July 10, 2017 · OPINION
The true cost of a movie theater for Warrenton
The Warrenton Town Council will conduct a public hearing Tuesday, July 11, on a mixed-use proposal along Walker Drive, where the landowners want to attract a movie theater.
By Roger Martella
There are few people in Warrenton who would welcome a cinema with open arms — and a popcorn and candy budget — more than the Martellas. Our family loves going to the movies. We trekked to Centreville or Gainesville nine times in the past 12 months. During my eight years on the town council, recruiting a theater was a top three goal, and I promoted a public/private partnership ordinance specifically to help.
Thus, it is with real regret that I believe the likelihood of a movie theater being built in Warrenton is virtually zero. While serving on the council, I met with representatives of theater property developers. The response was uniformly the same: Warrenton does not have the population to support the struggling business model for cinemas. It isn’t even close.
This is not a surprise. Just look at our neighbors with theaters: Gainesville, Manassas, Centreville, Fredericksburg, Woodbridge and Fairfax. What do they all have in common that Warrenton doesn’t? Tens of thousands of residents within a few miles and endless suburban sprawl and congestion. The economics of today’s movie market dictates communities like those — something Warrentonians have worked against in prioritizing small town quality of life.
What I fear the most about this proposal is we would lose twice. First, the apartments and shops are built and threaten our traffic, schools and water infrastructure, and the vacant and struggling storefronts in town. Second, we never get a movie theater at the end of the day. In fact, nothing in the plan requires anyone to build a movie theater, ever.
The property owners deserve to develop their land and enjoy a hard-earned return. The land is zoned for commercial uses that have proven lucrative (two floors of one neighboring building under construction were just sold for $4 million!), but also a tremendous benefit in providing needed services and jobs. I might be persuaded that if the developers were required to build a theater first, then they should be given some flexibility on apartments and shops. But I doubt they would entertain that idea — and that should make the theater proponents very worried.
In the three years since I’ve been off the council, I’ve wanted to keep my personal views private on town matters so the elected leaders can govern free from any backseat critique With real hesitation, I thought this decision important enough to break silence for the first time. I worry this development is not about a theater, but threatens the type of small town quality of life that Warrentonians embrace and leads the transformation to a Gainesville-type community.
The council and the town staff deserve to be commended for the terrific creativity and focus they have shown in the last few years to promote true family friendly activities through festivals, special events, outdoor movies and expanding the WARF and other facilities. I urge the council to continue to prioritize such opportunities that are in keeping with Warrenton’s small town quality of life, not in direct tension with it.
The writer served on the town council from 2006 to 2014 and lives in Warrenton with his three children.
Wellington · July 29, 2017 at 6:31 pm
BTW, raise your hand if you would have been opposed to building massive multi-lane interstate highways far out through the middle of nowhere in the 1950s? What about FHA home loans in the same decade to subsidize the building of single-family homes in the 'burbs? What about the government-subsidized mortgage write-off?
Without any of MAH TAX DOLLAHS to provide for the above, we'd all be stuck living in massive high-rise rental apartment blocks in Arlington right now.
Wellington · July 29, 2017 at 6:26 pm
With regard to the original subject of the article--I'm moderately skeptical of the commercial component. I think we have enough retail in Warrenton. Having a Wal-Mart and Home Depot alone takes care of about 90% of whatever you absolutely *need* to purchase--I don't mind driving down 29 to purchase luxuries.
However there IS need for workforce housing. Before anyone blows a gasket upon reading that phrase, workforce housing does not refer directly government-subsidized Section 8 complexes. Or, for that matter, even indirectly subsidized Low-Income Tax Credit Housing like Highland Commons--even as successful as LITCH has proven to be! If the developer would promise to build apartments that addressed this need that would make me much warmer to the project than I am now.
And for those of you who think Warrenton is the next Gainesville--don't kid yourself. We're not nearly close enough to I-66. Who ultimately has to worry about becoming the next Gainesville? Marshall! (don't laugh, it's coming if we're not careful).
