Stealing my Job

   Written by on December 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

There are some people who are complaining about the Heartland Industrial Park and I am pretty upset about it.

Seventeen years ago (more or less) I was the original and only Heartland Park Objector. Prior to that I was the original and only Charlotte County Industrial Park objector.

During that time I attended Board of Supervisor Meetings and researched the project. I successfully blocked the rezoning for months and am responsible for buffer strips around the property and limited access to the property.

For those who showed up to the fight seventeen years too late Heartland is a fact. I wish you had joined me when it could have made a difference but at that time you didn’t care. I was the only person who ever complained.  Where were you then?

Most of my objections were personal. I was a NIMBY and the park joins our property. I didn’t want an Industrial park in my back yard.  I also had plans of buying all or part of the Hanmer farm that became the Heartland Park.

Although I was correct when I predicted it would be decades before the park would attract business I made the same prediction regarding the Charlotte County Industrial Park (CCIP) and was totally wrong. Not only is CCIP filled, several adjoining properties have been purchased and rezoned.  At least 100 jobs were created, some of which pay very well.

I still don’t like either of them in MY backyard but the county has benefited. In fact, my family has benefited since my wife works at one of these businesses.  There is something to be said for a one mile commute to work.

Seventeen years ago I complained about the amount of county money that would be spent and called Heartland a Field of Dreams.  I was wrong on both counts. No county money has been spent and with the groundbreaking for Forest-Pro, jobs are being created and Heartland is showing a profit.   To be fair, I believe I would have been proven wrong sooner if not for the recession of 2008.

The facts are simple. If you want to attract industry you must have an industrial park (just not in my backyard).  The days are gone when an industry is willing to build a factory without some local assistance. Laws, zoning, water and sewerage and ground disturbance are closely monitored by hundreds of laws and agencies.

In fact, without industrial parks there would be few businesses moving to Southside Virginia with the exception of retail. Anyone who attempted to construct a factory anywhere in Southside Virginia would be met with dozens of protestors who like me DON’T WANT THEM IN THEIR BACKYARDS.

Factories also require water, sewerage and most want access to a four-lane highway. If you don’t have what they want “They will not come.”

Factories like Virginia Crafts in Keysville that were built before I was born and before regulations were in place provided jobs and damaged the environment. Every kid who grew up in Keysville (and dozens of other mill towns) remembers Dye Creek. Dye Creek changed color almost daily. We kids collected mercury from the creek bottom.

Virginia Crafts financially benefitted Keysville and Charlotte County but I am glad there are regulations to keep my grandchildren from finding mercury in local creeks.

For the record, I am also opposed to grants from government agencies. I would like to see all grants removed. BUT if some agency is going to spend or waste taxpayer money somewhere it may as well be in Southside Virginia; but that is for another editorial.

In any case, Heartland was built in spite of my opposition.  No county money was spent.  Highways and entrances were built. Water and sewer were installed.  It is ready for more business.  If we have a work force they will eventually come.

For those of you who like to complain, I would suggest you show up before the fight is over. I could have used your help 12 years ago.

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