Noise politics in the Valley
For the past couple months, a fierce debate has arisen over a proposed motocross/Xtreme sports complex at the Augusta Expoland complex near Fishersville. The developer, Terry Argenbright, applied for a special use permit and held a demonstration at the site a few weeks ago, hoping to convince neighbors that the noise wouldn't be too bad. Some pro-motocross advocates argued that the noise wouldn't be much different than the Pegasus ambulance helicopters that often land at Augusta Medical Center, just across I-64. Former Augusta County Supervisor Tom Sikes made a strong endorsement of the proposal, saying that the County-owned Expoland needs the money and might have to sold to private investors otherwise, in which case the County would have less control over it. Last Thursday, the Augusta County Zoning Board approved Argenbright's request by a vote of 3-2. According to the News Virginian , "Zoning board members were evently split in their vote. Chairman Steve Shreckhise and member George Coyner III voted against the permit, while Charles Swortzel, Daisy Brown and J.W. Callison, Jr. voted in favor." Hat tip to Beth Lumadue, who wrote a letter to the editor of the News Leader opposing the motocross track on January 29.
Then at a secret meeting on Monday, the Expoland board of directors shocked everyone by voting against the proposal, leaving the Argenbrights feeling "blindsided." See the News Leader. This was a huge relief to the local residents who treasure their relative tranquility, but this story is not over yet -- not by a long shot.
Even though I'm not a fan of motor sports, I think there ought to be a suitable venue for that sort of thing somewhere in Augusta County. It has many square miles of remote land where the only beings affected by the noise would be livestock, but such a location might not draw enough customers to be commercially viable. Perhaps in one of the industrial areas near Waynesboro or Stuarts Draft...
Even right here in Staunton, the noise created by off-trail recreational vehicles on certain large private tracts of land has caused annoyance. It reduces our quality of life, and may even disrupt the breeding cycle of birds and other wild animals. We ought to find a compromise where everyone's rights get due respect.
DEEP THOUGHT: When teenage kids are zooming about in gasoline-powered dirt bikes for the sheer fun of it, can anyone really say that the price of gasoline is too high to afford?
Facing a serious challenge from Democrat Sam Rasoul this year, Congressman Bob Goodlatte is gearing up for the fall campaign. He spoke at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport earlier this week, but only a few reporters and one blogger (Steve Kijak) were there. See Augusta 4 Goodlatte. Goodlatte is a very solid conservative and is highly respected for being decent and attentive to his constituents' concerns. The local Democratic blogger "Kestrel" (Cobalt 6) has been harshly mocking Goodlatte for his strong stand on Iraq and other things, but that rhetorical approach is not likely to win many votes for Rasoul. To me, nevertheless, it's a good thing that the Sixth District seat is at least being contested by the Democrats. Because of redistricting gimmicks, too many House seats have been made non-competitive, which undermines voter interest in our political process. Any capitalist would agree that competition is a healthy thing!