Dendron, Va. chooses its own future. (ChesapeakeClimate.org)
Thank you so much Peebles for a wonderful article about the meeting last night! I am still so excited about the outcome! And so thankful to all the people (and thoughts and prayers) that made this possible!
Below find just a few (5-7 is still a few right? LOL!) paragraphs of the great article written by Peebles on ChesapeakeClimate.org (The whole article is a must read!):
The last time that Dendron came to vote on the ordinance to retain its zoning rights, the atmosphere was quite different from last night’s. ODEC employees filled the June 2 meeting, creating an unbalance that went far from unnoticed. Taking up a large portion of Recreational Center’s front-row seats, ODEC’s presence was pronounced – and unwelcome.
This time, the Coalition to Keep Surry Clean, Wise Energy for Virginia, and students from the nearby College of William and Mary turned out, in force, to ensure that Dendron’s residents were given priority in the meeting hall by “saving spots” outside while locals arrived. Due to the efforts of Surry and Dendron’s concerned and active citizenry, last night’s demographic within the meeting was strikingly different from the month before. With upwards of 25 Dendron residents, supported by more than 50 folks from surrounding Surry County, gone were the suits and ties of ODEC’s Glen Allen headquarters, near Richmond. Gone also, was the attitude that a new coal plant would bring the economic boon of the 1920’s back to the struggling town. As the meeting progressed, the council made two key moves to ensure its independence as a town in determining its future.
In a somewhat surprise move, Councilwoman Misti Furr began by introducing a resolution to establish a planning commission within Dendron, to be charged with evaluating zoning permits for land within the town proper. The vote was a necessity, as the council would be expected to vote on the zoning ordinance later that evening, which would greatly diminish the town’s control over its permitting process by delegating a large portion of it to Surry County. Furr’s resolution passed, giving Dendron its own planning commission, who will have to handle ODEC’s zoning permit, provided that control over permitting stay with the town. That decision remained uncertain, further down the evening’s agenda.
Before the decision over that ordinance came to vote, residents and concerned individuals were permitted to speak before the council and audience, and as the queue began to move along, a fascinating trend began to emerge.
Unlike last month’s meeting, where ODEC garnered support from its own employees and purposefully misled low-income and struggling families, Monday’s atmosphere was one much more aware of the terrible implications for environmental, economic, and human health that a dirty coal plant would bring to their small community. At least, it seemed, some of the untruths, dispelled by ODEC over the past few months, had finally been discredited, much to the benefit of those citizens in opposition to the plant.
This attitude was reflected in the council’s final vote, as the body decided to reject any imposition by the county on the capacity of Dendron to decide its own future. With a wire-thin 3-2 margin, a great sigh of relief gripped the meeting hall as ODEC and its cadre of supporters left the hall, flustered and frustrated. Now, ODEC will be required to submit its zoning permit to the town, where it will decide whether or not the plant will move forward, free from interference by the coal-friendly county, and totally in its own hands.
What will happen now is, for the moment, uncertain. The coal industry has deep pockets, while most folks in Dendron do not. The struggle against this plant is a long way from over, and the rejection of county control over the zoning process marks but a small step in a very, very, large fight.
Thanks again to the many Dendron residents (as well as property owners that hope to be residents in time), Surry residents, Isle of Wight residents, and other surrounding communities (too many to name but you know who you are!!), as well as the Coalition To Keep Surry Clean, Wise County VA Coalition and AppVoices (including the fantastic Kayti and Mike!), Sierra Club (Glen, Tyla, Jim, and so many others!), Chesapeake Bay Foundation, CCAN, and so many others that helped us get where we were last night at the Dendron Town Council meeting, plus the William and Mary students, and residents from Williamsburg and Hampton that came to the meeting in support of Dendron residents during the meeting.
As Betsy from the Coalition To Keep Surry Clean said in an email:
Thanks to the Council members who took a big stand.
Thanks to everyone who came out and made their presence felt.
Thanks to the brave attendees who stood up to speak.
Thanks to those who brought info, fans, petitions, signs to pass along physically and verbally to our neighbors and others.
Thanks to the W&Ms for coming and helping us hold the line and chairs.
Thanks to the Wise Energy Coalition folks for supporting us and picking up the tab for so many of our endeavors and materials.
Thanks to Mike and Kayti for being such total and complete rockstars–personally and professionally.
And thanks to writers like Peebles through his article at ChesapeakeClimate.org and Desiree Parker through her article at Williamsburg Yorktown Daily (wydaily.com) reporting about the meeting on websites today, as well as others at HamptonRoads.com and The Daily Press.
And of course thanks to those who stayed home or at the Bible Study I missed to attend the meeting, and prayed during the meeting as well!
I really think it took all of us to make this happen!
Our little town of Dendron — at least has a fighting chance to do what we Dendron residents (all of us together) can do to forge our own future! Maybe this is what Dendron needed to pull us all together to make this happen.
Things are looking up!
And while we are at it, lets not forget our connection to Mountain Top Removal through use in existing coal plants in Virginia, as well as if we were to allow this coal fired baseload 24/7 plant to be built. We aren’t the only ones we hurt with coal plants…we all share the same planet, the same air, and the same fate.
EDIT: To add two videos pertinent to the Dendron Town Council Meeting:
Woman responds to threats re: Dendron Coal Plant in Virginia
First Victory over Big Coal in Va.