Friday, February 1, 2008

2026 PLAN OP-EDs

OP-ED: The Homogenization of Henrico- You've now bought 'New ZIP'!!
posted: Thursday May 29, 2008

Whether you choose to use the newly 'preferred' Henrico, or 'accepted' Richmond within your mailing address, the ZIP CODE issue seems to have been a massive anti-regionalist run-around.

Just how long will 'Richmond' be accepted on Henrico residents and business owners' envelopes? Prior Henrico Citizen reporting on this said "as soon as July". We thought we were confused before.

Does that mean that 'as soon as July', residents will be "encouraged" to use 'Henrico, VA.' instead of "Richmond"? The only other difference we can see is that there may be a new post-mark used by the USPS on some envelopes. Wonder what that would have cost without all of the campaigning?

Today's 5-29-08 R-TD coverage is the first time we've read anywhere that 'Richmond' will remain 'acceptable'... no matter where you live in Henrico... but for how long? What a ridiculous amount of work for USPS employees. All seemingly in the name of furthering the divide between Henrico and Richmond.

And as reported in the Henrico Citizen, by Editor Tom Lappas, Tuckahoe District Supervisor Patricia O'Bannon conceded..."it could also help to increase the name recognition of the county at the same time." "Yes, that could happen," she said."

Hopefully not to the extent of the Lap-Top fiasco. That really put us on the map.

Perhaps Henrico is busy lining up a 'grant-program' to assist in correcting the inconveniences caused by the success of the 'Address-Change' campaign? Doubtful. Or maybe they'll mail us all a full-color glossy brochure to explain it. We'll be mighty surprised if they even speak to these issues at all.

....Just how much did the ZIP CODE 'campaign' cost Henrico tax-payers, we keep asking? Won't someone please request that number?

As aptly asked by 'Matt' in reader-response to the RT-D's "Henrico, VA mailing address approved": "...But how is changing the address name going to solve the tax misrouting problem when everyone still has the option of using "Richmond"? And what about the zips shared with the city? No name change there. Taxes from those areas could still be misrouted..."

So what was all of this Address-Change Survey hoopla about then? Huh?

While holding forth on the 'zip code issue' recently, Varina's Senator, The Honorable Donald McEachin, was reported to comment: "I'm not so sure that the zip codes are the cause of the misrouting of taxes." Hmmm... very interesting.

Could that mean something else was at the root of Henrico's desire to institute these changes?
Perhaps you hadn't weighed in on this before, Senator? We appreciated hearing of your opinion and agree.

If not, we might remind you Sir, that governmental back-pedaling without the safety of a bike-lane could be a dangerous prospect in Varina. One might hit a 'slow moving farm vehicle or delivery truck'. Please support the inclusion of those lanes in the 2026 Plan, Senator.

So what is in 'New ZIP', you might ask?

Upon review, any solid matter has been so finely ground that the content has become indistinguishable. Under further inspection, it seems to be comprised of equal parts Seaside, Florida (though the sand has been replaced by new turf and tiny nursery-bought trees), mixed with an equal portion of Soma. On a molecular level it looks very similar to the town of Stepford- but again, with teeny weeny trees.

It also seems to take on the form of any cookie-cutter into which it is poured. High density, but with everything looking, well- almost alike. Virtually colorless and odorless, it is still highly toxic to our pristine environment. No discernable lasting content; value drops substantially once it's driven off the lot. You could probably walk away from it just after it was sold, with some sense of pride- as long as you didn't ever drive back by. Also probably difficult to insure in this market.

Now, thanks to the smokescreen provided by 'New ZIP', the dismally advertised 2026 Comprehensive Plan continues to roll smoothly forward, over all in its familiarize yourself with some of the other guaranteed losses you may look forward to experiencing.
Because 'New ZIP', in combination with '2026' could create a future like this:

Historic content and cultural identity removed-
Envision a future without memories of uncomfortable eras like the the disenfranchising of the original Native American inhabitants, Slavery, or that pesky Civil War*. With the address change, and the new 2026 Plan in place- you're also assured of the slow loss of individual 'small town' identities by which so many places in Henrico have long been known. This will undoubtedly make it much easier to market areas like the previously undesirable 'East End'.

