Monday, November 7, 2011

Selfish Countrysiders Get Their Way Again

You have to wonder what the people who live around the former Countryside Golf Course want. They have opposed every effort to alter the land so that it can produce tax revenue, be useful and have the use be minimally intrusive, but the hard heads have prevailed. Today, the Roanoke Valley Natural Foods Co-Operative withdrew its proposal to produce food on a portion of the course because of wrong-headed opposition from the Countryside cadre.

The one thing they simply won't hear is that this is not their property. It is our property, meaning the property of the citizens of Roanoke and their say is only a part of what should be considered. I would urge Roanoke City Council to ask the Co-Op to re-consider the withdrawal of an excellent plan, which was apparently killed because these city slickers think chickens will be disruptive to their pristine lifestyle. This pisses me off. I had pretty much been neutral about the future of Countryside until now. No longer. The selfish interests of a few must not be allowed to overwhelm the benefit of the many.

Here is the Co-Op's press release:

Citing respect for the wishes of nearby residents The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op today withdrew it’s proposal to create an urban farm on a 12 acre parcel located  in NW Roanoke City and adjacent to what was once the Countryside Golf Course.

In a statement before Roanoke City Council, Co-op General Manager Bruce Phlegar officially withdrew his group’s interest.  “We are very interested in creating a cooperatively owned urban farm in the city of Roanoke.  But we are not interested in creating an entity that is a significant point of conflict with the surrounding neighborhood.  Out of respect for those who oppose this project, and in the hope that the city will continue to work with our group, we respectfully  withdrew our proposal.”

The Co-op had initially submitted its request on July 8 after City planners said they wanted the parcel to be used for commercial urban agriculture in its master plan for the Countryside property and several parcels adjoining it.

The Co-op plan called for 8 green houses know as “high tunnel hoop houses,” garden style row crops and an orchard. The group planned to have as many as 400 free-range chickens to produce eggs and fertilizer for the plants.

Since the group uses sustainable farming techniques, it would not use harmful commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Plans also called for a small retail shop where locally grown produce would be sold to members of the surrounding community. The building would also have included classroom space.

“We still believe in the value and viability of a sustainable urban farm within Roanoke City limits,” says Phlegar. “It offers our community hyper-locally grown produce, and many educational opportunities. Our farm will strengthen the local, sustainable food movement in the Roanoke Valley.” Phlegar said the group would continue to seek property within the city that would meet their needs and have the general support of the surrounding neighbors.

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