Leesburg Council Bristles At Threats Over North-South Corridor - Leesburg Today Online—Daily News Coverage of Loudoun County, Leesburg, Ashburn: News

July 4, 2015
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Leesburg Council Bristles At Threats Over North-South Corridor

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 3:15 pm

Although the Leesburg Town Council has no jurisdiction over the state-proposed North-South Corridor between I-95 and Rt. 7 at Belmont Ridge Road, the council’s debate over its position on the road has caught the attention of regional leaders, and they aren’t happy.

Mayor Kristen Umstattd introduced a resolution during Tuesday night’s meeting to formally oppose the North-South Corridor and it drew threats from County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) and Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance President Robert Chase.

On a 4-2-1 vote, the council deferred action on the resolution until the council gets more information about the project.

York sent his aide, Robin Bartok, to read a statement from him during the petitioner’s section of the meeting. She outlined the road’s potential to increase job growth and take pressure off Rt. 28 and Rt. 15. She said opposition to the state's plan could come back to haunt Leesburg when other road projects are considered.

“The chairman asked me to ask you if you support roads,” Bartok said. “If you oppose this road, then it will appear as if you don’t support roads. I think the [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] will keep that in mind when allocating its [funding from the recently passed transportation bill].”

York sits on the board of the authority, which is responsible for allocating 70 percent of the $1.6 billion in funding expected to come to Norhtern Virginia for transportation in the next six years. The other 30 percent will be distributed directly to localities, and Loudoun will be responsible for giving money to Leesburg. The county and the town are continuing negotiations over just how much money that will be.

The alliance, a group made up of largely business leaders, has been an outspoken voice in major road projects for decades, and Chase sent an email Sunday to Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard that was forwarded to all members of council, and read from the dais by Vice Mayor David Butler.

“Key question: Why would Leesburg want to bite the hands that feed them transportation funds?” Chase wrote in the email. “I would suggest that the most important thing for the Mayor to consider is the likelihood of the unfunded projects listed below EVER being funded IF the Town Council comes out in opposition to the N-S Corridor. The [Commonwealth Transportation Board] and [Virginia Department of Transportation] do not lack for other projects in which to invest. The Six-Year Plan contains NO GUARANTEES. Funds are shifted around every year. CTB can easily decide to “de-program” funds for Edwards Ferry Road, etc. Message needs to be delivered by Leesburg residents. Got any candidates?”

Council members Kevin Wright and Katie Hammler led the motion to defer the decision until after the council receives a briefing from VDOT on the project and Hammler invited members of the Board of Supervisors to speak before the council when it actually votes on a resolution.

Umstattd and Councilman Tom Dunn were outspoken and ready to take on the challenge.

“I don’t think we can honorably represent our citizens if we cower every time somebody threatens us,” Umstattd said. “I don’t view that as an argument that I can abide by or really put up with. I think our duty is to our residents. I think this major highway is just going to bring tremendous traffic pressure on the Town of Leesburg, and so I have to support the resolution.”

Dunn seemed prepared to vote aginst the resolution had it not been postponed. He’s been an advocate for focusing council’s efforts on issues within the town’s boundaries, but the message from York and Chase rankled him.

“When it starts getting threatening, I start looking at what political sides are pushing which buttons,” Dunn said. “I normally don’t go looking for trouble, but when it comes my way, I love it. I’m not going to back down from anything.”

Members of the Piedmont Environmental Council also spoke during the meeting, opposing the road and questioning its necessity and the motivations of its supporters. The strong response from York, Chase and Howard, who spoke at the meeting urging the council to support the project, gave Butler pause as well.

“The more I hear, the more I’d be concerned with this road, but I do definitely want to wait” to make a decision, Butler said. “When I feel we’re getting threatened from multiple directions, that’s a big warning sign that the facts are not on the warning people’s side.”

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  • shallinda posted at 2:16 am on Sat, Jul 20, 2013.

    shallinda Posts: 13

    Enough is enough. Scott York needs to be removed from public office. When you only represent your own interests, you are not fit to govern. And the same from Bob Chase. What a repulsive thing to do- threaten the town mayor. Excess development is not benificial. It creates traffic and crime. It destroys communities. That is why people motivated by personal greed should never be put in leadership positions. They don't represent anyone except themselves. Do these idiots ever think about what constitutes good government? Do they think about what their self-motivated behavior will do to the county in thirty years?? Absolutely not, when the ethos is lets make as much money as possible right now. How sickening can things get. LETS DEFEAT THIS ROAD NOW!

