warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/va10thamendment.org/htdocs/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_date.inc on line 153.

From Jack B. Weaver
Rural Retreat, Va.

I have a story to share on Conservation Easements.  In fact, here in Southwestern Virginia every time I get an opportunity to do so I tell anyone considering a conservation easement to run like a thief in the night, starting tonight, as that is the worst possible thing they could do to land they own.  Our farm dropped from a value of $7,000 to $8,000 per acre due SOLELY to the conservation easement to $700.00 per acre.  A drop of 90% - AND ONLY DUE TO THE EASEMENT. Land on each side of us is appraised at $6,000 to $8,000 per acre. Without the easement our land value would be at over $8,000 per acre.  We had two different farm realtor's and appraisers to assess our property and they set the value at $700.00 per acre and for sure they said it would not bring over $1,200 per acre at best and this is a landscaped 95 acre farm, a perfect farm with over 12 years of work and over $1,000,000 put into it such as 1/5 mile of white vinyl fence.  In fact, we can't even get a loan on it, I know, we tried, and should we sell it there is NO WAY anyone could borrow money to buy it if they were using the land as collateral.  It has perfectly ruined our value in the property.  Fact is, we can not sell it EVER as the amount one is willing to pay due to the conservation easement IS FAR, FAR LESS then our actual cash investment into the property not counting 12 years of work.

Banks and Farm Credit in public will say they are for Conservation Easements that is totally spin doctoring and I can prove that without a shadow of a doubt.

Recently I was at a meeting in Abingdon, Va where Mrs. Sandra J. Adams, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services was a speaker spouting the values of conservation easements.  I had to speak up on this and tell her she was wrong and I followed it with a letter to Mrs. Adams who replied.  "I appreciate your family's desire to preserve your farm and am sorry to hear of the difficulties you have experienced.  Conservation easements are legal documents that voluntarily limit the use of property to preserve agriculture, forest, natural, or culture aspects found on land. Conservation easements are an effective tool for addressing the loss of agriculture land to non-agriculture uses in Virginia.  Landowners need to understand the benefits and possible limitations of conserving their land."

 While I was lead to believe that at most one would have a loss of possibly 10% on their land, I understood that but not a loss of 90% and in fact the land becomes almost non-salable once in a conservation easement. unless you just want to donate it to some cause as a tax write off.   And to leave what you think is value to your heirs, well one just trashed that opportunity in a conservation easement program. Conservation easement people are not truly honest to people and appraisers in general just write off most value to land in rural areas that have conservation easements, certainly so here in Southwestern Virginia as I have spent hours upon hours talking to realtors and appraisers in the last 12-18 months regarding easements.  In fact, these lands that are in easements will eventually become liabilities as the cost to maintain the properties versus the returns are not there and they will become either run down properties or abandoned properties and loss of revenue properties to both the owners and tax collecting bodies - of that - I am sure.  In fact, funding for Conservation Easements should be totally dropped completely. Conservation Easements are ONLY valuable for very wealthy people and those involved in the selling of tax credit and land management.    The cons far, far outweigh the pros.

Actually what we have is "No Man's Land".  Can't keep it, can't get a loan, can't sell it (well, of course it could be sold for 700.00 an acre and maybe 200,000 for buildings, so for $200,000 or $300,000 someone would get a 1.5 million dollar farm plus or minus for $200,000 or $300,000

Really and truly, Conservation Easement will break us. Conservation Easements are a legalized Ponzi scheme.   No doubt of that.

 I would be glad to testify with factual information should such arise.  PLEASE, PLEASE GET THE INNOCENTS OUT OF CONSERVATION EASEMENTS.

Thanks, Jack
 

Published on Aug 29, 2013

Kirsten Lombard, Organizer for the Wisconsin 9/12 Project, presents on the topic of Property Rights and how government programs for developing land aren't as beneficial as they seem.

Grant money, Farmland Preservation Agreements, and Conservation Easements are just a few examples of how the government can control and tell you what you can and can't do with property that you own. 

 

A federal judge struck down the attempt to regulate stormwater runoff as a breach of authority.  The judge, U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady, ruled that the EPA had exceeded their authority in trying to regulate stormwater runoff into a Fairfax County creek because it was a pollutant.