*No-one here is suggesting that the Civil War is a proud part of our local heritage, or that we should revel in it's glory...nothing the like. But to slowly deny it actually allowing, (or apathetically fostering) the homogenization of Henrico, you must also remember what is lost in the process. By slowly removing what is so often referred to as the "uncomfortable past", you also lose the moral of the story. The educational merit held by history has proven time an again, that those who choose to forget, will be doomed to relive it.

Just think, the day will soon come when children won't understand what Highland Springs, Varina, or Seven Pines were first named for, or why Rt. 5 was called the 'New Market Road'. With these identities out of the way, we'll have more mental space to fit in carefully formulated corporate and commercial identities instead.

In this way, the new pasteurized identity will actually seem to promote regionalism, because 'Henrico' is so conveniently "all encompassing". How very clever!

If you plan to object to any of this, don't neglect to be prepared for the response you'll get. Understand that when you opt to raise your voice against any of Henrico's 'new plans', you'll be called a 'NIMBY' (Not In My Back Yard), or even worse- you could be labeled as being against "Smart Growth" (instead of being recognized as a supporter of the area which your tax dollars are now funding).

'New ZIP' + 2026 = It divides and multiplies
With content like Eminent Domain, and a myriad of individual localized Land-Use and Major Thoroughfare changes, you may not have time to worry about the 'whole'- or even your own neighborhood, because individual attempts to avoid loss in your own area could provide the county a convenient, local, built-in difference of opinions, thus dividing your current sense of community.

The county's past m.o. in this regard has been very transparent. A great example took place in 2004 and 2005 meetings involving Varina landowners. The County simply announced (in the name of 'smart growth') that they were thinking of changing the minimum lot-size on agricultural parcels from one acre to ten acres. This caused the exact knee-jerk response from land-owners that the county had no-doubt anticipated. The lemmings ran towards the 'ha-ha' the county had so shrewdly set up.. mostly saying "No- No- Don't do that!"

Instead of further suggesting that the prior 10 acre minimum they had put forth was too high, and that 3 or 5 acre minium would be more appropriate- the county took residents responses to mean what Planning had wanted: 1 acre parcels.

But we digress... it was just an illustration of the "divide" portion of "it divides and multiplies", and with all of the new growth planned, you can certainly count on multiplication of the current population.

'New ZIP' + 2026=
No more disconcerting rural character
By removing that spring-green color that represented agricultural tracts in the 2010 plan, Henrico has begun the slow transition toward the sprawl they so desire in Varina. It'll be so much more pleasant not to have wildlife to chance hitting with your vehicle, as you drive along newly widened roads. But by then, they'll already clogged with enough traffic to give you other motorists to avoid hitting instead.

Just be sure to pay attention to the historic markers which may also 'mysteriously disappear'.

Why would the county actually promote the use of Conservation Easements or PDR/TDR (Purchase or Transfer of Developmental Rights Programs), which have the highest potential of preserving open-space in Varina, by allowing owners of large tracts of land a way to afford keeping these fields and forests as Open-Space? ...But that's obviously not what Henrico wants.

What some passers through Varina call the 'odor' of freshly tilled gardens and farmland mingled with manure, could soon give way to 'more acceptable' smells, like hot coffee and french fries- wafting from all of the new burger joints and coffee shops which we'll soon see dotting our roadways. Is this really what Varina residents want? All hail the new Red Lobster?

Who needs trees, open-space, wildlife habitat, or sustainable local food production when you can experience 'modern conveniences' like strip malls, and over-crowded schools instead, and all funded by YOUR rising taxes?

'New ZIP' + 2026=
Indestructible packaging

Because you know that 'New Zip's' paper carton won't block out all of the harmful rays which might damage Henrico's new 'homogenized' content, you can count on light pollution resulting from all of the suggested high-density 'urban' growth in our rural areas. There's sure to be more trash as a result of all of this planning for higher density- where will that go? Or don't you want to live next to a land-fill?

