( – promoted by lowkell)
As January turned to February and the Virginia General Assembly’s fourth week draws to a close the atmosphere in Richmond has turned as bizarre as the weather. In a week that saw temperatures range from the 30 degrees to 70 degrees, we saw Tea Party protest outside of a Republican Committee Chairman’s office and the normally polite proceedings in the committee meeting turn into a sideshow reminiscent of the town halls from August 2009.
At this point you may be asking yourself what issue would get people this fired up.
Was it gun control? No.
Was it abortion or gay rights? No and No!
The issue that has crawled under the skin of Virginia’s Constitution Party and the Virginia Campaign for Liberty is smart growth. That’s right folks, the good people from the Tea Party have decided that smart growth and sustainable development are an affront to American freedom, and it all played out with Delegate Bob Marshall’s HB1721.
House Bill 1721 seems innocuous at first glance. Delegate Marshall simply wants to make urban development areas (UDAs) optional rather than mandatory. The problems with the bill are many, but I’ll only hit the highlights. First, urban development areas were born from the need to lower maintenance costs for roads and sewers and better connect Virginians homes with their works. The benefits of UDAs are that these areas reduce demands on our roads (stretching the tight transportation budget), provide opportunity to redevelop abandoned areas of town and can have the effect of creating a sense of community.
If you weren’t aware those benefits are apparently an international conspiracy. That’s what the Tea Party folks have been protesting. They think that energy efficiency, conservation and preservation are schemes to take away personal property and create a world with population limits.
Unfortunately, a majority of the politicians on the Cities, Counties and Town Committee of the House of Delegates seem to agree as HB1721 was reported from committee this morning by a vote of 11-10. Many within the Tea Party will view today’s results as a victory of their ideals.
If we see the same results on the floor of the House and in the State Senate many Virginians will pay the price. See what the Tea Party does not tell you are that when we scatter development our roads suffer, we sit in traffic longer and our open spaces disappear.
That’s not the Virginia I want to see, and I hope it’s not the Virginia that a majority of the General Assembly wants to see either.