Greens: Where and When
Green Party of
Virginia spring business meeting on Saturday, April 24, at the Staunton
Public Library, second floor. The meeting begins at 10:00 and ends at
4:00. From Interstate 81 take exit 225, then west on Route 275 to Route
11. Proceed south on Route 11 three miles into Staunton, bearing to the
right when the road forks. Route 11 (also called North Augusta Street)
intersects with Churchville Avenue at the library.
Greens quarterly meetings (2nd Tues.) June 8 and Sept. 7 at 7:00 P.M.
Contact Kathy Fox at 463-7001 or firstname.lastname@example.org for
The Green Party of Connecticut is the proud host of the
next ASGP (Association of State Green Parties) national gathering to be
held at the Sunrise Resort in Moodus, CT, from June 4 to June 6. Previous
ASGP meetings have limited the number of observers (each member state
sends two participating delegates) due to space limitations. But the
resort has plenty of room, so all are welcome to observe. Contact the GPVA
Houses and townhouses push closer and closer to the
barn. The Grove farm, inside the Waynesboro city limits after annexation,
is hemmed in by residential development, interstate 64, motels, and
franchise restaurants. The present owner, who can see the farmhouse his
grandfather lived in crumbling on the other side of I-64, has what is left
of the three-generation farm up for sale. Born in the brick house he still
lives in, Grove says he doesn't see how farmers who do stay on the farm
can make a living doing so.
Can We Save Our Farms?
PDR programs offer one
We are a country blessed with fertile soils and a
climate ideal for agriculture. And although we have been the world's
greatest consumers of natural resources, the U.S. continues to be a net
exporter of food. The market value of agriculture commodities produced in
the U.S. in 1996 was almost $210 billion. This country exports $60 billion
in agriculture products each year, which represents 10 percent of total
U.S. exports. The food and fiber industry accounts for 15.2 percent of all
U.S. domestic product. We produce half of the world's grain
Our best farmland, however, is being lost to residential
and commercial development at an alarming rate. Much of our most
productive soils are located next to large and medium size cities.
According to the American Farmland Trust, 85 percent of our fresh fruit
and vegetables, 79 percent of our dairy products, and almost 50 percent of
our meat and grain are grown in and around urban counties.
Atlanta area, which now covers some 13 counties, transforms 500 acres a
week of open land into sprawl development. The greater Chicago area, which
experienced population increase of only 4 percent between 1970 and 1990,
grew by 46 percent in land mass during the same period. Cleveland's
population actually declined during the last two decades, but it is now
spread over 33 percent more land.
Annually we lose over one million
acres of farmland to sprawl --- that's more than 2,700 acres each
Developers are attracted to farmland because open fields are
easily converted to building sites and the best soils are ones which drain
well and, therefore, are ideal for septic systems.
too many Americans seem to agree with political pundit George Will, who
commented just recently in a television discussion on farmland loss that
there is no reason for worry. His assertion was we have so much
over-capacity in farm production that only alarmists are concerned about
paving over our croplands.
However, there are three major reasons
to be legitimately alarmed about the loss of farmland. First, when we lose
our best agricultural land, farming is forced onto poorer soils, which
greatly increase the use of herbicides, pesticides, and irrigation. The
production of more chemically-laden food, requiring ever-increasing
amounts of water, is a threat to both our health and our
Second, increases in world population will require massive
increases in food production. In 1996 the World Food Summit of the United
Nations estimated that world-wide we will need to quadruple our food
production over the next fifty years. Agriculture experts say that the
United States will be a net importer of food within the next thirty to
fifty years at the present rate of land depletion.
Third, as more
research points to the ecological and health problems associated with the
manufacture, use, and waste disposal of petroleum-based products (such as
plastics), renewable, natural fiber-based products will undoubtedly grow
in popularity and use. A shift to replenishable raw materials will require
more --- not less --- farmable land.
Purchase of Development Rights
(PDR) programs are a permanent solution to the problem of farm and other
open land loss. The first PDR program was initiated in the early 1970s on
Long Island when local residents decided that significant cropland was
threated by irresponsible development.
