Grapewood residents gathered once again to protest Brookside development’s plans to take over the small subdivision’s main street for Brookside homeowner’s use. This time the meeting took place at 10 Hotel Street in Warrenton with the Board of Supervisors.
The first meeting on September 5 was arranged by Scott Palmer, president of the Grapewood Homeowners Association, and led by Wes Kennedy, vice president of Brookside Communities, LLC. It was a fiery one with indignant rebuttals and passionate objections to the unexpected and unwarranted intrusion into their small community. Unsympathetic and unyielding, Mr. Kennedy quickly let the audience know that Brookside could legally use their road, and they were going to.
A major point of argument was the promise made years ago to new homeowners by the Grapewood developers—future development could not and would not impact the Grapewood community. Residents felt that surely it counted for something. But this argument was promptly dismissed by Scott District Supervisor Holder Trumbo: “Do you have that in writing?’
Well, no. Back then, a man’s word was his bond.
So on to the Supervisors. The consensus at the end of the initial meeting was that the Board of Supervisors could stop this plan— they would stand for justice and do what’s right for their hardworking and loyal constituents. Brookside bulldozers would not be allowed to invade their neighborhood and commandeer their road.
Citizen’s time with the Board of Supervisors started at 6:30 p.m. As expected, Grapewood homeowners arrived early, filling most of the available chairs in the room with an overflow going upstairs to watch on television. Their faces were serious—some stern, some worried, old and young. This meeting was about their lives and their future, their safety and peace of mind. The passionate protests had become determined resistance. No way was this going to happen.
The Association president, Scott Palmer, spoke first. He politely addressed the supervisors, introduced himself and made an opening statement. It was short and to the point—everyone in Grapewood is opposed to Brookside’s plans. The road should not be extended and their subdivision should not be opened up to commuter traffic.
Speakers, one by one, revisited the concerns and criticisms brought up in the first meeting and expanded upon them.
All in all it was a good showing for the Grapewood folk—they were polite, well-spoken and reasonable in their requests.
But there must have been some disappointment on their part—none of the supervisors commented or asked any questions except, “Did you sign in?” No discussion, perhaps no interest. The presentation took ten minutes of the supervisors’ time; then it was thank you and goodbye.
But the struggle will continue. The people of New Baltimore have faced down supervisors and developers before. It wasn’t too long ago that a resolute homeowner from Lakewood Drive led the fight against the 400-home Waterfield Development and against Scott District Supervisor Larry Weeks who supported it.
And then there was the fight against another Scott District Supervisor Bill Downey who fiercely promoted the construction of a high school off Dumfries Road and inexplicably aligned himself with a proposal to build a Costco practically in his front yard. (Or maybe it was explicable.)
Emir Farms has come and gone and Bishop’s Run has come and gone—and come back as Brookside by another name. Revitalization of New Baltimore was expected with the county’s acquisition of Vint Hill Farms Station, but the Vint Hill EDA failed and no jobs and prosperity ensued. The challenges never stop, but the people remain steadfast in their dedication to New Baltimore and its comfortable way of life.
They understand that county government has designated this area as a service district. They do expect growth, but growth that is consistent with the service district itself. It’s a largely rural area consisting of farms, houses dotting the roadside front of farms, and small subdivisions—Grapewood, Broken Hills, Rock Springs, Sleepy Hollow, Lakeview Trace, Lakewood, South Hill—just to name a few. All fit into the character and history of New Baltimore. Even more, they must. It’s a requirement of the county’s draft plan that new development be designed to utilize existing development patterns.
In view of that condition, how could the Board of Supervisors legally approve Brookside Communities, LLC, which does not come close to utilizing existing development patterns? Its literature from 2008 describes it as “a planned community in Fauquier County on the DC side of Warrenton, situated on over 1,000 acres…with over 250 estate homes already occupied.” Estate homes? Nothing else like that exists anywhere in New Baltimore. The obvious difference can be seen by a short drive down Riley Road beyond Brookside Communities.
Our Fauquier County government did not only fail to meet that requirement—it is also failing to comply with the following constraints:
Members of the Board of Supervisors meet regularly with Brookside developers (who are appointed to all the decision-making committees), but not their constituents. Perhaps this alliance explains how Brookside can consider a mugging of Grapewood which will straight-out devalue their homes, scare its elderly, endanger children and pets, pollute the neighborhood, and divide the community with a stream of commuters.
Mind you, this is not the first road-building project to benefit Brookside homeowners. Our very own Community Development, in its January Draft Plan, put in place its own idea for taking private property for Brookside roads. Without consulting any of the property owners, the Director of Community Development earmarked a parcel of farmland, a private street, and a subdivision’s community area for a connector road. This outrageous land grab was stopped only by quick response from homeowners and bad publicity for the county.
But Brookside developers know that persistence and time and connections pay off. Grapewood is not the end of the story.
Connectivity through Rock Springs Subdivision is also on the list.
So it’s not over yet, is it?