But perhaps the loss of seeing the night-time sky will be supplanted by streetlights which will cut down on the rise in crime that often accompanies sprawl.

'New ZIP' + 2026=
Lack of space for thousands of new students...not enough park space for new residents
Where will all the new schools, hospitals and firestations be built? With all of the open land left to develop in Henrico (mostly in the East End), there is still plenty of space to usurp from current land-owners via Eminent Domain. Not to worry there.

More residents could have supported the National Parks Plans that put such anger and resentment into some locals in the last decade, but then we wouldn't now be able to suffer the horror of witnessing the sell-out of Varina's agricultural tracts and forests. We mention this so that we can ask:

What's the difference between past National Parks plans to 'protect land' by buying it 10 years ago, and Henrico's recent thinly-veiled threat to wield Eminent Domain as one of the 'tools in their toolbox'?

Henrico has the ability to provide PDR (purchase) and TDR (transfer) programs to aid landowners to either insure that their land is protected via these developmental rights options. The county was petitioned by (at least 600) residents asking for these programs to be put into affect. But the petitions are filed away and forgotten now- oops. Ask a county representative about these programs being instituted today, so that open-space can be protected for future generations.

'New ZIP' + 2026=
Certainly no cleaner James River water in content

Marketing the James as a 'desirable waterfront destination' will be certain to tighten the tap- and water for drinking, bathing, and watering the lawn will just have to come from 'somewhere else'.

As population projections increase, there seems to be little county concern for sourcing the additional water needed, and Henrico has been experiencing water-rationing annually for most of the last decade.

With fertilizer run-off from all the newly landscaped and irrigated lawns which accompany new housing, there'll be little space left for the indigenous plants or hardy deciduous forests which have for years been cleaning our air.

Getting all of that original plant life out of the way will also help remove local wild-life, and the resulting run-off can wash almost everything else right into the James and the Chesapeake Bay.

But hey, the rise in pollution and insect population that result can be taken care of with wet-suits, new porch screens or enclosures, and pesticides- the purchase of which will only help our local 'economic growth'.

And there's always still the hope of green-scaped irrigation ditches surrounded with 'park-like corridors'. Your next family reunion might be able to book the "Four Mile Creek Sewage Trunk Park" shelter...that is- if there's room.
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Want to get involved? ..or are you content to keep watching cable

Read and respond to Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff-Writer Melodie N. Martin's latest effort, entitled: "Growth a concern in eastern Henrico- Some say county's land-use plan does not go far enough" (Thursday, May 29th, 2008)

and also read todays article with no by-line:
"'Henrico, VA' mailing address approved"(Thursday, May 29th, 2008)

The reader-response resulting from these should be interesting, to say the least.

"Henrico's Plan Ignores Environment"

Letter To The Editor (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Sunday, May 11, 2008 - 12:05 AM

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Henrico citizens should take a close look at the draft 2026 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This plan will serve as the county's blueprint for development and the basis for all zoning decisions. Unlike our more progressive neighbors, Henrico apparently clings to the outmoded idea that growth and economic development are incompatible with environmental conservation.

The draft report is sadly lacking in best practices and fails to incorporate recent data and respected recommendations from the Richmond Regional Mass Transit Study and the Virginia Outdoors Plan.

Bikeable communities? Forget it. Public transportation? Little commitment. Concern for ozone non-attainment and impaired streams? Nope. Respect for rural character, unique ecology, and rich history? Dream on.

Henrico residents have not been invited to shape the county's vision for future growth or to engage in a vibrant, open process such as is under way with Richmond's Downtown Master Plan. For now, we are asked to content ourselves with online responses and with attending upcoming information sessions with county staff.

I, for one, will be at my supervisor's open house on the 2026 plan, as well as at the public hearing before the Planning Commission that ultimately must precede its approval. Henrico's leadership should know we are paying attention. From a county that prides itself among the top in the nation, we should expect more -- way more.

Lynn P. Wilson. Sandston

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Thank you Lynn Wilson!!

Historic Varina


Lynn P. Wilson, of Sandston


The Green Leader Award


...just look at the beautiful 'river profile' of our district
and all that we have to be proud of..


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