Wednesday, June 06, 2012

What Gettysburg Escaped


Way back in May of 2005, we wrote in this space about ‘The Strabaddies”, a name we coined to describe the Straban Township Supervisors serving at that time.  At that time, Straban Township was formulating an enormous revision to their zoning, with huge decreases in farmland and comparable increases in land zoned for commercial business and industry.  You can read the original post [clickhere].

One of the things we mentioned was an earlier fight to defeat a Wal-Mart Distribution Center off US 15 at the Hunterstown Road Exit.  Here is what we mentioned:

“The Strabaddies” have learned their lessons the hard way, however, having been dealt defeat on a Wal-Mart Distribution Center near the Hunterstown exit of US 15, and defeat of a Wal-Mart Superstore on the 42 acre lot where the new Casino is planned. Under cover of the gathering storm of protest over the planned Casino, "The Strabaddies" sneaked their new land use plan past the public on a Sunday, one day before they were to vote on it at a meeting, where it was, of course, approved.”
In that fight, a good friend wrote several letters to the editor in the local papers, one of which laid out the ramifications of the toxic chemicals spilled and leaked by the many trucks, on the paved lots surrounding the warehouse terminal, and what would happen to the water of a sudden thunderstorm.  The predicted result would be a sudden massive toxic injection of contaminants into the headwaters of Rock Creek, and other streams in Adams County.  Shortly after that appeared, the Wal-Mart Corporation withdrew their plan.  We believe it happened far too soon after our friend’s letter appeared for that to have had an effect.  Nevertheless, our friend received two intimidation visits by retired cops.  One attempted to break into his home at 5 AM and was confronted, and after a call to 911, nothing was done.  He wanted to press charges but was told the DA’s office did not want to prosecute. 

We wanted our readers to see what they escaped from with that fight.  Below is a photo from Google Earth of a section of I 81 just south of Harrisonburg, Virginia.  This is what Wal-Mart, and the Strabaddies, wanted to put along US 15 off Hunterstown Road.


The small things around the building are semi rig trailers.  The vehicles you see on I 81 at the top and the bottom of the image [left of the warehouse] are full tractor trailers. 

On a recent trip south along that highway, we drove past this facility.  It was jaw-dropping to see the size of it.  You can clearly see this in Google Earth from an altitude of 21 miles, although the place name of a local town starts to obscure the northern part of it. 

People need to remember these fights and that the people spoke with a loud voice and were successful at driving off unwanted development.  Casinos, Wal-Mart Warehouse, Wal-Mart Superstore, all driven off.  All bad ideas for this area.   

So is the chicken warehouse.  As long as development friendly [actually over-friendly] townships keep fostering “growth” like that you must remain vigilant to control them.  They care little what development happens because it just means money for the township coffers to meet their budgets.  But in reality, the ‘development shuffle’ that they play is nothing more than a pyramid scheme.  For example, they need more money to maintain roads, so they bring in a small industrial facility and tax it, slap fees on it, and require all kinds of expensive permits, so they can maximize the funds they add to the township coffers.  And they repave and rebuild the roads [only to have the sewer authority dig them up and then poorly patch them].  But the truck traffic to the new plant wears the roads ever faster, so they invite in another housing development to pay the taxes to maintain the roads, and this puts a strain on the sewer lines, so the new roads get dug up for sewer work, and the sewage treatment plant needs an upgrade.  So they zone someone’s farm commercial so they can build a shopping mall, and the whole cycle starts all over again.  Often they can claim they have held the line on real estate taxes while increasing their budgets.  Often as not, they increase taxes anyway. 

That is the ‘development shuffle’, all in the name of ‘growth.’

Here is a simple concept.  Growth does not need to happen.  Stasis is a state where folks are comfortable, and which allows personal growth through the stability of taxes and fees.  Growth is NOT inevitable, nor is it infinite.  Growth does not have to happen, but if it does, it marches the world toward that time in the not so distant future where there simply is no more room for growth.  Long before that happens, the earth will run out of natural resources, and long before that happens the earth will run out of food.  Then all growth will stop.  
   
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1 comment:

Randy said...

I worked a mile or so away from a chicken farm for a few years. The flies swarmed around the farm, especially during the summer.