Now That’s What I’m Talking About!

By Loudoun Insider

Wally Covington, Republican PWC Supervisor, has introduced a bill freezing all residential development for the next year, as reported in today’s WaPo. The primary reason stated is to get Richmond’s attention to the inequities of transportation dollars raised and spent in NoVA. Covington was spurred by the recent 80% approval of a $300 million local road bond, and has stated bipartisan support for his radical measure.

The building industry has a total stranglehold on the General Assembly, but they are losing their grip on local governments. Kaine has backpedaled furiously from his proposals to better link land use and transportation, and predictably reacts to this proposal with derision. This isn’t about the House’s refusal to raise taxes for transportation, it’s all about returning more of NoVA’s huge generation of state tax dollars.Â

This is the kind of over the top action that all NoVA governments need to take to rattle the cages in Richmond on this issue. Of course, don’t expect the Loudoun BOS to jump on this bandwagon, at least not until after the 2007 elections!


Comments

  • NoVa Scout says:

    I’m not at all sure that this has any effect at all. It assumes that there’s someone somewhere in Richmond who cares or, alternatively, knows what to do about it. I don’t think anyone knows and I don’t think anyone down there cares. If I’m right, Covington’s proposal is like holding your breath and turning blue.

    One advantage it may have is that it spreads out the “anti-growth” marketing meme over a wider number of Supervisors. If everyone is against growth, then there’s no political advantage to cheap talk on the subject and they can get on to talking about real solutions.

  • I partially agree, NoVA Scout, but something simply has to be done and this is one step in the right direction. Since the building industry has such clout to wield in Richmond, maybe they’ll start pressing for a more equitable transportation dollar distribution. It’s a bit like taking a hostage, but the out of control residential development is the biggest part of the problem.

  • Trent A. Barton says:

    Congratulations to Wally Covington. With Chairman Stewart and Wally’s leadership on this issue we will soon start seeing responsible growth once again. For the last few years PWC has had out of control growth. For example over 5000 homes have been approved for Route One and not 1 square inch has been added to the road (other that a couple of turn lanes or pregnant road where it goes two lanes to three lanes for 750 feet). Hopefully Barg and Jenkins will see the will of the people and the powers that be in Richmond will soon get the message that they need to get their act together. For too long we have seen everyone point the other way when confronted with the growth issue. It is refreshing to see Wally showing some actions instead of lip service that we often see from our other elected officials in Neabsco and Woodbridge. I firmly believe that with the “new” direction the BOCS is taking with Chairman Stewart we are looking towards bright skies once again.

    Just my Thoughts-

  • Citizen Tom says:

    Supervisor Covington did not come to this decision easily. What he is looking at is two things: (1) the state government sucking money out of Prince William County, and (2) a dysfunctional network of expressways. Like everyone else, Covington is wondering why we are putting up with this. So he is trying to discover what leverage he can bring to bear on the state legislature to solve the problem. Good for him!

    There is, however, one new development that needs to be considered. In the 2006 session, Del. Bob Marshall got a bill passed that may have some bearing on our transportation problem, HB 201, Toll facilities; localities may have agreements for construction and operation thereof (see http://leg1.state.va.us/for for details).

    HB 201 provides the opportunity for Northern Virginia to achieve a more equitable distribution of road construction costs. This bill would make the people responsible for using the roads pay for them. If that is not the fair thing to do, I do not know what is. Hopefully, Covington and other county supervisors will take a serious look at HB 201. If Marshall’s bill does not meet our needs, let’s hear why.

    If we can fund our transportations needs in Northern Virginia using toll roads and by issuing bonds, then the state legislature does not need to come up with a solution. In fact, we can insist that other portions of the state pay for their roads the same way.

  • Fed-Up! says:

    Smart move! PWC has the balls to stand up to the developers and to tell the state ENOUGH ALREADY!

    Something we will not see from the Loudoun County BOS until 2008.

  • Robert T. Molleur says:

    Stewart’s proffer scheme has nothing to do with funding infrastructure, it’s all about stopping development.

    Covington’s moratorium is another ruse meant simply to lower land values even more through this indirect land condemnation scam and “take” devalued private property without just compensation making it ripe for either conservation easement or subsequent taxpayer purchase for open space.

    It’s all about stopping development. That’s why Stewart wants to greatly increase the size of RPA’s and other buffers so that he can stop development. Stewart would make the entire county an RPA if he could.

  • Robert T. Molleur says:

    This is the next step Stewart will take once Covington’s moratorium proposal fails. Stewart owes his eco-warrior supporters big time for voting for him – it’s all about doing three things:

    1. Doing whatever it takes to stop residential development.

    2. Doing whatever it takes to designate said undeveloped residential lands as restricted open space, RPA’s, buffers, easements etc. to appease the eco-warriors.

