Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Smart Growth"; The One Trick Pony of this Election Cycle

If ever there was an issue right now that should and must be debated by all of those seeking the Supervisor position of Chesterfield it is certainly Smart Growth.

The issue of how Chesterfield is planning to enter its next stage of development and growth has to be centered around the premise that we must first address exactly what our plans are for our older areas and communities in the next few years before we completely cannibalize those neighborhoods.

What does this mean?

It means that if we continue down the path we are on and at the current pace of development the ultimate result will be an increased level of "sprawl". We can already see signs of the sprawl. Simply drive west along Route 60 and west along Route 360 from Chippenham Parkway and you will see areas now that must be revitalized as they were left in the wake of western development. Jefferson Davis HIghway is yet another example of an area over the years that has been void of any real planning initiatives until most recently with the re-zoning plans and the removal of many trailer park complexes along that corridor.

These areas should not be neglected while we grow the residential and mixed use developments elsewhere in the County. Though we may have enterprise zone area designations and economic incentive areas, we must determine to creat SID's (Special Improvement Districts) within our Smart growth planning that will connect the business community with our residents in maintaining collectively those areas.

We must revitalize, restore, and preserve our historic areas as part of the Comprehensive Planning for the County. We should focus on historic preservation efforts in Ettrick, as well as secure our Village-style of living in Chester, Midlothian and Bon Air. Recently, many large scale zoning developments have potentially jeapordized these areas from reamining harmonously with the Plan. The Village of Bon Air is an example where even the addition of the smallest detail or revitalization can impact an area positively as the Village upgraded its lighting side walks running along the intersection of Buford Road and Forest Hill Avenue. This effort by the County and VDOT is proving that we can keep the charm and feel with the addition of modern Smart Growth ideals.

While many will consider Traffic Congestion as the biggest issue facing Chesterfield, we will not be able to face that challenge without identifying the impacts and results of our zoning discipline. We need walkable neighborhoods and not merely ones designed for motor traffic but for walking and biking as well. Our Mixed-Use needs to compliment the established greater community by connecting with existing communities. An example of this is the Roseland plan to connect with Charter Colony in order for all residents to benefit from the development. Open Spaces, Parks and Green Space must be an intregal part of any new planning along with a range of Housing Options.

We do not simply need more and more developments in the 500K price range in large part because we have failed in increase the level of jobs in our County economy that would allow our residents to afford such homes. Much of the economy is being skewed towards retail jobs and not the higher paying jobs that areas like Henrico are experiencing. The commercial development is great for the tax revenue side of the budget but we must focus on true economic development options for our community as well.

There is certainly no ONE answer to solving the issues facing Chesterfield today, but I think we must agree that Smarter Growth must be a large part of the equation. So in the next two weeks we should really consider what it really is we see as the most important issue facing us in the years ahead before we head in to cast our votes for Supervisor.

**Remember it is these elected officials who will be selecting Planning Commissioners in the coming years as the current members time comes to an end.

**Also here is a link to a Chesterfield County Board of Supervisor You Tube AD
Marleen Durfee, Matoaca Candidate


Anonymous said...

I love the youtube ad for Marleen Durfee. It's sincere and captures why so many people from different political perspectives are supporting her in Matoaca. She has certainly demonstrated her desire to work for people and her commitment to plan before we grow. I'll give her my vote

Bill said...

In looking at the Chesterfield AgVision it looks as if Dan Gecker is one of the few who does not support this aspect of Smart Growth endorsed by the Farm Bureau.

Is his position merely a campiagn strategy of going anti-developer and watching to see how that plays out.
Most of his campaign is geared around this aspect of curbing growth, but is it curbing growth.

He is not in favor of impact fees and has not moved for more cash proffers. It seems to me that Gecker vison looks as if he wants to make sure that the planning aspects are suitable, but does not want to burden the developers with the costs of it based on his positions.

I think his stand of being harder on developers than Don Sowder is really about campaigning and not vision orientated.

He may as a Commissioner hold up these developers on the technical aspects of a zoning plan, but when push comes to shove when its all said and done citizens will still be on hook for paying for most of it, not the developers.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your comments.

You are correct; I disagree with increasing proffers and using impact fees when use of the funds is disconnected from the source of the funds. However, your point that I do not want developers to bear the costs of providing adequate infrastructure is not correct.

Over the past year, Mr. Sowder has not voted against a single developer proposal. I have; not based, as you suggest, on the technical aspects of a zoning plan, but because the proposed developments did not adequately account for their impact on the county's infrastructure. The Board of Supervisors has ignored the reality on the ground, believing instead that we can rezone our way to an adequate infrastructure.

