Washington County Virginia Tea Party versus the Greenie Party
by Lewis Loflin
Post Mortem of HB1721, why the Virginia Tea Party Opposed It, and who suffers.
Recently in Washington County, Virginia two events have collided head on: The population went over 50,000 to 54,876 and the Virginia Tea Party failed to get legislation passed to make what is called Urban Development Areas optional rather than mandatory. In Washington County Virginia this has led to a clash of the Tea Party versus the Greenie Party.
The Greenie Party I refer has no formal connection to the Marxist' Green Party and is not a political party as such, but is a loose collection of groups/individuals and 501cs of various left-wing and environmental agendas (often overlapping) pushing a lot of what the Green Party would if they were here in any force. They are being somewhat organized by Virginia Organizing with limited success. The process is at this point in limbo.
Starting in January and February 2011 the Tea Party has confronted the Washington County Board of Supervisors over their vote over "Go Green 2011" from September of last year. The Tea Party has tied this into something called Agenda 21 being pushed at the U.N The Greenies deny any connection and I believe them.
While there is no direct connection, we have an endless number of people working for 501c organizations in the community pushing Greenism. They suck up a lot of government funding and form part of our big grant farming industry, but where the rest of their funding comes from is unclear.
On January 25th Washington County Board Chairman Dulcie Mumpower correctly pointed nothing had been done on "Go Green", there was no committee and no funding. This was just before the presentation from the local Tea Party opposing many aspects of sustainable development. This sent shock waves through the Greenies.
On February 22nd the Greenies gave their view of sustainable development, but again only presented what they produced after spending millions in government grants, but no practical definition of what sustainable development really is. Taxpayer subsidized farmers' markets are one thing, but the real intention is to "transform" society to much of what the European Green Party envisions. Many of those moving here in fact are Greenies and to quote one of them, "the earth come first." What about the impoverished white working class?
But first let's go over some history of HB1721 from the local Tea Party:
By VA Tea Party Federation on February 16, 2011 in Agenda 21, Legislative
HB 1721, which would make Urban Development Areas optional rather than mandatory, was defeated in the Senate today, but not without a lot of drama! First a quick history. The bill passed the House subcommittee by a vote of 7-4, then the House Committee by a vote of 12-10, and then, finally, the full House by a vote of 61-38.
The bill was then sent to the Senate Local Government Committee. The committee was comprised of 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans and was chaired by Senator Louise Lucas who clearly did not want the bill to come to a vote. Senator Lucas produced a letter signed by Senate Finance Committee Chair, Senator Colgan, and the letter said that Senator Colgan wanted this bill and two others sent to the Finance Committee.
Delegate Bob Marshall, the patron, stated that the impact statement indicated there was no financial impact associated with this bill, so it was inappropriate to send it to the Finance Committee. Senator Lucas insisted that she had no choice in the matter, even though she was questioned by Senator Obenshain and others.
Then, about 15 of us accompanied Delegate Marshall to Senator Colgan's office to determine why he had made the request. Some of the discussion between Delegate Marshall and Senator Colgan took place in private, but the result is that we left Senator Colgan's office with him in tow, to bring a new letter to Senator Lucas. After a 5 minute recess while Senators Lucas and Colgan engaged in a private discussion, the bill was back on the agenda!
After all of that fun, the bill failed to obtain enough votes to be reported out of committee. The votes were cast strictly along party lines.
What Agenda 21 is a series of UN style mandates concocted by largely unknown "None Governmental Organizations" (NGOs) that seek to place massive government control over private property to the point there are no private property rights as such.
The idea is to force residents into to more densely populated development areas (called stack and pack development by environmentalists) and placing most rural property off limits to development. This really is nothing new as local/state governments across the nation have sought to place more controls (thus restrictions) on private property.
The picture above from Portland, Oregon illustrates this nightmare as residents on both sides attack it.
But this has been latched onto by Greenies seeking to shut down or severely limit all development other than their vague notions of "sustainable". Most of their "sustainable" development is either economically non-viable or simply ways to funnel tax dollars into their bank accounts. With billions of Federal dollars and trillions in mandates coming down the line, this is real money polar bears or not.
