Thursday, February 9, 2017

Draining The Local Government Swamp

Gloucester, VA - Picture taken for the new Gloucester Links & News website.

Draining The Local Government Swamp

Our new President promised that if he were elected he would drain the federal government swamp and return power to We The People. So far President Trump appears to be living up to his promise, but he cannot do it alone and our federal government is not the only place where the government swamp needs to be drained. Our Commonwealth government (I emphasize “Common”), needs some draining and so does our local government and many other local government’s throughout Virginia.

One of the biggest issues of government overreach in Gloucester County, Virginia is land use zoning. Gloucester has been driven onto the path of the local government telling land owners what they may or may not do with their property. That is not the Gloucester I and many others grew up in. Our local government and elected representatives have passed local laws and adopted policies that require land owners to comply with “their” restrictive zoning requirements. In fact, our current Board of Supervisors has passed local law prohibiting certain styles of buildings because they do not like how they look. Further appalling is the fact that one of our elected Supervisors has publicly stated during a Board of Supervisors meeting that he believes they sometimes need to tell land owners what they may or may not do with their property. In my opinion Gloucester County “is” the definition of United Nations Agenda 21 micro-zoning.

Several years ago our local government began to implement what they refer to as the “Village Plans”. These plans constrict growth within the Hayes/Gloucester Point and Courthouse areas. They want retail and other business, medium to high density housing and other such growth restricted primarily to these areas and are making a concerted effort to develop every space possible. 

Recently our Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request so a developer can build an apartment complex next to the York River Crossing Shopping Center. This complex will contain around 120 apartment units and will share parking with the shopping center. The apartments will also share the existing entrances to the shopping center, as there are no plans to construct additional entrances. In this instance our local government made exceptions to their zoning restrictions in order to accommodate the developer even though, People spoke against the apartments at the Public Hearing and there will be traffic and other impacts that will negatively affect a significant number of us. Yet, they would not approve a small developers request for an exception to their zoning rules so he could build a single duplex apartment unit in a Courthouse area neighborhood.

About three years ago our local government approved a developers request to rezone land behind the American Legion Hall so they can build around 260 apartment units. This land is well outside of their Village Plan development area, but the rezoning request was still approved. Recently a developer requested our local government to rezone five and half acres of land so he can build five, four unit, apartment buildings; for a total of 20 apartments. This developers rezoning request was denied.

Recently a Gloucester land owner spoke publicly at a Board of Supervisor meeting about his dismay at not being able to rent out a house located along Route 17 because the house had not been occupied for two years or more. As it turns out, some years ago our local government implemented a local law that rezones residential property within the Development District to commercial property if the residence remains uninhabited for two years or more.

Our local government would like us to think they are taking steps to accommodate growth in Gloucester, when in reality they are just hand selecting what they want to see in Gloucester and continuing to follow the United Nations micro-zoning path created by their predecessors back in the 90’s. I believe the village plans and other constrictive zoning and zoning associated laws and policies should be scrapped. I believe land owners should be given their property rights back. If it does not pertain to health, safety or security, our local government should refrain from interfering in what landowners do with their land. Getting rid of micro-zoning practices will save a lot of tax dollars and will also generate additional revenue from growth.
Do you agree or disagree?

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Kenny Hogge, Sr.
Gloucester Point, Virginia

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