LETTER: The real story on the Camp Parkway fiasco

Published 1:42 pm Thursday, August 10, 2023

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To the Editor:

I am proud to be an American. I am proud to be a Virginian. I am also proud to be a citizen of Southampton County. I have been very fortunate and blessed to be able to serve on the Southampton County Board of Supervisors and The Southampton Planning Commission.

The real story on the Camp Parkway fiasco started in the back room of The Board of Supervisors in a 2016 meeting. In a closed meeting, the president of the Franklin Southampton Economic Development requested that the board would OK rezoning of the Camp Parkway. The Board was informed that the developer would not begin the project unless the Board agreed to the following: 1. The project would be supported with only 20% of the project details present. 2. The board would ignore a negative recommendation from the Planning Commission. 3. The Board would also ignore any public sentiment or negative feelings about the project. The Planning Commission voted 8-1 against the rezoning. The Board summarily ignored the Planning Commission’s recommendation to not rezone. I have been on the Planning Commission for 34 years and this is the first advisement from the Planning Commission that was over turned. The developer and FSEDI got their wish! Real democracy at work!

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors over the past four months asked about information concerning rumors of a Chinese company and massive storage development. We never received any concrete answers and were totally blind-sided by the recent announcement of a definite development decision. As supervisor Updike previously stated; “There is no transparency in Southampton County.” It seems that the FSEDI people wanted a “feather in their cap” rather than consider the adverse effect on Southampton County and its citizens. If you stream the July meeting of the Southampton County Board of Supervisors meeting, you will see that your board was extremely distressed with the situation.

Most people realize {unless you have been under a rock for 20 years} that every Chinese company is funded by the Chinese government. The Chinese government is controlled by a ruthless Chinese Communist Party {CCP}. The Chinese have bought almost 500,000 acres of farm land in this country. A lot of it is near our military bases. It is therefore obvious that the Chinese are not only interested in farming. There must be a grassroots involvement in this country to stop this subversive behavior. You cannot buy a square inch of land in China! We are going to have to fight them now or later.

This breach of transparency that resulted in the Southampton County Board of Supervisors being blind-sided should be understood by all Southampton County citizens. This has and is going to result in a loss of trust and respect for these entities. That is a shame, that this could have been totally avoided.

You may ask what we can do about this. The Southampton County Board of Supervisors is unfortunately powerless to do anything about this fiasco. However, many of us have contacted our government representatives including Wachsmann, Brewer and Kiggans. They may be more responsive if multiple, multiple inquiries are made. Public outrage can play an important part here also. I have never seen a company that wanted to come to a location where they were not wanted or invited. Of course, this is a Chinese company and this probably does not mean anything to them.

Shortly after submitting my letter, I received a call from Emily Brewer. We had a very fruitful conversation. She is very interested in our problem, but did not have a solution at this point. She also stated that she would be available for further consultation.

The citizens of Southampton County need to keep the faith and not take this lying down. If we do not look out for Southampton County, then no one will.

Alan W. Edwards M.D.

Citizen and servant of Southampton County