Friday, November 13, 2015

That's the Best We Can Do?

My letter to the editor that appeared in The Fincastle Herald this week (11/11/2015 edition)

Dear Editor,
A 7-11 store? Really? That's the best Botetourt can do for one of the most visible corners at its "gateway" area? A convenience store that has a high pay scale of $11.11 listed for its assistant managers and $9.06 for its sales associates?

This is why we're paying millions to improve this interchange? So the tourism director can stand out in front of an ugly parking lot with a placard that says Welcome to Botetourt - Buy a Slurpee?
Granted, any new structure would look better than what is there, but I thought the whole idea was to make this an attractive area. I looked up photos of 7-11 stores. There wasn't an attractive one in the bunch - they all look like, well, 7-11 stores.

Will the supervisors put proffers on this structure? Will they make the corporation brick it, put in a nice historical-looking building that reflects the Botetourt of old, not the Botetourt of the last 60 years, where mostly junk was built along our major travel arteries?
Hmm. Who will win in that discussion? My guess is the company with the money. Will we offer them some nice corporate welfare to ensure that they bring their ugly building and minimum wage jobs to our community? Maybe they won't have to pay their taxes for five years. We surely can't forgive their water and sewer hookup since we gave that power away.

After a recent vacation in Mount Pleasant, SC, I saw what good planning and zoning can do. It can create livable beautiful areas that people actually want to visit. I saw a gas station and convenience store in SC that was brick and so well-designed that you hardly knew what it was, save for the small signage. But we're Botetourt, and we don't do planned designs.
Even when we approve planned designs, we allow the builders to make so many changes that the end result is nothing like the original (hint: DTC's original plan called for 80 single-family dwelling units, 120 multi-family dwellings, 100 town homes, 40 civic units, and 280 commercial units. It was supposed to be a planned town. Do you see that there? I don't.).

So what's next? A Sheetz at the corner of Alt. US 220 and the proposed Gateway Road? They sell good hot dogs and offer more minimum wage jobs. How about a Walmart and a Lowes along that new lane? Those will surely bring in the tourists. It's not like you can't find one in every community.
Shouldn't we wait until our new county administrator is in place, until studies are done, and real plans are formed, before we approve anything at that entire interchange? If we don't, I foresee another hodgepodge of unplanned and ugly structures - gas stations with bright signs that light the night sky, chain restaurants with their chickens, cowboy hats, and bovine images. I imagine in a few years I will look toward Daleville to see a glaring white neon night sky that says, look, Botetourt failed again.

If 7-11 must to come to Botetourt, couldn't the supervisors direct them toward one of those ugly old worn down former gas station lots on US 220 north that are for sale? That part of the county's gateway needs fixing up, too. A 7-11 store of any design there would look better and at least fit in with the BP and Pizza Hut.
Must we give over our best locations to the first to raise their hands? Can't we think about it, and not give in to knee-jerk reactions?


  1. Did your letter in the paper bring about any phone calls to you or have you spoken to the 'decision makers' about this in person? Seems the people in charge just have no idea as to how to run a county. So disappointing to all of us. That area will end up being trashy looking just as it was before the change in the roadway.

  2. Every exit along I-8 is full of such junky stuff in my area. I hope it does not happen to your beautiful place. You have to fight tooth and nail anymore for any kind of common decency in California. We have a twisted mess here.

  3. Well said! Your letter shouldn't just be in the Fincastle Herald, it should be on billboards!


I enjoy your comments and always appreciate the opportunity to visit the blogs of my readers. I hope you have a great day!