    3. Turn Prince William into a commuter-friendly business park for the rest of Northern Virginia by greatly expanding commercial development at the expense of vibrant neighborhoods.

    Associated Press
    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    STAFFORD, Va. – Stafford County officials have filed condemnation papers for nearly 2,900 acres near the Potomac River to protect a heron rookery from development of hundreds of homes. The action is the latest in a protracted effort by the county and private groups to preserve Crow’s Nest, an environmentally sensitive peninsula that is also home to dense hardwoods, some 4 feet in diameter.

    County officials want to preserve the land as a public park. “It’s such a jewel,” Stafford Board of Supervisors member Paul Milde told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It’s its own ecosystem.” The county’s filing of condemnation papers Friday was a last resort, he said, adding he still hopes the parties can reach a deal.

    K&M Properties of McLean, doing business as Stafford Lakes Limited Partnership, wants to build 688 homes on about 3,200 acres. The developer estimates the property’s value at $60 million, nearly twice as much as the county offered in September.

    Clark Leming, the attorney for the developers, said K&M presented the county with four options, which Leming declined to specify. He said they included a range of rezonings and purchase prices that would have netted the county 1,800 acres. “Apparently, the county rejected those out of hand,” Leming said.

    Milde acknowledged that the county’s condemnation effort does not encompass the entire Crow’s Nest area, which includes an additional 1,200 acres. He said the county set its sights on the most environmentally sensitive area, given Stafford’s fiscal resources. The county has available about $10 million from the state and $10 million through a low-interest loan.

    Milde said the county could make up the difference through offers, some of them already on the table, made by other developers seeking to build elsewhere in the county.

    Cecelia Kirkman of the nonprofit Save Crow’s Nest said many people support condemning the peninsula to preserve it because of explosive residential growth. “I think there is broad-based support to use eminent domain, and I think that’s because it’s being used as a last resort,” she said.

    Preservation advocates say Crow’s Nest has historical significance, too. Capt. John Smith visited the Potomac Indians in the area in 1608. Pocahontas is believed to have been taken hostage five years later when she was visiting the Patawomeke (Potomac) village at Indian Point, just across from Crow’s Nest. Researchers say Crow’s Nest was later named for a ship that harbored in deep waters near the peninsula, which is bordered by the Accokeek and Potomac creeks near where they feed into the Potomac River.

  • NVa lifer says:

    So it has begun in Stafford? I’ve been waiting for this since Kelo passed. Thnaks for posting the story, Mr. Molleur.

  • A Moderate Voice/Phyllis Randall says:

    I agree with Tom when he says:

    “If we can fund our transportations needs in Northern Virginia using toll roads and by issuing bonds, then the state legislature does not need to come up with a solution. In fact, we can insist that other portions of the state pay for their roads the same way”.

    The problem is as long as NoVA voters continues to approve local road bonds, Richmond and the builders will never take NoVA serious when we scream about inequity in money received from the state.

    Why should they when we continue to agree to be double taxed and build our own roads?

    I agree in spirit with what Supervisor Covington proposed, but we need to educate the electorate to stop sending a double message by aproving road bonds.

  • Dean Settle says:

    Phyllis, I’ve been trying to figure out how best to put the situation, and I think you just nailed it.

    I remember when the State of Virginia stopped sending fuel taxes to the Federal government until they sent out the appropriate highway funds. Maybe we should do the same.
    But, ultimately, I was suprised to see people/voters volunteer more of their money for taxes. I sure didn’t.

  • anon says:

    I don’t see a link to the Post article so that I can get more exact details on this … but I have a question for anyone who has read the article -

    How did SUPERVISOR Wally Covington introduce a BILL?

  • I guess it’s more properly termed a resolution, but you get the drift!

  • Citizen Tom says:

    Phyllis and Dean, there is nothing inherently wrong with road bonds. We just have to make certain the money is properly spent (always a headache). The problem is sending money to Richmond to pay for other people’s roads. The bloodsuckers in Richmond want to use our woes as an excuse to increase our taxes. Our taxes are high enough as it is. Those parasites need to be voted out of office.

    As much as possible, taxes should be user fees. Every time a politician promises us something for free, and we are foolish enough believe him, all we have done is given over complete control of our money. Dumb! This creates too much opportunity for mischief. Just consider how many times tax dollars, supposedly collected to build transportation infrastructure, have been diverted to other purposes.

