Editor: The Town of Middleburg used to be known for conservation, but those days are long gone. For the past seven years, it has been known for Salamander Resort. For the next seven years it will be known for country condos and weekend McMansions. This comes as “Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton unveiled proposals to expand the Town’s boundaries and build 126 new homes, billing it as protecting the town… and creating affordable housing.”
If you are going to open the floodgates to the suburbanization of Middleburg with the “farmdominiums” at Blackwater Farm, at least have the guts to admit that your objective is to increase the tax base, in part to justify your new $9 million dollar Town Mahal.
Spare us the “lesser of two evils” logic. If you wanted to stand up against development interests, you would just do it. The Citizens for Fauquier did in Upperville when they stood up against the Easton Porter Group’s expansion of the Blackthorne Inn. The Aldie Heritage Association did when they stood up against the county’s insertion of a fire station in the middle of the historic village. These citizen groups actually cared about conservation.
You play us for fools with the whole “we are doing this to protect the town” rhetoric. We know conservation implies opposition to development, not control of it. Those who care about conservation don’t say, “hey, hold on, let’s control this development together.” Even if the build is supposedly inevitable, you sacrifice pragmatism and put yourself out in front of it.
By-right use or not, if you wanted to oppose it, you would. You would at least make it more difficult for development to occur. You would have the stomach to say “no thanks.” You would go to the county and say, “we oppose this project.” You would encourage the citizens of Middleburg to voice their opposition. Instead, you put on a pro-development theater at Hill School. As one resident put it to me, “he should have won an Oscar for that performance.”
Of course, you are going to say that “this will be the last development.” I am sure it will be, until there is a proposal to demolish the beloved Fun Shop property and replace it with a hideous mid-rise, or turn east Federal Street into another kitschy country Frankenstein.
When Littleton—the son-of-a-developer—initially ran for mayor, he had a whole “Preserving Middleburg” act. He said, “I am committed to being a champion for Middleburg with the county to stem development… Middleburg’s authority is exclusive to our town, but our influence must carry beyond… (we must) make our voices heard.” Four years later, he has indeed made his voice heard, as a ventriloquist throwing his voice to dummy an audience.
Vincent Bataoel, Middleburg