Motivated by the Rezoning and Dollar General application (Case 19-032), a group self-organized to develop and represent an opposition platform and campaign (Keep Ebony Country). We created an informal identity as the Ebony Preservation Group.
Our platform maintains alignment with Brunswick County Zoning Ordinances, Brunswick County Board of Supervisors Vision for 2035, and the Brunswick County Comprehensive Plan 2037 -- and enforcement aligned with Virginia statues. Our positions are seeded in respectful discourse, researched, and underpinned by relevant facts.
While initially focused on Rezoning Case 19-032, overall our mission is to advocate for Ebony’s preservation when rezoning proposals or other land use scenarios come along that would fundamentally alter the character and identity of this community and its future. In particular this includes approaching business development in A-1 Districts in a manner that aligns “need” with the appropriate kind of business that considers location impact — and does no harm. This is an issue for the whole county.
The organizational purpose is to create a centralized communication platform for the immediate issue of this case as well as the longer term horizon that is guided by the following principles:
The formational Ebony Preservation Group includes connections to founding families of the community: Conner Family (Mrs. Robert H. (Patricia Baird), Bobby, Tony and Lisa), Harvey and Sarah (Nash) Moseley, Elizabeth Moseley, Andrea Nash, Ed and Judy Carroll, Carol (Edwards) Deanes, and Al and Anne (Edwards) Hartley.
In addition we are joined by Hal and Dorinda Paxton who more recently sold their lake home that had been in their family for more than 30 years to buy Dorinda's dream home and setting in the heart of Ebony: the restored, historic home place of Senator J. D Elam west of Ebony General store.
All who wish to be publicly or privately associated are welcomed. All support is greatly appreciated.
For more information or interest in joining us, please contact Anne Hartley at 919-602-5012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While there is considerable opposition to Dollar General's aggressive expansion coming from small towns and more urban environments across America, we may be one of the first as a small rural community taking on the corporate giant - truly a David and Goliath story if there ever was one!
Our Platform strives to preserving the historic integrity and rural residential legacy of the Ebony community that is unique and a valued asset for the County. Bringing Dollar General into the picture and potentially other incompatible businesses and converting open fields to business settings will forever change the character of Ebony -- and put the 2 community stores (Ebony General and 903 Race-In) at risk and most likely will force one one to go out of business.
A speaker at the Planning Commission Public Hearing on 11/12/2019, who represented Lake Gaston population, associated Ebony with the term "rural elegance". Elaborating further, "My family doesn't ask to go to Dollar General, they ask to go to Ebony General!"
While there are locations appropriate for Dollar General: Ebony is NOT one. Residents have access to 2 Dollar stores within 10 miles of Ebony, plus Family Dollar, Food Lion, Ace Hardware and DrugCo just 6.5 miles away from the proposed Dollar General location in Ebony. Ebony's 2 locally-owned long-standing community businesses offer gas, food services, groceries and other merchandise (typically offered by Dollar General at a cheaper price that will attract the business).
These community stores are a neighborhood gathering spot for locals, provide local convenience for gas, groceries and food services - and destination for many more who come to Lake Gaston. They serve the community as well as broader Lake Gaston communities and those driving through on highway 903. Research suggests they may struggle to offset the Dollar General impact to their business. If they closed it would be a huge blow to the area in many ways. On the other hand what happens if the business does not materialize for Dollar General and they decide to close? What happens to their business site?
Dollar General's aggressive business model -- to build a store within 10 miles of each other all over the country -- is targeting rural America in particular. This is in part because of no or lax land use management. There is a litany of other examples documented of how Dollar General damages communities like Ebony. Communities across the country are taking steps to push back. We are fortunate that Brunswick Country has in place land manage governance to "say no" when appropriate.
We must make our position of opposition loud and clear and well-founded -- and hold Brunswick County leadership accountable to the comprehensive vision they have developed for the county. This vision and detailed planning strives to preserve history, the charm of special places throughout the county with the right kind of economic development in the appropriate places.
There is something very special about Ebony. How rare is it for a community to work together to gather and document its legacy and foundation for the future? That's what happened from 1987 - 1993 when "A History of the Ebony, Virginia Area" was published.
Many families, reflecting racial and economic diversity, contributed their stories that created an amazing sense of place, community, unity, mutual respect, and purpose. It was also clear of its intent to help guide the future while appreciating and preserving the history. It also addressed the major changes when Lake Gaston was created and all of the positive impacts as we welcomed the newcomers to "our family" and grew as a community..
Quoting from the Preface of book: Just as the people highlighted in this book were responsible for bringing our community together, the people of the present and future generations will be responsible for continuing the traditions of the past and meeting the challenges of the future. As long as people strive on, the legacy will continue.
Quoting from the Epilogue of the book: We can proudly say that the community of Ebony is ready to face a new century with the best of the old and the best of the new.
Together, as stewards (natives and non-natives) of the community, we are charged to continue traditions of the past while meeting the challenges and needs of the future. Our charge is to do so by staying connected and doing our best to combine the best of the old with the best of the new.
William Ward Moseley's final tribute to the town of Lawrenceville, VA where he grew up and the greater Brunswick County is captured in his pictorial view of historic sites around the county published in 2014 - 5 years prior to his and wife, Pat, deaths just several days apart in 2019. Excerpts from the book are included below as being so relevant to our cause to preserve the legacy and heritage of the Ebony community. It is also included in loving tribute to their legacy and message that live on.