Workforce housing has a very specific definition--housing provided by the private sector designed to rent at market rates affordable to those who make between 60 and 120 percent of a locality's median income. This means they would be rented by teachers, cops, lower-level white collar workers at the like. Such housing is SEVERELY lacking in Warrenton and for that matter all of Fauquier.
Wellington · July 29, 2017 at 6:12 pm
Eighty years ago the same commentators dissing rural broadband would have been aghast at the prospect government-subsidized rural electrification. Heck, I think some of them may have even opposed government-subsidized railroad building in the 19th Century. Yet both have paid dividends to us far greater than their original cost, down to the present generation.
Sometimes, you have to have a bigger vision and think longer-term than BUT MAH TAX DOLLAHS!
Jim Griffin · July 17, 2017 at 10:32 pm
NNT: Gee, I guess I really don't know about Buffett because I didn't write that. You got me there. What was I thinking? I should've offered every aphorism he's served up since starting the annual letter to shareholders over 40 years ago. We are not friends -- we did business once a few decades ago -- but I trust him with my money and admire his business sense (not to mention the results).
nonewtaxes · July 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm
For someone who knows about Buffett you really dont know about Buffett. He trusts his managers for sure but he also knows that a good manager in a bad industry will fail.
Jim Griffin · July 17, 2017 at 10:28 am
NNT: It is financially prudent to get extra benefit from a municipal backbone deployment. When networks are deployed it is prudent to bring extra capacity because the marginal cost is minor by comparison to the project itself.
My response is not that it is not my job to research that (although it truly is not). My response is that there is no proposal to research. None.
This is simply my contribution to thinking the problem through as an engaged, informed citizen. Apparently your contribution is to simply say no, whatever may come, whomever asks, including the Sheriff.
Your snide remarks about Buffet distinguish you in your own way. Good luck with that. Buffet trusts managers to make smart decisions, it is his style, unlike you, who seems to engage in endless second-guessing.
Jim Griffin · July 17, 2017 at 10:16 am
RGJLA: There is no broadband proposal, certainly not yet. I've read materials about some of the ideas put forward, some of which I would oppose, others that can be made to work. In my opinion, wholesale can be made to work, retail cannot.
Fiber between govt buildings is highly relevant. It is the backbone of many efforts across the country and around the world. In our local example, county leaders like Sheriff Mosier see the need for a fiber and wireless network. Extending its benefits to retail service providers is a minor additional cost to the fundamental task of wiring the govt buildings distributed across our county. We need to pull fiber to these buildings -- now or later -- and when we do we can pull additional, leasable otherwise dark fiber to serve as a backbone for retail providers of bandwidth.
Expecting the market to address the last mile has been the point of the materials I've seen since the beginning. Fiber, wired or wireless, there is a need for infrastructure distribution across the county. If we connect govt buildings to start we gain the immediate benefits to our county services and hold a door open for enterprising businesses that can deliver the last mile from these new multiplexed access points.
This has been done to good effect elsewhere. I cite examples -- e.g., Huntsville -- but you never deliver on your claims to know places where whatever figment of your imagination it is your are opposing has failed. In fact, since you don't understand how a municipal backbone could help retail service providers, you may simply not understand this issue at all. I am a networking professional, you may not be one at (you hide behind an acronym so I do not know).
So tell us, RGJLA, how many networks have you deployed? How many have you administered? What experience do you have with dranchise agreements and rights of way? With what connectivity projects have you been involved? Why can't you name even one of these places you claim regrets following the "demagogues"? How do you price non-existent proposals and conclude they don't work financially?
It really doesn't matter if it works or not, whether it makes financial sense or not, does it? You've admitted you simply oppose government, even for sewers and water, thinking people should handle their own (which I do). You will oppose even a beneficial, well-balanced program that is favored by the vast majority of our county because you are against government action in this area, even when the Sheriff supports it. You will declare even me -- who like you opposes retail service efforts and already has bandwidth to his farm -- self-interested because you will write anything to stop government growth, even the Sheriff. Got it, RGJLA, whomever you are.
nonewtaxes · July 17, 2017 at 9:55 am
Your ignorance is glowing. You should try to separate fact from speculation. You state it is financially prudent to go forward with the broadband project yet you provide no facts.
