Mont­pe­lier res­i­dents wary of devel­op­ment

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - REMEBERING - BY MICHAEL THOMP­SON mthomp­son@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6254

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.

MICHAEL THOMP­SON/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

About 70 peo­ple at­tended Doug Har­ris’ pre­sen­ta­tion of his plans Thurs­day.

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