Guerrilla Warfare!

What do the people involved with Friends of Route 15 and its successor organizations have in mind for those opposed to their radical agenda?

As we discussed in the last post, the no-growth special interest groups have played a major role in local politics for decades and have used that influence to prevent all meaningful improvements to the road. We’ll write more on the current political landscape in future segments, but today we want to finish with Friends of Route 15 by publishing the minutes of their meeting and calling out what they have in store for anyone opposed to their agenda. Keep in mind that some of these people are still active in the PEC, JTHG, the Lucketts Ruritans, the Catoctin Coalition, the Catoctin Route 15 Alliance, and other groups with similar missions.

Now let’s see what the juiciest takeaways from this meeting were. Here is a link to the meeting minutes document: http://fixroute15now.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/FOR-15-1986-Guerilla-Warfare.pdf

At the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2, Chairman Henry Brown lays out six principle activities to be undertaken. Activity 6 is the aforementioned historical designation. Activates 1, 3, and 4 are pretty innocuous. However, activities 2 and 5 show the level of desperation and lengths these people are willing to go to in order to achieve their goals.

#2 – “Submit ideas for guerilla warfare against those interested in improving Route 15”

#5 – “Seek a lawyer/lobbyist to act as guerilla warfare “Boss”

These statements mostly speak for themselves, but does this sound like a community outreach group to you or does it seem like the behavior of wannabe mafiosos willing to do just about anything in order to get their way? Should disagreement over infrastructure policy involve hiring lawyers to go after your opponents, their livelihoods, or their families? In a sick sort of way, we guess this group was ahead of its time as this is similar to the behavior we see from social media mobs today.

On a related note, we have noticed the comments on our page attacking us for remaining anonymous. Now everyone knows why we are sticking with that decision. Are these the people you want representing you when it comes to Route 15? Should these groups be consulted by government officials about how to improve the road when they have made it known that they are against all meaningful improvements?

Contact your elected representatives and tell them to stand up to these people and

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!

Next up we will discuss how some members of the Route 15 Stakeholders Committee violated their oath and acted to subvert the outcome through non-disclosure agreements and the formation of the shadow group Catoctin Route 15 Alliance.

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Shadow Groups Part 1

The concerned citizens here at Fix Route 15 Now have been holding some special documents in our back pocket, waiting for the right time to unveil them. In advance of the next BOS meeting, where once again improvements to Route 15 will be on the docket, it’s time to let the wider community see who is behind blocking said improvements and what these people really stand for, in their own words. Welcome to our multi-part series on the incestuous and radical relationships between various special interest groups, their members, and local government officials.

First, a little history. For more than 30 years, various special interest groups, usually consisting of the same small group of people and their spouses and/or relatives, have been formed specifically to block improvements to Route 15. We talked about a few of them in previous posts:

However, we specifically left two of them out in anticipation of publishing this article at a later date. The first, ironically named Friends of Route 15, was the original no-growther group working against Route 15 improvements and was founded back in the mid-1980’s. This group’s members, many of whom are still alive and speaking out against improvements as part of the various other current groups mentioned above, held a meeting on June 25, 1986 and kept some very interesting minutes which we would now like to share with the community. The full document will be published with our next bombshell installment, but for your reading pleasure, here is a taste of what is in this juicy file.

How did the Route 15 corridor nearly become a Historical District against the will of local residents?

Friends of Route 15 was the first group to push for this bogus historical designation. They did this specifically to block any future improvements to the road. Ironically, in such a “historic” area, they limited their initial idea to the road itself and everything within 500 feet of it. We guess the history of the area must have all occurred within 500 feet of the current road. What an amazing coincidence. Out of this meeting, Mr. Powell Harrison was tasked with beginning the push for the historical designation. Mr. Harrison also happens to be the founder of the Piedmont Environmental Council. Once again, as we’ve shown in past posts, these groups are all interconnected in both membership and mission.

Fast forward two years. On December 29, 1988 a story written by Mr. Steve Bates appeared in the local paper entitled “Proposal for Historic District meets resistance in Loudoun”.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1988/12/29/proposal-for-historic-district-meets-resistance-in-loudoun/dcd1e49f-dcd0-4a50-8761-57b031580eb3/

The gist of the story is that the Friends of Route 15 group, against the will of most local landowners, pushed for this historic overlay designation behind the scenes and in secret. Only when it was about to be approved did local residents figure out what was happening and succeeded in achieving a last-minute block of the decision. Now, you may be asking yourself – how did such a proposal get past local government representatives without so much as a whimper of outreach until it was nearly too late? Well, it just so happens that the chairman of Friends of Route 15 was Mr. Henry Brown. Mr. Brown was married to former Catoctin District Representative Betsey Brown(D). Ms. Brown is quoted in the article as saying “there has been no request for the board to consider”. Now, this is definitely a politician’s response since she must have known that the organization she was a member of and that her husband was chairman of was working behind the scenes to do that very thing.