Of course there is no actual financial history re:broadband project but before capital is committed there needs to be some reasonable projections. What have you???? Also, there should be financial data available from all of those counties you claim have done broadband with success. Where is it??
Your response will be that it's not your job to research any of of that.
You claim to be acquainted with Warren Buffett. For some silly reason you even own both classes of stock (A AND B). What would Buffett do????
RGLJA · July 17, 2017 at 9:49 am
Since you now claim to not even understand the broadband proposal, I'll fully agree with you. You really should review the proceedings from past BOS meetings, and also the reports they commissioned to help develop their ideas on provision of rural broadband service. The fiber bandwidth between government buildings is irrelevant to the fundamental problem of delivering rural broadband service. You've added a red herring to the entire debate because you don't understand the problem, nor the proposed solution. I should have stopped debating when I suspected you didn't understand, but I hope to do so now.
Jim Griffin · July 17, 2017 at 7:06 am
RGJLA: You've got to be kidding! You think someone should have financial data about a proposal that's not been made?
You are another pseudononymous sniper who is against any potential proposal that might come. You are obstructionist. You oppose progress in all its forms.
Read carefully, RGJLA: I wrote clearly I am against doing this to bring service to me -- I have connectivity. I favor doing so to assist the sheriff in getting the connectivity he needs and has requested (I was there when he spoke in favor of it) and in so doing further empower retail service providers who deliver the last mile to others.
How does helping the sheriff help the average person? Because they can benefit from common infrastructure deployment, the marginal cost of which is law. Seriously? Do you read at all before you fire off your sniping rounds?
When you write "You clearly do not understand the last mile problem" you display your ignorance fully. Identify yourself if you want even a scintilla of credibility; I stand behind my words and credentials. You won't even identify yourself.
Get this RGJLA: There is NO proposal yet. None. You are chasing a ghost. My suggestion is simply one view of what could happen, and it mirrors success elsewhere, which reminds us: You've not backed up your claim it's demagoguery that's failed elsewhere with even one example.
Let's face it: You don't know what you're writing about. You are writing about proposals that haven't been made from behind a moniker with no accountability.
RGLJA · July 17, 2017 at 5:08 am
JG: Just as I thought. No data at all. You have no idea what these things cost and you haven't got a clue what the alternatives would cost. You just want the government to provide broadband service to you. Your reference to some internal government network between gov't buildings has nothing to do with the topic of providing broadband internet service to rural residents, and wouldn't help rural residents whether it existed or not. You clearly don't even understand the 'last mile' problem. I hope you'll actually study the proposals that are being made, and consider the costs versus the actual benefits, and think about why this is an inherent government function that justifies higher taxes, rather than private investment.
Jim Griffin · July 16, 2017 at 9:47 pm
RGJLA: Better you should defend the folly of paying monthly for network capacity the county can operate for itself at a much lower cost, adding telephones, video, security and network access, schools sharing lessons and so forth. Your burden to justify a non-standard approach to network operations.
Jim Griffin · July 16, 2017 at 9:20 pm
NNT: It is in fact fiscally prudent to pull extra fiber due to the low marginal cost of pulling additional strands, the additional capacity leasable to others (through multiplex access points, which can include wireless towers) and/or reserved for future expansion.
Furthermore, maintaining an internal data network for county services is basic, connecting schools, courts, sheriff and more to the internet and one another. Voice/phones, data, video are obvious applications that benefit from the security, privacy and bandwidth available with a fiber network. Far better to pay once than monthly for more limited leased lines, and county needs greater security and privacy. No modern CTO fails to run phones, video, security and other needs over an internal network.
