Montpelier residents wary of development
Doug Harris was about 10 minutes into his presentation on plans for a commercial development in Montpelier when the first member of the roughly 70 people seated before him interrupted.
“Let’s get on with the program,” shouted the man in the audience at the Montpelier Community Association on Thursday evening. “We’re tired of this.”
More members followed, shouting down Harris as he talked about growing up in the Hanover County community and the history of the area.
Then Harris asked for some water and collapsed. An off-duty emergency services worker and others in the crowd rushed to his aid. Harris stood up again, saying he was fine, but then collapsed again.
“I just got hot,” Harris said later, adding that he hadn’t eaten all day and hadn’t slept well because the meeting was on his mind.
Harris had intended to host a discussion about his application to change a land-use designation for 39 acres that partially front Mountain Road — U.S. Route 33 — and hopes to eventually develop a gas station, convenience store and restaurant on the property.
Interviewed before the meeting, Harris said there were people for and against his plans. But not everyone in the audience had their minds made up about Harris’ proposals.
Fred Wyatt, a lifelong Montpelier resident who lives on Mountain Road east of the property in question, said he liked Harris’ idea. “I think it would be nice,” Wyatt said.
Before Harris collapsed, one man shouted to ask why the area needed another gas station. Many people walked out in frustration with Harris’ presentation.
By the time the room had cleared, Harris was seated and explaining what happened to emergency services workers. His mother, who had been in the crowd, was at his side.
“I had hoped to get to the issues of the project,” he said. “I had hoped people in the community would understand I was a true resident of Montpelier and Beaverdam.”
Harris will get another chance to make his case Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Montpelier Community Association.
About 70 people attended Doug Harris’ presentation of his plans Thursday.