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Riverfront Development Needs Care

My family moved to Church Hill when I was 5. (Street Talk, June 12; Letters, June 26). High-quality development is what has made the James River area successful, attracting tourists, movie crews and residents.

The proposed RF Districts are a mishmash of office, residential, retail, cell phone antennas, commercial recreation, fast-food service, manufacturing, etc. The building height limit is 150 feet tall within 50 feet of the river. Nothing in Tobacco Row or Shockoe Bottom comes close by comparison. A mishmash of different land uses would not be good for Richmond. Buildings and businesses have to be compatible with the buildings around them.

If all of these businesses and buildings are allowed, then land which is currently valued at $519,000, the value of the Cable property at its last sale, could sell for $16 million, the sale price of the former Crestar building on Semmes Avenue. Real estate speculators would make millions in profits.

And how will the developer who buys the property recoup this money? He will pressure the city to crowd as many national franchises, marginal businesses, T-shirt stands and fast-food restaurants as possible onto smaller and smaller parcels of land. Buildings will be 14-plus stories tall. Riverfront office space rents for $19 to $23 a square foot. These higher rents and crowded uses will hurt local businesses, hurt the aesthetic value and health of the river, hurt local restaurants — and residents will pay for it.

To be successful, a map of the proposed RF districts must be drawn up and the kinds of businesses that are appropriate for the riverfront agreed upon before the ordinance is changed.

Pierce Macdonald

Urban planner

Define "Pedophile" Accurately

Ronald Amon must be appalled by the recent conviction on child-rape charges of Utah polygamist Tom Green (Letters, June 26). After all, Mr. Green simply had normal sex with a 13-year-old (and it's not like he didn't marry her afterward!) which, by Amon's definition, makes him a good old-fashioned red-blooded American straight guy, not a child rapist or a pedophile.

Louise Capps

What Should We Do in Africa?

The situation in Africa is serious but there is reason for optimism — and concern ("Heart of Darkness," Back Page, June 19). Although war, famine and AIDS ravage the continent there is reason for hope in the improvement of human rights, but the situation is tenuous. The chapter of Amnesty International here in Richmond works specifically on press freedom in Southern Africa, but is working issues on the continent with a focus on Zimbabwe.

[Last week] the eight leaders of the industrial democracies met. One of the topics of the meeting was aid to and human rights in Africa. Recently the members of Amnesty International Group 134 in Richmond wrote the prime minister of Canada to ensure that human rights in Africa are addressed properly. We await his reply to our letter.

Scott Morgan

Amnesty International Group 134

Feel-good policies ignoring dark realities won't help Africans. America can do little. Typical lefties like to think everyone would be fine, fine, fine if they just had more stuff. Fine, forgive the loans. To whom do you think the money will go?

You can't grow corn on the beach: Marshall Plans and democracies don't work everywhere.

Don Smith

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