Saturday, August 25, 2012
Same old, same old?
As the Benedictine issue, which seems to be more about settling old scores than educating young men, continues to fester, it’s hard not to compare the situation to the Paws Inn matter. In both cases, zoning regulations seemed to be used for purposes other than orderly development.
In the four or so years since the notion of moving Benedictine Prepatory High School (BHP) from its venerable, but landlocked, location Sheppard Street in Richmond to River Road first surfaced allegations of all sorts have flowed freely.
Those in favor of the move contend that the school will enhance property values in the River Road corridor. Those against the move contend just the opposite.
During many discussions of the move, representatives of BHP cited its traditions of honor and integrity and pledged to be a good neighbor.
Last December, an eighty percent lame duck board of supervisors voted 3-1-1 in favor of granting the conditional use permit that BHP needed to proceed with the move. That vote followed a lengthy public hearing before an overflow crowd. Current Board of Supervisors chair Ned Creasey District 3 voted against the measure. Former District 5 supervisor James Eads abstained, contending that an outgoing board had no business voting on a matter that would unfold after it was out of office.
Land use regulations are tricky. Ideally, they are applied fairly to protect all parties involved. The can also be extremely complicated to enforce or can be used as a cudgel.
As the BHP matter moves toward its second round in Goochland Circuit Court – the first was dismissed because the judge found that no one had yet been wronged - the details of the dispute grow more opaque.
If the sole bone of contention that prevents BHP from completing its move is indeed construction of access lanes, it should find a way to comply with county rules. During the public hearing, BHP representatives waved its honor code and integrity while pledging to follow county regulations. If BHP operated on the premise that once a CUP was secured it could do as it pleased, that’s not going to fly.
On the other hand, the county should not pick every nit of the zoning laws to prevent the BHP move. It looks too much like the new board is granting favors to friends, one of the reasons their opponents were voted out of office. However, the county is obligated to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the citizens. So, it must stand fast to ensure that BHP meets its obligations.
There is just too much about the entire situation that is not, and probably never will, be widely known. That vacuum of information is being filled with personal interpretations.
Both sides must come together and find common ground to end this mess.
The supervisors need to resolve this issue because it is a distraction from the more important matters they must address. They must remember that perception is not necessarily based on fact.
If BHP really wants to move to Goochland, it too must do whatever is necessary to resolve this.
Goochland cannot be taken seriously until the drama ends.