This might make some sense in high income regions such as Northern Virginia, but in low income Washington County Virginia where the influx of affluent retirees has already driven home prices beyond the means of average people, it will only hurt the working poor worse than ever. It will further inflate prices to the betterment of County tax collectors and high-end real estate developers.
It will hyper-inflate property prices in areas where development is allowed, while placing other areas off limits and ruining the value of the property without compensating owners. With the property in the right places will reap a windfall for the lucky few. So how could such mandatory legislation not cause a financial impact ? The rampant political corruption here will assure the worst possible outcome for the powerless low income working class.
All of this started in Virginia in 2007 with HB 3202 and as I understand Republicans were behind it. According to the State of Virginia a list shows Washington County is the only community I can find in the region that will be under this. The City of Bristol, Smyth County, Wise County, City of Norton, and even the City of Roanoke are exempted. Why? To quote,
All localities with a growth rate of 15% or a growth rate of 5% and a population of at least 20,000 are required designate at least one Urban Development Area in the comprehensive plan by 2011.
For more on HB 3202 see http://www.hb3202.virginia.gov/urbandevelopment.shtml. Let me turn to a supporter of this idea and try to get some handle on what this is about. From Slow and steady creates Virginia's Urban Development Areas by Daniel Nairn January 22, 2010 let's note the following:
...UDAs have gradually been weaved into everything from storm water regulations to street design requirements over the last year....The purpose of UDAs is not only to allow the concentration of growth in certain areas (thus relieving the pressure on others) but ... explicitly calls for "new urbanism and traditional-neighborhood design." Minimum densities are set by floor-to-area ratio for commercial and dwelling-units-per-acre for residential development.
Last week's proposed changes double the density requirements for all localities with populations greater than 50,000 to "eight single-family residences, 12 townhouses, or 24 apartments, condominium units, or cooperative units per acre" and "an authorized floor area ratio of at least 0.8 per acre for commercial development." Additionally, some portion of the UDA needs to be designated as a "receiving area," in case the locality decides to create a Transfer of Development Rights system in the future to help concentrate growth.
Being a part of the Comprehensive Plan, UDAs have no regulatory power in and of themselves. However, a number of carrots are emerging from across the spectrum of state agencies that may give counties an incentive to take UDAs seriously.
This will set up an insidious system of subsidies for those that cooperate and backdoor fines for those that don't go along with the plan. Those that don't go along are faced with inflated costs and restrictions. To quote,
Localities would be allowed to set more lenient runoff requirements in UDAs then they would be allowed to in rural areas...
So Washington County got nailed in two respects with "growth" of a little over 5% and a population a little over 50,000. During the time of all that "growth" (2000-2009) the poverty rate went from 11.4% to 14%, but even that doesn't reflect the huge spike in the cost of living. We should also note for Washington County, Virginia the impact of a booming retirement community that only creates low paying service jobs, but also drives up living expenses in general. To quote The Center for Women's Welfare,
The Standard incorporates regional and local variations in costs. This is particularly important for housing...Although rural areas and small towns usually have lower costs than the metropolitan areas...there are exceptions...rural areas that have become desirable tourist second-home locations are often as high or higher than in a state's urban areas. Availability of housing in rural and urban areas can also affect costs."
To quote the Bristol Herald Courier July 31, 2005:
Buying that first home - the embodiment of the American dream - is becoming a struggle in Bristol...(this)...should not be confused with affordable. In fact, unless you just inherited a sack of money from a rich uncle, it can be a lengthy search. So forgive me if I'm not all that excited by the news that area home builders can't construct new homes in the $350,000-plus category - some would call them McMansions - fast enough to suit the well-heeled retirees moving to our area. How many Bristol area residents who are still working for a living can afford such a princely sum? Not many, as it turns out...
The goal of local environmentalists has been to halt all development and they have made that clear. This will only further inflate housing costs in this community where housing costs are already out of control relative to earned income. The Tea Party sees this only as the erosion of property rights and their various views on the Constitution; environmentalists push their own pseudo-religious agenda centered on Gaia. Neither side, the Tea Party Activists nor the affluent environmental community (most them transplants), give a damn about the low-wage white working class that often suffer as the elites play these silly power games.
So the culture war and political corruption rage on while poverty only grows.
Posted March 23, 2011
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