…Buy it at the market price and pay taxes on it. Otherwise quit your bellyaching.
I’m so tired of preservationists, whether environmental or historical, weighing in on some poor landowner’s efforts to sell a parcel that at one time was farmland and now has little value for farming to a developer, whether for a housing subdivision or shopping center.
Here in Virginia both environmental and historical land grabs are always in the news. Now Walmart wants to build a store near a Civil War battlefield called Wilderness. Preservationist, including Ben Stein, writing in The American Spectator, whine that:
This battlefield is incredibly important environmentally and historically and emotionally. It reeks of the blood of men fighting for causes they considered sacred. How can it possibly be that it will be used even in part for a Wal-Mart Super Store?
Maybe that’s because it’s unused farmland that has litte value for anything else. And, in a free society we let the market decide what something, like land, is worth. I think Stein used to believe in old ideas like capitalism and free markets.
If every piece of ground that a Union or Confederate soldier walked on was preserved, the entire Commonwealth of Virginia would be a giant historical park. The War of Northern Aggression was largely fought right here in Virginia. I live in a small town on the border of Northern Virginia and the rest of the state. The war was fought all around my house, neighborhood, town, county and region.
You can’t go far in this state without traipsing on some historically sensitive yard of real estate. Also, given that European settlers arrived here more than 400 years ago that’s a lot of potentially “sacred” ground.
There is plenty of other land in the area that is not historically sensitive.
But that land is not for sale, and even if it was there’s no doubt a privy hole or slave quarters or something that someone at some time in the past four centuries has done something on, that some one or some group will decide is historically significant and worthy of preservation. One of the few types of farming that continue to thrive in modern Virginia is the planting of historical markers.
There is ample precedent for commerce to be informed by national emotion: Top brass at Walt Disney canceled its plans for an amusement park at or near the Battlefield at Manassas when its attention was drawn to the vital historical nature of the area some years ago.
Oh yea, let’s talk about the third Battle of Manassas. Disney did indeed cancel its plans for a giant amusement park that including housing developments, golf courses, shopping centers galore, new roads to handle the traffic, schools and other amenities required for growth.
Yep. The preservationist killed Disney’s plans.
But guess what? The development still came! On that same hallowed, blood-soaked ground that Disney would have desecrated is a colosal hodgepodge of high end golf course communities, town homes and shopping centers galore, without the needed roads, schools and other amenities.
Oh sure they’re widening the roads now, and schools have come along as well. But the point is, the effort to kill Disney didn’t stop the development, only delayed it and created a traffic nightmare that would have been avoided had Disney’s comprehensive plan been approved.
And on top of that, it all arrived with nary a peep of protest from the no-growth crowd that cried blood murder over Disney.
I don’t particularly care for Walmart. Sure their stuff’s cheap (yea and I buy groceries from there), but for the most part you get what you pay for. You want cheap squirt guns for your kid’s summer birthday party? Walmart’s got ‘em for a buck each. Trouble is for $20 you might end up with four that actually squirt water. You get what you pay for.
Back to the Wilderness Walmart, I don’t care whether or not the unused farmland/historic battlefield/potential golf course community becomes a giant Walmart parking lot.
But for those who do, why don’t you raise the millions that Walmart will pay the owner for the land and buy the parcel yourself? Quit using the power of the state, or in this case the county zoning office, to restrict the lawful owner from disposing of the property legally in the way he wants and restricting a lawful business from expanding in the way it wants.
And after you’ve bought the land, how about raising a couple billion more to give the county for the lost sales tax revenue that Walmart would have provided. Oh and while you’re at it, maybe you can hire a couple hundred local folks, dress them in Civil War uniforms instead blue Walmart shirts, and have them stand around looking historical.