Sullivan (on Blenheim) Looking for Grinch Award

dsewell writes: This week’s cover story in The Hook details another lovely imbroglio that Thomas Sullivan is getting into with his neighbors on Blenheim Road, in this case with the long-established Lower Sherwood Llama Farm. He’s not only grabbing their name, he’s demanding they remove their sign.

I’ll admit my bias on this story: I came to know Paige McGrath and her mother JoAnn through their work on the Wes Clark campaign (Paige’s “Llamas for Clark” walking llama signboard on the Downtown Mall was the high point of the local campaign). But politics aside, they’re good folk, active in the llama farming community, exhibitors at the county fair–basically, being good citizens of rural Albemarle. Whether or not the letter of the law upholds Sullivan’s actions, he’s playing the petty tyrant. (Of course, he’s hardly the first owner of a large estate in Albemarle County to be gifted with more money than scruples.)

27 thoughts on “Sullivan (on Blenheim) Looking for Grinch Award”

  1. I’m surprised "over development" is still an issue in the region. I thought the Charlottesville/Albemarle area sold out to developers a long time ago. Growth in the area has for many many years, been neither controled, organized, nor responsible. Why should this be any different?

    As for the Name use issue, and the similarities, there are probably a number of steps Ms. McGrath could’ve taken to protect and trademark her farm/business name prior to it getting co-opted by Mr. Sullivan and this newest Real Estate venture.

    And I suppose Mr Sullivan is only looking to fill the vacancy left by the late Mr. Kessler. Remember Virginia’s Golden Rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules."

  2. I know who Tom Feeney of Florida would like to give the grinch award to… Clint Curtis. Apparently a man who worked for a computer programming company has sworn on an affadavit that congressman Tom Feeney of Florida approached him and asked him to write software that would alter vote totals. The company’s machines were used in Florida, Ohio, and other states where pollsters are scratching their head and asking themselves.. How did we get it so wrong?(in regards to exit polls)

    What was just a remor going around on blogs around the internet has made its way into a professional newspaper… Seminole Chronicle of Florida

    I wonder who Feeneys Grinch award goes to?

  3. Since Green County is scheduled to get the Electronic/ Computer voting machines.. I think this is a subject that deserves further discussion, and it’s own thread.

    By giving up paper ballots people are willingly giving up their rights to a free and fair election. The Electronic Voting systems are *NOT* secure, and worst yet there is *NO* paper trail for the votes.

    The state of California determined there were too many flaws and security issues with many of their computer voting machines, and switched to an "Ink-A-Dot" system. It looks just like the punch card system, except instead of poking thru the paper, it leaves an ink dot on the spot where you voted.

    The Ink-A-Dot technology accomplishes two things, it removes the "hanging chad" issue, and provides and maintains a paper trail to minimize the issues of Fraud that you run the risk of with the computer voting.

  4. Actually didnt Greene county have a problem with their machines in the past election? I think they were voting on off track betting and initially they thought it passed only to find out that the electric machines were switching votes around. I just dont know why we should believe that it only happened with off track betting. On election night the exit polls actually had Kerry up in Virginia by a point or two but in the end Bush won by the percentage margin as he did in 2000. Now doesnt it seem just a little strange that even with all the new registrations among inner cities of Richmond, Hampton Roads, and even Charlottesville that the margin didnt close even a little from 2000? I know VA is red state but I find it odd that the margin didnt close at all from 2000. when a county like Albemarle gives its vote to a Democrat but the rest of the state gets redder, somethings wrong.

    I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I think these "irregularities" need to be looked into more. This isnt just about Bush v. Kerry its about our faith in our election system. If we are relying on faulty machinery and fraudulant I mean "irregular" voting systems what is the use of me voting?

