Story by Chris Graham
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Charles Curry’s decision to retire from Augusta County politics in 2000 was a shock to more than a few observers – but it was no more a shock than his announcement that he was ready to make a comeback.
Curry is challenging the man who replaced him in the North River District seat on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, Larry Howdyshell, in the November general elections in Augusta County.
It’s not like he’s been gone from the county government scene the past seven years, of course.
“Everything is related – the comprehensive-plan process, the ag task force, the importance that this district, especially, puts on agriculture, the work that we did there, the relationship between the task force and the comprehensive-plan process, the industrial site, the megasite proposal – all those things are related,” said Curry, who served as chair of a county agriculture task force that was empaneled to review county policies toward its vibrant ag sector.
Curry was a vocal critic of the way the county board of supervisors handled the discussions around a proposed industrial megasite that reportedly had the interest of Toyota as the Japanese automaker looked for a location for a new American-based auto-assembly plant.
Toyota eventually decided on a location in Mississippi earlier this year.
“A megaindustrial site would throw tremendous pressure on the other uses – on the businesses that are already there, and the competitive labor force. On the residential side, the pressure to add many more lots for development would be there – and of course that means more pressure for more county revenue to provide services such as education. And certainly there would be pressure on our farms,” Curry said in an interview on “The Augusta Free Press Show” this week.
“I don’t think anything is resolved at this point – and that’s one of the reasons for my candidacy,” Curry said. “I’d like to take part in resolving this issue. As far as I know, the majority of the board of supervisors still supports megaindustrial development in Augusta County – nothing’s been said to indicate that they wouldn’t. The fact that the deal fell through was an issue of finance and not being able to purchase the property, and not policy on the part of what kind of development the county wants to achieve.”
Curry is most critical of the veil of secrecy that a majority of the board decided was necessary as the deliberations on the megasite dragged on and on.
“When we did the ’94 comprehensive plan, had 38 public meetings, we tried very hard to involve citizens, and to take their input seriously. I was very proud of the board at that time in the relationship that we had with the public,” Curry said.
“We lost that responsiveness some time in the last four years. I attended many of those public meetings, and there was just a sense of arrogance – and not really a conducive meaningful public input and public involvement in their local government by our board of supervisors. I think that’s very much an issue in this election,” Curry said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.
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