Reader says Blue Ridge citizens ‘blindsided’ by county officials
Last week, I contacted the chairman of the Botetourt Board of Supervisors (Mac Scothorn) to request that the issue of the new Lewis-Gale drug rehab facility, proposed to be located in the Blue Ridge District near the Blue Ridge Library on Avery, be tabled based on the fact that the legal notices in The Fincastle Herald simply identified the facility as a “hospital.” The county attorney said that, because the facility was identified as a drug and alcohol rehab on the county’s website, the board had provided legal notification notwithstanding the misleading word used in the county newspaper.
I contend that many Blue Ridge citizens either do not own or use a computer and/or they would have no reason to visit the county’s website if they had no idea they were being “blindsided” by their officials.
My reasonable request of the board chairman to simply table the vote on this issue was ignored. I asked that the board provide a forum for citizens to give them complete information about this facility, and give them an opportunity to ask questions (beyond the pitiful three minutes allowed at board meetings). I also asked that a separate notice be sent to inform those who live very close to where the proposed facility is to be built, the same as they do for those who have close-by neighbors who want approval for a dog kennel.
I contend that the board was deceitful in not divulging this facility’s true purpose – a drug rehab. It will start out with 80 beds and 893 vehicles per day and expand to 130 beds and 1,451 vehicles per day on this 15.197-acre property. It will also host an outpatient program that will result in heavy traffic in and out of the facility.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to approve this facility even though all citizens present opposed approval with many speaking against it. If it had been properly identified as a drug rehab, I believe the meeting would have been overflowing with citizens speaking against approval. The facility in Salem is being closed with the construction of this new proposed facility. It is feared that it will be a magnet for unsavory elements of society, which could result in a decrease in citizens’ safety, an increase in crime in the area, and potentially a decrease in nearby property values. While it is claimed to be a “lock down” facility, some clients would be able to sign themselves out. Any clients loose in the community could create a problem of panhandlers annoying or threatening citizens for money to support their habits, could result in cars or homes being broken into in their search for items to sell to support their habits, could pose a threat to children in the nearby Bonsack Baptist Church daycare, they could be loitering around in the nearby shopping center, perhaps resulting in an increase in shoplifting, and possibly they could create problems in the nearby Blue Ridge Library. There would certainly be a huge increase in the congestion of traffic on Avery to and from this facility.
I had also asked that the vote to approve the new Sheetz station at the intersection of Laymantown Road and Rt. 460 also be tabled. Everyone I spoke with about this issue was either unaware of it or, if aware, opposed it. Citizens want the property to be used for something they want and need – such as a nice restaurant. Blue Ridge citizens do not want a Sheetz station when there already exists one a few miles down Rt. 460 toward Roanoke. Another unneeded station would cause traffic congestion for anyone going up Laymantown Road to get to their homes, the shopping center, the doctors’ office, and Rainbow Forest Baptist Church. Many petitions against approval were presented. The board ignored all of this and voted to approve the Sheetz station anyway.
The fact that the board voted to approve the rehab facility, without full disclosure and citizen support, including the vote to approve the unwanted Sheetz station, is indeed a glaring example that this is a “rogue” board that feels free to ram their agenda down the throats of the citizens they are supposed to represent and could care less about the citizens’ safety and desires.
Look for this mischief to result in higher taxes. We taxpayers are their “cash cows.” What do they have to gain by ignoring the safety and desires of those they are elected to represent? Wake up, citizens, and vote these people out of office.
Margaret R. Bailey
Censorship is a beachhead to fascism
I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Buchanan’s earnest statement in his letter to The Herald (June 27), “Lying is never a benign offense.”
As for his concern about materials in the Botetourt public libraries deemed harmful to our children, I encourage him to Google “BOCO Facts 4 U” and then under “Rumors vs. Facts” to check “BOCO Public Libraries.” This should help curb the spread of misinformation if minds are open.
Censorship under any guise (overtly religious, subtly political) is abhorrent to me. Fires become wildfires become bonfires, the books burned symbolic of “undesirables.” This poem of mine says it as forcefully as I can.
There is mobilization across the land
to rid libraries of books deemed offensive.
Eternal seems the need
to blot out things (or people) that most frighten.
See censorship as fascism’s way
of establishing a beachhead.