Tuesday, January 27, 2015

York County District 5 Report and Crime Watch Update - January 2015

Dear Neighbors,


The District 5 Report for January 2015 is designed to keep you informed of local activities and government actions that might impact your family, home and neighborhood.*  Crime Watch information is included as an addition to your neighborhood Crime Watch Program.  Comments and questions are always welcome.  I greatly appreciate your help in disseminating the report to other residents in our community.




Tom Shepperd

Chairman and District 5 Representative

York County Board of Supervisors


Home (757) 868-8591

Cell (757) 604-3079




------District 5 and Crime Watch Report January 2015*------


Report Content:


            - Crime Watch Report

            - Announcements

            - Transportation Updates

            - Board of Supervisors Actions Impacting District 5 (Recap since September 2014)

            - Notes


1.  Crime Watch Report


            a.  There were three crimes involving the discharge of weapons in and around District 5.  The first incident was off Lakeside Drive in District 4 near the Poquoson River.  A homeowner thought he was shooting at a deer but instead ended up shooting his neighbor who died of his wounds.  The shooter is charged by the York County-Poquoson Commonwealth Attorney with murder.  The second incident occurred at a residence in the Running Man neighborhood.  The homeowner was awakened in the night to find an individual on the lower floor of the house.  When challenged, the intruder made a break for it towards the kitchen and in the process fired a couple of rounds into the ceiling, which buckled the floor near the homeowner upstairs.  No one was hurt.  The third incident is not well known.  It occurred in December in Poquoson around 8 a.m. and involved a homeowner firing a gun through the front door of her home at an unknown assailant. The unknown assailant turned out to be a 93 year old lady with a walker who became confused as she crossed Wythe Creek Road and, thinking she was at her home, somehow made it up onto the porch and tried to enter the house.  The elderly lady, being hard of hearing, did not hear the homeowner shouting for her to go away.  At this point the resident decided to open fire on whoever was at the door.  Fortunately for the elderly lady and the homeowner, no one was hurt.  However, they did have to repair the bullet hole in the house across the street.


Comment:  The U.S. Constitution gives us the right to bear arms.  It does not give us the right to indiscriminately shoot at people or things.  Yes, you have a right to protect yourself using deadly force under certain circumstances but in doing so you better be ready to face the consequences of your action.  All three of these incidents mentioned above are classified as crimes.  One involves murder, one the use of a weapon during the commission of a felony (minimum of 3 years in prison), and luckily, one that resulted in only a Class 1 misdemeanor charge (1 year in jail and $2,500 fine). 


            b.  Despite the three weapons incidents, York County is a pretty safe place to live, especially District 5.  Much of our safety is attributable to neighbors watching after neighbors and a willingness of residents to cooperate with law enforcement. In reviewing the crime reports for our area over the past eight months, much of the Sheriff’s reports involved juvenile activity such as fights at school or some type of vandalism.  There were numerous reports of fraud such as use of stolen credit cards to purchase gas, shoplifting or the use of a routing number to transfer funds or cash a check.  Evidently, check washing is still alive and well.  In November in the Meadowlake Farms subdivision, there was a report of larceny from a car in which a GPS, cell phone charger, and CD were taken.  Also, there were three incidences of auto tampering in which nothing was stolen.  On January 5th a larceny from an auto occurred in the Oakwood Drive area near the Dairy Queen on Route 134.  In that incident a GPS and checkbook were taken. 


            c.  January 15th a homeowner on Champions Path reported a burglary attempt.  Nothing was stolen but a suspicious person 5 feet 6 inches tall was seen watching the house and ran away when confronted. 