PDR programs are based on a
simple strategy: a large landowner is paid the difference between what his
land would sell for to a developer under current zoning and what it would
sell for as open land. For example, Farmer Green owns 200 acres. If the
land was developed into 10 acre tracts, as allowed by current zoning, he
could expect to receive $3,500 per acre. The same land as farmland is
assessed at only $1,000 an acre. He could, therefore, sell his right to
develop the property for $2,500 an acre for a total of $500,000. Should
Farmer Green decide to enroll in the program, he retains all rights to his
property --- he can farm, grow any legal crop he chooses, give the land to
his heirs, or sell the property. He is only restricted in his ability to
subdivide the land.
The purchaser of the development rights ---
typically a county or city --- is generally motivated to operate such a
program because they realize that the money they pay for development
rights will be much less in the long run than the cost of providing
schools, roads, and other services for the 20 new families (in the case of
Farmer Green) that developing the land would bring into the
Studies conducted in the Midwest and Eastern United States
have shown that for every dollar paid in taxes, the average residence uses
$1.34 in local services. A study of six counties in Virginia by the
Piedmont Environmental Council clearly illustrates what other studies have
concluded: open space land generates substantially more in tax revenues
than it requires in county expenditures. The PEC found that open land
(farmland and forest land without residence) in the six counties received
between eleven and twenty-one cents in services for every dollar paid in
Obviously, the negative fiscal impact of residential
development is a strong argument for a PDR program. But restrictive zoning
can also limit development. However, zoning is not permanent. A locality
could, for instance, zone for a 25 acre minimum lot size to discourage
residential development in its best agricultural land. At the next
election, pro-development candidates could change the minimum to 1 acre or
Although some PDR programs allow the seller of
development rights to buy back those rights after a set period of time
(usually 25 years), there is some question whether the courts will allow
such buy-backs. And even if the courts should agree, the cost of those
development rights would probably be prohibitive for most landowners
because it is based on the then current value of developable
The impact of a PDR program frequently goes beyond simply
preserving the land enrolled in the program. Since land which can no
longer be subdivided is worth less than developable land, farmland becomes
affordable for new farmers. In Howard County, Maryland, which has operated
a successful PDR program since the early 1980s, land enrolled in the
program typically sells before real estate agents have a chance at a
The funds received from the sales of development rights
are most often used to strengthen the farming operation by paying off
debt, purchasing equipment, and even buying more farmland.
PDRs are used to secure a sufficient amount of land in a locality to
continue to make farming viable, farmers often breathe a sigh of relief.
Knowing that their neighbor's land will continue to be farmed in the
decades ahead, farmers have the confidence to plan adequately for the
future and the motivation to continue to invest in their operation.
However, farmers who suspect that the land around them may soon be covered
with subdivisions, whose residents object to farm noises and smells, and
that the roads may become too congested to transport farm equipment may
lack the mortivation to plan and experiment and may feel forced to sell
out to developers. That is why we so often see the domino effect of
development in rural areas.
Most importantly, PDRs give a large
landowner an important option. In most areas, if farmers run into
financial difficulty, their only alternative may be to sell some or all of
their land. PDRs allow the farmer to tap into the value of their land
without disturbing the farm operation. And as an estate planning tool,
PDRs can be invaluable. The proceeds from the sale of development rights
can be used to pay inheritance taxes or "cash-out" an heir who has no
interest in farming. As a farmer in Virginia Beach (the first PDR program
in Virginia) told me, "I sold my development rights because it's a lot
easier to divide up money than land."
Sixteen states currently fund
PDR programs and many localities in other states have initiated programs
to preserve farmland and other open space.
For more information
about how to promote a PDR program in your community, access the American
Farmland Trust web site (www.farmland.org) or contact J. Erika Shriner at
Erika Shriner, the founder and chair of Save
Our Land and Rural Lifestyle (SOLR), a Hanover County grassroots community
organization, is running as an independent candidate for county supervisor
on a "slow growth" campaign.
Pocahontas's People Return to Jamestown on the Trail of
On Saturday, May 15, 1999, support the Mattaponi Indians
of Virginia in their fight against the King William Reservoir (see fall
1998 edition of this newsletter).
The Mattaponi River in King
William County is home to eagles, shad, and the Mattaponi American Indian
tribe. The tribe --- descendants of Chief Powhatan and his daughter,
Pocahontas, live on the Mattaponi River on one of the oldest reservations
in the United States, established in 1658.
