Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen believes that the agricultural reserve program, or ARP, is no longer needed. That statement in itself should set off flares.
Remember that City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District, is the only rurally-based member on the Virginia Beach City Council, which leaves the others as, let’s say, development and bank account-based members.
I think we’ve seen that farmland is valuable by the McMansions along Princess Anne Road creeping further in a southerly direction from the main part of the city. The only naturally pristine area in the city – Back Bay and its watershed – covers a third of the total area of Virginia Beach.
The way you fight flooding in the southern end of the city is by not building acres of houses, not modifying the natural flow of the drainages from the watershed, not putting concrete everywhere because it does not absorb rainwater and wind driven flooding, and not thinking about mitigating the lost land masses to the south of us, which helped prevent southerly-driven flood tides.
If for one second anyone thinks that discontinuing the agricultural reserve program and using the funds for “fighting flooding” is an honest idea, then you’re nuts.
The political pull in the southern end of the city is only based on development or the potential for development.
Taking the agricultural reserve program away from the farmers and the landowners places them in a situation in which they have to sell the land to stay afloat – maybe – which plays right into the hands of those who want to develop the southern end of the city.
— Todd Barnes, Sigma
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