            d.  Home Break-in Update – I discussed the outcome of recent cases in and around District 5 with York County and Poquoson Commonwealth Attorney Ben Hahn.  You may recall the brazen home burglaries that occurred in 2014 where the culprits broke open doors and windows, threw bricks through windows, and used ladders to enter homes during all hours of the day and night.  In many cases, the residents were home and woke to find the culprits rummaging through the house.  Three of the individuals were tied to some of the crimes -- two brothers and a “friend.”  The “friend” turned state’s evidence and one of the brothers was sentenced to 20 years with 15 years suspended.  The other brother and “friend” are awaiting sentencing.  The value of a suspended sentence is that if the individual is involved in another crime, the judge can impose some or all of the suspended time.  This was the case with a home burglary that occurred in York Colony about four years ago in which jewelry was stolen from an elderly couple in York Colony, which is off of Carys Chapel Road.  The culprit was given a suspended sentence but, after being caught in another burglary, had six years of his suspension revoked and is now serving time in the state prison.


2.  Announcements


            a.  It is an honor to once again serve as the Chairman of the York County Board of Supervisors.   This is my fourth time as Chairman since being elected to office in 2001.   I will make every attempt to enhance communication and the flow of information between local government and the citizens it represents.   Ensuring that the government works in an efficient and effective manner is fundamental to the County’s ongoing success.  I look forward to working with my fellow supervisors and hearing from you over the coming year.


            b.  The District 5 Town Meeting was held on October 16, 2014.  To view the briefing slides, go to the County’s webpage at www.yorkcounty.gov.  When you get to the page, select County Government then scroll down and click on Board of Supervisors.  On the Board of Supervisors page the briefing is posted under “Link” on the left side of the page.   The briefing is quite extensive and provides a good look at how the County fits and ranks within the Hampton Roads, Commonwealth of Virginia and eastern portion of the U.S.  The briefing will remain available online for approximately one year.


            c.  The County’s 2015-2016 budget development process is underway.  The Board is asking for your general thoughts on what you believe to be important funding topics.  Also, we are asking for your input on various aspects of the budget as they are made public over the coming weeks and months.  On January 20th, the Board held its first budget comment period in which citizens emphasized the need to increase funding for the performing arts and bike lanes.  Supervisors will meet with the School Board on February 3 in York Hall and there are 6 work sessions planned for March and April.  The public hearing for the budget will be on April 23rd with budget adoption on May 5th.  You can provide comments to the Board of Supervisors by emailing bos@yorkcounty.gov, or calling the voice mailbox at 890-3220, or calling each of the Supervisors at the numbers listed on the Board’s webpage at www.yorkcounty.gov.  Also, you can mail your comments to Board of Supervisors, P.O. Box 532, Yorktown, VA 23690.  As always, you can contact me at any of the email addresses or phone numbers listed under my signature block at the beginning of this report.  I look forward to hearing from you.


            d.  Nominations for Outstanding Youth Awards – Each year, the Youth Award Scholarship Program provides 4 worthy students with a $500 scholarship.  The nomination categories are Community Service, Compassion, Courage and Overall Achievement.   Anyone can nominate a deserving student.  Nominees must be residents of York County and currently enrolled in grades 9 through 12 in a public, private or home school.  You can download the nomination forms from the York County Youth Commission’s website at www.ycyc.info.   Hard copies of the nomination forms are available at any of the York County libraries, the Williamsburg-James City County libraries, and the Parks, Recreation and Tourism office at 100 County Drive.  The deadline for submission is February 26, 2015 at 5 p.m.  For more information, call the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Office at 890-3500.


            e.  Gardeners – The York County/Poquoson Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is offering free pruning clinics to assist homeowners through hands-on learning.  The clinics are held in February, which is a dormant month and the best time to prune ornamentals.  Pruning clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  The clinics will be: February 7th at Grafton True Value Hardware on Route 17, February 21st at Taylor’s Do-It Center on Wythe Creek Road in Poquoson, and February 28th at Ken Matthews Garden Center on Route 17.  Please register by emailing ex199@vt.edu or by calling 890-4940.  Please provide your name, address and phone number and reference the clinic you wish to attend.


