To the Editor:
After reading your article, “Mega Site gets positive response from businesses,” it’s no wonder residents fear getting involved in issues happening in their community.
You report how once the announcement was made of this planned Megasite, “That’s about the time the shouting began.” BARD, formed in 2006 to fight the Branner Station development, started to reorganize to once again provide citizens with information about this site that the county is failing to provide. To be called a “thorn in the side of the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority” wrongly dismisses the work this group is doing to ensure that government plans are responsible and necessary. If we as citizens aren’t questioning the decisions of our leaders, how can we make sure that their decisions being made are in our best interest?
When community meetings were originally held in August, Branner Station was presented as an ill-advised plan, the traffic would have been a nightmare for Chester, and it was actually a good thing the site did not come to fruition. This is exactly what BARD said before the plan was approved on a 2-1 lame duck vote. Yet now, they’re “shouting” about another ill-advised site that will have an even worse outcome for our quaint community.
You interview a resident who believes this project is needed for progress. I hope your readers note that that resident is planning to move away from Chester. In a later paragraph, you quote that Stephen Moret, the director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said “we will have a number of active prospects interested in the site after the rezoning.” How can anyone make that claim when we already have a large industrial site that sits empty in Chesterfield County and another site is not even at full capacity?
This industrial site will have 41,000 residents within a 5-mile radius. As BARD research has shown, the maximum number of residents within a 5-mile radius of any industrial site of this size in the country is 17,000. How is it responsible to have more than double that number of residents surrounding this site?
I would be interested to see the presentations the CEDA gave to the four business groups who have given their stamp of approval on this Megasite. Were the concerns of the citizens included in those presentations? Did those business groups speak to any of the 41,000 residents who will be directly impacted by this site, highway or rail line?
As citizens, we are not opposed to change. However, change has to make sense. With not one member of the Board of Supervisors or the un-elected members of the CEDA residing within a 5-mile radius of this site, it’s more than disconcerting when citizens who make up some of those 41,000 residents get chastised for speaking out.