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Wastewater Plant Fighter Aims for Office

Broaddus first opposed the wastewater plant when a portion of Newcastle Farm, land his family has owned for 150 years, was condemned for a pipeline from the plant to the river. Since then, he says, the fight has evolved from a not-in-my-back-yard issue to a greater debate over the county’s vision for development. Broaddus has clashed countless times with the county’s current leadership, notably Mechanicsville Supervisor Jack Ward.

Ward, who has held the position for 12 years, will be running again along with challenger Deborah Coats, who placed third in 1999. Resident Tom Chorinos, who lost by just over 100 votes that year, has urged his former supporters to vote for Broaddus.

Broaddus says he doesn’t expect his only supporters will be those who agree with his position on the wastewater plant. “Reasonable people can reasonably disagree,” he says. Instead, he believes county residents are fed up with a secretive government that, he alleges, gave the go-ahead for the plant without listening to citizens. Open government should be encouraged, Broaddus says, by televising board sessions and holding fewer closed meetings. His other campaign platforms include increased fiscal responsibility, emphasis on education and preserving the county’s rural character.

Coats says growth management is also one of her key issues, along with keeping property taxes low and preserving “Hanover’s rich historical and cultural heritage.” Ward wasn’t available for comment.

Broaddus, who works as senior assistant dean of admission at the College of William and Mary, says no one he’s met knocking on doors “doesn’t at least respect us” for taking a stand on the treatment plant issue.

The legal wrangling continues. On March 20, the Broaddus family accepted a $250,000 settlement from the county for the 1.1 acres seized and damages done to the farm. But Broaddus says they don’t intend to collect the money, since they are still seeking to invalidate the county’s permits for building the plant. The county says it will reapply for permits.

With tensions still high, the supervisor race is “going to be quite heated, I’m afraid,” Broaddus says. But no matter what happens, he says, “it’s going to be a great experience.” — Melissa Scott Sinclair

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