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2014-01-01 / Opinions

LETTERS

It’s time to raise the real estate tax

As citizens we have a choice. Do we want less service for less taxes, or not? I am tired of the cutbacks over the past several years. I would rather pay an extra $100 and get the decent services I want, and the citizens deserve.

I think too often our county government is lumped together with the state and federal governments when we look at waste and inefficiency. For me, the county is a negligible part of my overall tax bill, but a big part of the overall service I get from government. And I think the county is just about as efficient as you can get with the available resources. So I am bucking the trend and saying that now, a little more tax would be OK.

Peter Lipowicz
Midlothian

What were they thinking?

I have lived in Chesterfield for 20 years and witnessed the strip mall creep along the western ends of Hull Street Road and Midlothian Turnpike. It is a sad truth that money continues to control the future appearance along our major county roads.

The county code, which requires trees create a natural barrier between businesses and Hull Street Road, has been ignored time and again. For example, I wrote the planning director regarding the total stripping of trees on the forested lot where Pearson Honda is located and was told they were required to plant more than 100 trees along the roadway to re-establish the “natural barrier.”

The majority of trees planted are deciduous trees devoid of leaves from November to April and almost half of these trees have already died. Haley Toyota recently received a waiver to display vehicles along the roadway to increase visibility. Apparently this was not enough, so they proceeded to crop the natural pine barrier eliminating all branches but the very top of the trees. The county Code Compliance Office indicated Haley was given permission to cut some of the branches but went too far. Because pruning apparently didn’t “kill the trees,” nothing was done about it.

More tree destruction occurred with the stripping of hundreds of trees to accommodate the future Martin’s shopping center along Midlothian Turnpike across from Kroger. What was the Planning Commission thinking to recommend the development of a major competitor hundreds of feet from each other? It shows how indifferent the county is to permitting duplicate services let alone the questionable justification of need for identical services to exist in close proximity. I predict the natural barrier that borders the future Martin’s will give way to more cement. I also predict our leaders will fill in all natural areas from Martin’s to Route 288 by 2020, such as the eastern end of Midlothian Turnpike.

I propose just deleting this code because there is no enforcement as businesses continue to extend the strip mall mentality over preserving the beauty of the county. I would gladly pay more taxes to ensure a balance between preservation of natural surroundings and businesses. The only way this will stop is to elect officials who are not in the pockets of big business.

I recently moved from Birkdale to Charter Colony to escape the strip malls and congestion along western Hull Street Road. My current residence borders Woolridge Road, and I’m guessing Wawa, CVS, Walgreens, McDonald’s and the like will jockey to plop down cement and boilerplate buildings, along with a few maples and creeping cedar, to achieve yet another “natural barrier.”

The tree ordinance was intended to create a balance between business growth and maintain the natural beauty of the roads, but Chesterfield County has failed us. I just hope by the time the county ruins Woolridge, my time on this earth will be over.

Sandra Mitchell
Midlothian

Planning Manager Greg Allen responds:

“The county’s regulations seek to preserve trees along major roads. Many businesses have installed expensive retaining walls to save existing trees, but some sites have such difficult grading that replanting with new trees is the only option. If required trees in the front setback die or are removed later, citizens can call Code Enforcement (748-1500) to have the trees replaced. We appreciate citizens calling in such concerns. “Regarding competition in the marketplace, Martin’s Food Markets continues to invest in Chesterfield by upgrading existing stores and constructing new high-quality grocery stores that can compete with other grocery stores. At its Midlothian Village location now under construction, Martin’s is saving many of the existing trees along all three roads fronting the site, and installing new street trees as well.”

Letters can be emailed to letters@localnewsllc.com, mailed to P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer’s phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters should be limited to less than 500 words and may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit www.chesterfieldobserver.com and click on “letters policy.”

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