    Major segments of our transportation infrastructure should be funded with user fees. Why should anyone be obligated to pay for someone else’s joy riding? Such things as toll roads and tickets on the Metro help us to avoid building transportation systems that are not needed, for example, roads for developers.

    Local roads can and should be locally funded and built by local governments. As much as possible, Prince William County should ensure developers fund or build new local roads. When such costs are passed on to the home buyers, that discourages urban spawl.

  • The big problem is the rest of the state using NoVA like a parasite – take, take, take and never give back. Unfortunately we here in NoVA can’t vote out the rest of the state’s representatives. At least until the population shifts change the distribution of representatives. That is why drastic measures are needed. Another option would be to start a NoVA PAC that focuses on the worst RoVA porker offenders. Of course that would probably have a predictable backlash, but we need to start thinking out of the box.

  • Billy Joe says:

    Hmmm #7 and 8- are you against public parks? Kudos to Stafford County

    When a person uses terms like “eco-warrior” in relation to zoning laws or public parks I know they are candidates for tin-foil hats.

    LI- re: the OP – if VA were not a Dillon rule State I suspect this tactic would have been used years ago- successfully.

    The Supreme Court upheld the right of a locality to put long moritoriums on new construction (5-4), right after they gave us Dubyah.

    I think the case came out of the Lake Tahoe region

  • A Moderate Voice/Phyllis Randall says:

    Tom,

    I think you Dean and I are saying the same thing. Local road bonds are not in and of themselves a problem. In fact, if and when spent correctly they can be an answer. However, NoVA sends money to Richmond, does not receive an equal appropriation of money back from the state and then in addition the voters approve road bonds, what’s the message?

    I think the message both to the state and the builders is we don’t mind being bent over. (I know not a very nice term for a lady to say, but hay, sometimes you have to call it what it is).

    In PWC and Fairfax the local bonds were used correctly and much needed roads were built, but money from the state did not increase, so we continue to double tax ourselves in order to build our roads and we continue to build roads for the entire state.

    I love NoVA, I have lived here going on fourteen years, but if things don’t change I’m not sure I will be here ten years from now.

    And I have to say, a least in Loudoun it was the GOP that pushed the road bonds. (I continue to scratch my head on that one)

  • anon says:

    Thanks LI – that clarifies it a bit more.

    The BOCS is powerless to deny development that is in compliance with the comp plan, so then it logically follows that they are also powerless to stop all development.

    Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • Dean Settle says:

    The BOS is helpless to stop what is by-right. They are powerful enough to stop overzealous builders anxious to rape Loudoun on their way to the next County or State.
    Wait…..They can’t move to another adjoining State. All of those have IMPACT FEES.(something the builder’s lobbyists got rid of years ago in planning stages of the raping of Virginia.)

  • Robert T. Molleur says:

    Wally Covington’s proposed residential building moratorium has absolutely nothing to do with calling time out while government infrastructure catches up.

    Covington’s proposed residential building moratorium has absolutely nothing to do with preserving, or actually improving, quality of life for Prince William residents.

    Covington’s proposed residential building moratorium has absolutely everything to do with more government empowerment of the Deep-Pocket Mega-Developers (DPMDs).

    There are thousands of brand new homes sitting unsold all over the County a lot of them in Wally’s Brentsville District.

    Today, it is virtually impossible to sell a used home in Prince William.

    A building moratorium, in effect, greatly reduces the competition while the DPMDs clear their overstock, overpriced inventories.

    Sort of an Overstock.com clearance sale. Like the woman in those TV commercials, maybe the DPMDs can find some alluring spokesperson to shill for them.

    The DPMD will tell the poor customer; ‘gosh, I’d really like to build that custom dream home for you; but Prince William has a building moratorium in effect. Let me show you this nice house right over here, we can make you a great deal.’

  • Dean Settle says:

    Robert, please tell me of your mastery of the economics 101 at the local village college.
    Evidently, you failed out and are attempting to ration again using the premise for which you were tossed.

    The market is flat, and supply is tremendous while demand is dead. Why add to the supply when there are no customers?
    Building more and doubling or tripling the supply will not bring those customers and if in some wild world event it does, it’ll only serve to drop the prices to the basement.

    Tie a ribbon on your finger to remind you not to forget to “engage brain” before you “turn on the typing fingers”.

  • Bill Ricardi says:

    As a Loudoun guy who works in Prince William, I would compare Supervisor Covington’s moratorium stunt with Supervisor Delgaudio’s interchange-opening stunt. Both were nothing more than political games devoid of any real substance but that we guaranteed to grab some ink and notoriety for each.

