The first sign of the new order on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors appeared yesterday during committee assignments for the year.
When the Adequate Public Facilities Committee came up, Supervisor David R. Beiler (I-Falmouth) expressed his disappointment with its lack of progress and nominated Supervisor Peter Fields (D-George Washington), one of the new members, to "inject some adrenaline" into the group.
The committee is charged with making sure basic county services, such as roads and schools, are in place before development occurs. As of late, the committee has been exploring ways to temper the rampant development in Stafford, but Beiler expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the committee hadn't met for three months and that there was no timetable to make a report to the supervisors.
The committee has been made up of Supervisors Ferris M. Belman Sr. (R-At Large) and Robert C. Gibbons (R-Rock Hill), both of whom took offense to Beiler's strong words.
"I don't like criticism," Gibbons began, before explaining that the slow progress is because of delays getting information from neighboring counties and various other sources. Gibbons then said the committee would deliver a report in early February and offered to leave the panel after then.
A somewhat perturbed Belman said he was sensitive to criticism that he didn't work to control development and offered to step down from the committee. Beiler had not recommended that either he or Gibbons be replaced.
Beiler moved to add Fields without replacing Belman or Gibbons, Fields seconded the motion, and the board voted unanimously for it.
The short exchange exemplifies what many political observers think will be a new direction for the reshaped board.
Fields and Supervisor Jack Cavalier (I-Griffis-Widewater) join the board with strong mandates to curb growth after impressive victories over longtime incumbents Alvin Y. Bandy (R) and Lindbergh A. Fritter (R) in November. Their victories change the board from one that permitted the construction of numerous residential developments to one that is split between those who would allow more homes and those strongly opposed to them.
The presence of the newcomers also is a marked boost for Beiler, who has been trying to expedite slow-growth measures, often futilely, for the last two years. No longer outnumbered, Beiler now has support for his slow-growth ideas, and the board will likely have to consider his and other similar proposals more thoroughly.
Other changes on the board included Belman being elected chairman and Gibbons vice chairman.