Last night, Fuvanna’s Planning Commission has approved Yet Another Power Plant; Buckingham approved Tenaska‘s plant just a few months ago. The Fluvanna plant, a project of Competitive Power Ventures of Maryland, will be natural gas-burning. In Austin Graham’s article in the Progress, he writes that “[t]he surprise Monday was not that Fluvanna’s Planning Commission gave its blessing to a much-criticized power plant proposal, but that so few people spoke against it.” About 20 people spoke against it at the meeting. The plant will be located just a mile from Lake Monticello. Construction begins in 2002.
10 thoughts on “Fluvanna Approves Power Plant”
Well, for starters, 20 people is a pretty good number of people to speak. But, more important, Buckingham taught everybody that speaking out doesn’t do a thing. The comments of supervisors (see the Progress article) further hammered home that citizen input was irrelevant. If you make people feel that their input is irrelevant, it’s likely that many of them will cease to provide it.
Ah, the wonders of a representative democracy. Where your opinion ceases to matter the moment after you’ve cast your vote.?
I agree that 20 people is a sizable number to speak at a Planning Commission. It is also a fraction of the crowds that showed up at other similar meetings.
I must protest your cynical assesment that “speaking out doesn’t do a thing.” That sounds like sour grapes to me. While my own public comments on the Free Expression Monument, the R1-A downzoning and the free trolley to name a few,failed to change things; I still believe in the power of speaking out to create change. I’ve also spoken out publicly and succeeded both with and without the support of the politicans and the public. I’ve sat in a packed meeting room for hours as dozens of suburban homeowners condemned a proposed subsidized housing complex that was to be built about a mile away. Only a handful of supporters spoke in favor but we won and the complex was built. When the county changed the law regarding single-wide trailers the scenario was the reverse. The room had about 75 people supporting the “deregulation” proposal and 10-15 opposed. It passed unanimously. It’s the issue that should matter, not the body count in the room
The governing bodies are there to do what they believe is best for the locality. If that is contrary to what the crowd in front of them supports they still should do what they believe to be right. It is a REPRESENTATIVE democracy not a pure democracy.
I must protest your cynical assesment that “speaking out doesn’t do a thing.” That sounds like sour grapes to me.
I don’t believe that speaking out doesn’t make a difference. But I do believe that the steamrolling of protesters on the power plant issue has taught a number of them that very lesson. I don’t believe that lesson to be valid, but I do believe that’s how many of them feel, as evidenced by the small turnout.
Just guessing here, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some of those who were opposed have changed their minds because of the rolling blackouts in California.
Yeah, but those power plants won’t be providing power for anyone around here. I think NIMBY-ism is justified when the people with the big bucks to sink into projects like this search the country looking for cash-hungry suckers like the powers-that-be in Fluvanna to take advantage of, rather than placing the power plants in the area served.
What “steamrolling of protesters”? Was the meeting not properly advertised? Were the opponents of the power plant not allowed full access to documents? Were the opponents cut off while speaking or denied access to the podium? As far as I know the Fluvanna County Planning Commission followed the required protocol. They just voted in a way you didn’t like so you resort to hyperbole by calling it steamrolling. It’s just more sour grapes. If they had been unfairly treated I would sympathize with them and would say that they were justified in believing that speaking out is a waste of time. They weren’t mistreated. They just lost.
I didn’t mean at the most recent Fluvanna meeting, I mean in Buckingham. Speaker after speaker came forward to speak against the power plant. And, IIRC, a similar process was held some months ago in Fluvanna…I think I remember lots of Lake Monticello people speaking.
At the meeting that I remember coverage of, many months ago, yes, everybody got a chance to speak. And nearly everybody spoke in opposition to a power plant. Many letters and columns were written, nearly all of which were in opposition. After all of this input, what happens? A vote in favor of a power plant.
I don’t consider that sour grapes. I consider that to be the people of the county speaking, and their elected representatives entirely ignoring them. If it had been a 50/50 split (or a 40/60, or even a 30/70 split) in speakers and letters, I’d say, hey, it was obviously a tough issue. But in that case, I’d say that the citizens pretty plainly weren’t interested in having a power plant. If I lived in that county (hell, if I could remember which county it was :) I’d be pretty outraged.
In spite of the role of polling in our elections we don’t yet have government by popular opinion. The elected officials have an obligation to do what they believe is right even when 100% of their constituents are opposed to it. Anyway,the number of people speaking for or against an issue is not a reliable indicator of the majority opinion. If people want government by public opinion then they can elect people who will do what the majority want regardless of anything else.
Agreed in all respects.
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