  • Robert T. Molleur says:

    Mr. Settle:

    Typical LIBERAL retort – an ad hominem attack disparaging the intellect of the writer, rather than offering substantive rebuttal.

    If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any noise?

    If there is a housing glut, and the market is flat (or declining) – does a moratorium on building more homes have any effect?

    No – the builders aren’t going to build anyway in the short term. A number of developments are already being postponed or cancelled altogether.

    Wally’s moratorium is nothing more than political posturing to make it look like something’s going to get fixed.

    Show me the list of infrastructure projects that will be completed during the moratorium.

    Ain’t nothing gonna get “fixed” and that’s the bottom line.

    I am a devotee of the Milton Friedman school of economics Mr. Settle – unlike you who obviously holds Karl Marx in high esteem.

    Its not government’s job to promote, or restrain, a free market economy.

    The government’s job is to get the hell out of the way and enforce commonsense rules of fair play.

    Perhaps that accounts for the difference in economic philosophy.

    “As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually will in all free governments ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind?”

    – James Madison (likely) (Federalist No. 63, 1788) Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 63.

  • Dean Settle says:

    We’re two kinds of Republicans. I’m a sensible moderate with an eye on taxes and infrastructure and you’re a hardline capitalist with a desire to pave over anything that gets in your way, as long as you get yours. Even if all us little taxpayers have to carry your infrastructure… like we had asked for it.

    It isn’t even close to Marxism to look at the cost to all of us that OVERdevelopment brings, and slide the scale of greed back a little so that we all can breathe easier. I don’t mind if you make your money, and I do not believe in wealth redistribution… but if you’re so hot to build build build, then at least be man enough to chip in for the school costs, transportation, fire and rescue and utilities and leave me and all the taxpayers who did not want the new homes here in the volume that they’re being built harmless from that bill, chuck.

  • JOHN W. MOBBERLY says:

    Robert, I want you to enjoy your 2007 summer. You’re a dying breed in NVa. We will be free of your kind by November of that year.

    If you pack now, you can beat the traffic.

  • Robert T. Molleur says:

    NEWS ALERT (Reprinted from Tongue-in-Cheek with permission)

    DATELINE – Prince William County Virginia

    In an OPEC-like move (in the face of stagnant demand, cut oil production to inflate artificially the world price per barrel), Brentsville District Supervisor Wally Covington proposed today a one-year moratorium on building new homes in the County.

    Spokesmen for Stanley Martin, Richmond-American, Pulte, Ryland, Centex, KSI and several other Deep-Pocket Mega-Developers welcomed the announcement and expressed support for Covington’s proposal (all have subsequently contributed heavily to his 2007 re-election campaign).

    They noted a similar sentiment that even though they had cancelled, or postponed, most of their planned new developments due to a 40 per cent cancellation in sales contracts for new homes, Supervisor Covington’s proposed moratorium should have the effect of countering the trend of record drops in home prices reported by CNNMoney and other market observers.

    They said they really enjoy doing business in Prince William County. One anonymous spokesman said, “its almost as if the entire Board of County Supervisors were sitting as members of our own Board of Directors.” The same spokesman said it was “unfair to characterize the solid alliance as corporatism. We prefer to use the term mixed-economy.”

    “It’s a classic supply versus demand scenario every soybean farmer and college freshman learns in Econ 101” said Horatio Goldberg, an economist with Dewey, Cheatum and Howe. Goldberg continued, “Although demand for houses has reached what we believe is the nadir, we hope Covington’s moratorium will enable us to hold the line on prices for existing, but unsold, new homes while we await market recovery.” “We have to have some breathing space to sell off this glut of new housing we’ve created,” Goldberg exclaimed.

    Reminiscent of the musical Annie, Goldberg then burst out with a refrain from “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.

    Supervisor Wally Covington denied his proposal was actually intended primarily to benefit the Deep-Pocket Mega-Developers. Covington said, “The purpose of my proposed moratorium is to give Prince William County some breathing space to catch up with construction of new roads and schools.”

    When asked what new projects will be planned or completed during the proposed moratorium, Covington responded “Well, actually there are no new projects planned, or expected to be completed, directly as a result of the moratorium.” Covington explained, “But, the moratorium will give County staff some much-needed breathing space.” “We’re all overworked, you know,” he went on to add.

    “If the moratorium also benefits the Deep-Pocket Mega-Developers, I’ll be happy to take credit for it. After all, I am a politician,” Covington proclaimed with a wide grin.

    Covington lamented, “Unfortunately, despite falling market prices for new and existing homes, we expect another 21 per cent average increase in personal property taxes again this year.” “The County government must continue to do its important work despite the loss of proffers and an expanding tax base.”

