Whether it was the real estate tax increase, public hearings on Dominion’s proposed power line or the local elections, James City County did not fail to make headlines in 2015. Here’s a roundup of WYDaily’s coverage of county affairs in the past year:
- The James City County Board of Supervisors kicked off 2016 with new leadership: Michael Hipple (Powhatan) was voted in as Chairman and Kevin Onizuk was voted in as vice-chairman.
- The Board of Supervisors voted to alter its meeting structure so citizens may only speak once during public comment periods.
- Ann Davis retired after 16 years of service as JCC’s treasurer.
- The Supreme Court of Virginia listened to arguments about whether Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed route for a controversial power line over the James River was acceptable.
- The James City Service Authority proposed its first water rate increase since 2008, which would eventually be included in the FY 2016 budget.
- County Administrator Bryan Hill briefed the Board of Supervisors on three expensive challenges the county will face in the coming years: ensuring access to drinking water, managing stormwater runoff and maintaining high bond ratings.
- Days after announcing a run to represent Stonehouse on the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commissioner Heath Richardson ended his campaign. Soon after, longtime resident Sue Sadler announced plans to run for the seat, which she would win from Jim Kennedy in November.
- County Administrator Bryan Hill proposed a plan to fund major transportation projects, such as the widening of Longhill Road, with local dollars. The county would apply for state assistance for these projects in September.
- The county received more than $286,000 in state support for its Purchase of Development Rights Program, which has allowed the county to preserve 701 acres since the program’s inception.
- A digital process for compiling and delivering meeting documents, NorvusAGENDA, was adopted by the Board of Supervisors, saving the county hundreds of dollars on printing.
- Four of the five James City County supervisors agreed a tax increase is probably needed after almost 20 years without one.
- Construction began on new turn lanes on Monticello Avenue, Ironbound and News roads.
- A blistering report on the CBS News program ’60 Minutes’ caused the stock value of Toano-based Lumber Liquidators to fall by almost 50 percent.
- Consultants from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin identified a route that “hugs the CSX railroad tracks” as the preferred option to extend Mooretown Road to Croaker Road. The Board of Supervisors would later adopt VHB’s study of possible routes but not retain the recommendation.
- Economic development authorities in JCC, York County and the City of Williamsburg agreed to break away from the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and form a new group to market the Historic Triangle to businesses.
- The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry commemorated its 90th birthday with a celebration at Jamestown Settlement.
- Robin Bledsoe (Jamestown) and Christopher Basic (Berkeley) were voted to leadership positions on the JCC Planning Commission.
- Busch Gardens unveiled its newest roller coaster, Tempesto, which opened shortly after the start of the 2015 season.
- James City County Fire Chief and 35-year department veteran Tal Luton announced he would retire by July. Deputy Chief Ryan Ashe was named interim chief and was ultimately appointed to the position in November.
- County Administrator Bryan Hill unveiled his proposed FY 2016 budget, which included the first tax increase since 1996.
- Nonprofit groups that oppose Dominion’s proposed power line formed a campaign called Down the Wire. The Supreme Court of Virginia would soon rule the proposed route for Dominion’s line was acceptable, however James City County still has a say over zoning rules for the land affected by the line.
- Angie Gilliam was hired as the director of human resources and Michelle Gowdy was hired as county attorney. Gowdy would resign in December to accept a position with the Virginia Municipal League.
- The James City County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the county’s real estate tax rate by 7 cents per $100 of assessed value to fund long-term county needs.
- Two years after the Peninsula Pentecostals approached the county about building a house of worship on industrial land – a use that was removed from the zoning shortly after the church proposed the project – the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved rezoning of the land.
- The Board of Supervisors approved delays for transportation projects included in the Stonehouse master plan.
- Kendall Driscoll, JCC native, was appointed fire marshal.
- Eco Discovery Park closed after James City County declined its offer to purchase the county-owned land where the park was located.
- Xanterra announced it wants to sell Kingsmill Resort after nearly five years of ownership.
- The Board of Supervisors approved revisions to the county code that permits small-scale wineries and distilleries in several commercial and industrial areas.
- Dominion Virginia Power filed an application with James City County to build a switching station required by the controversial over-river power line.
- The James City County Board of Supervisors voted to approve an update to the county’s comprehensive plan after months of discussions about land use, development and the county’s future.