“Stormwater runoff is not a pollutant, so EPA is not authorized to regulate it," O'Grady said.

Full story...

Martha Boneta's lifelong dream — her pursuit of happiness — was to be a farmer.

Since purchasing Liberty Farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, where she grows organic vegetables and has over 160 rescued livestock on her small farm, her life has been a series of harassment and bullying by people in power.

The latest trouble is that her house in the nearby, charming village of Paris, which has been placid ever since Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson bivouacked nearby during the Civil War, was vandalized. The same day, she was harassed at her farm by strangers in a Georgetown-registered car.

Full story...

Property owners typically are motivated to place their land in a conservation easement and take advantage of the federal and state tax breaks, to shield their property from development, or by the threat of government land-acquisition or due to very strict land-use regulations.

To receive tax benefits, landowners typically agree to restrict the use of land to one of the following:  

  • Outdoor recreation for the general public;

  • Protection of animals, plants or ecosystems;

  • Preservation of open spaces - for either farming, forestry, or ranching;

  • Protect scenic vistas visible from roads and other public areas;

  • Preservation of historic land or structures. 

They also must donate the easement to a government agency or a "qualified" nonprofit organization, defined as a charitable organization "that receives a substantial portion of [its] support from the public and government entities." And they must agree that the easement will be held in perpetuity, meaning all future landowners of the easement are bound by the terms of the deed and are prohibited from any future development. The intended purpose of the easement is to preserve the land for the benefit of the general public.

Under the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit - easement donors are allowed to use 40% of their “easement value” (the amount of their property’s value before the easement minus its reduced value after the easement) to pay their state income tax obligation for the year of donation and the ten years following. Whatever credits the donor can’t use himself in that eleven year filing period, may be sold to other taxpayers, usually through professional mediators or brokers.

These tax credits are normally sold for around $.75 on the dollar, depending on the market. In fact, these transactions have become so commonplace, that there are businesses established just to assist owners in finding buyers for their tax credits – for example - the Virginia Conservation Credit Exchange, LLC.

If you have a parcel of land with a pre-easement value of $1 million and donate an easement valued at $400,000, you are eligible to receive a $160,000 tax credit.

There is a cap of $100,000 tax credit per year so $100,000 can be taken the first year and the remaining $60,000 the second year.

Federal Income Tax Deduction reduces the easement donor's adjusted gross income (AGI) at 50% annually for the year of donation and up to the fifteen years following. Landowners who make 50% or more of their income from agriculture are able to deduct the donation at a rate of 100% of their AGI.  

In addition to the generous tax credits and deductions, the reduced value of the land with an easement, guarantees a reduction of 40% in the real estate taxes for the property.

Virginia boasts that its land preservation incentives are the "most generous" in the country. Indeed, the state budgets over $100 million a year to pay people not to develop their land.

While the Land Preservation Tax Credit was capped at $100 million per year in 2007, donations (conservation easements) in excess of the annual cap are rolled over to subsequent years. The amount of the tax credit cap is adjusted annually to the Consumer Price Index. Consequesntly, the cap has reached well over $108 million and it could be as high as $114 for 2013.

The annual cost of lost revenue from the federal income tax conservation easement deductions have averaged more than $500 million annually since 2005.

According the the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Conservation Lands Database, as of the end of 2012, Virginia has nearly 3.8 million acres of land in conservation easements.

Conservation easements are touted as a means for the struggling farmer to save the family farm during hard times while at the same time preserving agricultural and forestry industries.

But a quick review of the State & Federal funding programs offered on the VA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation's website, reveals it is more about protection of wetlands, grasslands, walking trails, bicycle paths and natural habitat, as well as non-threatened species while doing precious little to grow the nation’s crop supply and stabilize rising food prices.

Farmers like Martha Boneta, are quickly realizing that conservation easements do little to nothing to preserve their ability to farm. Martha bought her land with a conservation easement held by the Piedmont Environmental Council. After refusing to sell her land to the PEC, she came under fire by the PEC as well as Fauquier County government officials.

Martha was threatened with fines for daring to host a birthday party for a 10 year old family friend on her farm without government permission.

Additionally, they threatened her with fines of $10,000 for advertising a pumpkin-carving contest and for selling fruits, vegetables and byproducts of the things she grew on her farm like soaps made from her goat's milk and wool from her alpacas and sheep. Today, her farm sits closed for business.

