Buckingham County Board of Supervisors Must Consider a Dual Defense Against Gold Mining.
In addition to the environmental destruction inherent to gold mining, I would like the Board of Supervisors and county residents to consider the financial consequences of a gold mine in Buckingham County. If mining processes contaminate the groundwater of a county in which most residents rely on well water, you must be prepared to accept the loss of what tax revenue you currently have (as well as any future growth). Contaminated water will cause a mass exodus from the county by those who can afford to leave. These people would represent your most lucrative tax base. Property values will fall – the property values that determine Buckingham’s tax revenue.
This is the age of remote workers – my husband and I are two. We bought in Buckingham a year into the pandemic after our jobs went remote. Now more than ever, this county has the potential to increase its tax revenue by attracting more landowners and homeowners in the form of remote workers who earn high salaries based on Northern VA cost of living. I can already count the number of friends and acquaintances who have expressed an interest in buying in Buckingham based on our experience but were advised (by myself) to wait until the county enacts ironclad protections against gold mining.
My husband and I have delayed construction on our property until we are assured that the Board of Supervisors will take ALL necessary steps to protect our property value and the health of our family. If they do not, we have made the unfortunate decision to cut our losses, sell our property, and invest our hard-earned money in a county that WILL protect the property values and health of its residents.
It seems that the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors and residents are in agreement that a gold mine would be disastrous for the environmental health of the community. The debate now concerns HOW we can best protect our community from a gold mine. Without decisive action and ironclad legal protections, Buckingham County faces significant threats to water quality, property values, and future tax revenue.
These legal protections must come in the form of a dual legislative approach emphasizing both rights – based protections and zoning restrictions. Buckingham Board of Supervisors Chairman Miles has expressed that, while he supports a zoning ordinance to limit mining activities, he does not support a rights-based ordinance that will protect county residents from toxic trespass. We appreciate Chairman Miles’ support for a zoning ordinance but recognize that it’s not enough. Zoning law is vulnerable to Special Exceptions and Special Use Permits, both of which are easily and routinely obtained by the everyday man, let alone corporate lawyers. The surest way to protect against gold mining in Buckingham is to enact a rights-based ordinance to reinforce the protections offered by zoning restrictions.
I would like to extend a sincere thanks to County Administrator Karl Carter for his willingness to extend an invitation to Joe Lerch from the VA Association of Counties and Ben Price from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, to ensure that the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors can hear an analysis of the authority counties have to ban metallic mining, and to explain the power, security and complementary nature of a rights-based ordinance to an ordinance based on zoning and land use.
Julia Maria Gibson, Ward 5
Published in the Farmville Herald November 2, 2022
By Letters to the Editor (https://www.farmvilleherald.com/author/letters-editor/)