Hello all. I rarely diary anymore but there's something of a soap opera going on right now in Prince William County Virginia. This latest chapter is especially troubling, but it's happening in the context of a longer story, where conservative, tea party-friendly, Prince William County Virginia is using mother nature as an excuse to level a low-income housing area of primarily Hispanic residents. More over the jump.
Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is your standard, anti-immigrant, tea-tackular low-level Republican. His district contains the fairly notable DC Metro suburbs of Manassas and Woodbridge, in addition to other areas. Prince William County is populated increasingly by minorities and low income constituents (as cost-of-living continues to rise in the DC metro area), upsetting the 50's -era picket fence sensibilities of folks like Stewart.
The prickly Stewart, since announcing his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor, has become more and more adamant about displacing minorities from his sleepy little hamlet in true "lets take our country back" style.
This brings us to the Holly Acres Trailer Park.
After Tropical Storm Lee pummeled Northern Virginia in September, it was immediately clear which community in Prince William County would have the hardest time recovering — Holly Acres Mobile Home Park in Woodbridge.As subsequent news reports and legal decisions made clear, Holly Acres was not too damaged to repair. What it was, was full of "those people". To be sure, the park is in a bad location, one that can flood depending on certain conditions. There's a railway company involved, and they may or may not need to do some maintenance that hasn't been done. But there's a way to utilize the area.
Last week, the county Board of Zoning Appeals reversed those decisions. The board unanimously ruled that state law overrode the county’s rules regarding the rights of a property owner to rebuild after a flood and that the county used the wrong guidelines to make the decision. The board’s decision also allows the property owner, Henry Ridge, to rebuild units in the park.
The county entered only two mobile homes to look at the damage before deciding that all 63 in the area had been damaged by more than 50 percent of their assessed values — the trigger for allowing demolition, according to a county report.
Stewart says it would be "irresponsible" to allow the park to be rebuilt.Got it. Get rid of the residents. How might we make the area less safe for residents while making room to build more stuff? Oh! Like this!
Stewart says he'd like to see the land used for some other commercial venture where flooding would be less of an issue.
The complaint alleges that the county has commissioned numerous reports since the 1950s that show that the adjacent Marumsco Creek has been clogged with debris and its culverts in disrepair while the county still approved rampant growth in the area, which dramatically increased the volume of water flowing down the creek. The chief culvert is owned by CSX railroad.Ah. Now it makes sense.
That brings us to last night. And this morning. The county: police and firefighters operating under building code regulations, have been back-and-forth to Holly Acres multiple times over the past 24 hours, rousting the remaining residents and telling them they must leave. Why? There's been no new flooding. No new damage. There cops have no warrants. There are no new condemnations. But the law-and-order apparatus of the county is now pitted against these residents.
Why? Anyone have any idea?
Let me leave you with this thought from Corey Stewart:
Prince William County is a model for how to implement good conservative principles. Taxes are down, crime is down, and growth is up. I am going to bring to the Office of Lieutenant Governor the same conservative principles that I have led Prince William County with over the past 6 years.God, I hope not. Except for this part. I want to live in a mansion just like Corey Stewart's. I bet no one evicts you from those.
NPR is apparently picking up the story as well.
Partial disclosure - I'm not disconnected from this story, but I've got no shame in how I'm connected to it. That said, I've no wish to "out" myself in any way. If the idea that I'd be somehow connected makes you think you should ignore the diary, feel free.