June 13, 2006
When most people think about Orange County they think about rolling hills, and a rural landscape. Tonight the Orange County Board of Supervisors took steps towards keeping that the main focus.
For nearly a year, developers in Orange County have been working to bring nearly 1,500 new homes to the area. After much debate, the County Board of Supervisors decided none of those plans will come to fruition.
"If we take our pasture lands and turn them into subdivisions and parking lots, they will never grow back," said Orange County Supervisor Sonny Dodson.
That seemed to be the message all night. Dozens of people packed the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting holding signs designating their preference against three proposed developments. A message the Supervisors heard loud and clear.
"There [is going to need] to be something on the table that makes me feel that it's in the long term best interest of Orange County," said Chairman Mark Johnson.
According to the Supervisors, these projects weren't it. Riverpoint, Rapidan Crossing, and Newhouse and James all were proposed for construction near the Route 3 corridor. However, citizens say you need to look further down Route 3 to get an idea of how not to grow.
"The surrounding Counties are teaching us golden lessons on how to preserve our heritage of being rural," said Ken Kastan.
"These proposals still aren't up to par with what the County needs to ensure that the rural nature of the County will be protected and also that the developments will be beneficial to the residents of the County," said Dan Holmes with the Piedmont Environmental Council.
While growth is inevitable, one Supervisor says it needs to be done intelligently.
"We need to accept the fact that there is going to be growth [and] there is going to be change, but we need to do it in a fashion that doesn't bankrupt us," Dodson said.
Development talks are not over yet. Another proposal, Annandale, is set to come before the Board of Supervisors in July. Also, the developers can bring these three development proposals back before the Board after one year. Even without these developments approved, Orange County is considered one of the fastest growing counties in the country.