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THE VIEW FROM PAEONIAN SPRINGS
The Secession Movement in Loudoun County, Virginia
How it might affect us all.

by Michael H. Thomson
March 30, 2005

When my wife and I moved to Loudoun County, Virginia and the little village of Paeonian Springs a few weeks ago, I had no idea the county was so divided. So the reader can connect themselves to Loudoun County here are a few factoids:

• Home of Dulles International Airport
• Headquarters of America Online
• Fastest growing county in the U.S.
• 25 miles from the nation’s capitol
• Across the mountain from the Shenandoah Valley

From Dulles International and east, the traveler encounters some of the densest urban sprawl in the country. To the west is beautiful untarnished landscape of Old Virginia complete with stone barns, hiking trails and rustic scenery.

The issue facing the residents of Loudoun County is the pace of growth. Some want unrestricted McDonalds, Wal-Mart’s, condominiums, and concrete. Most of this is taking place in the east of the county, while others in the west want slower growth – and preservation of the features that draw tourists to this pristine area of Virginia bordering West Virginia and Maryland.

Over the years, a balance existed and some zoning laws were passed that helped maintain that balance. Then suddenly a few weeks ago, something happened that blew the lid off everything. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled against the zoning laws declaring them unconstitutional.

Many landowners -due to the laws - had found themselves in a position of not being able to use, sell or even buy property as they wished. Joining major developers with a population at their back screaming for housing, both groups sought their day in court - and won.

Meanwhile the Loudoun Countians who enjoy the sound of birds’ twirping in the morning and the slight whiff of manure from a nearby farm were outraged! Action moved quickly. Committees were formed and an official ‘blood in the eye’ secession movement was launched and even a name for the proposed new county – Catocin – a name particular to the region. The secessionists hope the issue can be brought before the Virginia Legislature early in 2006.

A web search can bring you more detail than I can or am willing to provide in this column. Although I live here, my dog ain’t in this fight – yet… However, I do have some other thoughts on secession. They are gloomy, brooding, pessimistic thoughts - typical of Mike Thomson on a rainy day.

It is a rainy day and these thoughts haven’t come about just because of the local secessionist movement which somewhere months ahead will probably generate national headlines if for no other reason than the issue’s proximity to the national media – some of whom live here.

For several years, I have been observing the divide that is taking place in this country. A divide between right and left, Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and those not so inclined, pro-life versus pro-choice, and now the labeling of a place one lives as a red or blue state. My bones with their Irish genetic pattern are telling me this is leading up to something. Something that could be unpleasant and long lasting – Revolution.

I’ve quit wondering if it will happen, but when it will happen and what will be the spark that lights the powder. Of course, these are my personal thoughts and it is not my intention to persuade anyone reading this column to adopt or share them. God forbid it ever happens.

So how does the secessionist movement in the fastest growing county in the United States mean anything to anyone anywhere else?

It means something only if it succeeds. National news highlights it. Prominent figures become involved – trust me, Loudoun County is full of nationally prominent figures, I met one at church two Sundays ago – shocked me to my toes. Finally, the copycat effect goes into gear. If it succeeds, the example is set that it is possible and others gain hope it can be done in their county and maybe even, state. Further division, further chaos then someone from a red or blue state gets the idea that it can be done within the country.

Maybe the sun will shine tomorrow…

About the Author:
From Terry Schiavo to possible armed conflict along the Arizona border, Mike Thomson sees smoke over the horizon...


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