A new dam and reservoir
on Cohoke Creek proposed by the City of Newport News would divert as much
as 75 million gallons of water a day from the Mattaponi River ---
destroying more than 400 acres of forested wetlands and jeopardizing the
Mattaponi tribe's culture and shad fishery. Even though three independent
studies have concluded that Newport News does not need the water, the city
and its mayor are moving forward with the King William Dam and
The Mattaponi Indians remain steadfast in their
opposition to the reservoir. To demonstrate their opposition, the
Mattaponi people are calling on Indian people throughout Virginia and
throughout the United States and all others who support their fight to
save their culture to return with them to Jamestown, Virginia, on May 15
as they begin a symbolic journey on a Trail of Hope.
The Trail of
Hope begins at the Jamestown Campground then proceeds past Jamestown
Festival Park and to the Colonial Parkway. The trail walk is approximately
six miles; however, participants can walk a portion of the trail and
return to the campground for Indian music and dance on Saturday afternoon.
Registration begins at 9:00 A.M.; the walk along the Trail of Hope begins
at 10:00. A registration fee of $10 covers costs of the event and a Trail
of Hope t-shirt for each participant. Please register in advance. For
information call Mattaponi Heritage Foundation at 804-769-7745 or the
Trail of Hope Hotline at 804-225-9670 or visit the website at
From the east (Newport News),
take 64 west to exit 242 A. Continue on 199 and take a right at the second
stoplight. Take an immediate right onto the Colonial Parkway. Continue on
the Colonial Parkway until you get to Jamestown. Make a right turn at the
end of the Parkway, proceed past Jamestown Festival Park, and the
Jamestown Campsites will be immediately in front of you across Route
From the west (Richmond), take 64 east to exit 238. Take a
right at the second stoplight. Continue straight through the next
stoplight. At the next turn, take a left onto the Colonial Parkway.
Continue on the Colonial Parkway until you get to Jamestown. Make a right
turn at the end of the Parkway, proceed past Jamestown Festival Park. The
Jamestown Campsites will be immediately in front of you across Route 31.
To join the Mattaponi American Indians on the Trail of Hope,
please send the following to Mattaponi Heritage Foundation, 1467 Mattaponi
Reservation Circle, West Point, VA 23181: your name, address, phone
number, email address, check for $10 made out to the Mattaponi Heritage
Foundation, an extra contribution if you can (tax deductible under
Mattaponi Heritage Foundation, Inc. 501 c3, non-profit
A Tale of Two Counties
Our appreciation to
Ellen Powers, Conservation Chair for the Sierra Club - Virginia Chapter,
for submitting this article. The text is pulled from a script written by
George Sibley, Education Chair for the Falls of the James Group of the
Localities throughout the state are struggling to pay
for and deal with the pressures of growth. In looking at localities around
the state, we found two counties which took very different positions on
how to deal with growth. Groups of 5 to 55, including civic organizations,
elected officials, and reporters, have seen the slide show we offer with
this story. Localities include Claremont, Hanover, Henrico, Richmond, New
Kent, Lancaster, Stafford County, Charlottesville, Goochland, Virginia
Beach, King William, Newport News, Montgomery County, and many others.
Please contact Ellen Powers at 804-225-9113 or email@example.com
to schedule a presentation in your locality.
Below is a summary of
what we have found, told in a story fashion.
This is a story about
progress --- a story about growth and success. Because these things have
usually been discussed in economic terms, it's also a story about income
and taxes, business and services, dollars and cents.
in northwestern Virginia and Stafford County in the north-central part of
the state are both about the same distance from metropolitan Washington,
D.C. Beginning in the 1970s, the two counties became hugely different in
population. Stafford, only a third bigger in area, had eight times the
population of Clarke by 1996.
That growth has had some striking
effects. Thirty years ago, Stafford could have easily been mistaken for
Clarke and vice-versa. Today the two counties are very
Clarke County and Stafford County look the way they do
now as a direct result of the development plans the governments of those
counties made around 1980.
Stafford adopted an aggressively
progrowth position. Growth Stafford wanted and growth Stafford got. But
what developers wanted was growth on cheap land. That meant growth outside
existing population centers. So the county had to get big money to extend
water and sewage lines and to widen roads in areas where there had been
only farms and rural traffic before. Between 1980 and 1990, over 7,000 new
houses were built in Stafford County, almost all of them in newly created
At about the same time that Stafford's county
government decided to face the future by recruiting as much growth as
possible, Clarke County's government decided to grow carefully and in
More often than not, Stafford has considered the highest
and best use of open land to be residential and commercial development.