The proffer system has not worked. The Board of Supervisors has hidden behind it as a way to approve cases without having their impacts fully paid for. I believe in level-of-service standards. I proposed these for the Upper Swift Creek plan revision and the planning commisison supported them. Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors took them out of the recently passed plan amendment.

Proffers artificially inflate the price of homes and increase the burden on homeowners. Our homeowners already bear a disporportionate share of the cost of running the county - 81% of the real estate taxes paid in Chesterfield come from residential units, only 19% from commercial. The proposal to increase proffers will only serve to make this ratio worse.

Level-of-service standards, consistently applied, will put the burden for infrastructure on the development community in a fair and equitable manner. It also assures our public that when development is done our roads will be safe, there will be adequate seats in our schools and that we will protect our environmental resources. The idea that payment of money is an adequate substitute for performance standards is wrong.

Dan Gecker

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gecker would you support the creation of Special Improvement Districts throughout the County where commercial entities and private citizens in the community can work together to address the needs of the particular area?

Much in the way a landlord or property management firm charges for certain things in a lease, could we not implement a plan whereby these business particpate in the greater community at large through civic accountability and work directly with residents concerning the environment.

Wouldn't be great if we could remove all those FOR LEASE signs that litter our road system along Route 60 if we could get them all filled with tenants?

It distrubs me how many places are unoccupied and that surely is a sign of commercial sprawl.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the County has a responsiblity to address and assist the redevelopment of our aging areas. You correctly point to the issue of commercial sprawl. I tend to discuss this in terms of retail sprawl; I do not think that the County has a significant excess of supply of office and light industrial buildings. Most of what you see on Midlothian Turnpike is the result of pushing retail development west faster than inherent demand would dictate. County policy has favored (and effectively subsidized) the retail sprawl. In the case of Watkins Centre, the County is directly subsidizing the retail by agreeing to finance roads that in any other development would be the developer's responsibility.

I am in favor of mechanisms which facilitate commercial and residential interests working together to improve specific areas. Further, I am in favor of utilizing County resources to assist in the revitalization of targeted areas. We have also seen good results in targeted areas designated as state enterprise zones.

We also need to be smarter about how we spend our money. Often alternatives that have equivalent costs have different long-term impacts. An example of this was the proposal Dr. Jim Schroeder made when the school division needed additional space in the Midlothian area. Dr. Schroeder proposed leasing the Best Products building. This would not have cost the taxpayers more than the alternatives and would have had the added benefit of bringing jobs and people to an area of the county that need them (eastern Midlothian Turnpike). It would have put the county in the position of leading a revitalization instead of following. Unfortunately, Dr. Schroeder did not get his proposal approved and the school division leased a building at Southport, where we are not getting any spinoff benefit.

I am open to the idea of special improvement districts, as I understand the concept. I would be happy to discuss details with you.

Dan Gecker

AlterofFreedom said...

Dan I appreciate your response to Bills comment.
I am in favor of the SID's over that of the so-called Transportation Districts or Authorities proposed by many in the General Assembly.
The purpose should be to bring all the elements of the community together in partnership.
That is why I feel we need transparency in leadership. We do not need leaders who would seek another bond referendum without at least exploring all the options and measures we could implement.

Frankly, we need a longer vision than the next election cycle.


Anonymous said...

You guys are pipe dreaming if you think the residential to commercial ratio (81%/19%)in Chesterfield County will ever significantly change and alter the tax burden of homeowners. I know it won't buy votes, but at least some honesty as to who will have to pay for the needed infrastructure is in order.

J. Scott said...

I agree which is why a dialogue has to begin now between the community and the business community. The scales have been tipped too far.
The community is here to support business. They come here because of what the market represents.
Developers (Disclosure: my brother worked in the industry almost 20 years) come here for the benefit of two things; lower land/lot prices and an affluent market with the ability to purchase, period.
These same developers overhead costs are tremondously higher in NVA to build the same homes; ie look at the lot prices built into homes and look at the cash proffers (some in excess of 40K per lot.(Ours are 15,600 and very builder friendly given the costs of homes being built) So the costs of doing business are lower here and the market is as affluent if you look at houshold median incomes as other parts of the State.

Second, retailers come here to tap into our market as well for the same reasons. We are a market that is growing and one where incomes are stable or rising in some instances. Our unemployment rate is low (some 2%) and in fact have a larger population of young workers available to work in retail non-management roles.