I am not defending here some amorphous "broadband project" that has yet to take the form of a proposal. Indeed, from what I can tell, there is no plan to deliver services to end users, yet comments assume that as a given. I am defending not running a county ISP but instead wholesale leasing out unused network capacity that is a side benefit of having a county network that benefits the sheriff, schools, courts and others.
It would be a bad financial decision to build such a network without pulling additional fiber, which is relatively inexpensive after pulling the first run. Marginal cost (the cost of each fiber run after the first one) is quite low, and yet the value is very high.
What I can tell you is that it is prudent for the county to operate its own network for its own reasons, and that in doing so it would be wise and a good value to deploy leaseable, additional capacity, making the most of the rights-of-way used in the process and getting full use of the labor and equipment used for installation.
RGLJA · July 16, 2017 at 9:12 pm
Yes, JG.... please show us the fiscal prudence numbers. This should be hilarious.
nonewtaxes · July 16, 2017 at 8:30 pm
Please cite your financial data backing your claim of fiscal prudence with regards to the broadband project. Show me the numbers!
Jim Griffin · July 16, 2017 at 9:32 am
If this is your key point, I agree: Internet is not the issue because you have your hands full with other issues, like an airport, an aquatic center, most particularly Fauquier County's intervention into real estate markets, buying development rights with tax money and withholding them from the market.
Internet is not the issue because it is more properly the subject of government involvement than the above. Go fight those battles, RGJLA, because they are more egregious, and stifling development is at the core of why the market is somewhat reluctant to address data.
Besides, you ignore the main point, which is that it is fiscally prudent for our county government to install data infrastructure to address the county's internal data needs -- the schools, the sheriff's office, courts and more -- and leasing wholesale the extra capacity to private service providers is simply smart economics the proceeds of which would offset taxes, as has occurred elsewhere, like Huntsville.
We close this discussion with an acknowledgement that you who claimed other places have tried this and "are not so working out so well" have failed repeatedly to cite examples, so it's fake news until you do.
Yes, I believe government should do as its citizens ask, so I support the above examples, including govt acquiring development rights, and, in addressing the consequences of doing so, making a wholesale fiber backbone available to service providers. We live in a democracy, so yes, full speed ahead: Airport, real estate rights (over 12,000 acres at last count), aquatic center -- and empowering internet service to reach our schools and citizens.
RGLJA · July 16, 2017 at 8:10 am
@JG There isn't much point in continuing to debate. I believe in limited government, with the least taxes necessary for legitimate government functions. Your entire argument is that the government should be able to do whatever they think is "good" for the public, with whatever new taxes they can get away with. You won't acknowledge the fundamental issue, and instead continue to argue on the basis that other governments are getting away with the same thing and some of them haven't yet failed. Fauquier county should not be creating internet infrastructure, fiber backbones, internet services to end users, or any other manner of service delivery. They should allow, existing technically competent internet companies to do all that, with their own private investment, by enacting business-friendly government policies, creating franchise agreements, and knocking down regulatory barriers wherever that can enable an existing company to provide good service. None of that requires massive new taxes.
Jim Griffin · July 14, 2017 at 3:10 pm
RGJLA: You specifically wrote "and some of those cases are not working out so well." Which cases are those that are not working out so well?
BJ: Agreed. I cannot find anywhere it was proposed or agreed that Fauquier should "get into the Internet business" on a retail level. I did not support such a thing. On the other hand, if others are going to do this they will need to work through the county because it is a matter subject to regulation through franchise agreements.
To all: Even if Comcast or Verizon or another company wanted to provide fiber service in Fauquier, they'd need to coordinate with and get the permission of the county in a franchise agreement. We should work with them on that, even provide a fiber backbone to make it happen.
Fauquier is doing this for our new cloud facility, OVH -- providing for a fiber connection. They can include services for citizens in their plans. It needn't be through direct provision to end users, but it should be enabling for services that want to provide service to end users.
