The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Citizens of Prince Edward: Where do we go from here?

For those of you keeping up with the recent blog entries in regards to the on-goings in Prince Edward County, you might know that the "Dunn Deal" is indeed now a "done deal". Of course last Tuesday night, the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors approved Dunn Brothers Development, Inc.’s conditional use permit by a 5 – 3 vote which will allow the construction of 250 townhouse units adjacent to the Crestview Neighborhood located in the Town of Farmville.

As you might know, this request is substantially reduced from the original request a few years ago. The original proposal was for 370 townhouse units (please correct me if I’m wrong) and was subsequently reduced to 270 townhouse units, and final approval was for 250 townhouse units. Therefore, in terms of the impact on the citizens living in the adjoining neighborhood (which all of the traffic will come through) a small victory was achieved by having this request modified from its original form.

Regardless, I think any truly independent analysis of this development proposal would conclude that the development of even 250 townhouse units with no major improvements (or minor improvements) to the existing road infrastructure is extremely poor planning, and generally incompatible with surround uses. The citizens of Prince Edward who I communicated with (who will be directly impacted by these 250 units) stated to me that they were not opposed to the idea of a housing development – one can see the stubbed streets as an indication of future development – but they were opposed to the largest housing development in history of Prince Edward County being served by two small subdivision streets. Therefore when you take into account the questionable circumstances surrounding this 74-acre tract, and the fact that the residents of the effected voting district do not have representation on the County’s Planning Commission (while all others voting districts do) it is easy to see why some citizens are angry and a bit suspicious.

Unfortunately, poor planning happens, even in the most sophisticated communities – period. But the greater issue in Prince Edward is not just about poor planning, but instead about the process in which these decisions were made. Poor planning is sometimes the result of not anticipating undesirable outcomes, which can happen to the best-intentioned individuals or communities. Whereas poor government is often the result of a local government that is unresponsive and unyielding to the reasonable concerns of its citizens.

I’ve received e-mails (and comments on the blog) that suggest that the controversies surrounding the Dunn Development is the result of a few disgruntled citizens who only want to agitate and upset the good folks who work for the County, serve on its Planning Commission, and Board of Supervisors. I DO NOT AGREE WITH THESE SENTIMENTS. The majority of responses from citizens have been positive and supportive. Anyone who feels that that my previous blog entries are misleading, or deceptive, are welcome to post a message in the comments section of this blog, and explain the specifics of what is misleading. Also, if you wish to write a piece discussing my misrepresentation of the facts, source your document, and send to me at the e-mail address provided for this blog and I will post it. (see profile).

Therefore I will bring up a question posed to me by a citizen in Prince Edward – Where do we go from here? Well, my answer would be we go full steam ahead! I truly believe that momentum is on the side of the many residents of Prince Edward who want an accountable and responsive local government. Let’s be happy that the County does have three members of the Board that are not afraid to answer basic concerns posed to them by their constituents. This is a start! (We will discuss elections at a later date, I promise you!)

In regards to future pieces concerning Prince Edward, I already have 3 to 5 "projects" that I’m currently working on that I will soon post on this blog. Future blog entries will discuss the Dunn Development housing proposal in further detail. There are still some troubling questions that remain unanswered that I will write about. Also, I’m considering doing some research related to basic administrative functions of the County, with the help of our good friend FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) - so please stay tuned, and keep the comments coming!


  • At 12/15/2005 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And would you please write about what happened after the vote when one of those three honorable supervisors lambasted some of her fellow supervisors for being rude, crude, and plain ugly to citizens who spoke against the development? Of course the 5-3 vote was a surprise to no one, because the decision had been made long,long ago, and those 5 people had decided not to listen, no matter how many arguments were presented to the contrary!

  • At 12/15/2005 9:08 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    Yes, I too heard several reports of certain members of the Board (who voted in favor of the request) being rude to citiznes who questioned the Dunn Deal during the public hearing...I guess they feel a little defensive and tense, it does appear that no matter what, these individuals were voting to approve this deal no matter what...sort of makes you wonder why?

    I hear the meeting is on DVD - I think it would be a great idea to put portions of the "best of" Tuesday's meeting on this site (via some form of steaming media) what do you think?

  • At 12/16/2005 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just finished reading the coverage of this same matter in the Farmville Herald. Not living in the immediate area and having not followed the story all that closely, I am a bit confused. While it is easy to see that there is opposition to the project for various plausible reasons(120 signatures in opposition is not a small splinter group), it is not clear why the board still approved the project. Aside from the developer wanting the zoning approval, what reasons did the board have for appoval?

    Just wondering.

  • At 12/16/2005 10:21 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    Actually, I really don't think a reason was really ever given by any the BOS members that supported the request. OF course, they are not required to do so, but in most localities is common place - especially when there is such fierce opposition..

  • At 12/16/2005 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    will - I too agree with your assessment that the establishment in Prince Edward is attempting to characterize the citizens of the county who are demaning answers to basic quesitons as a bunch of thugs, loons, and malcontents.

    As of now, this is their only angle, because the basic facts that you have so eloquently point out are not on their side.

    Why else do you think that not one single member of the BOS who supported the Dunn Devlopment had anything to say? We're dicussing hte largest development ever to come to the County, and 5 members of the Board are silent? Also, why did members of the BOS have zilch to say when they denied Sally's district a represenative in the Planning Commission? Even though every other district had a represenative, and one even had two!

    I would suggest because even they can't offer up a good defense of their positions. So they, and their supports resort to dismissing anyone who questions them as loons, agitators, and so forth.

    Having lived in Farmville my entire life, I think this whole issue basically comes down to control. Let's face it decisions in the community have been made for years by the same people. These same people do not want people who are not part of this little club telling them what to do. How else can you expalain it? So I guess this makes me a nut? So be it!

  • At 12/19/2005 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with anon 11:45 that it is all about control, but I suspect that the money ain't so bad either.

  • At 12/21/2005 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Sally G's minions??" I'll bet the IQ of the person writing that phrase is off the charts--and I'll bet it's one of the supervisors or planning commission members who calls himself a professional! At least Sally G and her "minions" still know the meaning of the word integrity.
    By the way, an article in today's Herald states that once again representation was denied to Farmville residents on the planning commission. Bobby Jones is quoted as asking why Sally G keeps trying "to beat a dead horse" and he insists that the planning commission will be made up of people "outside the town boundaries." I wonder if the BOG and the Planning Commission really think Farmville residents are going to just keep paying increased county taxes without representation or justice,roll over, shut up, and play dead just to please Susie and her pack.

  • At 12/21/2005 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the voters of PE are going to have to run off jones, moore, fore, mckay, simpson (?) (or 2 of the 5) before true justice and fair representation is realized by the citizens of PE...bottom line.


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