Tag Archives: Development

Take down those signs

blackKingSignsWestern Loudoun was and still is mostly a garden of delight. And other sections of the County have their special and distinctive charms.

I can’t say from observation what’s going on in the East but I suspect it’s about the same, as I’ve been told it is, especially along Sterling Boulevard.

In the West, I can tell you, the rolling green fields and three board horse fences are punctuated, awfully close to the road, with offensively large, in-your-face, self-adoring, political signs, at many turns in our local highways and dirt roads, the letters as tall as a small child, and thick in their indecent calligraphic display.

These monster signs have been posted by Republican pols who, for the most part, are characteristically comfortable with any development, almost no matter how it compromises or may ultimately destroy our marvelous countryside.

These signs are “the medium” for their “message.” (This is a nodding adaptation of Marshall McLuhan’s oft-quoted sentiment that – the “medium is the message.”

If President Reagan had a bipartisan sense of humor, he might say, “Take down those signs.”

As an old hand at this political business, I know that pols believe that 85% of a vote in an election is name recognition. So these signs don’t say anything but the candidate’s name and office.

I strongly suggest that you note the names on these signs and recoil from pulling the lever on any one of them – if you find their postings in as off-puttingly bad taste as I do.

We judge character by a person’s actions – and publishing these obnoxious larger than life, narcissistic nudges to our memory lobes, and leaving these monster signs out there as a persistent eyesore for months before the election, squatting on the good taste of the community, plainly suggests that these wannabe electables, view any objection to their signs, like Rhett Butler might in “Gone with the Wind” – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

Those hosting the signs no doubt make the lame protest – we can do what we want with our property, or with the consent of the property owner. Well, there really are some things one should not do. And maybe there should be a law about this – if the current freedom comes unrestrained by responsibility. Continue reading

No more endearing hugs. Darn.

In light of yesterday’s WaPo story by Caitlin Gibson, I think it’s safe to say that the lovefest between Scott York and Eugene Delgaudio has indeed run its course.

[Delgaudio attorney Charlie King] is probably just drinking the same clown juice that Delgaudio is, because I have no idea what the heck he’s talking about,

said York in response to King’s statement. In that statement, distributed to the media after the board unanimously stripped Delgaudio of his standing committee appointments at its first 2013 business meeting, King tries to suggest that this is all about York, that York has a “pattern” of alleging misconduct, ignoring the fact that Mr. Delgaudio is the subject of a criminal investigation.

A divorce settlement is pending, we hear.

As many have pointed out since the investigation began, and long before it was handed over to the special prosecutor, it is standard procedure to place an individual under investigation on suspension pending resolution of the matter. At the very least, Real Advocate and others argued, Mr. Delgaudio should be barred from shaping revisions to the county’s aide policies. Supervisor Williams attempted to call for stripping Mr. Delgaudio of these duties back in November, but was thwarted by York, allowing him to participate in the Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee making those revisions. Now it appears that York is the sole target of Mr. Delgaudio’s wrath, at least publicly.

Continue reading

“Sprawl Is The American Dream”

With all the crazy coming out of Loudoun Republicans lately, its easy to forget that underneath that hard shell of cultural divisiveness is a sugary nougat of truly awful policies.

Take, for example, a race that has flown under the proverbial radar this year. The race for Algonkian Supervisor, which sets long-time community resident and activist (and personal friend, in the interests of full disclosure) Denise Moore Pierce against long-time conservative gadfly Suzanne Volpe. Here’s a race that can, and should turn truly on policy grounds, because there is a clear difference between the candidates, and a clear choice to be made.

Specifically, Ms. Volpe, who is running to represent a “mature” community in Loudoun, one with established neighborhoods, schools, traditions and families, is an advocate – and an unabashed one – for sprawl. Indeed, she gave a speech calling development sprawl the American Dream. A stark statement for a stark choice.

Continue reading

Business, Development and Supervisor Kelly Burk

Business and development are not synonyms.

As Loudoun’s 2011 election season heats up, it is worth remembering this simple fact. Many candidates and campaigns will spend the time between now and November trying to conflate the two, though they are quite different. Often, you will see candidates who are in favor of careful consideration of development, what has been termed as “smart growth” in the past, lambasted as being “anti-business” or even “anti-job,” when nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the best way to be pro-business in Loudoun County is often to examine questions of development with an eye towards their economic impacts and benefits. After all, every development application is, by its very nature, a short-term zero-sum game. The decision to use a parcel of land for one purpose necessarily eliminates the option to use to another purpose, at least for the foreseeable future. Loudoun has seen this principle in action over the past decade, with the decision on, and subsequent collapse of, One Loudoun being the most striking example.

You will recall that One Loudoun was supposed to have been an engine of business growth at a perfect, unique location. In fact, it was billed as a centerpiece for economic development in the County. But a funny thing happened on the way to paradise, One Loudoun’s developers went bankrupt, and the residents of Loudoun have gained nothing in terms of revenue, job growth or economic development from that once-paragon project.

This is why all questions of development must be examined closely, and with a critical eye. Development, by necessity, means permanence. And the costs and risks of a wrong decision echo through the county for decades.

Leesburg’s own Supervisor, Kelly Burk, is the Chair of the Transportation and Land Use Committee on the Board of Supervisors. She takes this job as Supervisor very seriously. When making a decision for the County, she considers not just the short-term, but also the long-term impacts of that decision. This is true for everything she does, from budgets to zoning to, yes, development decisions.