The goal had always been to get business here. Their burden of 19% has been viewed as a means to make that happen, a selling point for keeping business fees and taxes lower. The issue is we ahve not kept the balance in place between the kinds of jobs and industries that have come thus far. It is overwhelmingly been retail oriented jobs that are lower paying than that of say those that are drawn to the Innsbrook area.

Note: Arboretium on Midlothian and Boulders were attempts to close this gap years ago but if you look at those areas now you will find that they are not at full capacity and in fact due to business mergers and acquisitions some of the former tennants are no longer there. That is a great issue facing our economic development; not the number of new jobs necessarily but the kinds of jobs they are.

I believe we are entering a period where we can begin to move out of the "attraction" phase of our economic development; Chesterfield is a secure economy in terms of vitality of spending and it has proven itself in that area. We certainly need to be training our workforce better to compete for higher paying jobs of the technological nature, but once trained where will they be working? Henrico or the City? I think this is the area where we need to be looking at new industries and bring them to the County not be relying on the easy quick fix of reatilers. retailers like any other industry will watch as the county grows and move to the growing areas leaving a wake behind (ie: Cloverleaf Mall)

We could see future district to district shifts as well. Look at retail in the Clover Hill and Matoaca Districts versus Midlothian twenty years ago. Where is the growth coming now? Retail will go where the the growing population is moving to be near them. An another example will be Watkins Centre and its potential impacts on the greater Midlothian Tnpk corridor once it comes on line as retailers will be forced to keep older stores on line or open units there and not renew leases in current locations.

This is all the conditions of economics and none of this is a knock on business. They have the rights to do exactly what they have been for years in this market. The fact is an over developing growth rate has forced these companies to have to make these descisoons as shopping center after shopping center comes on line further out in the western portions of the County.

How can we as a County control the stability? By a zoning process that makes sense. By a process that contributes to a competetive environment for business but at the same time does not for the hands of the business community to have to jump ship every five years.

We should be in relationship business within our communities in terms of County government, citizens and business and not the business of exploitation.

One can be Pro-Growth and Smart Growth but what we cannot be is Full-Growth. The idea that government has never seen a zoning case it didn't like may seem a bit political but based on the record of zoning approvals it may just be valid.

The fact remains that the more commercial zonings we approve and virtually subsidize for development will result in more urban sprawl.

Will we not all be forced to recognize that it will be the growing (the new) areas that will receive the road funding dollars? If you live in an older portion of the county you can bet you will see very little of the State funding coming to fix roads and maybe that is rightfully so based on population densities but that still does not make it right.

Every resident at this point pays the same tax in theory for the benefits from County government which is why Smart Growth is so vital.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Durfee did not answer a single question in either of the two debates at Cosby high school. She dodged most of them totally. She goes around telling half truths about development, scaring the crap out of people so she can manipulate them. She sells her self-serving message by saying that Mr. Hastings is incompetent, which couldn’t be farther from the truth and that Mr. Tubbs is in bed with developers because he has taken donations from them. WELL, SO HAS MS. DURFEE. SHE HAS HER FACE PLASTERED ALL OVER THE FUTURE WAL-MART SITE ON HULL STREET. Considering the fact that no one who lives in the corridor is interested in another Wal-Mart, and the owner of the property (EWN Investments) has also given her 2500.00, I would say MARLEEN DURFEE IS A HYPOCRITE! Wal-Mart does not represent economic development either; they encourage new employees to seek welfare to supplement the lack of decent wages. This costs us more in taxes. Her face is plastered on several properties owned by developers, so who is in the developer’s pocket?
Marleen Durfee is attempting to deflect the issues of this campaign so she isn’t forced to state her position on anything.

I hope the average voter looks at many points of view, asks candidates what their plan of action is to address the issues we face, and worries less about finance money. If citizens demand answers to specific questions, they have the ability to hold their officials accountable. But don’t take my word for it, ask her about her solutions to our issues and see what you get.

Anonymous said...

The last comment is well directed. Is it just me our do most "activists" fall short when it comes to leadership positions. usually they are focued on one single issue and may have alot of expertise on that one issue but if you are not willing to answer questions regarding a wide range of issues impacting the County what good will you really be?
It would seem to me that Ms. Durfree should be opting to build a coalition in Matoaca between a candidate for Supervisor outside of herself and be that Superviors selection for Planning Commission.
She would be better suited in that position.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Durfree as a Planning Commissioner may just be a great idea, but as Mark Tubbs is overwhelming supported by the developers that will never happen if he wins in Matoaca.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me from several of the posts criticizing Ms. Durfee that someone has an ax to grind. Maybe someone who works for a developer? Why doesn't the poster state which policy or question during the debate that Ms. Durfee did not answer. I thought her responses revealed how much more involved she has been compared to the other candidates. Which issue does the poster take opposition with? I have no problem with Mr. Hastings or Mr. Tubbs except for the fact that they want the job to be something not to do something. evaluation of Ms. Durfee's response

Anonymous said...