This book is dedicated to the citizens of Brunswick County, Virginia for their memory to pass on to their children and their children. The people of Brunswick are of great stock, dedicated, loyal and staunch citizens of the Commonwealth. Theirs is a proud heritage and strong upbringing. It is hoped that this book will remain in their families for many years to come to remind them of what a great environment they have grown up in in. A special dedicate goes out to my father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. William Stuart Moseley, lifetime residents of Brunswick County, Virginia.
I was born in 1930 in a home at the very end of South Main Street in Lawrenceville, Virginia that is still standing. I have always been proud of both town and county and having some part to play in its growth in my years as an architect and now as an artist and author. I have always tried to be a good citizen wherever I found myself living and to try and give back a part of my success to the community. That is the main reason for this book, a pictorial part of the great history Brunswick County has played in the development of America! With townships becoming a greater importance in the local economy it is hoped this book will help increase and preservation of our heritage.
Page 56 (MAIN STREET - EBONY, VIRGINIA)
Ebony, Virginia is typical of the rural communities established before the War Between the States. It comprised of a general store, school and racetrack and was named after a prized black race horse name "Ebony" owned by Col. Tillman. It is still existing since many of new typical rural areas have faded away. Ebony General Store [shown below in the book] is still going strong with a new restaurant across the street. (Note: the restaurant mentioned is now the location of 903 Race-In and Kitchen.)
Brunswick County Zoning Ordinances protect the character and intent of A-1 Agricultural Districts where the subject property for rezoning is located by the use of constrained Conditional Use Permits for Business use requests - not spot re-zoning to B-1 Business that is being requested by this application!
The Code of Virginia states that the County Board of Supervisors shall have the power to Approve and enforce the county's comprehensive plan and land use control ordinances. The Brunswick County Board of Supervisors Vision For 2035 is clearly aligned with this accountability.
From Vision For 2035: "Brunswick County, noted for its scenic rivers and lakes, serene rural landscapes and beautiful farmlands distinguishes itself as one of the Commonwealth’s most progressive communities. Committed to improving the quality of life for all of its residents, promoting a healthy and supportive environment for rearing children, and developing a thriving economy with successful businesses, Brunswick remains steadfast in preserving its friendly, hometown atmosphere and identity while fostering continued growth and expansion."
This Board of Supervisors vision highlights retaining its "highly valued rural character" and pursuit of "unlimited tourism and recreational opportunities" that capitalize on our natural resources, rural scenic beauty, and quality of life.
This message is also central to how we present Brunswick County and its possibilities to visitor, prospective residents and home to new businesses of the future: https://www.brunswickco.com/visitors/byways_visitor_center
Learn more about Brunswick County: https://www.brunswickco.com/
The Brunswick County Comprehensive Plan 2037 ("Plan") was approved in 2017. This newspaper article captures that milestone: http://www.brunswicktimes-gazette.com/news/article_b3dc4d16-a852-11e7-b9c8-bf54b815ce63.html
"Planning Director George Morrison, III said the comprehensive plan is required by the state and has a 20-year horizon with 5-year windows of evaluations. Brunswick’s last plan was 2007 and it was ready for updating. The Comprehensive Plan will offer guidance for public decisions, direction for public projects, and a foundation for land management tools such as zoning. "
PURPOSE AND USE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN (section 1.1)
This Comprehensive Plan provides general guidance and a framework for making
important decisions regarding community priorities for public and private investment in
the next 10-20 years. In Virginia, every governing body must adopt a comprehensive plan
and review it every five years for any needed updates.
The plan forms the basis for community public projects such as transportation and utility
improvements and planned lands for residential, industrial or commercial development. In
addition, the plan provides a foundation for developing important land management tools
like zoning and subdivision.
Governmental officials use the plan when considering zoning changes, capital
improvements (water, sewer, roads, schools, etc.), economic development projects, and
housing initiatives. Citizens use the plan to understand the future goals and direction of the community and to understand planned public improvements. Many businesses use the plan when considering business investments and expansion. Federal and state agencies use the plan to ensure consistency with their projects and the local plan.
HOW THE PLAN APPLIES TO THIS EBONY REZONING ISSUE
The historic significance and character of current community of Ebony have been preserved for more than 100 years since the Post Office was established in 1882.
It is protected by the land use management classified in the Plan as "Rural Residential, Forestry, and Agriculture" (for both current and future use) and Zoning Regulations. The classification includes limited small, community-based businesses that support both the evolving needs of the community as well as the integrity of the community. They also serve as important gathering locations.
Ebony's historic preservation and connection to the past within its classic country setting is unique and a treasured asset to locals, the extended Lake Gaston region, and visitors - that draws retail business locally and beyond.
How do we line up with strategy and vision for Brunswick County as featured on the cover of the Plan? In conjunction with preserving its heritage, Ebony supports dynamic and creative economic development for sustaining and welcoming appropriate community business, increased focus on tourism, attractive quality of life for new companies that are considering Brunswick, and even the movie industry.
We continue to be strong in forestry and agriculture which includes leading edge organic farming - right next door to the proposed Dollar General! All of this is exactly what it means to be resourceful and resilient.