The beauty of compromise

Published 10:51 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

Change is obviously an uncomfortable proposition for many residents of Western Tidewater, evidenced by the civil protests in recent years over such issues as wastewater treatment facilities, pad-ready industrial developments, Naval aviation, high-density housing, and so on.

The debate du jour — whether to allow the training of Labrador retrievers in Southampton County that are used to sniff out wartime explosives — has been given the royal treatment as well. An extremely fired-up and vocal group, mostly composed of those who live near the originally proposed dog training sites, vehemently opposed granting the zoning variances needed by American K9 Interdiction due to the noise generated by the company’s training activities, which would destroy a peaceful and quiet existence sought by most who live in our community.

For most folks, the thought of awaking each morning to the simulated sounds of an AK-47 isn’t appealing, and to those neighbors whose property values and rural lifestyle may have been compromised, we would certainly have extended our sympathies.

Others voiced opposition on the grounds of potential safety issues related to the dogs and their handlers roaming around private land in the county. Others still, we suspect, objected on the grounds that they oppose anything related to change.

And this is where a proposal for something new and different in our community usually meets its demise.

But we find ourselves in the unique and welcomed position of commending everyone involved for finding common ground on which to compromise to see a worthy endeavor find new life. American K9 Interdiction, whose presence in the community will certainly have a positive economic impact, not only dropped its request to use the most objected-to locations but has shown a tremendous willingness to adjust its training schedule and regimen to be the best neighbor possible, limiting where and how often it would use simulated gunfire and explosives so as not to disturb residential neighbors.

Southampton County landowners have stepped up in impressive numbers to offer several large and suitable tracts of land, which will allow American K9 to achieve its operational objectives. And the Southampton County Board of Zoning Appeals rightly saw fit to approve the variances required to allow the company to move forward.

For once, it seems, the baby was not thrown out with the bathwater.