After attending the second debate, I know that Durfee answered all the questions & is the most informed candidate on the issues. If I had to guess, I bet that the "honest voter" doesn't live in Matoaca and works for Magnolia Green.

Tubbs let us know how much he loves his wife of 30+ yrs, but how does that fact benefit Matoaca citizens? At the debate, he was apparently bored from answering questions that he requested a moment to find out the score of the Va Tech game. I would have appreciated Mark answering the questions instead of dodging them.

Marleen has received donations from 147 citizens and counting. Citizens like me that want a leader that understand smart growth principles. A candidate that listens & will continue to advocate for us. Candidate that understands the impact that overdevelopment without sufficient infrastructure has for the county. Uncontrolled growth impacts our quality of life & our long-term property values.

Yes, Marleen has received donations from 4 developers; one of them being the commercial developer of the Wal-Mart site. Since Marleen spoke against that zoning request, I was surprised to learn that he had chosen to support her. As a businessman, he understand when leaders advocate for the needs and wants of the citizens, but he can also support a leader that would be fair in hearing his request for commercial rezoning. I believe this is a true testament of Marleen.

We need more commercial development; however, companies are looking for areas to relocate that can provide their employees with the entire package. County has been too short sided for too long. Growth does not pay for growth. Changes must be made to protect our quality of life & a change could even enhance it!

For these reasons, I choose to VOTE for MARLEEN.

Alter of Freedom said...

The Matoaca race is indeed a challenging one. This race will simply come down to turnout by the grassroots. How well Marleen hasbeen able to leverage Responsible Growth in the community and how many folks will get to the polls to support her.

The issue, unlike Midlothian, is you have no incumbant but four candidates. Based on turnout in the primaries taken by Tubbs and Hastings many voters were content those days staying at home. If that happens again then that will benefit Marleen more so than the others.

On the otherhand if the Tuesday draws a large turnout I think she may find herself coming up short. It comes down to message and turnout. She has the right message on growth principles but will she be able to deliver turnout.

Simply put, if Republicans and Democrats determine to stay home on Tuesday they are in effect supporting Marleen Durfee. I do not think there is a big enough draw in the other races on the ballot for Matoaca this cycle that would warrant a change in polling patterns which means it will be a tight race for sure.

Honest Voter said...

Not that this matters, but I do live in Matoaca. I am employed in the public sector, or I would sign my posts using my name.
As far as an axe, I think someone needs to look in the mirror.
On to the debate…
1. Ms. Durfee claims to be pro economic development, but when asked, said she didn’t believe we were in a position to eliminate BPOL taxes. That is NOT pro economic development. It’s lip service
2. She is “concerned” about the “reactive decision” to purchase Cloverleaf Mall. This is called revitalization; she needs to understand the term.
3. She touts herself with having all of the data to give to the county, but when asked about planning schools with land use projections, she did the dodge.
4. When asked about affordable housing, she did the dodge again.
5. Most of her answers simply repeated the same generic phrases that have been in the papers too many times to count.
6. She said “I” 9 times. “I am the one who put the USC plan revision on the table” Well, if this is true, she did not do a very good job with it. It didn’t change substantially.
7. When asked about the big picture, her answer was to bring more commercial into the county. Yea, like the Wal-Mart her biggest financial supporter is building.
8. Hell, don’t take my word for it, pick up an Observer and read page 9. Then look at who the RTD endorsed. Why? I would guess that the editors are really tired of listening to her threats and constant complaining.
I don’t get the Magnolia Green thing, because Ms. Epps (I’m assuming that is who you are referencing) would sign her name if she wanted to grind an axe.
Folks, this is simply the “inconvenient truth” Marleen Durfee doesn’t want anyone to see through. Also, Mr. Hastings nor Mr. Tubbs would be irresponsible enough to appoint that wowman as a planning commissioner.

AlterofFreedom said...

Honest Voter:

I am not sure exactly if you were directing your comment towards me or not but with regard to your comment I was not in any way endorsing Ms Durfree for Matoaca.

I was making an observation on the turnout ratio which could and will benefit her should residents like yourself from Matoaca stay home on the 6th.

She is organized and has a grassroots group that have seen her work and they will certainly turnout and that is what she needs.