If that wasn't bad enough, the PEC insists on inspecting her farm to see if she has accommodations for a residence, even though her easement allows a 1600 sq. ft. residence in the barn complex. They seem to imply that's she's running a boarding house illegally. 

Joel Salatin, a Shenandoah farmer,is called “the high priest of the pasture” by the New York Times. He warns all who venture into the “negative servitude” arena (referring to conservation easements) should enter with caution. In a letter to the editor of Flavor Magazine, Salatin writes about his inability to build a chicken coop, or even a doghouse, on the eased property he leased next to his farm to expand his farming capabilities.

Joel goes on to say “To have a non-farmer group from 200 miles away telling the landowner what is appropriate according to the easement is like putting an Amish man in charge of nuclear reactor regulations. What good is protecting farmland if we don’t protect the farmers and their economic viability on the land?”

Joshua Grizzle is one of the partners of Broadview Ranch in Lexington, VA. He writes “I also speak from experience here as my family has considered the conservation easement program on our land. I believe, however, that this program is a step in exactly the wrong direction.” 

He goes on to write, “If we are afraid that our land is going to become developed into a subdivision or Walmart, the solution is exactly not to try to put up blind barriers to development and further decrease land value. Instead we must figure out a way for landowners and the broader community to place a higher value on land used for things other than strip malls. We do that by creating value-added businesses on those lands that enhance, rather than destroy, the natural beauty.”

But land trusts deny any abuse and make the claim that easement donations have helped many cash-poor families retain farms and ranches they otherwise might have sold to developers. But some of the biggest and best-known easements have been linked to major corporations and some of the nation's richest individuals, from Ted Turner and David Letterman to the Rockefellers and DuPonts. 

Countless wealthy estate owners have cashed in big on the generous conservation easement program in Virginia with a state giveaway of vast sums - some measuring into millions of dollars - to induce millionaires to "conserve" luxurious estates that they had no intention of developing anyway?

While the amount that any individual landowner receives is kept secret from the public, a 2010 investigation by Hook, a Charlottesville weekly newspaper, revealed a veritable who's who from the Charlottesville business, entertainment, government, and environmental worlds taking advantage of the taxpayer.

Entertainment magnates like Dave Matthews, John Grisham, and Coran Capshaw joined business titans Hunter Craig, Wick McNeely, and Jim Murray in the program. 

Local leaders Ann Mallek, an Albemarle Supervisor and waterworks chair Michael Gaffney use the program. 

So do big names from the environmental world such as Nature Conservancy board member Michael Bills, Southern Environmental Law Center director Rick Middleton, and avid eco-donor Tony Vanderwarker.

In 2003, The Washington Post reported that The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental group, had bought scenic properties, placed conservation easements on them and then sold them to its supporters and trustees for reduced prices in exchange for cash donations to the Nature Conservancy approximately equal to the value of the conservation easement. The donations yielded huge tax write-offs for the wealthy supporters.

The Post reported conservation easement tax write-offs on golf courses, vacation resorts, dude ranches, unused portions of subdivisions and large residential lots. The same article reported that conservation easement donors were overvaluing their land at an average of 220% when calculating their tax deductions. 

Some would call it “socialized capitalism for the rich”!

There are no restrictions on where earnings come from to receive the generous tax benefits. In fact, the land in some cases sits in fallow. Thousands of acres of land are set aside merely for the thrill of fox hunting which is very popular in Virginia, funded by the taxpayer through the CE program.

Though the purpose of conservation easements is to terminate development rights, developers have found clever ways to realize huge payoffs in Conservation Easements as the Post article points out. 

Mike Kahn, a Florida golf course business consultant and former golf pro, advises celebrities and sports stars how they can save millions in taxes. Buy a golf course and prohibit building on the fairways. "You make virtually risk-free easy money," Kahn's Web site says. He explained in one Internet posting how an investor paid $2.4 million to build a golf course and reaped $4.8 million "in pure tax savings."