BJ · July 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm
Trump is trying to run the USA like one of his businesses instead of the government that it was intended to be. That's working out just great! LOL The Government of Fauquier County does not need to get into the Internet business, we already have businesses that do that. And I'm one of the people dependent on Satellite for our Internet, etc. which works spotty at best. Blaine Johnson
Jim Griffin · July 14, 2017 at 8:04 am
RGJLA: Again, you refuse to cite an example of where this so-called demagoguery has led to a bad result. You are citing only an example of one argument for broadband: Children learning, and there are many reasons. I ask again: You said this has led to all manner of problems elsewhere. Tell us where. Give us examples. I've given you examples to the contrary.
Let's be clear: We are only in this predicament because government is overstepping and controlling the property market to reduce population density. It does so in a number of ways that go beyond a free market to include purchasing and holding those rights. I like low population density but realize it has consequences that must be addressed, consequences that might not arise if we let the real property market operate without govt restraint.
It is not at all unusual for government to involve itself with utility provision. Telephones, electricity, data lines, water/sewer and more. We do this already.
Yes, enabling is precisely the point of these efforts. Dominion Power, to use your example, benefits from regulation of rates and service provision. It also benefits from the direct provision of rights-of-way from the government.
Finally, you assume in this example that Fauquier proposes to engage in the direct provision of internet service to end users, and you assume -- despite my observation otherwise -- that I would support such an arrangement, I do not and no one has proposed such a thing. Wholesale provisions, yes, but extending that to competition with service providers has not been proposed.
Let's be specific: Verizon employees told me directly to my face that if there were fiber muxes around the county they'd use them. Let's give them interconnect points such that they can provide fiber service where it's needed and wanted. Bare minimum we need to do this work for the county's needs anyway. I attended a BOS meeting and spoke directly with Sheriff Mosier, who openly supports this plan. Call him a communist -- these insults from you and others in a tiny minority (read the surveys) are simply obstructionist.
RGLJA · July 14, 2017 at 6:00 am
@JG I already gave you one example of demagoguery... the poor under-privileged child in the rural areas that can't learn without broadband internet. Nonsense.
You continue to avoid the main issue; local governments have no business trying to provide broadband internet service where it is economically infeasible. Don't you think Comcast would love to have more customers in rural areas if they could find a way to serve that market economically? Local governments should be focusing on knocking down barriers and enabling businesses to serve their customers more efficiently, rather than creating their own government service. You continue to cite the fact that other municipalities have done it so it must be good. More nonsense. Many of those cases are unfolding disasters already. And your assertion that it is somehow better for government to address connectivity than apps doesn't make sense either. Should Fauquier county create a new power company to provide electricity in places where Dominion Power hasn't found a way to get a return on investment? Surely electricity is a more fundamental need than high-speed internet service, but can't you see that it makes more sense to enable Dominion Power or another existing utility company to find a way to address those needs? Ultimately, it is a question of who pays for the investment. It makes no sense to enact a huge tax increase on the citizens of Fauquier County to create a new service that existing businesses can't make work economically.
Jim Griffin · July 14, 2017 at 3:41 am
NNT: Running the county with the efficiency and efficacy of a well-run business is nothing like communism. It does not suggest govt should run anything other than its own affairs, which include providing the sheriff, the schools, the courts and more the digital access they need with special requirements for security, redundancy, growth and emergency preparedness.
NNT, write Huntsville, Alabama, and tell them they are communists. They did just this and are reaping rewards.
What would you do, NNT? Would you simply put the taxpayers on the hook for paying over and over again for network connectivity better provided internally, and without the county's special needs for security, privacy and emergencies? Do you lease cars for the sheriff, or do you buy them? Lease guns, or purchase them? Apparently, by your standards, Sheriff Mosier is a communist for choosing to provide these things to his department, and that is ridiculous. A doozy, even coming from you.
nonewtaxes · July 13, 2017 at 11:06 pm
Think of it as a business? It aint supposed to be a business or in business unless you're a commie and think that the govt should run things.
But let us assume it is a business and a smart financial decision. Show me the numbers. What is the NPV? What are your assumptions re: discount rate, cash flow, usable life...?