  • Loudoun Ethics posted at 2:24 pm on Sat, Jun 29, 2013.

    Loudoun Ethics Posts: 25

    Google NVTA, and you will see that Chase craftily chose a name for this PRIVATE organization the Northern Virginia Transportation ALLIANCE that sounds very similar to the Northern Virginia Transportation AUTHORITY. That's typical developer strategy, spin, manipulation. Bob Chase has NO official standing on road decisions. He is a shill for developers. Why does your paper give him so much space?

    The Loudoun Board led by SuperBully York knows the citizens are concerned with the traffic on East West roads. You represent us; we vote for you. Remember that.

    So let's count the North South roads we already have in the county. Route 28, 606, Gum Spring Road and Belmont Ridge Road, Loudoun County Parkway, Claiborne, etc. We have lots of capacity on those roads and more lanes coming for 606, Claiborne, Belmont Ridge, etc. But going east/west, we've pretty much maxed out, except for some interchanges. So it's just dumb to add more development and more traffic on those east west roads.

  • Frank Reynolds posted at 5:16 am on Fri, Jun 28, 2013.

    Frank Reynolds Posts: 642

    Those developers really are getting their money's worth with York. Now he is resorting to threats to make sure their pet projects don't see any opposition.

    And is Randy Minchew serving as Leesburg's "Dad" or something now? What does he have to do with the Leesburg Town Council passing a resolution? Does this Chase guy think Minchew is going to roll into a Leesburg council meeting and straighten out the Mayor with a "stern talking to"? It sounds like just another example of a regional, quasi-government entity going overboard with their perceived power. Chase must be angling for a spot at MWAA.

    It is just absolutely disgusting what these developer shills are willing to do. I'd suggest any Leesburg residents who agree with the Mayor and Council let them know, it sounds like they are going to have to hop in a trench here. Butler's statement at the end of the article sums it up pretty concisely.

  • WhatsINitForU posted at 1:44 pm on Thu, Jun 27, 2013.

    WhatsINitForU Posts: 3

    Interesting - we cut money from schools, not sure if there is money to fix up pot holes and the misery is growing going east and west more and more... let's dump in over a Billion on North and South... I must be missing a point here.
    What's interesting is why the chamber puts it's nose in this as if tax money is to benefit them. Last time I checked the chamber of commerce was supposed to help small businesses grow in their community. This action looks like they are out for the big guys to get bigger and take what ever is in their way out of the way... A bit greedy!

  • David Dickinson posted at 10:50 am on Thu, Jun 27, 2013.

    David Dickinson Posts: 980

    Scott Pork is having an Edgar Hatrick moment. He is at that point in his career when he gets too big for his britches and thinks too highly of himself. It is downhill for him from here.

    This is just egregious. As was stated, it will bring into question any decision Scott Pork and the other developer cronies make regarding funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. I hear the pitter patter of little future lawsuits now.

    So, here is Pork's record:

    1. He berates fellow Board member Janet Clarke when it appeared that the Metro vote was not going to go his way. He takes the "bully" pulpit seriously, as he does this from the dais.
    2. He continues his antics by calling for the resignation of Edgar Hatrick from the dais. Not that I'm a fan of Hatrick, but this is not the place of Chairman or anyone else on the BoS. That is strictly the place of the School Board.
    3. He now intimidates anyone who opposes paving over Loudoun County for his developer buddies to make serious money, and colludes with purveyors of greed like Robert Chase and Tony Howard (taxpayer enemies #1 and #2 respectively)

    And this is just the stuff we know about.

    Looking forward to primary-ing Pork from the Right; fighting him as a sore-loser Independent afterwards; and removing him from his perch. Its not large enough to hold that ego anyway.

    P.S. It IS a friggin' outer beltway.

  • norges55 posted at 7:43 am on Thu, Jun 27, 2013.

    norges55 Posts: 1042

    Are you telling me that road projects are not being vetted as to which will relieve the most congestion. You think the eminent domain by the school board was a travesty wait until they start this bogus North/South roadway. If Minchew, York, Chase and Tony Howard are for it I don't even have to know what it is to know that I will be against it. If there is going to be a successful recall in Loudoun County it should be to recall York from the board of authority.
    Threats to withhold funds for future projects because we don't agree with the North/South boondoggle are made by punks. Bring it on!

