Editor: I support the Hillsboro’s project, but not its road closure plan.
The town originally sold this plan as one that would permit traffic through the town (one lane) except for full road closures limited to 60 non-consecutive days. It did not seek winery, brewery, farmstand, or farm business input on this plan. It informed these businesses only after the plan was adopted by the town and later approved by VDOT. The road closures have contributed (along with COVID-19) to substantial losses and layoffs and cancelled investments by businesses, including ours. The full closures were to occur in November 2020 and spring 2021.
In March and April 2020, we asked the county and the town to accelerate the closures because we were under COVID-19 closure orders and residents in the area were under stay at home orders. To great fanfare, the town announced it would accelerate plans and move full closures to May-June 2020.
Then the town changed its mind. It informed us, through the press, that they didn’t accelerate the planned closures, but instead increased them from 60 non-consecutive days to a total of 90 days. And the town sought and received VDOT approvals. No business input again by wineries, breweries, farm stands or farms before these decisions were taken.
Now, the town says, based on your reporting, that they will/may keep the road fully closed until sometime in August, but not to worry it will be open for local businesses in the fall.
I, and most people outside the town who rely on Rt. 9 for commuting, business, school, living, no longer trust anything the town says. The town is interested only in the town and its project’s completion. It has and continues to demonstrate little genuine concern for the project’s impact on everyone around the town. Moreover, the fall business the town wants to help us with will not make up for business lost to full road closures and COVID. More job losses. More lost revenue. More business failures.
And the town and county don’t care. If they did, there would be hearings at the county and local level before these decisions were taken. There would be impact studies on residents, commuters and businesses that were published. There would be compromises. There would be decisions that reflect the impacts identified in the studies
What we got from the town and the cCounty were dangerous local detours, way finding signs, surprise plan changes and pain. We also got the bill, too. Most of the funding for this project is county and regional finding paid by taxpayers. Enough.
Steve Bozzo, Bozzo Family Vineyards