            f.  Garbage Bin Issue - I received several complaints from residents concerning garbage bins being left open or lying on their sides after the collection truck passes through the neighborhood..  Here is the response I received from the Executive Director of the Virginia Peninsula Public Service Authority (VPPSA).  “There are two important factors to get closed lids with automated collection of carts.  The first is placement of the cart by the resident.  The carts and collection equipment are designed to operate with the handle facing the house and the opening facing the truck.  When properly placed, the lid automatically closes after being emptied.  If the cart is placed backwards - with the handle facing the street - it is unlikely that the lid will close.  The second factor is the driver.  When the driver is in a hurry and returns the cart too quickly or the cart hits the ground too hard, the lid will often pop open.  We have made efforts - and we know the County has also worked - to notify residents of the correct way to place the carts at the street.  We have had several discussions with County Waste Management regarding the need for drivers to return carts in such a manner that the lids do not pop open and that the carts remain upright.  Our experience, for the most part, has been that the County Waste drivers are careful about returning the carts after collection.  We are most likely to find open lids and carts on their sides when the work load is heavy and drivers feel that they need to move fast.”  Neighbors, please let me know if this continues to be an issue within your community.


3.  Transportation Updates


            a.  Big Bethel Turn – The June 2014 District 5 Report stated that VDOT would adjust the lines at the intersection of Big Bethel Road and Victory Boulevard so that there would be a dedicated left turn lane for northbound traffic on Big Bethel.  Unfortunately, VDOT is now saying that after further review there is insufficient room for the line adjustment.  While VDOT did not kill the project, it is my expectation that no further work will be done on the intersection until Victory Boulevard is widened.


            b.  Widening of Victory Boulevard (Route 171) –  The widening of Route 171 requires that the highway project first be included in the 2040 Hampton Roads Long Range Transportation Plan.  This does not mean that the project will have to wait until 2040 to get started.  The Hampton Roads Long Range Transportation Plan is updated every couple of years by the Hampton Road Transportation Planning Organization and used to prioritize road projects for funding.  Transportation funding continues to remain tight throughout the Commonwealth but thanks to changes in state code, the cities and counties of Hampton Roads are now able to generate dedicated funding for highway projects in our area.  Currently, there are 190 road projects throughout Hampton Roads competing to be included in the 2040 Plan.  Poquoson, Hampton, Newport News, Joint Base Langley-Ft Eustis and NASA-Langley have joined with York County to support the inclusion of Rt. 171 in the 2040 Plan.  We should know later this year if Victory Boulevard makes it into the 2040 Plan.


            c.  George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17) Widening Update – Weather continues to delay this $64 million transportation project.  Construction, which started in 2013, was originally slated to end at Wolf Trap Road in December 2016.  Phase 1, which includes Harwood Mill and was scheduled to be complete in December 2014, is now scheduled for completion sometime in the Spring of 2015.  VDOT informed the Board of Supervisors that construction of Phases 2 and 3 were started earlier in an attempt to keep the entire project on track.  It now appears that the three phases are being blended, which makes it is very difficult to determine when specific segments of Route 17 will be completed.  As it stands now, the project is still scheduled for completion in 2016.


            d.  Update on I-64 – The Hampton Road Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) approved the funding to widen all three segments of I-64.  Phase 1, which begins at Exit 255 (Jefferson Avenue) and ends at mile marker 248 just passed the Fort Eustis interchange, is funded for $144 million.  Construction will begin in 2015 with the addition of one lane in each direction.  Revenue from gas and sale taxes in Hampton Roads is being collected at a rate of about $200 million a year.  As the revenue is collection, the HRTAC will authorize additional bonds for Segments 2 and 3.  Total cost of the I-64 peninsula improvements to include the Ft. Eustis interchange is $753 million.


            e.  Wythe Creek Road -  Previously, the Cities of Poquoson and Hampton announced improvements to Wythe Creek Road, which included the construction of a new bridge from Poquoson to NASA.  The project now appears to be short about $10 million and until the funds can be identified the project is on hold.


