworthy projects and practices in rural and small metropolitan transportation planning, program delivery, and special initiatives. The first was for their first Congestion Management Process Plan (CMP) developed for the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO). The CMP planning process included many innovative strategies including coordinating the plan with existing regional and local planning efforts and using free technological tools and data to assist the development of the plan. (The RVTPO is staffed by the Regional Commission.) The second was for their
Sustainable Transportation Summit held in 2014. The Commission's Transit Demand Management Program, RIDE Solutions, partnered with a local anti-poverty and environmental non-profit organization to host the region's first Sustainable Transportation Summit. The goal of the Summit was to introduce concepts beyond those highlighted at typical planning conferences. The resulting agenda wove together a number of typical and atypical elements of the region's transportation network to make a compelling case for transportation choice, including challenges related to poverty and health impacts. RIDE Solutions has scheduled a second summit for March 24, 2015 to more deeply explore issues of transit and demographic changes that will drive the future of transportation choice.
Hampton Roads Hosts Governor's Housing Conference
by Shernita Bethea, Housing/Human Services Administrator
The 2014 Governor's Housing Conference: Creating Healthy Communities was held October 29-31 in Norfolk. The largest and most comprehensive housing-related event in Virginia, the Governor's Housing Conference primarily serves to assist public and private sector representatives in developing effective solutions to Virginia's most pressing housing problems.
Each year, speakers from across the state participate in the conference by conducting workshops and trainings on various housing related topics. Unique to this year's event was an interactive bus tour, sponsored in part by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The tour showcased the Grandy Village Learning Center (GVLC), the Elizabeth River Project's "Learning Barge, and the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
For the first time in six years the Governor of Virginia was able to attend the conference. Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered an invigorating speech and promised to attend every conference during his tenure. Following his remarks, Governor McAuliffe signed and issued Executive Order 32 to further strengthen Virginia's housing policy.
Each year, as part of the conference, several awards are bestowed to individuals and organizations with innovative and creative efforts to address housing in the Commonwealth. HRPDC member jurisdiction James City County's - Office of Housing and Community Development received the Best Housing Preservation/Revitalization Effort award for their Forest Heights Neighborhood Improvement Project.
Photo of Governor McAuliffe courtesy of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
Photos of Forest Heights Neighborhood Improvement Project courtesy of James City County's - Office of Housing and Community Development.
Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) Assist with Funded Rescue Squad Assistance Fund (RSAF) Grant Program Application
The Financial Assistance for Emergency Medical Services Grants Program, known as the Rescue Squad Assistance Fund (RSAF) Grant Program is a multi-million dollar grant program for Virginia non-profit EMS agencies and organizations. The RSAF has two funding rounds per year. Items eligible for funding include EMS equipment and vehicles, computers, EMS management programs, courses/classes and projects benefiting the recruitment and retention of EMS members.
The CRC assisted the Charlotte County Volunteer Rescue Squad with grant writing services to apply for RSAF funds in September 2015. On January 1, 2015 the CRC was notified that Charlotte County Volunteer Rescue Squad was successful in receiving $159,826.55 in State funds to purchase three Chest Compression Systems and a 2015 Ford F-450 Ambulance. The Charlotte County Volunteer Rescue Squad will be providing $39,956.64 in matching funds.
The next round for the RSAF will begin February 1, 2015 with the deadline for applications being March 16, 2015. Please see the following link for more information:
Hampton Roads Receives Federal Emergency Management Funds
by Joe Turner, Communications Manager
In early October, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that more than $4.8 million in federal funds were awarded to multiple local government agencies to enhance emergency preparedness throughout Virginia. The HRPDC and 11 Hampton Roads jurisdictions were among the recipients. Collectively, the Hampton Roads region received $1,361,546. The funds, administered by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, are from the fiscal year 2014 State Homeland Security Grant program.
"These critical funds, provided by our partners at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will be used immediately to help emergency planners and first responder agencies throughout Virginia get tools, equipment and other resources they need to keep Virginia communities safe," said Governor McAuliffe.
Local government agencies submitted 187 projects totaling more than $23 million to the Office of the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Projects were submitted in ten categories:
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE)
- Community Preparedness
- Critical Infrastructure
- Training and exercises in Incident Command System (ICS), National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- Information Sharing (Fusion Centers)
- Law Enforcement
- Mass Care
- Public Messaging & Crisis Communication
The submitted proposals were evaluated and scored against five criteria by peer reviewers, representing multiple professional groups, state agencies and local government officials with emergency expertise. Reviewers did not evaluate projects in their own region, and considered the necessity of the project, how the project addresses risk, project management and the sustainment of the investment among the scoring criteria.
Southside PDC Welcomes New Planner
Southside Planning District Commission welcomed Robbie McMillan to its staff in December 2014. Robbie takes the place of Robyn Fowler as Regional Planner I and Transportation Planner.
Robbie previously worked as Legislative Assistant to 15th District Senator Frank Ruff. Robbie also has a strong background in writing and communications: he worked for the Mecklenburg Sun Newspaper in Clarksville and Lakes Media Group radio stations for 5 years each.
