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THEY CALL IT a "Comprehensive Plan" for a reason. For Spotsylvania County or any other locality, the plan is a universal blueprint for future growth designed to stand the test of time as county supervisors and planning commissioners--whatever their political leanings--come and go.
Maybe it's not an event of pivotal import that the Spotsylvania Planning Commission has voted to revise the county's mission statement, introducing the latest version of the Comprehensive Plan with language more often heard on the modern campaign trail. But, really, why go out of your way to whip up contention?
Here's the proposed statement:
"Spotsylvania families will enjoy a community that remembers and respects its place in our nation's history and builds on the principles of our founding fathers to provide freedom and prosperity through limited government, low taxes, and pro-business policies for the 21st century."
The previous statement:
"Spotsylvania County will be a leading Virginia community in quality of living and a leader in the region in sustained economic development."
Notice that "quality of living" has departed the revision, the basis for Commissioner Cristine Lynch's objection to it.
The new statement was offered by Planning Commission members Scott Mellott and Robert Stuber, both former county GOP leaders who were appointed earlier this year by the new right-listing Board of Supervisors, steeped like a tea bag in steaming anti-tax ideology. Of course they know that language which includes "limited government, low taxes, and pro-business policies" injects politics and invites discord. Mr. Mellott boasts, "That's just my political philosophy."
Evidently. But Mr. Mellott is an appointed county planning commissioner, not Spotsylvania court philosopher. He holds a position in which personal political bent has no proper place. A county's Comprehensive Plan does, however, directly affect the well-being of all county residents. It helps ensure that business lives harmoniously with nature and history and with community aspirations for public amenities. That balance is key to "quality of life"--a phrase, apparently, that Messrs. Stuber and Mellott find slightly sinister.
WHY THEY CAME
How odd. It's not news that Spotsylvania's growth over the past 30 years was fueled by families looking to improve their quality of life, in part by escaping sky-high taxes but also by enjoying good schools, nice parks, adequate roads, and safe surroundings.
The old French anarchists used to say, "Property is theft." The new American right seems to adhere to a different article of faith: "Taxation is theft." How else to account for this Board of Supervisors' decision, shortly after the new majority was elected, to sink regional plans for a toll road that would have relieved congestion on State Route 3 for decades? Or for its effort, defeated only because of one 11th-hour defection from the Anti-Legos Bloc (motto: "the fun is in the not building") to scuttle a planned sidewalk in the historic courthouse area?
Many of the Founding Fathers to be sure advocated a limited federal government, bequeathing future Americans the outrageously neglected 10th Amendment. But they did not wish to similarly hogtie the states, much less localities. There, citizens, through their elected officials, could improve public life and display community pride through the construction of schools, libraries, roads, concert halls, ball fields, and more. But somehow de Tocqueville got bushwhacked by Ayn Rand, Norman Rockwell had his identity stolen by Grover Norquist, and the insular mind-set of suburbia combined with the politics of selfishness to produce the likes of Spotsylvania's proposed credo "for the 21st century."
Whatever this is, it isn't conservative. Spotsylvania's new supervisors and planners, in battle with a mythical left, are in fact assaulting the best traditions of civic America. They oppose Washington, but fire their artillery straight up in the air. No wonder quality of life isn't in Spotsylvania's revised mission statement. It's taking cover in an underground bunker.