Category Archives: James City County

Animosity Builds Toward Dominion Power in James City and Lancaster Counties

Dominion Power is leaving a great many residents around James City County and Lancaster County furious with their proposed above ground power line proposals across the James and Rappahannock Rivers respectively. The essential controversy is between two possible ways of getting power lines across a river. The first and least expensive option is to run giant towers and lines about the water, ruining the landscape for tourists and locals. The second and more expensive option is to run these power lines underneath the river. While it is necessary for Dominion Power to get these extra lines across these rivers to maintain quality of service for their customers, one does have to wonder, regardless of cost, why they would not preserve the appearance of  their natural resources when it is within their power to do so.

Opponents of the towers have accused Dominion of inflating estimated costs for an underground line. According to Lancaster County supervisor Jason Bellows, they got their estimate of $225 million off a fact sheet from James City County for the York River crossing. It also noted the actual costs for the underground line were significantly less at $75 million.

“I don’t know where they got that estimate,” said Krek. “We never did a detailed estimate. The final costs were about $85 million.”

Dominion estimated a cost of $10 million for the Rappahannock River towers when they applied for a permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. They later revised the estimate to $30 million. Southside Sentinel

Dominion-After-River-Tower-1015It may be impossible to prove whether or not Dominion is overestimating the cost of underground lines. Assuming that is the case, whatever Dominion claims the cost will be is what these counties will have to deal with if they want to strike a compromise. I am completely opposed to requiring companies to operate at a lose while they provide a valuable service to their customers, but there must be some room for a deal.

This picture is what the Rappahannock Power Lines would look like constructed above ground. It isn’t pretty. I can understand Dominion Power preferring to construct necessary lines at a minimal cost, but the ugliness of it all may have added costs for local counties if tourists decide these eye-sores are a cause to spend their dollars elsewhere.

At the end of the day, a bargain ought to be struck, and James City County and Lancaster County should find a way to pay for underground lines in order to preserve their landscape. I am unsure of all the legal and financial issues involved, but I find it difficult to believe that there is no room for agreement. The residents of James City County and Lancaster County absolutely do not want these above ground lines and it is not as if they could choose a different power supplier in protest of Dominion’s decisions here. These projects should be put on hold until a workable alternative amenable to all parties can be established.


Article written by: Steven Brodie Tucker

Heather Cordasco Under Undue Fire in James City County Board of Supervisors Race

The Virginia Gazette, has been rolling out a series of hit pieces against Republican Heather Cordasco, who is running for Board of Supervisors in James City County, Virginia. Folks at the Virginia Gazette are seemingly terrified that if Cordasco wins, recent property taxes levied against the residents of James City County could be struck down.

These three candidates – incumbent Mary Jones and challengers Heather Cordasco and Sue Sadler – are single-issue candidates whose only strategy is to roll back modest property tax increases approved earlier this year by a Republican majority board of supervisors.

The problem with the property tax increases in James City County, isn’t merely that taxes were increased unnecessarily, but that the process implementing those tax increases made absolutely no sense. The new property tax increase goes into effect in December, just a month before new property assessments will be completed in January. In other words, not only do residents face a current tax increase, but the possibility of their tax assessments rising in the beginning of 2016.

Mom+HeadshotElderly residents on a fixed income were certainly not considered in the Board’s strategy for raising revenue. Heather Cordasco has said repeatedly that she would prefer raising revenue from businesses over residents, an idea I think is spot on. If the economy in James City County improves, businesses and commerce will aid in the increase of revenue, but if the economy stalls, the County Board of Supervisors is not simply dipping into the pockets of the people who need that money the most.

Heather Cordasco isn’t playing into their tax and spend narrative.

They have even taken to printing lies about Cordasco. Responding to reports that Heather supports an unpopular proposal to run power lines across the James River – From Heather’s Website:

At the debate on Wednesday night, I clearly stated that I oppose the power lines over the James River. I said it is a decision of the Army Corps of Engineers and we will be bound with what they decide. I said IF they decide we are getting them, that the decision will be which locality gets the tax revenue, Newport News or James City County, revenue that could total over 300,000 dollars.

A typical twisting of context turned hit piece, by insinuating that Cordasco is actually for a highly unpopular project such as the James River Power Lines, the Virginia Gazette has attempted to strike doubt into the minds of Cordasco’s supporters. Cordasco, merely addressing the issue from a point of rational pragmatism pointed out that while she doesn’t want to disturb the pristine landscape of the James River, that its not up to her, it’s up to the Army Corps of Engineers, and if it’s going to happen, then the decision facing James City County residents is whether Newport News or James City County gets the revenue. Her ability to evaluate what is actually at stake is exactly the kind of thinking required of someone wanting to represent constituents on the Board of Supervisors. In other words, if we’re going to have a debate about an issue, then we ought to debate the entire issue.

Williamsburg Yorktown Daily quotes Cordasco from the debate:

In response to Dominion’s proposal to build power lines over the James River, Cordasco referenced Larson’s comments, categorizing the power line issue as a result of the state’s heavy energy importing, rather than uncontrolled growth.

“I’m in favor of more revenue coming from businesses, so if it is a matter that we have no choice whether or not it comes across the water, I would certainly wish to have the revenue in the county,” Cordasco said.

That’s a far cry from actually coming out in favor of the project! That’s merely a demonstration of the ability to deal with reality. Maybe someone willing to deal with reality, i.e. what is known, and making decisions on the basis of what is known is a preferable alternative to a Board of Supervisors that raises taxes to pay for unknowns in the future, abandons land to conservation on the assumption that such land will never be needed in the future, and grandstands on issues actually outside of their purview. Or maybe that’s just me.

Article written by: Steven Brodie Tucker