    Im a Democrat, obviously. I think the Republicans are hypocritical at best, but we MUST make sure our voting system is 100% accurate. Why did the Republican congress reject a measure to have a paper trail on all electronic machines? Why did Bush say he didnt want any challanges in the courts when he is president because of a republican supreme court? Why did all of these "irregularities" only help Bush? Out of all the "irregularities" NONE helped Kerry, odd? Why is it that we demand a revote in Ukraine because exit polls showed the other candidate winning but in the end the other one won by a definite margin, yet when the samething happens in this country we are supposed to sit back and say oh its just a screw up with the pollsters.

    If you have no faith in your election system why vote? If you have no faith in your election system hasnt the platform for our system of government failed?

    In places like the South I expect even the poor to vote against their own economic interest just because they dont like the yankees up north (democrats) but come on! Ohio lost 200,000 jobs over the last four years why would they re elect him????

  5. CL,

    not to contune this debate because we all know you love doing that :P, but has ever occur to you the opposite could have happen. Like for instance, what if the exit polls were tainted. I am not sticking up for the ballot police but I was talking about how the exit polls were conducted and it was trying to favor Kerry instead of Bush.

    Everyone at my work was talking about that. Now do you what questions these pollster were asking. Were they done by an independant company with no ties to either party? If you say the ballot machine companies all had Reps ties, could it be possible the pollsters be all Dems?

    Think about it, if I was coming out of a voting booth and a pollster ask me who I voted for and I said Bush, what can stop these pollster from either not taking my answer or simply putting down Kerry? Also if these pollsters knew that if there a was strong showing for Kerry in the morning and early afternoon, that people who normally would have voted for Bush even bothering showing up if they knew Bush had no choice of winning.

    Basically what I am saying is that the makers of these ballot machines and both the pollsters could easily have a agenda.

    take a deep breath, let it slide! I know I would have if Kerry would have won. Hell I don’t care Bush won either.

  6. Actually I havent thought about it that way. I would humor the idea that pollsters had an agenda if it werent for all the "irregularities" with machines. In Greene County, VA machines were altering totals on off track voting. The machine in Franklin county Ohio that gave Bush way more votes than people who even voted, the fact that an extremely conservative 3rd party candidate recieved the highest share of votes in an inner city black neighborhood, the fact that 50,000 votes are missing from an Idiana democratic county. Then there’s Florida, Tom Feeney’s homestate and the home state of that disgraceful excuse for slum Katherine Harris ( I really think I hate her). In Florida there were areas where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1 that apparently gave Bush a huge margin. There is also the totals for Blacks in Florida. According to the results 15% of blacks supported bush. Now why would the support for this man increase in any state let alone Florida. Bush and the scum that is Katherine Harris threw out 50,000 minority votes and purged 20,000 blacks from voter rolls.

    All of these things make me very distrustful of our system. We have pathetic people like Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell deciding our elections.

    These two cheating lying coniving and dishonorable thugs committed voter suppression and they should be thrown into a deep dark and uncomfortable jail cell for a minimum of 8 years (8 for 8 years of Bush). You know what Katherine did but do you know about Blackwell? How he had 1 machine for every few hundred people in white rural and suburban aka Republican areas while having 1 machine for every THOUSAND or two in black inner city aka Democratic areas causing lines that lasted between 6 to 8 hours long all while it is pouring rain and having machines stored away in a warehouse being unused. On one college campus (democrats) the line was so long and the building was so hot that a girl actually passed out. Tell me this is not voter suppression and ill retract my statement about jailing him.

    Bush has nothing to worrry about however. The media is so afraid of being called liberal that they wont report on a landmark case. Moss V. Bush in the Ohio supreme court is attempting to overturn the results, but where is the media????? Then there’s the republican congress who I dont expect to do anything noble at all unless it benefits their cause.

    How dare we march around the world and proclaim that we inbody all that is democratic and just!

  7. You are getting it wrong here.

    In Greene County, the error in the off-track betting was because a clerk, a human, transposed numbers in a couple of columns in a ledger. The error was caught.

    This is not a conspiracy, nor machine error. It was a simple mistake and it was caught via normal checks.

