As a certified "Grumpy Old Man", I am legally required to complain about everything. If I am ever found to have a positive opinion on any issue, I could lose my Social Security benefits or be required to eat supper at 4:30 at the "WoodGrill Buffet". Now, in order to complete the requirements to qualify for my handicap license plates and big sunglasses, I want to complain about growth.
Harrisonburg was such a perfect town before it got big. No shopping centers, strip malls, traffic and all these people in the check out line at WalMart. For most of the year, I go out of my way to avoid driving on Reservoir Street or Port Road and that makes it almost impossible to get out of Costco on a Friday afternoon. Now, with all this traffic comes more stoplights. It take almost 20 minutes for me to get to the Heritage Oaks Golf Course and I pass at least 12 stoplights when going to the JMU Theater or a football game.
The most insidious effect of this unbridled growth has been on real estate values. In 1976, I bought a small home for $11,000 but, because of growth, the next buyer of that home had to pay $32,000. In 1979, I bought a home in Fairway Hills for $75,000 but the poisonous effect of this growth has probably quadrupled that value by now as homes become more unaffordable.
Why can't Harrisonburg be more like Covington? This idyllic rural town has found a way to control growth. First of all, they don't have some big annoying university around and most of the businesses have shut down. There largest employer is a paper mill and even though it has more layoffs every year, it doesn't smell as bad as it use to. They have even found a way to reduce traffic and probably have fewer stoplights than 20 years ago. Best of all, they have been able to curb the rising value of real estate so well that you can still find a large selection of nice homes for less than $100,000.
What was I complaining about? Remember, I'm old and sometimes forgetful. Is it 4:30 yet?