Friday, May 12, 2006

Postpone the Brentswood Vote

TC's got a thread running about the Brentswood vote dust-up at Tuesday's board meeting. Within the chatter and noise of the commenters taking shots at the supervisors, I posted my plea to postpone the vote. I decided to edit it and post it here.

If you agree, you need to CALL YOUR SUPERVISOR AND SEAN. If you are in Maureen's District, and want to be represented in this vote, Call Sean. Numbers are posted at the PWC web site. Call early, the supervisors get snippy if you call too late to save them from making embarrasing mistakes.

The Brentswood issue is a request for re-zoning to put 6800 homes along with office space and retail outlets in the area surrounded by Route 29, Linton Hall Road, and Wellington Road, kind of surrounding the Nissan Pavilion. Developer information Here, some news articles here, here, here, and here. Opposition commentary can be found here. An e-mail exchange converted to blog format is on my site here.

An interesting document is this one from John Stirrup, in March of this year. In this column he says the public hearing was scheduled for June 27, 2006. That will be important below.

Brentswood has encountered a lot of opposition, which suggests the debate and vote on the proposal will not be a formality. In my opinion this will be the most important non-budget vote since the Rural Crescent was established -- but some may rightly call that hyperbole. A vote was scheduled for next Tuesday's BOCS meeting.

At Tuesday's meeting, a move was made to postpone the vote from May to June. The Washington Post reports on the board meeting. Quotes below are from this article.

Maureen Caddigan has a long-standing trip which puts her out for next week’s board meeting. Why she didn’t request a postponement of the vote is anybody’s guess — one possibility is that she doesn’t like to 2nd-guess Sean. Another is she doesn’t think the board should be inconvenienced by her absense. That’s all speculation.

But what isn’t speculation is that Brentswood is a contentious development project — and it would be poor form to have such a development approved or rejected without the entire county having representation at the meeting. For that reason, the vote should be delayed.

What else is true is that the vote CAN be delayed — no law requires the vote to be held next week. Stirrup made it clear to Sean he wanted to delay the vote. But according to the Post "On Tuesday, Connaughton often talked over Stirrup and Stewart".

But Sean controls the agenda — "He (Gerhardt) doesn't make the agenda. I make the agenda." Why didn’t he allow a delay of the vote during regular order? We don’t know.

The issue isn't, as the speculation at TC goes, why Stirrup and Stewart align with democrats on this issue. Both parties have voted against the proposal. The County Republican party did so quite decisively, even without my vote.

Nor is the issue why Stirrup brought it up during his 5 minutes. That was the time he was allowed to speak freely in the Agenda “controlled by the Chair”.

The question is, why did Sean NOT allow a vote Tuesday, but seems willing to allow a vote NEXT tuesday?

We don’t know. But we do know that NEXT week, Maureen won’t be there to vote for postponement. She WOULD have been able to do so Tuesday. Sean’s lack of action Tuesday took away Maureen’s right to vote for a postponement, and probably her right to represent HER constituents on the biggest development in some time in our county.

Why did Sean take the actions he took, given the resulting harm to a good friend of his, Maureen, a fellow Republican?

Can you imagine ANY vote on a contentious matter being held while Sean was out of town? Maureen wouldn’t hear of it.

I'm not “accusing” anybody of any motives here, just spelled out what appears to be the facts based on quotes in the newspaper and other sources.

Sean may still postpone the vote next Tuesday — he has the power to do so, the law allows it, and it would be the fair, decent, and right thing to do for the county.

Regardless of party, or your position on the Brentswood rezoning, does anybody think that the vote SHOULD be held voluntarily at a meeting where all the supervisors won’t be present? If so, WHY do you think the vote should be held?

And if you think it shouldn’t be, can you think of a reason why Sean shouldn’t come to the same conclusion? This isn’t about Corey or John. It isn’t about who’s boss, or hurt feelings.

A developer wants to put 6,800 NEW HOMES into our county, in an area that is already overcrowded. There is questions about whether the proposed road improvements will even make up for the new traffic. The planning staff, AND the planning commission rejected it. The Republican committee voted against it.

It is obviously a contentious issue. Issues like that shouldn’t be decided through political games, or because a supervisor is missing for the meeting.

We don’t know how the vote will go. The Post suggests Wally may not support the proposal, and that Maureen, Corey, and John were all no votes.

So why wouldn't Sean postpone the vote. Why not defer the vote until all the Supervisors are here? Why even leave the APPEARANCE of trying to rig the vote?

This isn't a close call. The vote should be delayed.


Greg L said...

I agree. A rushed decision on this will not reflect well on the BoS.

NoVA Scout said...

You guys need to calm down. The outcome will be the same whether Caddigan is there or not. You can't stop the wheels or government from turning just because one of the Board members goes on a 3-week vacation.

Charles said...

It could well be. Maybe everybody's going to vote against it anyway.

But given that this vote was originally going to happen in June, and given that the county has a year to hold the vote, postponing the final decision for a week or two will hardly stop the wheels from spinning or government from functioning.

You are correct though that they can't shut down board business every time a supervisor takes a trip.

But this isn't just ANY decision. This is the biggest development we're likely to consider for some time. It's a lot of rezoning, a lot of weird uses of the development area concepts, and a partnership for roads that has little precedence.

A little extra attention is deserved in this instance, due to the magnitude of both the proposal and the commitment by our entire county if this deal should pass.