Veteran Real Estate Speculator, Hunter Craig, Dave Matthews & his band manager, Coran Capshaw and the band's fiddler, Boyd Tinsley, all investors with Forest Lodge LLC, paid $46.2 million in 2006 for 1,194 acres of land in Charlottesville known as Biscuit Run. The intent was to put some of the land in conservation easement and build 3100 homes on the remainder. But after obtaining approval of the project, development costs proved to be more than they were prepared to pay. And with the burden of property taxes as well as an eight-figure mortgage that had gone into delinquency, Biscuit Run faced the threat of becoming the biggest foreclosure in Albemarle County history. 

In 2009, the state offered to pay nearly $12 million in cash added to the $9.8 already received in tax credits for the undeveloped land. But Forest Lodge, seeking to recover more of its losses, found an appraiser willing to excessively inflate the value of the property to $87.7 million which was quite a leap from the county's assessed value of $39 million after the real estate crash. They sued the state for more money arguing that even though the land had never been developed, it was worth much more. They had secured the approval and rezoning by the county to develop much of the land. 

After a three-day trial in Albemarle Circuit Court ended on April 17 of this year, it was ruled that the land was worth $86.5 million, or 99% of what Forest Lodge LLC asked for.

In other words, the court's decision meant the taxpayer was now on the hook for a little over $31 million more in cash and state tax credits. Not only that, but the state and federal income tax deductions for the charitable contribution of the value over and above what was received, will add up to as much as $31.3 million more. The final cost of the land to the taxpayer could top $72 million making Biscuit Run the most expensive park in Virginia history. You paid for that!

I should add that due to public outrage over the deal, under McDonnell, the state investigated the near $88 million inflated appraisal by Patricia O'Grady-Filer but her case was closed with no consequence to her due to "insufficient evidence”.

At Wintergreen, a company subsidiary found an appraiser willing to claim in 2008 the 1,422-acre easement called Crawford’s Knob was worth $11.5 million, which was 4 times what a state-hired appraiser later determined. Like the owners of Biscuit Run, Wintergreen turned that valuation into several million in cash. Also like Biscuit Run, the state later cried foul.

From a $100 million listing in 2009, to a foreclosure and then purchase of a 745 acre estate by Donald Trump for a mere $6 million, Trump Winery is open for business. The land was put in conservation easement by the previous owners and since records of cash payouts and tax benefits are kept secret, it's anyone's guess how much the taxpayer was fleeced for that property. Trump is aiming to expand his acquisition of land with the purchase of 217 aces next to his winery, that is also in conservation easement, for the purpose of building a golf course. 

There's no shortage of millionaires waiting in the wings to cash in on the program whether it's to reap the tax benefits themselves or to capitalize on the value-stricken land often for mere pennies on the dollar. 

As more and more land is placed in conservation easements, more people will be forced into high-density urban development. Conservation easements serve to drive up the cost of the non-easement land that few will be able to afford. It redistributes the tax liability to the rest of the taxpayers and, further, redistributes our wealth, not to benefit the poor, but to line the pockets of the wealthy and well-connected. And you, the taxpayer are paying for it while your prosperity suffers and everyone's property rights are extinguished.

The result will be the implementation of the global biodiversity plan in a treaty that was rejected by the U.S. Senate and never ratified, to make Agenda 21 a reality. 

Private property consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use. When the right to use the property as the owner sees fit is restricted or in some cases even denied, the right to own land is rendered a barren right.  

As the global to local plan for sustainable development continues to gain momentum, it is worthwhile to step back and take a long look at the big picture, painted with a broad brush to reveal what Virginia might look like as his vision for the Commonwealth is more fully implemented over the next 10 years or so.

The picture painted here is based on official documents published by countless government agencies and non-government organizations during the past two decades as public policy for the transformation of our great nation for a "Sustainable America". These documents were rarely reported in the news, and average working people have no idea what sustainable development really means, and even less knowledge of what is in store for the future. If the vision of sustainable development continues to unfold as it has in the last decade, life in the Commonwealth and the rest of the nation will be quite different in the future. Click on Map to enlarge.

Agenda21web

 

 

The Vision

Half the land area of Virginia and the entire United States (in red on the map) will be designated "wilderness areas," where only wildlife managers and researchers will be allowed. These areas will be interconnected by "corridors of wilderness" to allow migration of wildlife, without interference by human activity. Wolves will be as plentiful in Virginia as they are now in Idaho and Montana.