After this defeat the group shifted it’s focus to the much easier obtained “National Scenic Byway” designation and then later pushed for the “Limestone Overlay District” which together in the end achieved the similar result of blocking improvements. In addition, this group and its successors are also behind the “2-lane rural road” designation which further impedes safety improvements like widening and adding wide paved shoulders.

Keep an eye out for our next segment when we show what this group had planned for anyone who dared to speak out in favor of improvements to Route 15. Hint – It isn’t pretty.

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!

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Why have the roads and schools been ignored in the Catoctin District?

Over the past 5 years Loudoun County had almost $435M in leftover funds – almost a half a billion
dollars!

Where did these funds go?

Did the Catoctin District receive any of these leftover funds for roads and schools?

Does the safety of your families and educational needs of your school-age children matter?

Should the media investigate what happened to all of these leftover monies?

Fiscal Year Leftover Funds Available*
2014 $ 66,634,741
2015 $ 68,935,851
2016 $ 87,662,109
2017 $ 98,085,058
2018 $ 112,927,386
Total $ 434,245,145

*All leftover monies were identified by the auditors in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.


https://www.loudoun.gov/1476/Comprehensive-Annual-Financial-Reports

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What happened to Route 15’s SmartScale Application (North of Montresor Road)?

Route 15’s SmartScale application requesting $110M for improvements north of Montresor Road  was screened out before it had a chance to be scored.  Here is the application:

2018-Route-15-SmartScale-3593-Application

List of screened out applications:

http://smartscale.org/documents/20190115/1final_screenout_01152018_v4.pdf

Overall Loudoun County projects scored very poorly both within the Northern District and overall against other projects across Virginia.  See the Northern District section (06-01 to 06-39):

http://smartscale.org/documents/20190115/7scorebook2020p.pdf

Thank you to Supervisor Umstattd and Virginia State Delegate LaRock for speaking in front of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) on November 28, 2018 supporting the Route 15 SmartScale Application.  We thank you for your continued leadership!!!

Although the six year Loudoun County Capital Improvement Program (CIP) was presented to the Board of Supervisors on February 13th with a line item for Route 15 improvements from Montresor Road to the Point of Rocks Bridge in the amount of $110M, the majority of funding ($75M) was shown in the out years (beyond six year CIP) .  There is an expectation that State and Federal funding will cover the majority of the project (similar to the NVTA funding that was won for the Route 15 improvements south of Montresor Road).

For more information and additional insight:

See Page 7-26 for “Capital Improvement Program by Function Area – Schedule of Appropriations”

https://www.loudoun.gov/DocumentCenter/View/149150/FY-2020-Proposed-Budget—Volume-Two

See the Virginia SmartScale website:

http://smartscale.org/default.asp

See Loudoun Now article “Loudoun Strikes Out on State Funding” from February 5, 2019:

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Route 15 Safety Improvements from Montresor Road up to Point of Rocks Bridge

Is there any proposed funding for Route 15 (north of Montresor Road) in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of Loudoun County’s Proposed FY 2020 budget?

The answer is YES!

The Loudoun County Administrator presented his recommended budget last evening, February 13, 2019, with  recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2019. The budget development process begins with guidance from the Board of Supervisors in the Fall, and more specifically each Board Member’s priorities and requests for their district for inclusion in the County Administrator’s budget presentation in February.

The County Administrator has recommended the funding of another 10 year Route 15 project in the amount of $110M with anticipated completion in FY 2029.

More details to follow on this 7 mile stretch of road that will take 10 years to complete!

See Page 7-26 for “Capital Improvement Program by Function Area – Schedule of Appropriations”

https://www.loudoun.gov/DocumentCenter/View/149150/FY-2020-Proposed-Budget—Volume-Two
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Thursday Humor

Just a little Thursday afternoon traffic humor to enjoy on your drive home while you’re parked on Route 15.

https://local.theonion.com/every-driver-in-roundabout-just-winging-it-1827804131
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The Unusual and Cozy Relationship Between the No Growther Special Interest Groups and Supervisor Higgins

Why is Supervisor Higgins constantly entertaining and communicating with a group of no growthers and their consultant in secrecy? Why is this being done outside of the “official” Route 15 Stakeholder Committee?

On August 31st Supervisor Higgins received a letter and 100+ page report from the following Route 15 “no growther groups”:

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director
Coalition for Smarter Growth

William Sellers
Executive Director
Journey Through Hallowed Ground

Martha Polkey
Coordinator
Catoctin Coalition

Chris Miller
President
Piedmont Environmental Council

Morgan Butler
Senior Attorney
Southern Environmental Law Center

Ian Lockwood
Professional Engineer
Toole Design Group

Supervisor Higgins never shared the no growthers secret report with the official Route 15 Stakeholder Representatives Committee! In fact, Higgins included this group’s 100+ page report as an attachment in Staff’s “Route 15 – Congestion Report Improvements” that was presented before the Board of Supervisors on September 20, 2018 after having it for twenty (20) days – a shameful and deceitful act!

Supervisor Higgins not only continues to entertain and communicate with this “Shadow” Group of no growthers and their consultant, Supervisor Higgins fails to publish and share any of their e-mail communications or notes from these meetings.

