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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