            f.  Request to lower speed on Hampton Highway (Route 134) – I have received several requests from residents in District 5 to ask VDOT to lower the speed limit on Hampton Highway from 55 to 45 miles per hour.  Previously, VDOT denied the request.  If you have any comments concerning the speed limit on Route 134, please let me hear from you.


            g. VDOT has informed me that there are no slurry or surface treatments scheduled for District 5 streets in 2015.


            h.  It appears that a large subdivision is being planned for the track of land in Poquoson that lies between the Woods of Tabb subdivision in York County and Poquoson City Hall.  Champions Path in the Woods of Tabb subdivision will be a street connection to the new subdivision, which will also connect to Victory Boulevard.


4.  Board of Supervisors Actions Impacting District 5 (Recap since September 2014)


            a.  Search for New County Administrator – The Board authorized the hiring of the executive recruiting firm, Colin Baenziger & Associates.  The firm will receive applications, conduct background checks, and forward candidate profiles to the Board.   The Board expects to make a selection in April or May.


            b.  Changed Zoning Ordinance Chapter 24.1 to allow for an increase in the number of large political signs (Ref. Ord. No 14-16, 9/16/14).


            c.  Authorized a Special Use Permit for a seafood harvesting home occupation at the end of Calthrop Neck Road (Ref. R14-107, 9/16/14).


            d.  Authorized private weddings and receptions at the Hornsby House Inn in Historic Yorktown (Ref. R14-108, 9/16/14).


            e.  Authorized the Marquis Community Development Authority (CDA) to issue $5 million in additional bonds. York County is not responsible of any of the bonds issued by the Marquis CDA (Ref. R14-122, 10/07/14).


            f.  Amended the Zoning Ordinance to establish new use parameters for commercial farming throughout the County.  Two useable acres are now required for commercial farming.  Home gardens, orchards, vineyards, etc. were not impacted by the ordinance change (see Sec. 24.1-271) (Ref. Ord. No. 14-19 & 14-20R, 10/21/14).


            g. Defeated a County Zoning Ordinance change proposal to rezone numerous parcels of land to R-33 (Residential- Low Density Single-Family Residential) Ref. Ord. No. 14-23, 11/18/14). 


            h.  Approved the inclusion of FEMA Floodplain Management Area Overlay District revisions into the County Ordinance.  This action requires a 3-ft. freeboard above the 100 year flood plain.  Freeboard is space between flood water and the floor of a building.  Taking this action reduced the overall cost of flood insurance for homes within York County (Ref. Ordinance No. 14-22, 11/18/2014).


            i.  Approved a $298,000 contract to improve stormwater flow from the 10-acre lake in the Woodlake Crossing subdivision as part of the Moores Creek Project.  Construction is slated to start in the spring of 2015 (Ref. R14-146, 12/02/14).


            j.  Approved a mutual aid agreement with Langley AFB to provide fire rescue services and emergency medical services (Ref. R15-11, 01/20/15).


5.  Notes


            a.  Elimination of Libraries?  Occasionally, a citizen will suggest that we do away with our libraries.  This suggestion is based on the notion that since every household now has one or two computers connected to the Worldwide Web, libraries are an outdated idea.  Facts to do not support this recommendation.  For example, there are currently 61,000  library cardholders that use our two libraries and over 269,000 items were checked out over the past year.


            b.  Virginia’s ranking on taxes.  The ranking shows that there is an overreliance on local taxes to pay for core services.  For example,  in 2011, Virginia ranked 15th out of 50 states in per capita local taxes but 34th in per capita state taxes.  The state ranked 25th in per capita spending for education when state and local spending are combined but only ranked 39th when state spending is considered separately. (Source: Virginia Compared to Other States, JLARC, 2014 Edition, http://jlarc.virginia.gov/reports/Rpt453.pdf)


 * Comments and opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily represent the position of 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.


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