Businesses don't invest in capital projects without reasonable expectations of reasonable returns. That's why no business has expanded broadband into the area.
I'd bet you wouldn't build anything because the CFO would tell the CEO that this is FUBAR.
Jim Griffin · July 13, 2017 at 7:01 pm
A proper bandwidth project is a smart financial decision:
1. Look at the County as a business all its own. Thinking as a Chief Technology Officer, I can tell you that if I were the County's CTO I would build a fiber network that over time reached every relevant County facility, especially schools distributed across the county. I'd use that network to provide extensive digital services (video, voice, data, applications) that benefit from digital connectivity.
2. Because in this example it is the County, the CTO essentially has the right-of-way to directly connect all the buildings. To the degree possible, it would be long-term financially prudent to own and operate that network in-house. Security and privacy are important factors with the sheriff and students and courts involved.
3. Yes, the cloud is important as an outsource, but that is storage and apps, not connectivity. Cloud actually requires more connectivity, not less, and the County should own and provide its own. It is essential, must be secure and reliable in emergencies.
4. If while installing that fiber I failed to pull additional, leasable dark fiber for future capacity and renting I would be derelict in my duties. The marginal cost is relatively small by comparison to the benefits.
As a result, I think it penny-wise and pound foolish not to build a Fauquier County fiber backbone that serves both the county and, by empowering service providers, its citizens. This is not a tax. This is good business practiced prudently and conservatively.
If this is how the BOS is thinking, I applaud their wisdom. If this is demagoguery and tax and spend with user support and end-user engagement, I think it needs further consideration. Wholesale services, not retail services, should be its aim, and they can ride the back of smart network deployment for our county. It's win-win done right, folly done wrong, and the worst mistake would be failing to build and deploy a fiber network (with wireless backup) for the county.
Jim Griffin · July 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm
1. We forget that most of us are about half an hour from one of the world's greatest movie theaters, the Culpeper-based Library of Congress theater open to the public displaying truly great films optimally preserved and projected: https://www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/schedule.html
2. While truth is a defense to defamation, it feels over-the-top to call our neighbors corrupt. While we might disagree on occasion, I suspect we are far more alike than we are different.
3. RGJLA: Please answer my question about examples of where "demagoguery" has led to bad outcomes. Know this: I've used satellite for TV and internet. It's fine for TV, not so good for internet. High latency, strict bandwidth caps with high overage fees. Not suitable for many internet services, including video or voice. Your tax analysis makes assumptions not in evidence and discounts the truly colossal fees incurred by some for net access. Your comparison with water/sewers is apt: All are either provided or heavily-regulated for health/safety, and like internet you can sometimes do your own (as I do, for both internet and water/sewer).
You could complain in all the same ways about electricity or telephones or whatever. In fact, the vast majority of people in the county want action, proven over and over.
What should be done? You write as if it is decided. From what I can tell, it is not. From my view, there are potentially inventive solutions that are laden with value and not packed with cost.
An example: Regardless, the county should and will run fiber to every building it owns, especially schools, and when it does the marginal cost of adding additional fiber runs is minimal (commonly know as dark fiber). This dark fiber can be leased to service providers, even added to fiber hubs that extend service deeper into the county and usable by Verizon, Comcast and others. High value, relatively low marginal cost with returns to citizens in more service offerings and lease payments.
TooTrue · July 13, 2017 at 11:53 am
It is sad that good people like Roger Martella were not left in office. The pro-growth, greedy and corrupt likes of Sunny Reynolds and company are a sad replacement. They only care for themselves and money at the expense of what was a much better Town than it is becoming.
BikerFriendlyGal · July 13, 2017 at 8:40 am
RGLJA · July 13, 2017 at 4:47 am
Jim Griffin: My brother and his wife retired to a more rural part of the county, with a million dollar home on 20 acres. Unfortunately, cable service is just not feasible out there. With two satellite dishes, television and internet, plus hotspots, they get somewhat usable internet service; not great. I'm closer to town in a nice neighborhood with great service.
