Published: February 21, 2009
Shouldn’t Va. Uranium be paying some county taxes?
To the editor:
Pittsylvania County must position itself to be the final determinant as to whether or not we agree with the findings of any and all studies regarding uranium mining and milling in our region. Neither the Coal and Energy Commission nor legislators who do not represent us should decide our fate.
Pittsylvania County’s zoning ordinance — which was enacted “for the purpose of promoting the health, safety, or general welfare of the public” — states that the Code of Virginia gives the governing body of any county the authority to regulate “the excavation or mining of soil or other natural resources.” It appears that the authority exists for the governing body to ban mining and milling of uranium in the county until studies are completed and we (citizens and local representatives) decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. If we are not satisfied that the results of the studies assure community health and well-being, we can continue the ban. It does not appear that the Dillon Rule applies here. Supervisors should take the initiative to find out.
I applaud the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors for their recent resolution which states, “no damage or harm will be done to Pittsylvania County, its businesses, institutions, environment and its citizens by uranium mining, as opposed to a cost-benefit approach to this issue or simply accepting minimal damages …” — but we can do more. We are not powerless, unless we choose to be so. ENACT A BAN!
A call for a ban on uranium mining and milling is a separate issue from a revue of the mineral tax. The ban will give us an opportunity to decide if uranium mining and milling will be a detriment to health and economy. Exploring options regarding the county’s mineral tax is altogether different.
I am not a proponent of uranium mining in Pittsylvania County. However, Pittsylvania County is undergoing a reassessment. The Code of Virginia allows mineral lands to be “specially and separately assessed.” Areas in the state and around the country levy taxes on undeveloped and/or improved mineral lands, mineral reserves, excavated ore and as mineral rights. Mineral rights can be bought and sold, like your personal property, without an ounce of ore leaving the ground. Virginia Uranium Inc. sits on top of billions in assets but has not paid a penny in mineral taxes to the county. If that proves a hardship, we can allow VUI and others a free pass on taxes if we ban the mining and milling of uranium. That being said, I’m sure VUI will put a “happy spin” on this as well.
KAREN B. MAUTE
‘King Coy’ struck out Tuesday
To the editor:
In “County to look at uranium mining ban,” (Feb. 19, page A4), Coy Harville, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, said Supervisor Hank Davis’ authorship of a resolution without telling the board ahead of time was “sneaky.” However, Harville said he voted for it because the resolution, when given to the Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee, won’t make much difference.
“It’s just a piece of paper,” Harville said.
Harville, who had initially voted for the combined resolution before supporting Davis, declined to reveal his opinion of uranium mining, saying instead there’s a statewide moratorium on the practice.
This was in response to Davis’ motion to resolve that the “study commission” must find that “no damage or harm will be done to Pittsylvania County, its businesses, institutions, environment and its citizens by uranium mining, as opposed to a cost-benefit approach to this issue or simply accepting minimal damages … .” Supervisor Marshall Ecker seconded Davis’ motion.
In other words, the “study commission” must find that this criterion is met conclusively and absolutely before recommending that the current moratorium on uranium mining be lifted.
As a member of the audience watching this comedy of errors, I must tell you that, in my mind, this unanimous vote nearly didn’t happen. My impression, from watching Mr. Harville, was that he found himself surprised that every hand was up in favor of Davis’ resolution. It appeared to me that, this being the case, as opposed to the usual “gang of 4” block vote — Harville, William Pritchett, James Snead and Tim Barber — that he is used to, he found himself the odd man out, so he stuck his hand up and declared a “unanimous” vote.
Harville’s inane comments recorded above proves out my impression and shows, in my mind, his complete and utter disdain for Pittsylvania County, its businesses, institutions, environment and its citizens.
It is obvious that his vote was meaningless to him! One must wonder why? It is shocking that an elected “servant” of the community would react this way!
So, other than producing a “wasted” piece of paper (by the way, as much as I hate to admit it, Harville’s statements are true), what was accomplished Tuesday night?
Tuesday night proved that people, working together for a common cause, can have control of their future and take back their inherent governing authority!
King Coy and his ilk do not rule us! They represent us! They do not, and will not, work for corporations’ interests on our dime!
Davis and Ecker deserve our thanks and support. They have helped us to achieve a major — if inadequate — step.
The next step will be to codify into law protections that will forever protect “Pittsylvania County, its businesses, institutions, environments, and its citizens.”