Surrounding these wilderness areas and corridors, designated "buffer zones" (in yellow on the map) will be managed for "conservation objectives." The primary objective is "restoration and rehabilitation." Rehabilitation involves the repair of damaged ecosystems, while restoration usually involves the reconstruction of natural or semi-natural ecosystems. As areas are restored and rehabilitated, they are added to the wilderness designation, and the buffer zone is extended outward.

Buffer zones are surrounded by what is called "zones of cooperation." This is where people live - in "sustainable communities." Sustainable communities are defined by strict "urban growth boundaries." Land outside the growth boundaries will be managed by government agencies, which grant permits for activities deemed to be essential and sustainable. Open space, to provide a "viewshed" and sustainable recreation for community residents will abut the urban boundaries. Beyond the viewshed, sustainable agricultural activities as defined by government will be permitted, to support the food requirements of nearby communities.

Sustainable communities of the future will bear little resemblance to the towns and cities of the 20th century. Single-family homes will be rare. Housing will be provided by public/private partnerships, funded by our state treasury (in light green on the map), and managed by non-government "Home Owners Associations." Housing units will be designed to provide most of the infrastructure and amenities required by the residents. Shops and office space will be an integral part of each unit, and housing will be allocated on a priority basis to people who work in the unit - with quotas to achieve ethnic and economic balance. Schools, daycare, and recreation facilities will be provided. Each unit will be designed for bicycle and foot traffic, to reduce, if not eliminate, the need for people to use automobiles.

Transportation between sustainable communities, for people and for commodities, will be primarily by rail systems, designed to bridge wilderness corridors where necessary. The highways that remain will be super transport corridors, such as the proposed "Trans-Texas Corridor", which will eventually reach from Mexico to Canada. These transport corridors will also be designed to bridge wilderness corridors, and to minimize the impact on the environment.

 

Consequences of Sustainable Development

What is perhaps the most serious consequence of sustainable development is the least visible: the transformation of the policy-making process. The idea that government is empowered by the consent of the governed is the idea that set the United States apart from all previous forms of government. It is the principle that unleashed individual creativity and free markets, which launched the spectacular rise of the world's most successful nation. The idea, and the process by which citizens can reject laws they don't want, simply by replacing the officials who enacted them, makes the ballot box the source of power for every citizen, and the point of accountability for every politician.

When public policy is made by elected officials who are accountable to the people who are governed, then government is truly empowered by the consent of the governed. Sustainable development has designed a process through which public policy is designed by professionals and bureaucrats, and implemented administratively, with only symbolic, if any, participation by elected officials and the public. The professionals and bureaucrats who actually make the policies are not accountable to the people who are governed by them.

This is the "new collaborative decisions process," called for by the President's Council on Sustainable Development and is being used to steer communities to a "consensus" of a predetermined goal. Because the policies are developed at the top, by professionals and bureaucrats, and sent down the administrative chain of command to state and local governments, elected officials have little option but to accept them. Acceptance is further ensured when these policies are accompanied by "economic incentives" (grants) along with lobbying and public relations campaigns coordinated by government-funded non-government organizations.

Higher housing costs are an immediate, visible consequence of sustainable development. Land within the urban growth boundary jumps in value because supply is limited, and continues to increase disproportionately in value as growth continues to extinguish supply. These costs must be reflected in the price of housing. Add to this price pressure, the regulatory requirements to use "green seal" materials; that is, materials that are certified, either by government or a designated non-government organization, to have been produced by methods deemed to be "sustainable."

Higher taxes are another immediate, visible, and inevitable consequence of sustainable development. Higher land values automatically result in higher tax bills. Sustainable development plans include another element that affects property taxes. Invariably, these plans call for the acquisition of land for open space, for parks, for greenways, for bike-and-hike trails, for historic preservation, conservation easements and many other purposes. Governor McDonnell included plans for a trust fund to acquire land for affordable housing and provide financial assistance to low-income residents and those affected by foreclosure and for the homeless. Every subsidy and piece of property taken out of the private sector by government acquisition, forces the tax burden to be distributed over fewer taxpayers. The inevitable result is a higher rate for each remaining taxpayer.

