Northern exposure

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Ace, this state is giving me geographical vertigo. Why is it that North Garden is located along Rte. 29 South? Why not call it “South Garden?” And what is it north of?—Carter Graffer

Do you really want to go there, Carter? And by “there,” Ace doesn’t mean down to lovely North Garden, with its verdant pastures and celebrated CiderWorks, but into the whole map/territory can of worms. Let’s move beyond the fact that—how typical—you’ve defined Charlottesville as your default point of reference for understanding the world. How would you get to North Garden from, say, Lynchburg? Or Danville? Along Rte. 29 North, that’s how.

From a Google’s-eye-view, North Garden is not “north of” anything so much as “north within” the bare parameters of Virginia state boundaries. But that’s only one possible way of looking at it. You can also break it down regionally and place North Garden with Charlottesville in Central Virginia, which officially includes points as far south as Franklin, but also encompasses Lynchburg, Farmville, and—get ready for it—South Garden, a Richmond suburb that is, fortunately, south of North Garden.

Complicating the issue, all of these locations fall below the Mason-Dixon line, which means we have to start splitting hairs over culture. Like where—if anywhere—does the south become The South? How “southern” is Virginia compared to South Carolina or Alabama, and in any case, how is it that all three are more southern than Florida?
Ace’s point is that culture makes geography moot. Consider Charlottesville’s East Garden Chinese Restaurant and Buffet, which is indeed east of North Garden, but quite a ways west of South Garden. “East” here is a cultural designation, in the same vein that we use “western” to refer both to first-world monoculture and to Sergio Leone films. Debates rage, for example, about whether Japan is now a “western” country.

Of course, most of these arguments take place online. And if you really want to be shaken to your very core, dear reader, take out a map and try to locate the Internet.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to ace@c-ville.com.

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Northern exposure

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As I sit up here in the middle of Loudoun County, I find it necessary to crank up the volume on my TV set or CD player to overcome the deafening sound of trees falling to the developers’ dozers. I am sending a stern warning to my “southern neighbors” in Charlottesville and Albemarle [“How dense can we get?” January 9], to take control of your county now before it starts to look like Loudoun. It has already started.

The majority of our “supes” are so unabashedly pro growth, that one had the audacity to call himself a puppet of the developer and building community. The “Group of 5” have approved just about every plan to add more houses that come before them. People here are fed up with their shenanigans and idea that we can build our way out of the problems the growth creates. Growth never pays for itself.

In the years before their election in 2003, the Supes approved a vast down-zoning of the still largely rural western part of Loudoun. It was approved and was about to be enacted when the greedy developer/land baron community sued the county claiming that the public notice to the citizens of Loudoun was not done properly, a technicality. It went to court and the Virginia Supreme Court agreed. Instead of just readvertising the public notice and bring back the plan that had taken so many years of planning, the newly elected “developer funded” Board of Supes, just let the zoning go back to the former recipe, A-3, which eats up rural land at an amazing rate. A land rush ensued until today, when a more watered down version of the rezoning of the county was approved. Already, 25 “put upon” landowners have sued again.

Our Board of Supervisors meetings are contentious and withering and even though the vast majority of the citizens in the county want growth slowed, the five “growth oriented” supes look the other way, smirk or just chalk it up to their motto that “growth is inevitable.” Just this week, all five have announced their intent to run for re-election this November. That is the gall they exude: They know that most of Loudoun doesn’t think the way they do, they are still going to run. They are arrogant, rude and undeniably the worst supes Loudoun has ever seen.

I read C-VILLE every week, and see that the ugly hand of greed and overbuilding has reached all the way to Albemarle. From my view up here, Biscuit Run is a ridiculous plan for that part of the city. Even cutting down the number of homes to 3,100, just the traffic created in that part of Charlottesville will overwhelm existing roads and even the collector road proposed by the developer. Does Charlottesville need 3,100 homes? I don’t think so. Route 29 is starting to look and feel like Route 50 here. How many “big box,” boring chain stores do you need? Part of the charm of Charlottesville was always the home-grown shops and restaurants. Now Charlottesville looks like Peoria.

Citizens of Albemarle better wake up and smell the diesel fumes emanating from the hordes of bulldozers coming your way. People here stupidly sat on their butts in 2003 and voted in five supes who garnered most of their campaign monies from known developers and won anyway. We think that November 2007 will be a great bloodletting of these myopic, one-sided, so-called elected leaders. But voter apathy is strong up here. Hopefully, the mess created in the last four years will get people to the polls in November.

Albemarle citizens need to pay close attention to your own supes and boot them out of office if they don’t do more to preserve the beautiful countryside of Albemarle and even parts of Charlottesville. Every bit of open space in town doesn’t have to be built on. You can still make a difference, but you have to be proactive and keep a close eye on the building plans submitted, rezoning applications and the connections your supes have with the building community. It is your quality of life that is at stake. Get involved NOW!
   
C-R-A-C-K….oops, another tree gone here in Loudoun, and it is Saturday!

George A. Santulli
Loudoun County


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