National Heritage Areas: A Debate Among Virginians

In writing us today, Mr. David Spearman (letter below) doesn’t indicate which article he’s writing about, but based on the context and the reference to Chancellorsville, I’m assuming its this one, or one of our other recent articles about the “Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act,” that several federal-level politicians, including Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Senator George Allen (R-VA), are promoting.

I always find it interesting when “property owners” are cited in articles like this. Let’s look at the truth, when you say “property owner” what you mean is developer. Developers, especially in northern Virginia, have a rapacious appetite and zero concern for the effect of their deeds. The reason the Chancellorsville corridor is so congested is because a lot of developers decided to knock over every tree in site and name the new streets after them. Then they have the effrontery to claim local and state governments are lacking in concern for the new residents because they won’t provide more and larger roads and other infrastructure. The truly sad thing is as soon as the locals give up and satisfy the developer’s demands the same developers use the newly expanded infrastructure as an excuse to build even more. Frankly I wish all you developers would go some place where people don’t give a damn about quality of life. Several places come to mind, one being very warm.

David Spearman

Based on his email address, it appears that Mr. Spearman works for the government of Henrico County, Virginia. Henrico County regulates development. I’m sure it is the case that not every Henrico resident agrees with every Henrico County planning decision, but is it really reasonable to believe that the citizens would find government more responsive on local land-use decisions if the federal government increased its involvement in the planning process?

My take on that is no. In the vast majority of cases, an individual citizen is able to exert more influence on small, local governments than he can on the federal government.

As another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, wrote in 1816, “…The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.”

In our view, local land-use decisions are best left in the hands of local governments.

P.S. As to to thought that we are developers — no, we’re a non-profit think-tank. (If so inclined, see the last four paragraphs of this post for information on the extent of our financial support from developers.)

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.