Trump Winery neighbors remain unconvinced that a golf course is a good idea

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Eric Trump made an appearance at Trump Winery last week, where he spent two hours answering questions and assuring neighbors that his proposed golf course would comply with a conservation easement and benefit the county. Photo: Annalee Grant Eric Trump made an appearance at Trump Winery last week, where he spent two hours answering questions and assuring neighbors that his proposed golf course would comply with a conservation easement and benefit the county. Photo: Annalee Grant

The battle over a protected plot of county land continues. Last week, international business mogul Donald Trump’s 29-year-old son Eric visited Charlottesville to address a roomful of curious and concerned county residents. Against the backdrop of the Trump Winery tasting room, the younger Trump was all smiles as he fielded two hours worth of questions that he’s clearly answered before about the golf course’s potential impacts on the area’s traffic, water, and overall environment. While some county residents left feeling just as frustrated as when they walked in the door, Trump called the meeting a success, and is confident that the golf course will not only be built, but will make the county proud.

Longtime county resident Cindy Patterson was one of the first to stand up and challenge Trump’s plan when she asked what will happen if the VOF doesn’t ultimately approve the golf course.

“It would be sad, after the millions and millions of dollars we put into this place to make it very special,” Trump said.

A portion of the 217-acre lawn is protected under a conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), an organization that encourages preservation of natural, scenic, historic, open-space, and recreational land in Virginia. Since the Trump Organization announced its plan to build an 18-hole golf course on the property, Trump’s representatives have been in constant disagreement with the VOF about whether it’s allowed. A memo from the VOF stewardship specialist Tracy Hibbits states that VOF’s current practice is not to accept easements with golf courses, but the Trump Organization argues that it qualifies as a “seasonal, commercial, outdoor activity,” which the easement permits.

“We’re a very prideful family, and when we do something we want it to be the best,” Trump said at the meeting. “We’ve already invested tens and tens of millions, and it could be an incredible attraction for down here.”

Residents who attended the meeting were enraged that yet another tourist attraction was moving into the rural area, while others said the golf course shouldn’t even be considered under the easement.

Trump and the VOF are still negotiating, and Trump said he plans to “comply with the easement 100 percent.” He noted that the golf course would cover four parcels of land, only one of which is encumbered by the easement.

“We’ve actually got a very good relationship with [the VOF],” Trump said. “A lot of the land is on the other three parcels there, and we’d actually give that to the VOF so it could be controlled in perpetuity.”

Trump also took care to point out that the winery alone has brought more than $31.5 million to the state economy. The proposed golf course, which would run out-of-town guests about $500 per round and employ at least 100 people, would make a sizeable contribution to the area’s tourism industry.

Even as the fight over the terms of the easement continue, the county is considering a special use permit for the course, which planner Scott Clark said will go to the Planning Commission as early as December.

Patterson said she didn’t understand why the county had let the process get this far without approval from the VOF first.

“What is the county going to do? Stop the process?” Patterson said from the back of the room. “We shouldn’t be in this situation. This should be a non-issue.”

  • hooboy

    “seasonal, commercial, outdoor activity,” kinda like apple picking.

  • Genevieve

    ‘“It would be sad, after the millions and millions of dollars we put into this place to make it very special,” Trump said.’

    “Trump also took care to point out that the winery alone has brought more than $31.5 million to the state economy.”

    Perhaps it is the way that this story was reported (or my own personal disdain for Donald Trump) that is biasing how I’m reading this, but it seems to me that the young Mr. Trump felt the need to continually remind the people attending the meeting just how much money the family has poured into our economy and therefore subtly remind us how much we should be indebited to them. I’m probably reading too much into the details here, but if the VOF doesn’t approve the project are the Trumps just going to guilt trip, bully, and/or threaten various groups and citizens until the project is approved and completed?

    Golf courses are, more often than not (http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/golf042604.cfm just one example of a multitude of articles on the subject) have a hugely detrimental impact on the environment and native ecosystems. I think we’re set on “seasonal, commercial, outdoor activit[ies].”

  • Francis Krikorian

    Oh please, for once just say no to this “prideful” schmuck.

  • typical albemarle

    “A lot of the land is on the other three parcels there, and we’d
    actually give that to the VOF so it could be controlled in perpetuity.” Those dirty Trumps, trying to make money which will increase the revenue to the county (and to themselves), provide jobs AND they want to give all the land to the VOF. I understand why there’s such an uproar. sheesh

  • Carol Croft

    Want to find out any more about how the Trump organisation behave towards their neighbours once they overcome any planning restrictions? There’s a free showing of the documentary “You’ve Been Trumped” in Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theatre @ 6pm October 28th. Then, if you’ve any more questions have a look at the Tripping Up Trump FB group.

  • abc123

    Here’s my question, plain and simple -
    If it was an upstanding local citizen who wanted to build this golf course, and not Trump, would people still be putting up this much of a fight? I doubt it…

    • Anton Largiader

      I think would. A golf course just doesn’t meet most peoples’ idea of land conservation since they tend to involve massive reshaping and replanting of the land. However, I haven’t studied the plans nor have I read the full text of the easement; without those I think it’s hard for anyone to say exactly how nonconforming the course would be.

  • Luanne McKinnon

    Doesn’t everyone in Charlottesville know how Donald Trump ruined the finest natural coastline in Scotland? The village of Balmedia finally caved in to his promises of a golden future promised by the Trump Resort. In the process of “progress,” dunes were flattened, natural bird and sea life habitats were permanently destroyed, and then, when the ocean wind turbines proved to be an “eyesore” for Trump’s sensibility and his impending five-star clientele, he threw a fit red-faced fit and cancelled the plans. The Scots were left with their destroyed landscape and a resort no one wants to go to. I no longer live in rural Rapidan or Charlottesville, where I resided for over a decade, but I love the place. Take heed Cville: Trump should stay out. He is no Sir Ashley of Keswick lore.

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