  8. CL it sounds like Greene County Man knows what he’s talking about so I must ask you why you would say, as though it were an undeniable fact, that "VA machines were altering totals on off track voting."? My guess is that you made an assumption based on what you wanted to believe. Then you turned around and posted that assumption as though it were a fact. How many other times has this happened in your posts? some of the other things in this post may be true but I can’t count on it because I now suspect that you are not a very reliable source of information.

  9. Albemarle controls development. Wendell Wood is still fighting with them over Home Depot across from Lowes. The control effort may not be to your satisfaction but the county spends lots of money and time forcing anybody who wants to build anything to jump through all kinds of hoops. Go to an Architectural Review Board meeting some time and you’ll see what I mean. Charlottesville and Albemarle would look a whole lot different than they do now if there hadn’t been aggressive efforts to regulate developers over the past twenty years. It may be hard for you to believe but 29 would look a lot worse than it does now if there had been no control. Also, a lot of the homes that have been built in Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson would have been built in Albemarle instead. Remember, the county has limited legal authority. They can’t stop all growth.

    Mr. Kessler was a master at manipulating politicians like David Bowerman, that’s certain, but they still made him dance. I believe that part of the reason they cooperated with him, especially on Glenmore, is because he built mostly expensive homes that pay a lot in real estate taxes.

  10. just because you assume something because there might be some hidden meaning doesn’t exactly make it fact. You have given many examples of how voters in were turmoil because you assume they were going to be voting for Kerry. On that subject, I read somewhere that in Ohio many of these Pro-Kerry groups were going to black chruches and getting the people regristered to vote. However, a lot of them voted for Bush because they don’t believe in gay marriages. Whoops!

    Anyhoo, like I said it before who were the people conducting those exit polls. Heck, I could read somewhere online that could suggest it was the Michael Moore Cult or the MoveOn people who were the pollsters. Yet I don’t think that is fact though it would be really funny if they were.

    As for the mainsteam media not focusing on it, well they have the choice. They have the choice whether something is news worthy or not. Maybe they see this lawsuit as just another cry for attentation. But then again, you always have those fun Indynewsmedia that will print anything that begins with "Bushs again lies about…….". Oh by the way, I just love watching that Indynewsmedia program on public access at 9 O’clock in the morning. I like how they refer to the people killing our US troops as "iraqi freedom fighters" yet those people wouldn’t hesite in beheading innocents. Yea, that is a good way to paint a happy face on things.

  11. "Wendell Wood is still fighting with them over Home Depot across from Lowes"

    oh I heard a big rumor that Wal Mart is moving to the Hollymead Town Center and becoming a Super Wal Mart. And that Home Depot will be taking Wally World’s spot on 29. I heard that Wal Mart was thinking about moving to the Greene County border and building their super center there. Man that would be funny.

  12. I said it before and I will say it now… If I ever post anything that is wrong I will own up to it… Apparently I misheard the news. I found this on the dailyprogress

    "Tuesday’s referendum defeat initially was reported by Greene’s elections officials as a victory for Colonial Downs, but figures in Ruckersville Precinct had been reported in the wrong columns and the mistake was caught and corrected"

    So yes I made a mistake. I appoligize. I just guess I did hear something and interepreted in a way that I wanted to. Rest assured, however, I do not post lies. You find something wrong that I post and I will gladly cite it or admit Im wrong after you give me a source. I know im in hostile territory. Im dealing with a whole bunch of middle aged middle class southerners from red state VA so I never expect most of you guys to take anything I said to heart anyway. As for the Ohio irregularities here is the 15 page letter the Judiciary committee sent to Blackwell with 36 questions he has yet to answer..