I commend her activism. She is a private citizen who has challenged the status quo of the zonings by your leave mentality of this BOS. Am I aligned with all of her views? No.
If you have been a reader of this blog for awhile I make no bones I live in the Midlothian District, thus she would not get my vote regardless. That said she makes a case for herself quite admirably andhas taken the time to go down and speak before the BOS and PC many many times. I have seen her in action and she is a driven person and passionately believes what she promotes in terms of Smart Growth.

Is it right? Is it suitable or doable? Well thats for Matoaca to decide isn't it. Thats the beauty of the real debate. People put out visions and you either are aligned with the goals and vision or you are not. The issue is engagement and she has engaged the zoning cases routinely on behalf of the residents of the county.

I think it is interesting that you feel it would be "irresponsible" for her to be appointed PC when much of the time over the past years it has been her and Responsible Growth educating if you will politicians as to Smart Growth principles. She is a supporter of Chesterfield AgVision and I think what came out of the debate was her opponents are not. That begs the question as to why not?

Could it be all that developer fundraising influence? Personally I am trying really hard to get around this issue and why it really is that some of our candidates do not endorse it. Its as if they are forgetting the roots of our County. Or maybe that just recently moved here to the County or to Matoaca like Mark Tubbs and never knew the County that was Chesterfield.

Just saying.


Honest Voter said...

Mr. Scott,

No I was not addressing your comments. I have seen Ms. Durfee speak more times than I care to admit. I have also seen her story change more times than I can count.
I, along with anyone else who reads a paper, agree with some points that she makes. However, if the message is lost in the manner of delivery it renders the speaker ineffective doesn’t it?
The larger problem she has is that she has almost no respect of, or for, the staff of the county. I have heard she has threatened to have several people fired if elected. These are the individuals she would need to be effective.
Even that homeowners group called her “too confrontational”. The BOS position is one that requires the ability to think rationally, and work cooperatively with a diverse group of people to find solutions to problems. In all of the speeches she has given that I have seen, she has never offered a solution to anything. She demands.

As for Ag Vision, Bill Hastings and Mark Tubbs were also listed as individuals that supported it. They took out an ad in last weeks Observer (10.24 page 4) and listed all of the supporters for 2007. Mr. Tubbs, I believe worked 8 years with the Virginia Department of Agriculture, and 5 with the farm bureau, so to say that Ms. Durfee’s opponents are not supportive isn’t quite accurate.

Her campaign message is in part about the lack of involvement of her opponents, but where has she been for Roseland? After reading her comments in the Observer, why wasn’t she there to speak to the deferral she said was necessary?
Lip service, no plan.

Anonymous said...

In my view you get this with local politics.
An inability to communicate with voters the positions. Ms. Durfee as much as she has spoken she be better at this.
The greater question is why when given the opportunity to address people in a forum why both Hastings and Tubbs would not point to the issue they support in Agvision if they indeed do support it.
Or are they merely playing lip service to the Virginia Farm Bureau.
There is a lack of communication on the issues not merely debate.
I would like to hear some visions and solution proposals before I determine to cast my vote.
With less than week left I will be sure not to hold my breathe.

J. Scott said...

I am in agreement on the point rasie about the importance of the relationships one has with the employees of county government.

There needs to be a partnership between the staff and the Supervisors. The staff working on much of the cases that are coming before the Board are overworked and certainly understaffed.

This is why I believe that if we had some more transparency in government we would have leaders stepping up and slowing down the process on zonings.

All these last minute changes and compromises do not due service to the process in the long run when leaders have no idea what it is they have before them.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of points about this discussion regarding Ms. Durfee and "honest voter". I have trouble giving your comments any real credibility when you blame Ms. Durfee for the failure of a strong Upper Swift Creek Plan. On several occasions, I have heard Ms. Durfee ask for levels of service standards for roads and schools in comprehensive plans including this one. The planning commission finally agrees and puts it in the plan, but according to "honest voter" it's Ms. Durfee's fault the Board deleted the standards? And as far as the comments about demeanor of Ms. Durfee, I think I prefer demanding to pandering to developers any day of the week. Perhaps Ms. Durfee feels as many of my neighbors feel, fed up with a staff that appears weak and a board that is controlled by outside special interests. Say what you will to attack her personally but the woman obviously cares enough to be involved and that's a lot more than I can say about many of us and her opponents in Matoaca.

Anonymous said...

