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An Apology?

March 25, 2010 Dear Editor Comments Off on An Apology?

Let me first clarify that I serve on several Boards, Committees, and yes, I am an appointed member of the Purcellville Planning Commission for which I receive $1,800 (before taxes) annually. I personally would serve on this commission without any compensation, but State Code does not permit that, so, all public monies I have received for the past decade to date for my community service I have donated to charity. I also have never requested nor have been paid for legitimate out-of-pocket expenses for my community service as I view this as volunteer work.

When I speak before any public forum, unless otherwise identified, I comment as a “regular” citizen. Further, when and where it is required to sign-up for public comment, I indicate that I speak for “self”, unless otherwise identified or stated.

As to my February Town Council public comments I must apologize for my selfish, inconsiderate, self-important and bullying behavior in defending my family’s health, safety and welfare from the incessant cut through and speeding traffic in my “turn-of-the-century” neighborhood and my adjacent neighbors on 9th Street that occurs at all hours of the day and night virtually making the situation unlivable. As a town resident of 30 years, I should have displayed more tolerance and followed the example of Ms.
Rosette who would not be a hypocrite if incessant cut through and speeding traffic at all hours of the day and night was occurring in her Hirst Farm neighborhood.

I also should not have been so blissfully ignorant and insensitive not to realize the empathy that some Hirst Farm residents have for the owners of Crooked Run Orchard Farm as Hirst Farm too was “split” by an un-necessary road – Rt. 690, which only brought more development (including the 240 homes now occupying what was [Hirst] farm land) and more traffic into and out of town. As we all know, farmland lost, is farmland lost forever. I can now see that some Hirst Farm residents have every right to protest the completion of the SCR even if it was a requirement for the build-out of their community and three other communities; Locust Grove, Brown’s Farm and Case Farm as well as use any road they wish for their convenience.

In the end, we are all neighbors; I don’t cut through your neighborhood, please don’t cut through mine. Please treat with respect and keep safe our Maple Avenue/9th Street neighborhoods as you would expect the same respect and well being of your own neighborhood.

Bill Druhan

The Taco Bell Echo

April 24, 2009 Dear Editor Comments Off on The Taco Bell Echo

April 24, 2009
Guest Opinion
By George Dahlman, Purcellville

The Town Council meeting to approve the Purcellville Taco Bell drive-thru was distinguished less by debate on the fast food restaurant than by huffy indignation in defense of former mayor Bill Druhan; who had characterized Taco Bell opponents as “not-in-my-backyard” (NIMBY) elitists with the gall to question the integrity of the town management. My my! So much for diplomatic leadership.

The rant was in reaction to some who had wondered aloud whether some hanky-panky wasn’t involved in this approval process. And appearances certainly suggest some “accommodation” at the very least. The developer and franchisee had been angling to build the Taco Bell at Hirst and Hatcher. Unfortunately, the proposed zoning plan for that area did not allow for a stand-alone restaurant, let alone one with a drive-thru. But somehow – miraculously – when the plan was adopted by the Planning Commission and Town Council it included a 15 percent set-aside for stand alone restaurants. The developer and franchisee now had their “by-right” restaurant – but needed a special exemption for the drive-thru. That has now been approved. So we’ve gone from having no stand-alone restaurants at all in the corridor to drive thru fast food joints.

What’s wrong with this? It is that the developer’s desires drove the planning process; not the other way around. It exposes the hypocrisy of a planning process intended to improve the quality of life for Purcellville residents and the complicity of town officials in its compromise.

In approving the special exemption for the drive thru at the Planning Commission, Mr. Druhan made the courageous observation that they had no choice; Virginia state law protects “by-right” development. There are two problems with that. First, the “by-right” status of the restaurant was a fait accompli after the Planning Commission rolled over on the 15 percent set-aside. Second, Virginia state law does not require municipalities to approve special exemptions. To claim otherwise is disingenuous.

As to whether there were any real shenanigans in this story, Town Council members would righteously have you believe that critics are accusing them of personal corruption. No one, to my knowledge, has actually made that charge. Nor is it likely – or necessary. The influencing and bending of public policy is a much more subtle art form that begins with “relationship development,” and continues with civic favors and contributions – to the town, to be sure, not the politicians. It nevertheless ingratiates the town leaders by making their life easier. So when there’s a need for a slight edge to consummate a business deal, the applicant has access to a sympathetic audience. As a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, I know this game. And the developer in this case also knows how to play it.

The price paid by our community goes beyond hodgepodge development, and strikes at the heart of public trust. The Town leaders would tell you – and may believe themselves – that they are not so influenced. But if that’s true, when they adopt a plan – they need to stick to it. Even when good citizens and friends ask for a little “accommodation.”

Step Aside

April 10, 2009 Dear Editor Comments Off on Step Aside

April 10, 2009

I would address you as Mr. Mayor, but frankly you don’t deserve the respect after your editorial submission. Reading your article calling your former constituents and Mr. Corn, and now fellow citizens, “self-important, self-centered, selfabsorbed, elitist NIMBY and his likeminded neighbors” is reprehensible at best. As those who taught me growing up, it takes one to know one; except I would add ignorant and arrogant to your repertoire of characteristics as they go hand-in-hand. I have asked for the meeting minutes for the last Town Council meeting where this potential development was discussed in depth but they still aren’t posted or available. Nothing like the speed of Government on such an issue that citizens are paying attention to. During that meeting a presenter in favor stated that while it is known that such an establishment so close to residential properties would have a negative effect on property values, that wouldn’t happen in this case. Where’s the data to support that nonsense? Given your recent published statements you must also subscribe to this foolish concept so show the data. After the heated debate, did the Town’s leaders go and talk to the concerned citizens? No, rather they ran right to the developer and shook hands, I mean coddled with him. So you want to track money? It’s quite easy to track our leaders loyalty. Just attend a local business dinner and see who sits at their table: the same developer.

Ryan J. Cool









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