‘We need more supply’

Ron Makela

Where do I start? Why do I feel so strongly about this issue?

I was raised in the Midwest, in a middle class family. My dad and his partner formed a small business that supplied wood products to the furniture factories in Grand Rapids, Mich. If you sat in an American Seating desk in the 1950’s & 60’s, my dad probably sold them the plywood that they were made of. When Jan and I moved back to Rappahannock, they were still being used in our school system.

My family lived, comfortably, in an affordable 3 bedroom, 1½ bath home on a residential lot. At age 16, I was able to work summer jobs in the furniture factories at $1.25/ hr. My dad had the highest respect for the men and women that worked in those factories and felt it was important for me to experience what they did. This was an educational experience you did not get at school. This country would not be where it is today, if not for a middle class that was dedicated to a work ethic that gave them pride in what they were doing. They continually came forward with ways to improve the manufacturing process. They made it possible for those they worked for to create successful businesses. Back then, many of the business owners were willing to share the wealth, which created the ability of all that were involved to live comfortably.

I married into the Hackley family in 1976. Jan was raised in a similar situation. A middle class family that ran a small business, “Hackley’s Store,” that served the needs of all that lived in the community. Prior to the 1970’s most of the people that lived in Rappahannock were, at best, middle class. They looked after each other and made sure everyone was taken care of. The flora and the fauna took care of themselves. The views and the vistas were what they were and still are.

Jan and I continued the middle class tradition and remain so today. We could not have moved back to Rappahannock if it were not for the “family division” option in the zoning code. We live in a 3 bedroom house on 3.8 acres.

Rappahannock has successfully, in the last 30 years, with the 25-acre minimum, eliminated the possibility for most middle class families to locate in the county. They can afford the 3-4 bedroom home, but not the 25 acres to put it on. Plus, does everybody need or want 25 acres?

In reading Alan Zuchlag’s commentary in last week’s News, I just shook my head. How can anybody be so out of touch with reality. $2,000 rent for a 4-bedroom home? They rent for $1,400 in surrounding counties. Four people could rent it for $500 dollars apiece? That could constitute a zoning violation for unrelated people living in a single family residence. “Universalize the particular” and “particularize the universal?” These are terms that are used in discussing human rights issues.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, writes in their magazine’s May issue that: “Consumer confidence remains high and people are saying it’s a good time to buy, but the market is bifurcated. Moderately priced homes are high in demand while upper-end homes are moving slowly. Affordability is what consumers are looking for. This is good news, but we still need more supply. If builders can ramp up production of lower priced homes, plenty of business awaits them.”

Would it be all that bad if Rappahannock had a hundred of these homes in well thought out areas in or near our villages?

The writer lives in Amissville.

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2 Comments

  1. Right on, Mr. Singleton! Would add Charlottesville/Albemarle County to your list of examples I moved back here from tthere to get away from all those things you listed. Had I wanted to be crammed in with a bunch of other people in some apartment complex unit I would have stayed in Charlottesville. Yes, i miss being in close proximity to Mr. Jefferson’s Academic Village, but I have a view of Old Rag out of my bedroom window. As the beloved John Denver put it “I’d rather live on the side of a mountain than wander through canyons of concrete and steel.”

  2. The time -tested 25 acre minimum zoning has saved the County from becoming the kinds of counties like Culpeper & Warren. Rappahannock County is not for everyone. & yes …a hundred of these homes would be a bad thing…. & the next 100, & the next hundred….. accompanied with the extra services & utilities they would require. Also, the chain stores, fast food franchises, crime , trash, pollution, degrading of our quality of life, etc.
    Once the ball gets rolling …..it’s impossible to stop ! I live in an urban region & experience the mess everyday
    that the zoning policies Mr.Makela is promoting causes.
    Don’t fall for it Rappahannock County … you will be sorry you did.
    Alan Zuschlag’s editorial last week was right on target. He is an expert on the real estate market & has traveled, worked & lived extensively both inside & outside of the Untied States, & like many of us have witnessed firsthand the negative effects of poor zoning & short-sighted government policies. His “ Rappahannock Manifesto’” should be required reading by our elected officials in Rappahannock County !

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