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Community rips Louisa County’s megasite concept at supervisors’ meeting Tuesday

Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

An overflow crowd of citizens voiced concerns about the county’s proposed regional business park at the Louisa County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday night.

More than 40 residents stood up in a crowded public meeting room and told the Louisa County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 4 they don’t want them to pursue the business “megasite.”

After the public comment period ended, Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry district) made a motion to stop the 1,650-acre project’s development in its current form.

His proposal, which was supported by Supervisors Willie Gentry (Cuckoo district) and Tommy Barlow (Mountain Road district) failed by a 3-3 tie. Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson district) was absent.

The board decided after the vote to continue negotiations with landowners in the megasite area between Shannon Hill and Roundabout roads. The county’s first six-month option contract, which gives it the right to buy land at a set price, expires in December.

As the deadline approaches, the board could ask the landowners who signed options to extend their contracts by another four months. The extra time may be needed to give the county and residents time to properly vet the project, Barnes said.

“I would rather see us finish our due diligence so we have answers to all the questions brought up tonight,” Supervisor Bob Babyok (Green Springs district) said. “That’s only fair to all the citizens, to have a complete and honest appraisal.”

The county has spent $85,000 on option contracts, and anticipates spending at least $6.5 million to purchase land for the business park. (See larger version of acquisitions map by clicking this link County Biz Park Acquisition Map)

There were so many people in attendance at the board meeting that county officials set up a television in an upstairs room so everyone was able to watch.

Though people were clearly unhappy, the mood of the crowd was spirited. One speaker, Randy Holladay, expressed his opposition to the park in the form of a poem.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell,” he told the board, quoting environmentalist Edward Abbey. “I’m worried this megasite is like a tumor that, once it starts to grow, will spread in a hurry.”

Criticism of the business park came from many directions. People who live near the site were angry that it was planned without their knowledge, and they warned of environmental damage and destruction of their way of life. Farmers said it threatens the rural character that is identified as the most important element to preserve in the county’s comprehensive plan.   (Click on map to right to view large-size image)

Read full story in The Central Virginian’s Sept. 6, 2018 Issue