Erica Bressler Section 2 – Friends of Nelson County

Neighborhood organizations and NIMBY movements sometimes go hand in hand when local residents/citizens organize in order to prevent unwanted externalities or otherwise undesirable by-products of certain industries from being located in their respective communities. “Friends of Nelson County” is an example of how a local (county-wide) organization formed in order to start a NIMBY movement in central Virginia with the hopes of protecting their community from an unwanted “outside” project. Even though Friends of Nelson County isn’t necessarily a “neighborhood” organization, I think it’s similar in the fact that they are starting an organization in order to address an issue that concerns a group of people who consider themselves all “neighbors” even though they are located throughout an expansive rural county. It is also based on volunteers who want to actively organize in order to achieve the same goal of keeping something”unwanted” out of there “backyards”.

This particular NIMBY movement is of interest to me because of its close proximity to my hometown (Crozet) and because of the many occasions that I have enjoyed various outdoor and other recreational activities that Nelson County has to offer. The issue that started this particular movement was the proposal of a 550 mile long natural gas pipeline (Atlantic Coast pipeline) by Dominion Power that would cut through numerous properties in Nelson County. After local residents received letters notifying them of the prospective pipeline project, many individual landowners and concerned citizens formed groups in order to discuss the potential negative effects of the pipeline and initiate a plan to stop it. According to their website, Friends of Nelson’s mission is to “protect property rights, property values, rural heritage and the environment for all the citizens of Nelson County, Virginia.”

With this mission in mind, members of Friends of Nelson County set out to achieve their goal through a variety of mediums. A lot of their organizing happens through local forums, information sessions and protests where they both provide information to the public and also make their concerns heard. They also send out letters, emails, post signs, and update their website frequently so that both local residents and other concerned citizens constantly have updated information on the project. Their main areas of concern when it comes to the negative impacts of the pipeline are centered on economic, cultural, environmental, and historical aspects.

These can be summed up in their BOV’s public statement to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) “Nelson County is dependent upon agriculture, agritourism, and the tourist industry in general, all of which will be harmed by the project. The County’s mountainous terrain provides the critical backdrop for the business of tourism as well as the quality of life enjoyed by the residents. The pipeline will interfere with this natural resource as well as requiring the disturbance of environmentally sensitive slopes, valleys, coves, and rivers. Besides affecting tourism and the environment, the pipeline will endanger properties of historic and cultural value, reduce property values of those affected, and permanently invade the properties of landowners in the immediate path of the project while contributing nothing to the county or its citizens other than limited tax revenue.

In terms of success, I think that the Friends of Nelson County organization has started a strong NIMBY movement that not only actively involves local residents from Nelson County but also concerned citizen from surrounding counties/cities who are all effectively delaying the pipeline from being built in the immediate area. The widespread media coverage of the organization and their activities also is an indicator of their success in terms of getting their voices heard and their message out to the community.


“Friends of Nelson County.” Friends of Nelson County. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

“Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.