by Amy Martelle

Urban Growth Advisory Collective (UGAC)


Hello, Citizens of Verne!

It’s been my pleasure to meet many of you since I arrived here in town a few short weeks ago.  For those of you I haven’t met, I work for a non-profit called the Urban Growth Advisory Collective (UGAC).  We travel to small towns on a volunteer basis, providing advice and counsel and helping towns manage growth.

We’ve been tracking the movements of Winston Blank for a while now.  We consider it a real crime what he’s done in other small towns.  So when my boss heard he was moving in on Verne, she sent me here to help.  Here’s what Blank does:  He opens a mall and/or megastore right outside the taxable limits of a town.  He proceeds to kill off traditional town businesses, and gets everyone used to shopping at his mega-centers, thinking they’re saving money.  The tax base of the town erodes.  People begin to commute to bigger towns looking for work (towns like Chessup).

And here’s the kicker.  Once the town is on its last legs, he closes the mall down, forcing you to drive to a bigger town (like Chessup) for goods and services!  He’s done it in Stanton, he’s done it in Partonsburg, and now he wants to do it in Verne.

According to my new friend Joe Browning, one man is standing in Blank’s way:  Mayor Garner St. John.  To re-zone the land outside of town for his mall, Blank needs the Mayor to vote unanimously with the Town Council.  So far, your Mayor is the lone holdout.  That’s why Blank has found a loophole in the Verne Town Charter, and is running for Mayor.  And that’s why he must be stopped!

I am working closely with Joe to educate the Mayor and get him to spread the word.  But it’s an uphill battle.  Blank will try to entice you with stories of lower prices and bigger selection.  We have to band together, convince the Mayor of the importance of this issue, and drive Blank out once and for all.  Joe and I are doing our part.  Won’t you?

Amy Martelle recently completed her Master’s in Urban Planning.  She is committed to slow-growth development and the local food movement.