by Stephen Haner
To My Fellow Landowners in Wintergreen:
Chill out, will you?
My inbox is filling these days with Wintergreen-related propaganda opposing a natural gas pipeline that is proposed to pass through Nelson County.
Here’s a recent example, emphasis added:
“The great majority of Wintergreen owners will permanently see it as they enter Wintergreen and from all of the major vantage points here – Black Rock Circle, Devils Knob Loop all the way to Blue Ridge Overlook and down Cedar Drive, the Plunge, the Wintergreen/Founders Vision Overlook and for several miles as it winds its way down to Rockfish Valley. Property values on the Mountain and in Stoney Creek will be adversely affected.”
Oh, please. Once the pipeline is built and then re-buried – beside but not through Wintergreen — people from a few vantages might see a wide swath of grass, a straight long meadow, snaking down the mountainside. Just like now they see a winding road.
Here’s a little tidbit you all know but the rest of Virginia might not. Property values in Wintergreen are already depressed, still far below the peak in 2007 or so. That particular micro real estate market was in recession long before there was any discussion of a pipeline.
Why? Energy prices and the general malaise in the U.S. economy are to blame. A second home and resort membership out in the mountains is a luxury item, requiring a very nice income and a willingness to fill up the family buggy with lots and lots of fuel, especially if your second house is on top of a mountain. If you care about your property values, you want fuel prices to continue at these current low levels and you want Virginia’s economy to start booming again. You want Virginia back on top of the “Best for Business” rankings.
And that’s what the pipeline, as one element of the cheap-natural-gas fueled rebirth of our economy, is all about. Wintergreen is the perfect example of how the wealth of the Richmond, Hampton Roads and Washington areas finds its way to the Blue Ridge.
As the pipeline routes are debated, as the “No Pipeline” signs sprout in the county, I understand the anger of those landowners who have a family farm or business that is directly impacted. But the wealthy of Wintergreen whining about their view have me scratching my head, because some of you have to understand enough economics to see the benefits of this pipeline and enough engineering to know it will be safe and barely visible.
Me, I’m hoping sometime in the distant future somebody else has the inclination and income to buy our house, and that wealth is not going to be created without energy. The BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything) philosophy coming to dominate this country is the real threat to property values.