After attending county meetings for four years, I saw Mark Tubbs for the first time at the debate. Never seen him at meetings or heard him speak up for safety or school issues. All his signs in my area are on developers' property. Marleen's are on existing homeowners' land...those with kids in school and driving our roads. Tell you anything? He was upset that ONE contribution he received was counted as development when it was a car dealership...however, that ONE that so bothered him is also a developer. Marleens' development contributions are from commercial developers...what we need instead of residential development. Gotta tell both debates, Marleen was more specific in her plans and answers (and more honest, she didn't promise things that aren't feasible just to please the crowd)than the other candidates. I work in the development community and those with integrity and wisdom are all voting for Marleen. They are putting the county's welfare above the quick dollar. So should we all.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable is all I can think of to describe these "citizens" who are attacking Ms. Durfee.
Where are they comming from---the moon ??
It is soooo obvious that Chesterfield Co. is a "good ole boy" network, and a system of "you scratch my back & I'll scratch yours" We NEED to disrupt this system, or Chesterfield Co. will continue to go down the tubes.
As for the RTD--it's nothing more than "Fish Wrap or a liner for bird cages". Wake up people !!!!

James said...

Ms. Durfee focus has been on zoning cases, development, and issues regarding redistricting of schools so why is it that she would MAKE a better Supervisor than a Planning Commissioner.
Is it because growth is the biggest issue that she has risen to quickly or is it her leadership ability?
I have no doubt as an activist she is exceptional but right now Matoaca needs leadership on a wide variety of issues or we will soon just be another Midlothian. (Sorry J.Scott I feel you pain)

Anonymous said...

It is obvious to me that the person who claims to have attended meetings for four years either spends all of their time in the hallway, attempting to manipulate the citizens that come to speak,( yes, they do this) or has been sleeping in their chair. To say that staff is “weak” is not only offensive, but an outright lie.
The current BOS does not listen to staff half of the time, unless they want to deny something, then they use staff as a cover. I agree that change is needed. However, I can not find fault with honest voter. Whoever it is happens to be correct in the evaluation of Ms. Durfee. No doubt, she can sit up there and deny zoning cases. So can anyone else. What is she going to do at budget time? She speaks on the public facilities plan because she jumped on Ms. Schuetz’s bandwagon. Prior to that “debate”, she supported a middle school in the general location of centerpointe. Chesterfield is more than zoning cases. It is a billion dollar corporation that Ms. Durfee isn’t qualified to run.

Andrea Epps said...

Specifically due to the fact that I have remained mostly silent during this election cycle, I was quite surprised when I received a phone call alerting me to the mention of my name on this post. After reading the various posts, and noting some of the comments, I thought I would also take the time to exercise free speech. Please forgive me if this is lengthy.
For the sake of anyone who might read this, the following observations are referenced from the point below:

Anon #1 (10.29.07, 7:36 pm)
“I have no problem with Mr. Hastings or Mr. Tubbs except for the fact that they want the job to be something not to do something”

I certainly hope this person knows both Mr. Hastings and Mr. Tubbs because this comment is stating the personal feelings of these two gentlemen. If they have both made this statement, I would love to hear it from them as well.

Anon # 2 (10.30.07, 9:49 am)
“If I had to guess, I bet that the "honest voter" doesn't live in Matoaca and works for Magnolia Green”.

I do not live and Matoaca and I work for Magnolia Green. Therefore, if this post is indeed making reference to me, I will speak for myself as suggested by “honest voter”. Some people might not like what I have to say, but since I was injected into this debate by another person, they will have to choose to read this and get over it, or pass it by.

“At the debate, he was apparently bored from answering questions that he requested a moment to find out the score of the Va Tech game.”

This was the debate I attended. When Mr. Tubbs made this statement, the majority of the audience applauded. The comment was taken very well by those who were present, and in no way suggested he was bored.

“Uncontrolled growth impacts our quality of life & our long-term property values.”

This is a true statement. However, a growth rate between 2.3% and 2.7% ( county average over time per the county demographer) is healthy and necessary if the county is to compete regionally, and provide the services we have come to expect. It is not “Uncontrolled”, but rather precisely controlled as called for in the General Plan 2000, which preceded the current comprehensive plan. The map on page 17 of the site below will show you that while in the past, the growth has been concentrated in two areas; this is no longer the case.

Conversely, if you look at an area like Highland County, you can see what happens to a locality when they have no access and can’t maintain a healthy growth rate. Those people would love to have our problems.

“Yes, Marleen has received donations from 4 developers; one of them being the commercial developer of the Wal-Mart site. Since Marleen spoke against that zoning request, I was surprised to learn that he had chosen to support her.”