- Plans for Norge’s Village at Candle Station were amended to remove an assisted living home and 30,000 square feet of commercial office space. Instead, the plans now include more homes and 60,000 square feet of self-storage.
- The Williamsburg Crossing shopping center was put up for auction and purchased for $4.6 million by The Cotswold Group, a family real estate investment company based out of New York. Drew Haynie, vice president of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, discussed the company’s plans to give the shopping center a face-lift in September.
- James City County joined an exclusive group of localities when it received an AAA bond rating from Moody’s, giving it a top rating from all three major ratings agencies.
- Fire Station Four opened in a brand new building at the site of its original 1980 station on Olde Towne Road.
- The discovery of the graves of four founders at Jamestown made national headlines.
- The Planning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend the Board of Supervisors deny a rezoning request for land proposed for the Skiffes Creek Switching Station, part of Dominion’s proposal to generate power for the Peninsula when the coal-firing plants at the Yorktown Power Station close.
- The Board of Supervisors discussed the creation of a strategic plan after the county selected Clarion Associates to guide it through the planning process.
- The Old Chickahominy House celebrated its 60th anniversary and Child Development Resources celebrated its 50th anniversary.
- Dominion filed a site plan for its proposed Skiffes Creek Switching Station to expedite its construction timeline but risks a loss of more than $12,000 if the Board of Supervisors does not approve zoning for the project.
- Launchpad, the Greater Williamsburg Business Incubator, debuted a new name and new office space in New Town.
- Dominion representatives and the Board of Supervisors agreed to postpone a hearing for the zoning of the Skiffes Creek Switching Station. The hearing would be delayed several more times and is currently scheduled for February 2016.
- The Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to allow the Economic Development Authority to lease 10 acres of land at the Jamestown Yacht Basin, formally home to Eco Discovery Park.
- The Virginia Capital Trail, a multi-use paved path connecting Richmond to Jamestown, celebrated its grand opening, during which a Williamsburg-area cyclist is remembered with a unique memorial.
- Flooding caused some county roads to close during a powerful storm system that hit the Historic Triangle. Although Gov. Terry McAuliffe cautioned weather conditions could be “something unlike we have seen in a very long time” if the storm system and Hurricane Joaquin hit simultaneously, the hurricane veered away from the coast and did not make landfall.
- A white paper published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identifies a route over the James River and a route over the Chickahominy River as the best options for a Dominion power line. Construction can only begin after the Army Corps approves Dominion’s application for a building permit.
- Candidates vying to represent Berkeley, Roberts and Stonehouse districts on the Board of Supervisors participated in a forum hosted by WYDaily and The Virginia Gazette.
- The Board of Supervisors discussed the themes they would like to emphasize in their strategic plan during a planning kick-off meeting with Clarion Associates.
- James City County failed to receive a state enterprise zone designation after filing a joint application with the City of Williamsburg. The county had its own designation for 20 years and intends to create a replacement incentive program.
- More than 80 individuals spoke for or against Dominion’s proposed power line over the James River at an Army Corps public hearing at Lafayette High School.
- Incumbents Mary Jones (Berkeley) and Jim Kennedy (Stonehouse) lost their seats on the JCC Board of Supervisors to WJCC School Board member Ruth Larson and resident Sue Sadler, respectively, during the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent John McGlennon (Roberts) retained his seat after he was challenged by School Board member Heather Cordasco.
- The Board of Supervisors approved a $703,499 contract to repair the roof of the WJCC Courthouse. Shingles began falling off the 15-year-old roof as early as 2004.
- A groundbreaking ceremony was held for Edgeworth Park, a new assisted living community in New Town. The building is set to open in Fall 2016.
- Lightfoot Marketplace begins to take shape with construction of the Harris Teeter moving along and the confirmation of CHKD as a future tenant.
- A report completed by Princeton Energy Research International for the National Parks Conservation Association concludes Dominion is overstating the urgency of the proposed alternative to local generation at the Yorktown Power Station.
- Without approval or denial of its building application from the Army Corps, Dominion was unable to meet its current project deadline of Dec. 31 and requested an extension.
- Residents expressed resistance to a proposed roundabout at Centerville Road and News Road during a VDOT public hearing.
- JCC published its annual report for the first time as a video.