  • Loudoun Ethics posted at 11:46 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Loudoun Ethics Posts: 25

    Scott York is a bully, and the Leesburg Town Council is right to stand up to this ridiculous threat. He has some nerve to threaten Leesburg leaders and citizens like that, and he didn't even bother to show up himself to deliver the threat. We citizens are listening and taking note. Stand strong, Leesburg.

    And Tony Howard, shame on you. You do not represent the actual interests of Loudoun businesses in the chamber, just a select few. You did NOT ask the businesses in the chamber what they think of this wasteful North South road that does NOTHING for our transportation problems except suck transportation funds away from the projects we really need. This road will do nothing but cause more traffic on all our roads in all directions. And in case you didn't notice, we've got a major East West problem!

    Bob Chase is a shill for developers who want this road so they can build, build, build and cause more traffic on our east/west roads. Why does he get so much press without disclosure of who funds him??? He has no standing to "withhold" funds from a local jurisdiction. Please don't give him that kind of false power in your reporting. He works for a private advocacy group with no power in government decisions or over tax payer funds.

  • nrcbtm1 posted at 9:05 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    nrcbtm1 Posts: 35

    I'm wondering if Chairman York's open threat gives Leesburg a basis for a future legal challenge to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority's allocation of funding from the transportation bill.

    Abuse of power is what the "arbitrary and capricious" standard for overthrowing decisions is about. I'm surprised that he conveyed the threat in a public forum.

  • Leesburg NW posted at 9:00 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Leesburg NW Posts: 77

    Very stupid of York and this Chase guy to do what they did -- especially York talking through a flunky. But if there was ever an argument for a better route north and south from Leesburg, take a look at the article on this web site about the poor guy who was killed on route 15 near Oatlands the other day because he swerved across the yellow line. Very dangerous road.

  • Not impressed posted at 8:14 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Not impressed Posts: 36

    Dear Leesburg Town Council:
    If Randy Minchew is for this you can be sure it's because it will punch through to Maryland. Look closely at the north end of the map and note the width of the river in the path of this road. These three bullies want to build Loudoun to Fairfax County specs west of Rt. 15. It's not about cargo to Dulles; it's about residential development. With no proffers for schools.

  • Not impressed posted at 7:39 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Not impressed Posts: 36

    Scott York is a playground bully who uses one woman to try to intimidate another while he hangs back and waits. Pathetic. Vote him out.

  • polkey posted at 7:17 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    polkey Posts: 33

    I would like the reporter (PLEASE DO YOUR JOURNALISTIC DUTY), and York's aide, to provide documentation that this outer beltway "takes pressure off" of Route 15. The studies I've seen show INCREASED traffic on Route 15 north of Leesburg as a direct result of this new highway, planned to bisect eastern Loudoun from newly develop-able swathes of land in Prince William and Loudoun's transition area (which the developer-funded 2011-elected board has promised to build out). Leesburg now struggles with congestion created by the 2003 (Republican--why do they always vote for initiatives that increase taxes of existing residents?) Loudoun Board of Supervisors. Threats from Bob Chase's NVTA, funded by the development industry, are fascinating. Does he plan that campaign contributions will go to defeat Town Council members who dare to actually represent their constituents?? Ask Ken Reid, who has accepted many contributions from developers whose interests sharply diverge from those of his Leesburg constituents.

  • Mollysdaughter posted at 4:50 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Mollysdaughter Posts: 5

    It's customary to at least pretend that one is not threatening the mayor of the county seat when one is the County Chair. I hope Umstattd stands her ground. York is way out of line: if the Corridor can't stand on its merits, it should fail.

  • mas954 posted at 4:49 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    Look at Scott York. He thinks he's Billy. Billy Bad A??. If you don't do what he says, he'll take away your allowance. LOL I say give him the one finger salute.

  • mas954 posted at 4:49 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    Look at Scott York. He thinks he's Billy. Billy Bad A??. If you don't do what he says, he'll take away your allowance. LOL I say give him the one finger salute.

  • Cmckeonjr posted at 4:48 pm on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Cmckeonjr Posts: 350

    Would somebody please get rid of this guy York in 2015? He's throwing his weight around more and more, tries to run over everyone that gets in his way.