The owner of the Wal-Mart property allowed any candidate who wanted to put signs on his land to do so. Marleen is the only one who chooses to take advantage of the offer. There were three zoning cases associated with that case; one in 1995, one in 1997, and one in 2006. I remember this case. Marleen did not speak against this case. The first link below is to the minutes of the meeting when 06sn0318 was heard by the BOS. The second is to the staff report at the commission level for the site plan withdrawal (07pr0220) and the third is to the commission minutes for the 07 site plan.

I would bet that this Anon poster is a candidate for the Matoaca seat.

Honest Voter (10.30, 8:02 pm)
You make some good, albeit aggressive points. However, I have no axe to grind. I served as a board member of the now RGA for about a year. The mission and principles are good ones. I will admit I am no fan of Marleen Durfee but my personal feelings are based on history and the fact that we have fundamentally different approaches to accomplishing a goal. It isn’t personal for me.

Anon #3 10.31, 10:19 am
“…why when given the opportunity to address people in a forum why both Hastings and Tubbs would not point to the issue they support in Agvision if they indeed do support it.
Or are they merely playing lip service to the Virginia Farm Bureau.”

I can’t answer that question, but I do know that Mr. Tubbs has a long, positive working relationship with the Farm Bureau.

J Scott (10.31 12:47 pm)
“There needs to be a partnership between the staff and the Supervisors. The staff working on much of the cases that are coming before the Board are overworked and certainly understaffed.”

I couldn’t agree more.

“This is why I believe that if we had some more transparency in government we would have leaders stepping up and slowing down the process on zonings”

I think more transparency would provide the much needed opportunity for non-developers to realize that the proffer system is the single largest reason more zoning cases are not denied. The problem is that while trying to provide necessary infrastructure, the proffer system was designed so that if a landowner proffers everything a locality deems to be their “impact”, the locality is legally limited in what it can do. If the proffer system didn’t exist, the BOS could deny zonings at will, should they choose to do so. Yes, I am aware of the various legal tools available that the BOS has not yet decided to take advantage of, but I remain hopeful that Tuesday will bring a fresh perspective.

“All these last minute changes and compromises do not due service to the process in the long run when leaders have no idea what it is they have before them.”

Again, I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully, at some point the BOS will realize that changes to conditions of zoning should not be made at the meeting.

Anon#4 11.1 (12:56 am)
“On several occasions, I have heard Ms. Durfee ask for levels of service standards for roads and schools in comprehensive plans including this one.”

LOS standards would be beneficial if they were adopted correctly. If the BOS had adopted LOS for the Upper Swift Creek Plan alone, as you claim Ms. Durfee suggested, they would only have applied to the Upper Swift Creek Plan geography. Not only would that have been difficult to implement, it would have been totally unfair to the rest of the county. LOS standards need to be a part of the Introduction to the Plan. Even better, the intro to one county-wide comprehensive plan. (This sub area planning is for the proverbial birds).

“I think I prefer demanding to pandering to developers any day of the week.”

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. After spending about three years making statements like yours, I went to work for a development company with the hope of ensuring it was developed as planned. I assure you that “pandering” isn’t part of the bargain. The process is nothing but demanding. If you had any notion of what responsible developers are forced to deal with, you wouldn’t make statements like this one. While I have no clue who you are, I invite you to spend a few weeks shadowing a local developer. If you have done this, forgive me, but until you do, please realize there are at least two points to any argument.

“…the woman obviously cares enough to be involved and that's a lot more than I can say about many of us and her opponents in Matoaca”

As I said to Anon #1, I hope you know these men well enough to comment on their personal thoughts and feelings.

Anon # 5 (11.1, 1:23 am)
“After attending county meetings for four years, I saw Mark Tubbs for the first time at the debate. Never seen him at meetings or heard him speak up for safety or school issues.”

I have attended county meetings for four years as well, and I have seen Mr. Tubbs and Mr. Hastings at many of them. Because they choose not to use the public podium to run for office does not mean they don’t care about safety or school issues. There are other ways to communicate with elected officials, in addition to public speaking.

“I work in the development community…”

I am not comfortable suggesting a stranger is stretching the truth, but based on your comments, I would think you would know better, and I would question where it is you work.

Anon #7 ( 11.3, 7:47 am)
“It is obvious to me that the person who claims to have attended meetings for four years either spends all of their time in the hallway, attempting to manipulate the citizens that come to speak,( yes, they do this) or has been sleeping in their chair. To say that staff is “weak” is not only offensive, but an outright lie”.

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Dear Readers,

Since "Smart Growth", is the term all three Matoaca District Supervisor candidates are using to describe their overall platforms this year, it can be very confusing to the average voter.

One way to discern would be to determine which candidate really is "smart" about "Smart Growth".