    Kim Hos’em-All, Executive Director for the Communist Party of Prince William County said her organization was preparing a lawsuit to seize all the undeveloped property abandoned temporarily by the Deep-Pocket Mega-Developers and have it declared as publicly accessible Open Space (whatever that is). Hos’em-All said “the acquisition of these blighted lands will go a long way toward establishing a much-needed trails system linking the entire County. RPAs on private property also will be declared as publicly accessible trails to fill in “gaps” in the system” she concluded.

    DEVELOPING…..

  • R.T. Molleur says:

    Mr. Settle:

    Well, once again you try to attack, disparage and berate me on an ad hominem basis (argumentum ad personam) by claiming that you ideological view is superior.

    In doing so you assume facts not in evidence (that a capitalist only wants to pave over everything so long as it is profitable) and you make assumptions about your position that not only are erroneous, but downright fallacious. I never said I wanted to build, build, build without recovering the costs for essential infrastructure.

    “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper.” — Robert Frost

    What you don’t understand Settle is that just because the County been totally incompetent for more than three decades in planning for, and managing rational growth in this County, it is equally wrong to swing the pendulum so far to the other side that it prohibits any growth at all (which is not what they REALLY want to do). Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Wally’s proposal will not curb the greed of PWC politicians – all it does (they hope) is give the appearance they are trying to do something about the lack of infrastructure.

    The fundamental issue Settles you fail to understand – is that nowhere in Wally’s plan is there ANY strategy whatsoever for providing essential infrastructure that you agree with him is woefully lacking.

    What makes him a Marxist is his insistence that more government is the solution. Government failure is what got us where we are today, and he wants more government? That’s hardly a rational conclusion. What makes you a Marxist Settle, rather than the moderate you claim to be, is that you eschew Capitalism, the heart of the economic engine that drives this great nation. There is nothing inherently evil about Capitalism or free enterprise in a well-regulated environment. Teddy Roosevelt busted the robber barons and the trusts.

    What makes you Marxist is that you say you don’t support redistribution of wealth but believes in higher taxes. Because tax schemes are so progressive, by definition they are paragon models for the redistribution of wealth. You are so confused, you don’t know what you really are. Of course, I wouldn’t want to admit that in my heart I was a politically Liberal Marxist either. Its worse than having syphilis documented in your medical records.

    Like many RINO’s sitting in Congress, you may consider yourself to be a Republican, but you surely are no conservative. But, neither is George Bush a Conservative.

    “Government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.”

    “Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.”

    “Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.”

    Ronald Reagan

    If Wally had wanted some room to breathe, he should’ve introduced his moratorium 2-3 years ago, when the housing industry was out of control, running amok. But, he didn’t. Wally has introduced the moratorium when the the housing market is depressed. Wally’s agenda is completely transparent, his proposed moratorium is designed to help the building industry, not to place rational curbs on it.

  • Dean Settle says:

    Poor Robert. A Frenchman trying to explain capitalism to me…
    First off, the account you cut and pasted is “Reprinted from Tongue-in-Cheek” If you need me to explain the term, I’m happy to do so.
    And in trying to align me with tax increases… (which I’d never support)and a failure to align those tax increases with the infrastructure required for all those new houses (which draw from .50 to .75 out of the county fund to put it with each dollar they just paid in), I’d say you are effectively showing your lack of a grasp on the subject matter.

    I need do nothing but provoker you, and you do the rest.
    :)

  • R.T. Molleur says:

    Freezing rezonings is an arbitrary and capricious act that violates equal protection and private property rights, constituting a taking without just compensation because it’s an en masse action based upon individual case thresholds that clearly affects land values. Moreover, it’s the action to delay a rezoning that could be construed as unconstitutional, not the act of rezoning itself.

    People have the right to petition the government – its in the Constitution.

    And, that includes rezoning requests. And they deserve a fair hearing based on the merits of their petition.

    To summarily reject all rezoning requests without consideration of the merits of the petition is unlawful.

    But it is not contrary to ones property rights to have a rezoning request denied, or amended.

    What is wrong is for the government to act capriciously.

    A lot of folks bought property in what is now the Rural Crescent with the hopes of some day developing it.

    Its all pivots on the issue of “reliance”.

    Generally speaking government should not impede economic growth – but they should establish provisions that treat all the players fairly and implement growth strategies in coherent and reasonable ways.

    Moratoriums and rural crescents are not reasonable.

  • RT….have you moved on yet?
    Trying to put words in my mouth hasn’t worked well for anyone who’s attempted it to date.
    which incidentally, in another month, we’ll be celebrating 2 years minus your “preferred” supervisors.

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