He is a 2007 graduate of Saint Paul's College with a bachelor's degree in business.
Robbie lives in South Hill with his wife, Maria, and son, Liam. They are expecting another child in July.
New Fact Sheet Released for Chesapeake Bay Program
by Jill Sunderland, Water Resources Planner
Localities are applying a variety of management actions to achieving the Bay TMDL. The Chesapeake Bay Program has developed a process to assign credits to each management action included in the Bay Model. Several important regulatory drivers are likely to increase the number of stormwater retrofit projects installed in VA. Stormwater retrofits are projects that provide pollutant reductions on existing
development sites that currently have inadequate or no stormwater treatment. The Chesapeake Bay Program has developed a protocol for calculating the pollutant removal rate for retrofit projects. The full report details the various types of retrofit projects and the protocol specifics. HRPDC has created a fact sheet that summarizes the credits and how localities can take advantage of them. Future fact sheets will be developed to address stormwater performance standards, stream restoration, and shoreline management.
To review the review or download the Removal Rates for Urban Retrofits Projects Fact Sheet, click HERE.
Click HERE to read the full report
Halifax Awarded Funds for Boat Ramp Improvement
The Town of Halifax is starting off 2015 with a bang after being awarded a $90,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). The grant will allow Halifax to grow their Public Boating Access Facilities by constructing two boat ramps along the Banister Lake.
The existing boat ramp at Banister Lake, has been in use for over 30 years, and is in need of major upgrades. The courtesy pier also needs to be replaced as the site is not currently ADA compliant.
This grant, prepared by Southside PDC staff, will offer a number of improvements to the site:
- Rehabilitate the existing motorized boat ramp to current standards
- Demo the existing pier and replace it with an ADA compliant pier
- Install a new, non-motorized boat ramp (hand launch)
- Repair the parking lot surface and entry apron
- Add security lights and trash and recycling receptacles
- Remove non-native plants
- Stabilize the river bank
Over the past 2 years, Halifax County and Town officials have discussed steps needed to improve the facilities and to re-enter a cooperative agreement with VDGIF. The localities completed the process of transferring the property to the Town of Halifax for public boating use in December 2014.
According to Halifax Town Manager, Carl Espy, this grant will help keep the Town on the map.
"Interest in kayaking/canoeing has grown significantly, and with the recent development of the Southern Virginia Wild Blueway (SVWB), this access site will experience higher demand from both motorized boat users and paddle sport water craft enthusiasts for fishing, wildlife viewing and related outdoor activities," said Espy.
The SVWB connects over 100 miles of navigable water and 1,200 miles of shoreline.
Halifax County Administrator Jim Halasz also spoke highly of the grant noting, "improvement to the Banister (Lake) Boat Launch supports our joint efforts to continue to market and attract visitors to our Southern Virginia Wild Blueways. With our partner, Mecklenburg County, Halifax County benefits greatly from the presence of the Dan, Banister, Staunton and Hyco Rivers and Buggs Island Lake. These wonderful natural assets provide abundant opportunity for recreational and sporting activities and attract many people to our area providing investment, jobs, income and tax base. They also contribute greatly to the quality of life we enjoy."
Across the Commonwealth recreational boating is a popular activity and there are approximately 250,000 registered boats in Virginia; many more boats (canoes/kayaks) that are not registered use existing facilities or are in need of additional sites. This grant program provides up to 75% of the approved project costs to construct or renovate boating access facilities for trailer or non-trailer hand-launch boats. This is the third year that the Department has funded this grant program.
Crater Region Defends Fort Lee
The Crater Commission serves as the "convener" for major discussions among our communities concerning Fort Lee and other military installations located within the region.
The Crater Commission helped to orchestrate a turnout of over 100 community and business leaders, mayors and board chairs, educators, and state legislators for a U. S. Army "listening session" held on January 8th concerning potential cuts at Fort Lee. Under the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment released last June, Fort Lee could lose a maximum of 2,792 soldiers and 746 civilians during a second round of force restructuring. The Army- which already is slated to trim its active-duty forces from 562,000 to 490,000 by the end of FY 2015 - is gathering public input at 30 installations with the potential to lose a total of between 2,500 and 16,000 military and civilian personnel.
On August 19, 2014, the Planning District Commission submitted a formal detailed response to the U. S. Army regarding the proposed cuts in personnel. Specifically, the Commission's comments reflected the interests of the six local communities that surround Fort Lee: Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg and Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George Counties. These localities have an excellent working relationship with the leadership of Fort Lee. That working relationship has fostered an integrated governing relationship between the military and civilian communities that has been of mutual benefit to the military's leaders and service personnel in the region.
Once the 2005 BRAC announcements were made regarding Fort Lee, the surrounding localities worked with Fort Lee officials to prioritize a variety of transportation upgrades in order to provide improved access to the five gates at Fort Lee. Through the efforts of the six localities, over $34 million was secured for construction upgrades at no expense to the military. These localities deferred their local priority transportation projects for five years to ensure that the required road improvements were completed in a timely manner to meet the 2005 BRAC requirements.