    With all that said I will say chances are Bush probably did win. 51% to 49% that he won this thing fair and square without any suppression on the part of anyone. Karl Rove and co. did a wonderful job of dividing this country and making guys kissing the biggest issue. Nevermind the young people scattered around some dessert, or the declining value of the dollar, or the declining respect people have for this country, nevermind the fact that manufacturing jobs are being shipped over seas and jobs here are paying less although people are working harder. They keep bringing up this crap about low unemploynent, well my response is that not everyone can raise a family by working at Wal Mart or Mc Donalds. So I say to the South congrats. Your man will be in office for another 4 years and we will probably stay just as divided as we ever were. Southerners can call dems the uppity ynakees with no moral values.

    Excuse the ranting the website again is

  13. 29 North looks like a lot of places in Northern Virginia, and has for several years now. I don’t doubt that it could be worse, but the County of Albemarle started the control effort a way late in the game.

    In 1985 (20 years ago) the county of Albemarle was doing almost nothing to regulate growth, with the exception of limiting all commercial development to the 29 corridor and enforcing signage restrictions.

    The real roadblocks to developers didn’t start getting thrown up until the mid to late 90’s, when the real estate boom was in full swing, and it started to look like any "Green space" still left in the county was going to get eaten up with residential development.

    In my experience the Architectural Review Boards of every city I’ve ever lived are the bane of anyone wanting to build or change a structure.

    Unfortunately it seems like most developers in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area (and surrounding counties) don’t know how to build around mature trees, and put little or no effort in to Landscape Architecture. They clear cut an area, create a field, throw up the structures (residential or commercial) and toss in a few saplings as an after thought.

    As for Home Depot wanting to build accross from Lowes… that’s just seems like bad business to me to be putting two giant hardware centers across the street from one another.

  14. If you make sure that you’ve got your facts right first you won’t have to rely on the readers for fact checking. Instead of asking the rest of us to correct your mistakes you ought to check your own assumptions. I think we can all learn something by questioning our own assumptions and biases.

    You also are making an assumption about the other people posting on this page. We may not be exactly who you want to believe we are.

  15. And for what it’s worth…

    -51% is NOT a mandate.

    -Depending on who’s doing the analysis, fast food jobs have been counted as manufacturing jobs.


  16. "If you make sure that you’ve got your facts right first you won’t have to rely on the readers for fact checking." For Gods sake chill out. It was a mistake I wasnt posting false information intentially. Thats one damn mistake out of the whole time Ive been on this page. Excuse me for having a strong voice and opinion.

    "You also are making an assumption about the other people posting on this page. We may not be exactly who you want to believe we are." What are you talking about? Because of what I said about southern middle aged middle class people from red state VA. Sorry just going off of the general demographic of the greater Cville area. I thought the Cville area was predominanyly middle class, middle aged, and republican… Maybe Im wrong, but if you look at the general demographic from people in Culpeper, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Lousia, Greene, Nelson, Orange, etc. God this is riducoulous we went from talking about voting machines to me defending my discription of this area. Didnt realize people were so touchy on everything. Did you even read the PDF file from the Jud. Committee that I posted? The real reason we even got into this discussion?? You guys (sorry if Im generalizing too much for you again) are probably getting a rise out of this. I mean the insane liberal CL fianally posted something that he interpreted wrong.

    If I offended you Im sorry, again! I guess this is why Dems lost we have been so pissed off about things that we have started offending people. And now eventhough things are going pretty well for VA we will probably lose the governorship to a right winger Kilgore.

    Good luck with your further discussions. I post one thing that I interpreted wrong and I retract it and appoligize for it and I still get bagered for it. The hypocritical standards are amazing. Bush takes us into war on "faulty inteligence" that he interpreted wrong and causes us a messy war and 1200+ of peers lives but its understable. I post something that does nothing more than piss you off and I get badgered for it. These discussions are not for me. I need to discuss/ argue these things amongst my peers. I tried stepping into a new league by talking with older people. Happy I did but its just my time to stop. Too bad a 5 word phrase out of a page long post is why im leaving yet a president can get away with a sentence where he accused a country of aiding dictator with getting supply for uranium.