We are being told that we must extend broadband into rural areas, because our under-privileged children need better service to enable greater learning. The irony is, that under-privileged child probably already has broadband internet, because they live in a higher density neighborhood, perhaps with a single mother in a townhouse. It is preposterous that we should burden her with additional taxes, just so my brother can stream House of Cards over Netflix. It's like taxing the middle class to subsidize the wealthy.
The county officials pushing this idea are drunk with power to spend other people's money. Even with the consultants they have hired, they seem incapable of realistically assessing technical and business feasibility, nor envisioning the future alternatives. It is a terrible idea to launch this expensive initiative locally, and an even worse idea politically. And yes, I know it's happening in other counties too... and some of those cases are not working out so well.
RGLJA · July 12, 2017 at 10:11 pm
We already have a highly regulated utility providing communications services throughout the county, with rights of way, franchises, etc. On top of that, customers have alternative sources, e.g. satellite service, cellular hotspots, etc. Yet many local governments just can't help themselves, insisting they need to enable even more, better, faster, with the flimsiest excuses that somehow people are terribly deprived without this government expansion to every rural household. We don't even do that with water and sewer. Private wells and septic systems work just fine without government systems extending into the business for rural customers. How is internet service any more a government business than sewer and water.
nonewtaxes · July 12, 2017 at 6:52 pm
The broadband project is going to be the largest tax increase in the history of the county.
Jim Griffin · July 12, 2017 at 8:40 am
RGLJA: Communications, power, similar utilities -- traditionally these have proved exceptions to market reliance, which would not have delivered rural telephone service (to cite just one example) or electricity (to cite another) without a mandate and franchise agreements that spread cost, guarantee profits and monopoly status.
After all, with these examples, rights of way are at issue for power lines, data lines, voice lines and so forth. Expecting private actors to access public rights of way without govt intervention is folly.
BTW, I see no sign whatsoever of your contention that Fauquier has any plan to run its "own internet service" for end users, but there is talk of a municipal backbone that has proven a workable approach elsewhere, precisely because it empowers a market for end users. Huntsville, Alabama, is an example.
Do you have any examples of where "Demagoguery has been very effective in rural broadband case" and delivered the sort of excess you decry? I research this lots and have no such examples, but am very open-minded to pointers from you to failures in this regard, which I would agree should be cautionary tales.
RGLJA · July 12, 2017 at 7:19 am
Of course the market will ultimately decide if a cinema on Walker Drive is viable or not. It's good that most people have the good sense to see that, yet so many blindly support the more egregious example of government hubris, rural broadband. Demagoguery has been very effective in rural broadband case. Using tax dollars to subsidize internet service for the relatively wealthier farmers and land owners in rural Fauquier county should have been an easier case to debunk. Of course broadband internet service is wonderful, but there are good reasons why the market can't provide it at the same low cost in rural areas. Fauquier county seems hellbent on running their own internet service using our tax dollars, which is not going to end well.
nonewtaxes · July 11, 2017 at 9:29 pm
Movies were a top three priority??? What fell below - public safety, education, economic growth, ....
Movies on tv 30 seconds. Drive to movies 30 minutes. Lets raise taxes to build a place for movies so that you can make a night of it but not have to travel more than 10 minutes.
If you think movies would work in Warrenton, open up your checkbook and begin building. The free market will allow you to do so. It will also allow you to go broke. Dont beech about others who don't want to go broke.
martinkus · July 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm
JG: Your point about free markets and local governance is a good one. It is a difficult balancing act for the county to maintain its rural/agricultural beauty against the forces of developer greed, residential development, and all of the attendant crap it brings along. Why are there still so many empty storefronts in Warrenton when one of the current Town Council members promised in her campaign to fill those empty store fronts? Interesting, don't you think, especially since I believe it is known that she is an advocate for the Walker Drive project. Warrenton has a main street; the town really doesn't need a second (i.e., a faux) second main street just around the corner. I believe Town Council will vote in favor of the project and just ignore the planning commission's earlier decision. Afterall, the Town Council is very developer-friendly. As for bandwith, yes, the county should attempt to provide better service to those folks out in the more rural areas of the county. Hopefully, something concrete will come along in the immediate future!
