Yeah, the economic spiraldown hurts. That’s for sure. But, as a few people have cautiously pointed out, it’s got benefits too. Just as higher gas prices forced us to be less frivolous with our driving, a collapsed housing market may encourage more judicious building.
Behold the local evidence: The Daily Progress says that Biscuit Run is on hold. And I say, hurrah. I know that the project’s backers are none too happy, but that’s them. I speak only for myself: a former resident of Old Lynchburg Road who is just as happy to see the woods stay wooded and the 3,100 homes stay on the drawing board.
And I’m hardly alone. Biscuit Run, probably on account of its sheer size, inspired plenty of outcry when it was going through the approval process back in 2007. If you love that part of Albemarle, it’s small comfort to realize what a prime spot for development are the 1,400 acres of Biscuit Run. The way it is now—green, open, mostly left to itself—is beautiful, and it serves an important purpose for all of us, a kind of pressure-release valve just south of the city. Imagining cul-de-sacs and school buses and frappuccinos in there gives me physical pain.
But it’s not just open space that’s at stake. Want to talk carbon footprints? Want to talk car-centric development? Want to talk construction waste, erosion, runoff and noise pollution? Even when developers explicitly talk about greening their activities—Belvedere would be Exhibit A—I find it tough to believe that large-scale housing projects won’t be a serious net negative for the environment.
So, I say, hurrah. Let’s put all the construction workers who would have been building those houses to work on our aging infrastructure instead, and let’s hope the developers magically forget about this whole Biscuit Run plan by the time the economy improves. Can I get an amen?