    This year coming up please consider everything when you vote for governor. Teachers and state employees are getting a raise, the VA economy is picking up steam, the state may have the resources to start a new college in south side VA and create much needed jobs in the region, we have a huge state surplus going into things like roads and financial aid to students trying to make a way for themselves in college. Sounds like the democratic governor did a damn good job.

    Good luck to all that you all do.


  17. What a whiney post! Nobody ever said you posted lies. Even so, it’s fine with me if you never post again.

  18. "These discussions are not for me. I need to discuss/ argue these things amongst my peers. "

    how are you going to argue anything when you surround yourself with people who agree with you all the time? you seem to be most upset by the fact that you have all these assumptions and beliefs about the voters of america which seem to have been crushed by the past election. so instead of accepting the possibility that maybe this country wanted bush to stay in the white house, you run back to your dormroom or your classroom where you have a bunch of people around you who think that it’s all a big conspiracy too. you don’t have to be a middle-aged republican to realize that professors and exit polls aren’t always going to be right. run away from the forum if you want. or maybe you should just open your eyes a little and realize that the view from the other side can sometimes be enlightening.

  19. This post is a lot different than your earlier one where you said that the county had not controlled development. A bit of hyperbole in the earlier post maybe? I think efforts to control development go back further than the mid 90s. After all, Mr. No Growth himself, Tim Lindstrom was elected in 1978 (I think that’s right). He had a lot of influence on the zoning ordinance that does control land use and was adopted in 1980. An upper level county employee told me that Guy Agnor told his department heads that they were to do everything in their power to stop moderate priced housing from being built in Albemarle. That was probably in the 80s.

    The county’s powers are limited. They can’t stop people from moving here, though they can contribute to the costs of living here making it more expensive so some people end up living elsewhere and commuting into Albemarle/Charlottesville. The county also has no control over the University of Virginia. UVa does not have to comply with local zoning laws. UVa created the University Real Estate foudation so that the county would have some control but that was just a public relations move. If Albemarle gives the Foundation a hard time they’ll just give the land that the county wants to control back to the University proper. The university is continuing to expand and that brings in lots of people. Some of the supervisors would love to stop all growth and they try their best to control it but they keep running up against state law, court decisions and the power of UVa. Anyway I’m curious, what do want the county to do and what do you think the impact would be?

  20. You got it exactly right here Madman. You won’t find any growth-stopping success stories in Virginia, primarily because of state law. In some states, the locality can do anything not specifically forbidden by the state. In other states (such as Va), the locality doesn’t have any power not specifically granted to them by the state – and the state hasn’t granted much. The county does what it can, but it can’t do much. So far, it has only managed to make albemarle real estate prices absurd, while pushing reasonably priced developments just over the line into neighboring counties.

    UVa is indeed above the law, but they haven’t done much to abuse the power. They seem to be pretty commited to staying compact by filling in gaps and replacing buildings. They also cooperate with the localities pretty often, even though they could legally just give them the finger.

  21. Dillons rule, which prohibits localities from enacting laws not specifically allowed by state law, is widely disliked and may be overturned in the not too distant future. I think that the rule is a good one and ensures some uniformity among jurisdictions in Virginia. If cities and counties in Virginia could enact any law they wanted to, there would be all kinds of differences in neighboring jurisdictions, differences that would probably actually increase sprawl and pressure on rural areas. Albemarle’s supervisors and Charlottesville’s city councilors have both shown a tendency to use their power over land use to increase the value of land, the cost of doing business and consequently the cost of living. The supervisors in particular do not want middle class people in the county. They are concerned about the bottom line and they believe that people with moderate incomes and children cost more than they produce in taxes. They have a hidden agenda of "exculsionary zoning" and they’ve gotten away with it, probably because the business people with the resources and cases to mount a legal challenge are making out like bandits themselves. Anyway, given their somewhat elitist direction and policies I would fear giving them more power, especially if I lived in a more rural and conservative neighboring county.

  22. What would I like the county to do and what do I think the impact would be? Can’t unspill the milk.

    I don’t have much complaints with UVA, based on my experience in other areas they’re handling their growth responsibly.

