Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Bobby Popowicz responds to concerns about the Corbin area
An email expressing concern about growth in the Port Royal district has circulated around the county and caused a bit of a buzz. Below is the email, and below that is a response from Supervisor Bobby Popowicz, who represents that district.
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PLEASE PASS THIS EMAIL ON TO CONCERNED CITIZENS
All residents of the Port Royal District should please call your supervisor, Bobby Popowicz (804-633-7044), and ask him to hold a well-advertised community meeting for the residents of his district, explaining his proposal for massive growth in our district.
The Caroline County Comprehensive Plan currently allows a mixed growth of housing, commercial and industrial on the Rt. 1 and I-95 corridor, while keeping most of eastern Caroline rural. Taxpayers have already paid to have the roads, septic and water set up in the Rt. 1 and I-95 corridor.
But for the past several months, Mr. Popowicz has been holding committee meetings with a small number of residents and one builder from Spotsylvania. This committee has a map and written plans suggesting major land use changes for the Port Royal District, which are as follows:
1) The Rt. 2 corridor from the Corbin area to the Villsboro area should be agricultural, but also allow such businesses as gravel mines, airports, garages, golf courses, professional offices, etc.
2) The Guinea area southward along the railroad tracks toward the Woodford area should be an industrial district with factories that manufacture all types of goods.
3) West of the Guinea and Woodford industries and stretching toward Rt. 1 should be high tech factories that manufacture such items as electronics, X-ray apparatus, laboratory apparatus, etc. This area should contain a support system for the factories that consists of public buildings, restaurants, offices, etc.
4) The Rt. 1 and I-95 corridor should contain commercial development (stores, hotels, offices, etc.)
5) West of Rt. 1 should be the same as #1 above.
Please call Mr. Popowicz and ask for a community meeting to be held very soon, for all the residents to view the maps and all paperwork of this land use proposal, which likely measures more than 100 square miles.
BOBBY POPOWICZ’s RESPONSE:
Dear Ms. Smith and Concerned Citizens,
I have read the letter that was distributed to various residents in the Corbin area. It is correct we have been trying to plan for the future in the Woodford/Guinea/Chilesburg Area. I want to make it very clear that all of the meetings were open to the public and minutes were taken. The meetings have always been advertised in the Caroline Progress. The forming of this committee was discussed by the Board of Supervisors in open session many months back. Furthermore, during the Board of Supervisors meetings, most of the time, the dates of the meetings were included in the community calendar portion of the Board of Supervisor meetings. I have held 2 community meetings in each precinct in the Port Royal District. I have mentioned the forming of this committee in most of those meetings. I would like to also fix another error in this letter. The phone number included is not my phone number. It is my parent’s phone. My phone number is (804) 633-1015.
What is most disturbing to me about a letter like this is the tone. It implies that the people on the committee are in some way trying to do something illegal or under the table. We have 2 people from Chilesburg Area and 2 from Woodford Area that are voting members of this committee. I also have a vote on this committee. Currently, we have taken no vote to proceed to the Planning Commission review. We have one at-large member who is there as a volunteer advisor because of his background and expertise. All the citizens on this committee are people that have lived in the County 10 years or more. Our at-large member recently moved to Spotsylvania County in January but still has a business here in Caroline County, grew up in Caroline County and has been on various other committees in Caroline County. All were chosen by me because of their leadership in the community and background. All are respected by most of the people in the area.
Furthermore, I want to clear up another fallacy in the letter. In none of the discussions has the committee talked about bringing large subdivisions to this area. However, we have talked about village type development under certain conditions within some of the areas. Let me make this very plain, the multi-use development scenario would have to go through rigorous scrutiny and be attached to a very large employment center.
I also would like to touch on the concept that we are proposing. We have used as our model, Rockingham County. This County is very similar to Caroline in many respects. They have rail, a major interstate, a large land mass that is under federal control, a major river system and two fairly well know cities to both the North and South. What they have achieved is getting employment centers like Casco Ice, Coors Brewery, Honeywell, Sysco Food Distribution and many others that provide living wage jobs. Rockingham has been able to maintain the rural character of the community by making these businesses set up campus style facilities. This makes it impossible to tell that there is any business development in the area yet they get the benefit of a good tax base, and employment for their citizens. It is obvious from the picturesque beauty of Rockingham County, that they have been very successful at this. The desire and vision of the committee is to mimic and achieve similar success so we can improve the quality of life for our citizens without destroying the natural and historic resources.
The prevailing philosophy in our Region (i.e. Spotsylvania and Stafford) has been to bring “Roof Tops” to bring successful economic development. It is my belief that many people equate what we are doing to that philosophy. I can say with conviction that I do not subscribe to that philosophy. In fact, that philosophy has lead to sprawl and traffic issues for the region. The retail style economic development does not bring living wage jobs to families and does not provide a stable economy. It is either feast of famine, just ask Spotsylvania County. If Caroline can become an employment center for the Region in same way as Rockingham County, then we can maintain our quality of life and preserve our resources more affectively. In my opinion, to do absolutely nothing and not plan properly will only doom this County to the same fate as Stafford and Spotsylvania. The idea is to provide a very stable economy for Caroline that is more insulated from economic down turns like the one we are experiencing. With our growing unemployment rate in Caroline, I have the obligation of doing everything I can to bring jobs to the area.
Thank you for allowing me to clear up some of the misinformation submitted to you yesterday.