Clarke decided that places like this have value in their own right. That
points up a major difference between the two counties.
what. After all the self-conscious economic development in Stafford, the
per capita income is 25 percent higher in Clarke.
And in spite of
all the recruitment of new businesses in Stafford, property taxes are
nearly 30 percent lower in Clarke.
For one thing, it only spent
money on additional facilities and services as it needed them ---- and
growing outward from existing facilities and services, it needed them less
Farms and open land are not only by themselves almost as
profitable to a county as commercial development, they also have the added
advantage of not requiring the services that make residential development
so expensive. It actually pays local governments to keep farmers in
business because farms keep taxes lower than development does.
Look what happened to Stafford. It went hugely into debt bringing
new development into the county.
The facts speak for themselves:
Growth alone is not necessarily progress. Clarke County, which chose to
grow conservatively, has a higher income and lower taxes than high-growth
California Dreaming Come True
Washington Post headline read: Calif. Legislative Upset Has Democrats
Feeling a Little Green.
Nationally, that "legislative upset" had
Greens celebrating. In a March 30 special runoff election for the
Oakland-area seat in the California State Assembly, candidate Audie Bock
became the first Green Party candidate in the United States elected to a
state legislature. This triumph over Democratic machine candidate Elihu
Harris was achieved despite the Democratic Party's reliance on barely
legal campaign tactics such as the infamous "chicken dinner giveaway" used
to increase Democrat voter participation in the Assembly primary.
Ms. Bock teaches ethnic studies at a community college, a
part-time position, and runs a foreign film distribution business from her
home. She was a Democrat until 1996, when she joined the Green
presidential campaign for Ralph Nader. She won 50.5 percent of the vote in
the runoff election to squeak by Harris, the former two-term Oakland
mayor. Harris had previously held the Assembly seat from 1978 to 1990. Ms.
Bock won by 327 votes of a total of 29,000 cast.
manager, Greg Jan, was jubliant, "This is the first time in over 60 years
that a third party candidate has won a partisan election in California.
Audie is thrilled that voters responded to her common-sense Green platform
that included a new education policy, environmental justice, health care
for all, and tax reform. We are very excited to capture such a victory
when the previous Green Party of California record for a partisan race was
the 13 percent of voters claimed by Green candidate Joe Desist in a 1991
three-way race for Assembly District 63 of San Bernadino County." There
are 32 Green Party members in local offices already around California, but
this is the first state win.
Bock commented on the Harris
campaign's "massive fifteen to one superiority in spending levels compared
to my campaign" and her opponent's "unwillingness to debate me" which
suggests "a disdain for public discourse and a disrespect for the voters
striving to make informed decisions. The Green Party of California . . .
will finally be able to bring our populist message to the state
Bock's showing is even more significant because of the way
our electoral system is biased against third parties. Caleb Kleppner, who
coordinates electoral reform for the Green Party of California, notes,
"Given the chance to vote for a viable Green candidate, many voters seize
the opportunity. Supporters of Green candidates often face the dilemma
that voting for the Green will not put the Green in office and may
indirectly assist the voter's least preferred candidate. Our present
voting system usually gives many voters a real incentive not to vote for
their preferred candidate. California voters deserve state-of-the-art
democracy, and that means more choices, more points of view, and more
meaningful votes. Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) achieves all this, and the
Green Party of California is pushing for this important democratic reform
at the local and state levels. IRV ensures majority support for winners,
reduces the need for and cost of runoff elections, and eliminates the
problems of 'wasted votes' or 'vote splitting' or 'spoiling.' With IRV,
taxpayers would only have had to pay for one s pecial election to fill
The Green Party is the fastest growing political
party in California. With 100,000 registrations, it is presently
conducting a voter registration drive projected to triple its size by the
end of next year.
Speaking of Candidates . . .
Eric Sheffield has already begun his campaign for the Board of
Supervisors. After a fourteen month process, the Rockbridge Greens
ratified a Rockbridge Area platform made up of 95 planks covering
community services, economy, education, environment, farming, government,
housing, land use, and taxes.The Rockbridge Greens are currently
attempting to recruit other candidates to run for Rockbridge County Board
of Supervisors on the platform.