Is this the “transparency” that Supervisor Higgins brags about?

Supervisor Higgins, when will you publish all of your communications to and from these no growther groups and their consultant (between you, Loudoun County Staff and/or the Loudoun County’s consultant Kimley-Horn)?

Is this project intentionally being delayed by Supervisor Higgins and the County’s transportation staff constantly meeting with these no growther groups?

Isn’t it time to Fix Route 15 Now Supervisor Higgins?

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Question: Why does this 3.5 mile transportation project take 10 years to complete?

Question:  Why does this 3.5 mile transportation project take 10 years to complete?

Answer:  We were misled that there would be a multi-year design, engineering and environmental phase needed, including conducting an extensive and burdensome environmental process under NEPA/Section 106.  The fact of matter is that this 3.5 mile project is neither required to conduct an extensive and burdensome environmental process under Federal law nor should the design, engineering and environmental phase take longer than a year.  Below are some important points to note:

  • The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) funding application (submitted in December 2017) contained the 10-year timeline to complete, including a 3+ year period for design, engineering and environmental work.
  • Extensive presentations were made and discussions occurred during Route 15 Stakeholder Committee Meetings around the NEPA/Section 106 process: https://www.loudoun.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/7549
  • The Board package for this week’s meeting on Thursday September 20th (Item 7, Route 15 – Congestion Report Improvements) states the following under Environmental and Historic Resources:

 “The Route 15 corridor contains karst features, notably limestone rock outcroppings and sink holes; streams and springs. Additionally, there are several historic sites along the corridor, including the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. The Route 15 widening project is funded with Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and local funds which do not require a formal environmental review such as a National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) study, National Historic Preservation Act Section 106, or State Environmental Review Process (SERP). Although not mandated based on the funding sources, the County will work to minimize or avoid impacts on historical, cultural and archeological resources as practically feasible throughout the design and construction phases of the project. Wetlands, floodplains and historical assets will be inventoried, researched and categorized.”

Supervisory Higgins, where is the new timeline, urgency and leadership to Fix Route 15 Now?

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Welcome to fixroute15now.com!

Welcome to Fix Route 15 Now!

Fix Route 15 Now is the voice of common sense citizens within the Route 15 corridor that is north of the Town of Leesburg, Virginia up to the Point of Rocks Bridge in Maryland. We are not a special interest group. We will continue to hold our elected officials accountable (County, State and Federal). We will fight for Route 15 to be fixed now, without delay.

We all are suffering. Special Interest groups have infiltrated the process. Our elected officials have continued to meet with these special interest “no growther” groups. There are only a few people within the corridor that want to see nothing done with Route 15. Some of these people are operatives of these special interest groups. Their tactics are radical, their ideas are illogical and their actions are becoming more desperate by the day. We call this “Tyranny of the Minority”.

Ask yourself 10 Questions:

  1. How many hours do you and your family spend sitting in Route 15 traffic?
  2. Are you watching your home values stagnate (if not decline) in the Route 15 corridor?
  3. Are you fearful to let your teenage children drive on Route 15?
  4. How long do your children spend on the school bus on Route 15?
  5. Do you ever worry that first responders (medical or fire & rescue) will be delayed in their response to your home, business or children’s school in the Route 15 corridor?
  6. Did you know that it will take 10 years to widen only 3.5 miles of Route 15?
  7. Do you know that there is no timeline to improve Route 15 north of Montresor Road?
  8. Do you know that there are no plans to improve Route 15 north of Lucketts?
  9. Do you ever wonder who is representing you and your family?
  10. Do you know the extent that special interest groups have infiltrated the process?

We need your help!

Go to www.FixRoute15Now.com website to learn more. See how the Federal Section 106 process and coordination with different partner agencies is delaying the widening of the first 3.5 miles of Route 15 to 4 lanes. Ten years to fix only 3.5 miles of Route 15 is simply unacceptable. This is not by accident but by design.

Write to:
Catoctin District Supervisor
Geary Higgins
geary.higgins@loudoun.gov

Leesburg District Supervisor
Kristen Umstattd
kristen.umstattd@loudoun.gov

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair
Phyllis J. Randall
phyllis.randall@loudoun.gov

Request the following three items:

  1. Immediately start the project with the $3.5M that has been available since July 1, 2018 with legislative action at the September 20, 2018 Board meeting to form a dedicated project management team to accelerate the Route 15 project!This project will not start until Supervisors Higgins and Umstattd introduce this ACTION (which should have happened at the July 3, 2018 Board of Supervisors Meeting)!
  2. Request that this project be completed in the normal 3-year time-frame by streamlining the section 106 federal and state agency project review.  Further, this process should happen in parallel with engineering and design phase.
  1. Stand up to the special interest groups who are putting up barriers and delaying the design and construction of the Route 15 widening.  We need safe roads for our families!

We need your help now.  Let’s take back control of the process from the special interest groups.

Write to Chair Randall and Supervisors Higgins and Unstattd today and request for Route 15 to be fixed now with an accelerated process and additional project management funds. Remember to follow us Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Fix Route 15 Now!

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