Witness, for example, the process that the Loudoun Hounds baseball stadium went through for approval. Supervisor Burk was at the center of that process, working with all stakeholders and eventually forging a compromise that allowed baseball to come to Loudoun while preserving critical habitats for endangered species and ensuring the benefits of the project, including much needed transportation improvements, accrued to the residents of Loudoun. The successful approval of the Stadium was the result of Supervisor Burk’s efforts, and in the end, Supervisor Burk voted “yes” because she found a willing partner in the Stadium’s development team.

Photobucket
Kelly Burk has made a career of working with local business communities in Leesburg and throughout Loudoun to create sustainable conditions for business, and job, growth. During her terms on both the Town Council and the Board of Supervisors, Ms. Burk has worked tirelessly to improve the business conditions at the Leesburg Airport, and has been widely recognized for those efforts by Republicans and Democrats alike. Unlike this piece of land, or that piece of land, the Leesburg Airport truly is a unique factor in Loudoun’s economic engine. It’s enhancement and protection creates good, long-term, high-paying jobs that return revenues to the County’s coffers and bring business to the County’s companies.

Furthermore, Supervisor Burk has actively, and regularly, put together events to find jobs for her constituents. She has sponsored two annual job fairs (so far) that connect local businesses with young people looking for work. In this, she has directly addressed the single largest portion of Loudoun’s unemployed: young people. No one else in Leesburg, on the Board or on the Council, has pro-actively connected employers with job seekers as a regular part of their elected duties.

All too often, Republicans in Loudoun County equate development with economic growth, when all evidence is to the contrary. Indeed, in the past few years, Loudoun’s growth has come not from development (witness, again One Loudoun), but from the expansion of Loudoun’s existing businesses and the development of new ones. It is this kind of economic development that brings good, long-term, well-paying jobs to Loudoun. Those are the kinds of jobs that improve Loudoun’s revenue and can sustain our success.

Perhaps this is why so many businesses in Leesburg, and throughout Loudoun, trust Supervisor Burk. They come to her with their problems and concerns, and she looks for ways to help. And more often than not, like with the airport and the job fairs, she finds ways to help, and makes them happen. That is putting Leesburg first, and that is the job of a Supervisor.

Utah’s Abandoned History, A Cautionary Tale

An interesting diary up on DailyKos observes the successful campaign of developers in Utah to eliminate the state’s archeologists and anthropologists so no one would notice when Utah’s heritage and history gets bulldozed.

Rood, along with state archaeologist Kevin Jones and physical anthropologist Derinna Kopp, who also lost their jobs Tuesday, stepped into the view of Gov. Gary Herbert, lawmakers and the Utah Transit Authority in recent years when they raised concerns about a proposed commuter rail station planned in Draper. UTA proposed the train stop and mixed-use development on the footprint of an ancient American Indian village, the earliest known location of corn farming in the Great Basin. – DailyKos

Imagine if someone wanted to bulldoze the oldest known site of tobacco farming in Virginia, and you get the level of significance involved in this story. The entire diary is worth reading for the whole tale of government-official interventions, vulgar namecalling, and abandoned skeletons. I’m not kidding, abandoned human skeletons.

Thankfully, I believe that most developers here in Virginia and Loudoun are a bit more respectful of our archeological history. Indeed, many recent developments have specifically included proffers for preservation of local history, though the actual carry-through on those promises has been hit or miss. That being said, Utah’s experience, in which a developer actually wrote the bill eliminating the positions responsible for conserving Utah’s physical history, can and should serve as a cautionary tale reminding us that we must remain vigilant in the protection of our history.

Of Power Towers and Trees

Two of Loudoun’s more loquacious activists and commentators have entered into a bit of a debate at Leesburg Today. Leesburg’s own Ann Robinson wrote a thoughtful letter about power lines, trees, development and piorities, framed in the context of a long drive she recently took.

Looking out my balcony windows this morning, I see a steely high voltage tower where just over a year ago, huge evergreens graced the view, shielding my community from both noise and pollution. The air is dirtier, the atmosphere filled with the sight and sound of nonstop traffic, with the very ugly reality of high tension wires cutting a scar across the town. Was this degradation absolutely necessary to bring electric power to those who need it? No. The wires could have been run underground-but someone convinced the powers that be that the cost would be too high.

Too high for whom? I would have paid more for electricity in order to maintain the pollution shield of large old-growth trees. Their contribution to the health and well-being of my family and me is immeasurable. Who knows how our lives are now shortened by the combination of dirty air, tension and high voltage electrical wires constantly overhead. Surely, if we the consumers could have paid a little more and the electric company’s investors accepted a little less in ROI, then we could have saved our quality of life. – Ann Robinson

I, for one, happen to agree with Ann on this one, and have been a proponent of full undergrounding of major power lines for a few years now. Ann’s letter illustrates the unrecouped cost of decisions to act, or not act, made by our elected leaders years ago. Dominion earns billions in profit, even while sometimes failing to do their essential job. I think we can and should insist that companies like Dominion repay us, the public, for the unfunded costs to our land and community that they impose as part of their business. It doesn’t matter whether those costs are lost old-growth trees, or more traffic, or the need for more schools. If your business decisions directly incur a cost on the public, you should be responsible for offsetting that cost in some manner. We should get our fair share, and you should pay your fair share. That is my choice, and my priority.
Continue reading