MONTPELIER, Va. (WRIC) – A public meeting spiraled out of control Thursday evening in Hanover County, ending abruptly when project developer Douglas Harris collapsed onto the floor.
“He paused and then started to faint,” said Kathy Brock, one of more than 100 people who witnessed the health scare at the Montpelier Center for Arts & Education.
Just moments before he began his presentation and proceeded to pass out, Harris showed 8News his plans for a 39-acre property off Route 33 near Wild Cherry Lane and Locust Run Drive in Montpelier.
“The community has got to support growth and commercial development,” he said. Harris wants to develop a gas station, convenience store and restaurant on the property.
“It’s going to be new, bright, clean, airy and focused on cleanliness,” Harris said of the project.
In order to move forward, the Hanover County Board of Supervisors would need to approve the land to be rezoned from agricultural to commercial.
While some have expressed support for the project, several neighboring property owners are strongly against it. “It’s a rural place and we live here because we want it rural,” said Brock.
The presentation got off to a slow start, with Harris speaking extensively about his professional background and family history in the area rather than detailing his proposal.
As the presentation dragged on, several angry audience members stood up and interrupted.
“Let’s get on with the program!” one man said, raising his voice. “We came to talk about the proposal,” another shouted. Others in attendance threw their hands up and walked out of the meeting altogether.
As tensions erupted, Harris became visibly ill before passing out, cutting the meeting short. An EMT in the crowd rushed to his side before medics arrived. Harris’ family said he was feeling better within a few hours of the ordeal, citing lack of fluids as a factor.
A second meeting on the matter is scheduled for next week.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.