Another consequence of sustainable development is the gross distortion of justice. Bureaucrats who draw lines on maps create instant wealth for some people, while prohibiting others from realizing any gain on their investments. In communities across the country, people who live outside the downtown area have lived with the expectation that one day, they could fund their retirement by selling their land to new home owners as the nearby city expanded. A line drawn on a map coupled with strict land use regulations and zoning steals this expectation from people who live outside the urban growth boundary. Proponents of sustainable development are forced to argue that the greater good for the community is more important than negative impacts on any individual. There is no equal justice, when government arbitrarily takes value from one person and assigns it to another.

Nowhere is this injustice more visible than when eminent domain, conservation easements, and regulations designed to manipulate the homeowner into surrendering his property in despair, is used to implement sustainable development plans. The Kelo vs. The City of New London case brought the issue to public awareness, but in cities throughout the nation, millions of people are being displaced, with no hope of finding affordable housing, in the new, "sustainable" community.

In Florida, this situation is particularly acute. Retirees have flocked to Florida and settled in mobile home parks to enjoy their remaining days, living on fixed incomes, too old or infirm to think about a new income producing career. Local governments across the state are condemning these parks, and evicting the residents, in order to use the land for development that fits the comprehensive plan, and which produces a higher tax yield. Prince William County attempted to condemn a mobile home park that flooded due to government's failure to repair a defective culvert even though the damage to the homes was below the 50% of value threshold to condemn. Fortunately, the court ruled against the plan but many aren't so fortunate and fall victims of the "greater good," as envisioned by the proponents of sustainable development.

Housing is considered "affordable" if median home prices in an area are no more than three times the median household income in that area. This ratio is called the "median multiple". By the time sustainable development reached it's peak in California, the median multiple reached close to 11. Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond were the first in Virginia to adopt the policies with the same consequences reaching the median multiple of 4.1 - 5.7.

Less visible, but no less important, is the erosion of individual freedom. Until the emergence of sustainable development, a person's home was considered to be his castle. William Pitt expressed this idea quite powerfully in Parliament in 1763, when he said:

''The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the crown. It may be frail - its roof may shake - the wind may blow through it - the storm may enter, the rain may enter - but the King of England cannot enter - all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.''

No more. Sustainable development allows king-government to intrude into a person's home before it becomes his home, and dictate the manner and style to which the home must conform. Sustainable development forces the owner of an existing home to transform his home into a vision that is acceptable to king-government. Sustainable development is extinguishing individual freedom for the "greater good," as determined by king-government. 

 

Conclusion

The question that must be asked is: will sustainable development really result in economic prosperity, environmental protection, and social equity for the current generation, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs?

Even in the early days of this century-long transition to sustainability, there is growing evidence that the fundamental flaws in the concept will likely produce the opposite of the desired goals. Forests that have been taken out of productive use in order to conform to the vision of sustainable development have been burned to cinders, annihilating wildlife, including species deemed to be "endangered," resulting in the opposite of "environmental protection". Government- imposed restrictions on resource use in land that is now designated "wilderness," or "buffer zones" have resulted in shortages, accompanied by rapid price increases that result in the opposite of "economic prosperity." In sustainable communities, it is the poorest of the poor who are cast out of their homes to make way for the planners' visions; these victims would not define the experience as "social equity".

Detailed academic studies show that housing costs rise inevitably as sustainable development is implemented. Traffic congestion is often worsened after sustainable development measures are installed. Just ask those in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond where the principle of sustainable communities was adopted more than a decade ago. And always, private property rights and individual freedom are diminished or extinguished.

Sustainable development is a concept constructed on the principle that government has the right and the responsibility to regulate the affairs of people to achieve government's vision of the greatest good for all. The United States is founded on the principle that government has no rights or responsibility not specifically granted to it by the people who are governed. These two concepts cannot long coexist. One principle, or the other, will eventually dominate.

For the last 20 years, sustainable development has been on the ascendency, permeating state and local governments across the land. Only in the last few years have ordinary people begun to realize that sustainable development is a global initiative, imposed by the highest levels of government. People are just beginning to get a glimpse of the magnitude of the transformation of America that is underway.

The question that remains unanswered is: will Virginians accept this new sustainable future that has been planned for them and imposed upon them? Or, as Virginians have done in the past, will they rise up in defense of their freedom, and demand that their elected officials force the bureaucrats and professionals to return to the role of serving the people who pay their salaries, by administering policies enacted only by elected officials, rather than conspiring to set the policies by which all the people must live?