Editor’s note: On March 16, 2011 the Caroline County Planning Commission had a public hearing regarding a proposed special exception permit to allow the extraction of sand and gravel at Black Marsh Farm in Skinkers Neck in northern Caroline County. Here is a guest commentary from “notgilbertshelton” since I have been too busy to write anything about the hearing:
I want to make some observations about the comments made during the March 16, 2011, meeting of the Caroline County Planning Commission.
Gilbert Shelton, who spoke for the Caroline County Countryside Alliance, stated that the reclaimed area that was previously mined at “Flintsher” [sic] (evidently referring to Flintshire Farm) was not being farmed now. He claimed that “Joe [Holloway] told me no one will farm it.” Someone is lying because James Richard Garrett and his sons are farming that land. Mr. Shelton was really absurd when he suggested that Vulcan would “move their equipment out each year before January 1 so they would not have to pay taxes” on it that year. And he stated that there is no way that the county will receive almost $100,000 in tax revenue if Vulcan is only investing $2,000,000 at Black Marsh. Did he purposely misrepresent the fact that Vulcan plans on investing $10,000,000, which Vulcan had specifically stated prior to Shelton’s diatribe? Some banker he must have been. Mr. Shelton also referred to “the Raines” as “an elderly couple”. Was he confusing Jane Raines Kizer and her cousin, Jim Raines, as a couple? Mr. Raines (who lived on the land adjacent to Black Marsh as a child) is a widower and Jane Raines Kizer (who owns the land) is married to Wade Kizer. It pays to know your allies and not call them elderly when they are ten to fifteen or more years younger than you (maybe Mr. Shelton’s advanced years are the problem.) Mr. Shelton referenced the “Kelo case” at least twice in his speech. The last thing he said before he left the podium was to tell the Planning Commission, “Remember the Kelo case.” I have no idea how he thinks that the case about “the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development” pertains to this. Was his reference meant as some kind threat? (The situation in the “Kelo case” cannot be duplicated in Virginia. Kudos goes to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and also Senator Creigh Deeds for that.) Mr. Shelton has become the local bully since moving here. He uses lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits to try to intimidate the locals.
Nancy Long spoke, supposedly in the capacity of the mayor of Port Royal. (As an important note: some of the King George mines are closer to Port Royal than Black Marsh!) I understood her to say that “everyone who signed the [petition] list supporting Black Marsh Mining had something to do with gravel.” I know that there are signatures from people not having anything to do with gravel on those lists. Mrs. Long also expressed concern for the affect of the proposed mine on Haymount, which is laughable since she was an ardent protester of this development that received final approval on January 26, 1993. (And still has no houses.) But the most important thing was what Mrs. Long has not said: She has not disclosed that there is an ongoing lawsuit between her husband, Alex Long, and Albert Wachtmeister. Mr. Long filed a lawsuit against Mr. Wachtmeister for breach of contract in 2009. Mr. Long, while acting as Mr. Wachtmeister’s real estate agent, obtained a contract for the sale of some of Mr. Wachtmeister’s riverfront property near Moss Neck to Ennstone, Inc. (that is right, the sand and gravel company!). (This property is now in a conservation easement.) Could animosity from this lawsuit be fueling Mrs. Long’s zealous protests of Mr. Wachtmeister’s proposed mine? It is my understanding that she has gone to all the meetings concerning the Black Marsh Farms mining proposal including the work sessions with the county.
John Mitchell, who I think said he was from King George, was irate because he said if Black Marsh is mined then the mine might flood and he might not have access to White Marsh which he rents. White Marsh is lower in elevation than the proposed mine site so, duh, it would flood before the mine. As a side note there was some mention, I believe by Gilbert Shelton, of a “bird refuge” or “bird sanctuary” at White Marsh, which I find pathetic since Mr. Mitchell rents the land to hunt game and birds!
Vivian MacDonald who is ill and evidently cannot think clearly said that Vulcan and Mr. Wachmeister “are murdering me.” She said that she they “are basically holding a gun to my head.” She also said she “would not be able to open her windows” because of the mine. (She does not live near the proposed mine. She lives in Port Royal! And I reiterate, some of the King George mines are much closer to Port Royal than Black Marsh.)
John Lampman, president of the Portobago Homeowners’ Association, is worried about “the barges pushing silt into the channels of the river’s bays and creeks” so he proceeds to tell about the barge that went into Fredericksburg and got stuck in the sand and was fined for dredging the Rappahannock without a license. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I was on a 16 foot outboard ski boat in Fredericksburg a few years ago and we went a little ways above the city dock (but still below the Chatham Bridge) and got the boat stuck on a sandbar. We had to get out and push the boat and turn it around. The river is entirely different at Skinkers Neck than it is at Fredericksburg. (By the way, Mr. Lampman is considering running for the Republican nominee for delegate of the 99th District. I certainly hope not. That could make me support Catherine Crabill.)
There was a man (whose name that I did not get) who claimed to be an archeologist or knowledgeable in that field. He was concerned about Indian, and I think, colonial and antebellum artifacts on Black Marsh farm. He referred to “Townfield” at least twice and the “manor house and out buildings”. There has never been a home named “Townfield” in Skinkers Neck and there was never a “manor house” or “out buildings” on Black Marsh, only a farm house and a tenant house.
Mr. Tippett from the Friends of the Rappahannock went on and on about Canada geese and their droppings causing nitrogen and phosphorous in the river after Vulcan stated that the pond will be a closed pond. It will have no outlet to the river or any other streams. (There are at least five or six ponds and a lake in Skinkers Neck which all have outlets to the river.) Does he think that the geese that are here are notifying their pesky relatives in Canada to come on down as soon as there is another pond? Or are they just already here and breeding? Maybe Mr. Tippett should petition the Virginia Game Commission to lengthen the goose season and increase the bag limits and not pick on land owners. What next, land owners being told, “No pond for you!”
The caretaker of Senator and Mrs. Mark Warner’s property in King George read a prepared statement because Senator Warner was unable to attend. I did not agree with the statement but the Planning Commission gave the King George residents permission to state their views so they had that right, but I think perhaps Senator Warner should have someone else read his statement from now on. The caretaker’s petty, snide remarks that he added after he read the statement not only put the caregiver in a bad light but also Senator Warner. There was no reason to say something about how his “wife was a pretty good photographer” and that he “should have had her take some pictures of kids like the ones that were in the PowerPoint presentation so I could have shown them to the Planning Commission.” (Vulcan had shown some pictures of their community involvement in their presentation.)
The residents of King George need to stop moaning and groaning and take care of their own mines and landfill. (We had to put up with the methane smell from the landfill for a couple of years and it just recently got better. Some years ago we had to put up with the stench of the pigs at the meat packing plant. Did we go over and complain to the King George officials?) Do you realize that the mines in King George are closer to some of the Skinkers Neck residents than the proposed Black Marsh site is to Senator Warner’s house and some of the other King George complainers?
All the protesters need to get over it. Black Marsh is not their land. The deed does not have their names on it. We are supposed to be living in the United States of America not the United Socialist States of America.