Currently, Fort Lee adds $2.4 billion annually to Crater's regional economy, which represents one-eighth of the region's economy.
In addition, the six localities, working through the Crater Commission, were actively involved with Fort Lee in the development of the Fort Lee Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) to assure land use compatibility and help promote sustainment and growth of the Fort Lee training mission. The JLUS was completed in 2014 and the implementation of its recommendations is well underway. The study's major finding is that Fort Lee and the region have a compatible growth pattern.
At the end of the day, it is about the Crater Region's collective solid support for Fort Lee soldiers and their families. The citizens of the region get it. They fully understand the importance of what our soldiers do on a daily basis at Fort Lee.
The U. S. Army will complete its analysis regarding potential cuts by this summer.
The State of Recycling in Hampton Roads
by Katie Cullipher, Senior Environmental Education Planner
On November 1, the Recycling & Beautification Committee of askHRgreen.org released "The State of Recycling in Hampton Roads" white paper. The report provides an overview of recycling in Hampton Roads - from the municipalities that provide the service for its residents to the businesses that collect, sort and re-sell recyclables. It also includes information on Virginia manufacturers that buy and use the raw materials, while providing insight into jobs created, economic impact, recycling success stories and trends both on the regional and national level.
To gather data, askHRgreen.org conducted a curbside recycling survey of Hampton Roads municipalities in the fall of 2013. In addition, askHRgreen.org reviewed studies and online resources developed by the Bureau of Labor, Southeast Recycling Development Council and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, among others.
The white paper is the first of its kind for the region and provides a "point-in-time" look at recycling while highlighting the benefits and challenges of curbside recycling in Hampton Roads, current trends and the potential for continued growth. Read the full report online HERE at the askHRgreen.org website.
askHRgreen.org is a region-wide public awareness and education campaign administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and powered by the 17 localities in Hampton Roads.
Hobbit Run in Southside a Success
The Roanoke River Rails-to-Trails hosted the first annual Hobbit Run January 3 in LaCrosse. January 3 is J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday. The race, a 5K and 15K run, took place on the Tobacco Heritage Trail. 39 runners competed in the two races and organizers raised more than $700 in profit from the race.
More than a dozen trail volunteers were on hand to assist with runner turnaround, keeping time, and handing out water to runners. Many of the runners were from out of town- some came from Charlottesville, Gloucester, Harrisonburg, Raleigh, NC and Jacksonville, NC. Many local runners represented Mecklenburg County in the race as well.
"I am feeling so grateful to all who participated and volunteered in the Hobbit Run. How fulfilling to have an idea and see it come to fruition," said Heather Susee, the Tobacco Heritage Trail Coordinator, who is also with the SPDC. "Thank you to so many who helped plan and execute the run. It was a satisfying success."
Volunteers also created special promotional videos for the run featuring local talent. The videos received hundreds of views online and were a major influence on the participants in the race. Runners purchased a hobbit themed breakfast at one of the local restaurants and t-shirts.
DEQ Proposes Groundwater Permit Cuts
by Whitney Katchmark, Principal Water Resources Planner
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has proposed cuts to the fourteen largest permitted groundwater users in the Eastern Groundwater Management Area. DEQ is not proposing to rescind anyone's permit but recommends reducing the amount of groundwater that each permit holder is allowed to withdraw. The fourteen permit holders are shown in the attached map. There are six private companies and eight municipal water systems.
The permitting program for groundwater withdrawals was intended to protect everyone that has a permit by limiting withdrawal to a sustainable level. Ideally, the regulations and associated with the permits should ensure a reliable water supply and minimize conflicts between users.
DEQ's decisions on permits rely heavily on using a model to simulate the impacts of proposed withdrawals. Until this year, DEQ was using the RASA model created in 1990s. The model wasn't accurate enough to simulate long-term water level declines throughout the groundwater system. The errors in the model led to the current situation in which DEQ is concerned that the system is over allocated.
DEQ's concerns are based on a new groundwater model and water level measurements from monitoring wells across the system. HRPDC funded USGS's development of the new model. It is much more accurate than the old model. It shows that the total amount of withdrawals currently permitted would cause water levels to drop below the management criteria in the regulations. The water level measurements generally show declining water levels for more than a decade. However, several measurements near Franklin show a recent rebound in water levels because the paper mill reduced pumping from 33 to 9 million gallons per day between 2010 and 2012.
DEQ has proposed specific permit reductions for each permit holder shown in the table. The permits above the red line would be cut below current use. The proposed cut to permits below the red line do not impact current use but reduce capacity for growth and economic development. Many of the municipal systems also have surface water sources which may have capacity to meet future demands. The chart does not include any data on surface water supplies.
Four permit holders have already agreed to reduced permitted withdrawals (reductions included in table): Colonial Williamsburg, City of Norfolk, Smithfield Packing, and the Town of Smithfield. DEQ would like to issue permits to the other ten permit holders by September 2015