In 2002, developers in the small town of Lovettsville, in Loudoun County, Virginia, proposed a large-scale housing development that was billed as a throwback to “small-town America.” The development would have had a town square, shops, restaurants and a lot of upscale houses priced about $500,000. The development struggled in the economic climate, and a few houses were built–badly, it appears, with driveways that are too short and other problems. Residents of these new houses banded together under the leadership of local activist Bing Lam and demanded changes from the developer and answers from the town government that approved it. Lam recently announced plans to run for mayor against the incumbent Elaine Walker who has been the mayor of Lovettsville for nearly 20 years. It may not be fair to say that the residents “prevented” the development. For one thing, some houses were built, but the grand plans for large upscale houses and the various retail areas did not materialize. For another, it wasn’t specifically the town’s activism that did it–in part the developers realized that in the current real estate climate no one in their right mind would pay $500,000 for a large house in this small town. Lovettsville’s problems are far from over, but the population of the town is increasing in there are some signs that economic recovery is at least beginning.
It is difficult for common people to fight against the development by large companies. They often do not have the necessary funds or people. The people in Virginia must hold public meetings to organize the community and decide how they feel as a group. They must approach the company peacefully and try to reason with them about the development. They should contact their political representatives and any other relavent organizations (environmental groups, community groups) for assistance.
The most effective protests are well organized and peaceful. Often a compromise must be reached, but this may be better than no action for the people in Virginia.
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