No "Williamsburg on the James"

As a fellow military veteran, I'm disappointed to hear Emery Skeen's misrepresentation of the democratic process through which Scottsville's zoning regulations were long ago enacted and are still administered [News, "Trash or treasure? Scottsville car dealer outraged," February 27] (

I am further distressed to hear his belief that he should be exempt from those regulations– which his neighbors follow– or that he's being persecuted because he's lived in the area 75 years and I haven't been so fortunate.

Nor do I understand the descent into name-calling– especially when used incorrectly. Merriam Webster defines a "carpetbagger" as "a Northerner in the South after the Civil War, seeking private gain. A nonresident or new resident who meddles in politics."

It's really irrelevant, but I'm a native Virginian, the War is long over, I am a town resident (unlike Skeen), and as a volunteer, I gain nothing from reminding a business to adhere to town ordinances.

Skeen may not be concerned by the objections of his neighbors, but I am, and I take seriously my responsibility to respond as fairly and promptly as possible to the complaints the town receives, especially when so many are submitted about a single, chronic problem.

Skeen's attorney, Benjamin Dick, accuses the town of targeting his client unfairly, suggesting our time would be better spent "trying to fill the town's storefronts." Obviously, the two issues are directly related: Many visitors have cited "that junkyard coming into town" as justification for investing elsewhere.

We would be remiss not to pursue the equitable enforcement of existing ordinances that keep the town safe and attractive for everyone while working to strengthen the town's economy. Scottsville's active Economic Development Committee and strong Chamber of Commerce aggressively pursue projects to improve our commercial base. I'm sure town businesses and residents would all appreciate the benefit of Skeen's many years of experience if he wanted to offer help in those efforts.

This is not a matter of "gentrifying" Scottsville into a "little Williamsburg"; I know of nobody with even the slightest desire to attempt such a ludicrous change– and I would vehemently oppose it should they try.

But the "Americana" that Dick seems to wish upon us– a lot full of "rusty machinery"?– could be worse. The natural beauty, historic buildings, small businesses, thoughtful neighbors, and small-town warmth of Scottsville is already true Americana, and, along with the town's council and staff, I'm working diligently to preserve all that.

Steve Phipps