Jim Griffin · July 11, 2017 at 5:02 pm
Martinkus: I'm no expert, simply an observer. The market makes its own decisions, visible to all. Agreed with you: Developer promises are bull, so is the practice of shaking them down. Also agreed: I like low population density and contribute to low population density. I am fine with the zoning and the govt intervention into the real property market, but I do think it hypocritical to those who claim they are strictly capitalists engaged with free markets (ours are not). I like Fauquier County (although I do prefer more bandwidth) and am not seeking to change it in any fundamental ways.
martinkus · July 11, 2017 at 4:46 pm
Since the experts believe Mr. Market will not build a cinema and/or bowling alley in "low population density" Fauquier, shouldn't the Walker Drive developers drop the bull about promising those amenities and simply come clean about what they really want to do (e.g., residential!)? Never trust a developer that promises stuff down the line! Also, what is wrong with "low population density" Fauquier? There are many of us who love our county as is and don't want Fauquier to become Prince William or Loudoun for that matter and, as well, don't want Warrenton to turn into Gainesville with its fake main street.
J. Chris Cloud · July 11, 2017 at 12:18 pm
BRAVO, Jim Griffin. Well put. Cake, and eat it, too, simply does not survive economic evaluation. Couldn't agree more.
Jim Griffin · July 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm
Mr. Market doesn't want to build and operate a movie theater or a bowling alley for the benefit of our sparsely populated area -- we attract grocers and auto dealers. Requiring/expecting someone else to do what Mr. Market will not is simply another kind of tax.
If Warrenton wants/needs broadband or a library or a movie theater or a bowling alley or an aquatic center or an airport -- etc -- it will need to provide them itself, or move Mr. Market to participate, as do the cable, power and telephone utility franchises.
Here's what doesn't work: Low population density expecting the attention Mr. Market pays to high density areas. As a result, the same govt that stifles development is put on the hook for making up the difference in services.
When we centrally plan our local real estate market for a particular result, we are next expected to regulate away the consequences. Slippery slope, indeed.
J. Chris Cloud · July 11, 2017 at 8:45 am
BJ · July 11, 2017 at 6:51 am
"Things for teenagers to do." I keep hearing this phrase. Have you seen what the teenagers are doing all the time? It involves a cell phone and their thumbs, even when they are at a theatre, the bowling alley, a concert, at school, on a hike, and in the same room as their friends. IMHO that is not interacting or participating in the event or people. Why should the Town of Warrenton put in a theatre or bowling alley when an empty building with places to sit and get a coffee is all they need?
BJ · July 11, 2017 at 6:34 am
The question is how many more people watch movies at home on their computers or televisions. HBO has a promotion currently running for $10 per month for 12 months to watch all the movies your heart desires. It costs around $20 per person to go to a theatre to see the latest releases, that around $100 per family. You can buy a lot of movies on DVD and watch them over and over for that kind of money. It's the "have to see right now" folks that can't wait for the movie to come out on DVD that go to a theatre. We personally want to put our money into more tangible things.
J. Chris Cloud · July 11, 2017 at 6:29 am
Gee. A movie theater. Perhaps we can get on to go in between the Blockbuster and Borders Books, across from the DeLorean dealership. All the Pan Am employees can take their families there!
Observer · July 11, 2017 at 6:15 am
Just more housing and empty stores, mark my words, nothing more will come out of this. Oh, yes, and traffic. This project is clear BOHICA.
martinkus · July 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm
Well stated Mr. Martella!
And that is why, perhaps, the developers have said they will have a placeholder for the possibility of a movie theater and/or bowling alley. I doubt they will ever attract either or intend to do that. Never trust a developer that promises stuff down the line! Also, why hasn't Town Council focused on filling the many empty store fronts in Warrenton rather than glamorizing the monstrosity being proposed on Walker Drive?
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