At least two other Virginia Greens
are working on runs for the House of Delegates. This fall promises lots of
Green possibilities, as even a partial list of open seats reflects --- all
House of Delegate seats, all Senate seats, commissioners of the revenue,
school board seats, boards of supervisors. Anyone interested in running
for an office or working on a campaign should contact the Green Party of
Virginia for advice and encouragement.
1997 House of Delegate
candidates Eli Fishpaw, Sherry Stanley, and Dale Diaz join Bob Bersson and
the band on stage at a fundraiser for Dale. The GPVA hopes to see more of
the same for the 1999 campaign.
Welcome New Members
Blue Ridge Greens:
Kristen Schaller, Fain Rutherford, Mark Petersen, Kathryn
Central Virginia Greens: Richard Crocker, Herbert Tucker,
Bob Miller, Norman Dill, Robin Kells, Todd Cristian, Jennifer
Greens of Virginia: Jerry Tenney, Wendy Ebersberger, Lewis
Worthington, Thomas Berrey, Heidi Lewis, Donna Oliver, Ann Baumgardner,
Scott Cloud, Jerry Bohon, Chris & Courtney Kosnik, Alex LoCascio,
Madelyn Blue, John Cann
New River Valley Greens: Tom Joy, Penny
Lane, Denise Wills
NOVA Greens: Michael Dunkley, Ronald &
Barbara Glovier, Jeanett Shin, Lasse Christiansen, Stephanie Rodgers,
Martha Manzano, Matthew Hammett, Jonathan Daniels, Sharon Williams, Ramsey
Kysia, Michael Piacsek, Andrew Herndon, Catherine Glick, Cevdet Seyhan,
Rockbridge Greens: Joyce Coiner, Sandra
Student Greens of Virginia: Adam Smith, Neelima
Tidewater Greens: David Bugin, Patrick Baggott,
Bethany McQuillen, Stuart Jones
Valley Greens: Stephen Harris,
Charles Shelton, Nancy Glomb, Ben Thompson
Thank You, Recent Contributors
Greens: Kristen Schaller, Fain Rutherford, Kirk Ballin
Virginia Greens: Matthew & Suzanne Crane, Todd Cristian, Richard
Crocker, Herbert Tucker, Bob Miller, Norman Dill, Diana Abbottt, Claudia
Bloemer, Aaron Feldman, Tucker & Linwood Respess, Chris & Courtney
Greens of Virginia: David Bugin, Kevin Donaghey, Suzanne
& Matthew Crane, Wendy Ebersberger, Daniel Metraux, Nancy Glomb,
Denise Wills, Reber Dunkel, Sally Robertson, Fain Rutherford, Donna
Oliver, Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky, Ramsey Kysia, Scott Cloud, Chris Gensic,
Catherine Glick, Jonathan Bates, Carey Campbell, Norman Dill, Ben &
Lois Brown, Cevdet Seyhan, Everett Heath, Aaron Kelson, Roger Hopper,
Muriel Grim, Robert Cataldo, Cordelia Plunkett, John Gallini, Doug Eyde,
Brent Icenhour, Dale Diaz, Patrick Hinely, Claudia Bloemer, Robert Bowman
& Nancy Amdur, Jim Lowenstern, Mark Long, Aaron Feldman, Kirk Ballin,
Philip Murray, Tucker & Linwood Respess, Jana Cutlip, Wes
New River Valley Greens: Denise Wills, Penny Lane
Greens: Robert Farr, Sharon Williams, Amy Southwick, Catherine Glick,
Roger Hopper, Muriel Grim, Matthew Hammett, Doug Eyde, Jim Lowenstern,
Mark Long Rockbridge Greens: Elisabeth, David, & Tara Daystar, Shelley
Bourdon, Peter O'Shaughnessy & Lindy Felix, Michael & Collette
Barry-Rec, Lois & Ben Brown, Robert Lisle, Stephanie Porras, Carl
Christiansen, Terry & Lenna Ojure, Arvid Christiansen, John Mayeux,
Kelly Branham, Patrick Hinely, Nancy Anderson, Phil Hyre & Daphne Raz,
Carol & Jim Phemister, Phil Welch, Sandra Stuart, John White, Kathy
Tidewater Greens: Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky, David Bugin, Patrick
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this edition. As always,
special thanks to Gerry Cervenka for his layout work and for X-High
Graphics in Elkton for their printing. Please send submissions for
our summer edition by July 5 to Sherry Stanley, 8 River Ridge Road,
Verona, VA 24482 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.