Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton brought his view of government to a meeting last night of Northern Virginia citizens, telling about 125 persons that many of the problems that most concern them are out of his control.
"I find out about many of the problems bothering people in each area I go to, but often there is nothing I can do about them," Dalton said after the 70-minute meeting.
Dalton, a Republican, brought his seven-member cabinet, as well as Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb (D) and Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman (R) to the student lounge of the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College. The session was the last of six "community meetings" Dalton and the officials have had around the state this year, he said.
Dalton added that the purpose of the meeting was to give citizens "a sense of who their officials are."
The subjects raised by 15 speakers included abortion, fire sprinklers in school buildings, rush-hour traffic and local zoning.
Environmentalists Kay Levine of Prince William County made an emotional appeal to Dalton to intervene against the proposed Featherstone Industrial Park near Rte. 1 in the county.
"I appeal to you to help us save our community," Levine said. She claimed that the proposed industrial site would bring 800 cars and trucks each day to what is now a quiet residential neighborhood.
"Have you tried a judicial remedy? Have you sued in circuit court?" Dalton asked her.
When Levine said residents could not afford a suit, Dalton told her, "I can't believe the people of Prince William want me to come in and take over zoning from the county Zoning should be left to the county government."
Dalton directed Coleman to see if he could give Levine legal advice, but repeated his contention that he was powerless to act.
When a speaker expressed concern about the Rte. 234 bypass of Interstate 66 near Manassas, Dalton said that was the responsibility of the State Highway and Transportation Commission, rather than his office. When another speaker asked him to help stop the proposed Dano sewage and sludge composting plant in King George County, Dalton said his hands were tied because that is a local zoning matter.
Buddy Hite of Manassas Park urged him to drop the 4 percent state sales tax on food and drugs and make up lost revenue by raising sales tax on other items to 5 percent.
Dalton responded by saying that the annual saving to a family earning $32,000 annually under such a system would be only $1 a year. "So you see, it makes very little difference" to change the system.
Later, Dalton said he did not have figures for the savings lower income groups might realize under such a system.