    My main gripe *was* with the uncontrolled residential development. I’ve pretty much given up on that issue as well. But you said it in the first sentance of your 2nd paragraph. People move here and make it more expensive for those that grew up here.

    When the real estate boom of the 90’s hit there wasn’t a house being built or a development being created where the homes for sale were under 200,000 dollars. Then across the board these homes were being marketed to more affluent people from out of area, (or so it seemed to me).

    I read an article several years ago, which described the effect of sudden development on the economy of small towns. While the article was talking about specifically about cities in Colorado, I think a comparison to Charlottesville is appropriate.

    What happened in a few of those cities/towns is that affluent Californians "discovered" a few of these smaller communities and thought they’d be great as vacation destinations or 2nd homes… so their is a real estate boom, and the price of land goes up.. but there’s also an economic change for the locals… the new jobs that this boom creates (outside of the construction trades and real estate industry)… are the low paying service industry jobs which cater to the towns new affluent residents, and of course the locals can’t afford to live in their own community anymore.

    At this point when I read an article or story about some local millionaire who decides to put up "yet another" housing development… I’m surprised people still get irked about it. Heck I’m surprised I still get irked by it.

    I’m resigned to one day having 29 north be ten lanes in both directions. At this point I just wish the developers would learn how to actually design houses, and use the spaces they’re spoiling more effectively.

  23. just curious…what indication is there that dillon’s rule may be overturned? i’ve always had the impression that the General Assembly treasures their control over localities.

    and why is va such an oddball in government? think about dillon’s rule, the relationship of counties and cities, the control over roads. i don’t know what’s better, but are we stuck in tradition or are their better alternatives?

  24. I agree that the state legislators like Dillon’s Rule but it’s my opinion that there is growing hostility towards the Rule among voters. Their influence may have some impact. The Virginia Association of Counties wants it changed if not eliminated, but then that’s nothing new. Their 2005 legislative platform includes this questionable statement, "Virginia is one of the few states that still adheres strictly to the Dillon Rule. The General Assembly should enact legislation that is more in keeping with the majority of states that have given counties, cities and towns greater local autonomy, particularly concerning land use regulation and local revenue measures." It’s questionable because according to the Brookings Institution, "Thirty-nine states employ Dillon’s Rule to define the power of local governments. Of those 39 states, 31 apply the rule to all municipalities and eight (such as California, Illinois, and Tennessee) appear to use the rule for only certain municipalities. Ten states do not adhere to the Dillon Rule at all."

    I say VACO’s statement is questionable because 39 or 31 is still a lot more than "a few". VACO does say " adheres strictly" and I don’t know enought to say if that is accurate or not, just questionable. The paper from Brookings looks interesting and I think it challenges some firmly held views of Dillon’s rule. Personally I think that the state should ensure that land use controls and local taxes are uniform and basically the same in all jurisdictions and that they are written and enforced in such a way as to minimize both sprawl and exclusionary zoning. If an area is growing they ought to be required to zone enough land for high density residential development to accomodate the projected population growth without significantly distorting the value of real estate. That’s my opinion anyway.

  25. i too read VACo’s info in the past, but didn’t realize the misleading/inaccurate definition of "few"

    i too would like to see the dillon rule relaxed, at least in the area of land use management. perhaps taxation wouldn’t be as important across the board if counties had the same taxing powers as cities. if the county had a cigarette tax and other revenue sources the city does, it would not have to rely so heavily on the real estate tax. an interesting note, (though i can’t verify this off hand) is that the cities’s cigarette tax revenue has decreased 75% since it was enacted. surely that many people haven’t quit smoking, i wonder where are all those people buying cigarettes?

    i’m very tempted to unleash a long spiel on gas tax (which onlt nova trans district has now to finance the metro) and transportation, but i’ll save it for now unless prodded. i’d imagine/hope we’ll have many a transportation discussion here with the GA session looming.

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