What was supposed to be a debate between groups on both sides of the county's development issues turned into a community symposium after the Piedmont Environmental Council decided not to participate.
The debate, which was proposed and scheduled by the Dulles South Business Alliance (DSBA), a group of landowners and businesses, was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, at the Arcola Community Center. The debate would have focused on the two major issues facing the Dulles South region, transportation and the fiscal impact on residents. The group invited the Right Growth Policy Institute, a new group formed to represent the middle ground voice of families and businesses, and the Piedmont Environmental Council, which promotes and protects the state's rural economy and natural resources, to join the debate.
"The future of growth in Dulles South will be decided over the course of the next couple of months," Bill Dean, DSBA's president, said in a press release. "The DSBA feels strongly that various viewpoints on the growth issue should be understood so that citizens, businesses and, ultimately, our political leaders will make responsible decisions on these [Comprehensive Plan amendments.]"
HOWEVER, PIEDMONT Environmental Council president Christopher Miller said his organization did not believe the debate would have been held in a constructive forum.
"The proposal was to participate in a forum they were sponsoring with a moderator from George Mason University," he said. "GMU is not a neutral party in this."
In addition, Miller said, the Piedmont Environmental Council believed its stance on the issues were already widely available to both citizens as well as members of the Board of Supervisors.
Miller said his organization would be more likely to support a debate that was proposed by a person or group without a vested interest in the decision made by the Board of Supervisors.
"Anytime there is an opportunity to debate issues in a neutral environment, that's positive," he said.