Being "smart" involves hard work, study, the development of other "smart" contacts, and a generous dose of good old fashioned "shoe leather".

There is only one candidate that has put forth the required effort in all of these categories. She is Marleen Durfee.

Marleen has logged over 200 appearances at the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, and School Board over the past four years speaking on the citizen's right to high "quality of life" standards(a recent Mark Tubbs campaign brochure credited Ms. Durfee with 288 appearances, like that was a bad thing!).

She founded, and then expanded to a County wide organization, the Responsible Growth Alliance of Chesterfield. For five years, members of this group have conducted original studies regarding "growth" related issues, have worked in cooperation with other groups such as "Hands Across the Lake", and have presented their findings hundreds of times at the forums I mentioned above. Since announcing her candidacy, Marleen relinquished her roll as the Executive Director of the RGA and regardless of what Greg Pearson of the "Observer" would like people to believe, the group is still alive, well, and thriving.

Marleen has used her own time to meet numerous area residential developers to learn more about their perspective. She has attended numerous citizen group meetings with the purpose of instructing them on how re-zoning in our County works. She has met often with those in our Planning Department as well as with Wayne Bass, the sitting Planning Commissioner for Matoaca. She has met many times with County Manager Lane Ramsey and now J. Stegmaier, members of the General Assembly, and even the past Attorney General in her quest to bring "smart growth" best practices to Chesterfield.

As well, Marleen has been a regular fixture, and active contributor at EVERY regional planning symposim held in Richmond over the last four years regardless of whether the focus was on Transportation, Growth, Planning, the Performing Arts Center, or even the proposed Baseball Field. She has been at these meeting oftimes when not one of our current Board of Supervisors chose to attend. Needless to say, her list of helpful contacts outside of our County government is far greater than those held by any currently in office (except perhaps Art Warren who understands many of the same things Marleen does).

The bottom line? Marleen Durfee has EARNED THE RIGHT to be labelled "SMART" about Smart Growth.

Lets compare. The Republican candidate has thusfar raised greater than $90,000 for his campaign according to the 10/30/07 report, with over 90% of his donations coming from residential developers, residential developer PAC's, and homebuilding affiliated firms or individuals. It's all there in black and white and is a matter of public record. Although losing to Art Warren in 2003 for Supervisor in Clover Hill (he ran as an Independent in that race) he has appeared NO times in front of the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, or School Board. Could it be that he is substituting "Smart Money" for real "smarts" when it comes to running a "Smart Growth" campaign?

The Democratic Candidate almost beat Renny Humphrey in 2003 yet he's been missing in action for much of the last four years. He has testified only about the middle school placement fiasco. Other than that, he has been silent on the responsible growth issues of the day up until election time. I think it is fair to say that if one does not participate in the formal forums used to discuss growth, then it is going to difficult to be considered "smart" about the "Smart Growth" issues of the day (such as upcoming zoning cases and the Upper Swift Creek and County Comprehensive Plans).

There is only one candidate this year who has the right to claim that her political platform description is accurate. Marleen Durfee is the "Smart" Smart Growth candidate in this year's race for Matoaca Supervisor.

Please give her your vote this Tuesday.


Gregory D. Blake
Matoaca Resident

kelly w said...

This is an amusing and useful discussion. I live in Woodlake and I have been researching the candidates for Matoaca BOS. I will give Marleen Durfee credit for one thing, she knows how to complain. But, I can not find a single example of a solution she has ever offered to anything. I read the Village News article on the debate at Cosby. The observer is worse. I have read some of the weblog postings and seen the mailers. Are all of these people wrong? Why is Marleen Durfee running a negative campaign if she has any real credentials? All three of the other candidates share their specific solutions about these issues. Marleen’s answers at that debate were as generic as the You Tube message mentioned on this webblog.
She hasn’t said anything about the budget or human services or anything, except the no more houses in my neighborhood. No offense Mr. Blake, but don’t you live in the same neighborhood?
I have a job, three kids, and a cat. I am too busy to sort through all of the campaign bologna. But if I don’t take the time to see through the veil of the campaign message, I won’t make an informed decision on Tuesday.
Marleen Durfee is off the list.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the devlopers have it right and the citizens do not in terms of contributions.

It is absurd that people would send money right now into Presidential campaigns when the it is their backyard they should be more concerned about.

The developers know this. They know that that need to contribute to the process in order to be heard, call it influence or not, but where are the people. Look at these races and the monies from residents are all but non-existant.

People seem to think there is a greater return on their contribution if they send it to some national campaign. The developers know better.