By Paul Gable
The threatened insurrection over county council seating, assigned by Chairman Johnny Gardner, fizzled out yesterday when the Gang of Five began falling apart.
According to council sources, one of the first to fall was council member Tyler Servant. Those sources said it was his opposition to a change in dais seating that spurred council member Harold Worley to take up the cause. It seems Servant liked his former seat which put his face on television more than just when he was speaking.
However, by last night Servant was saying in social media he would sit on the floor if asked. More savvy than most of his colleagues about social media, it didn’t take Servant long to discover how childish the public was interpreting complaining about where you sat during meetings.
Worley also backpedaled in traditional media saying he would sit wherever the chairman told him to. That was not the case the day before when Worley was emailing the council clerk and county attorney about having a motion to try and stop the seating change.
One other small bit of friction was the statement by Dennis DiSabato complaining about the chairman’s committee assignments when he didn’t get chairmanship of a committee that he expected. But, council rules place the responsibility of making committee assignments solely to the chairman and any previous discussions are just that, discussions. The chairman has the absolute right to finalize committee and chairmanship assignments as he sees fit for what he determines best suits the county.
A hats off to Gardner for handling both controversies with calm and dignity, not feeling the need to respond publicly to these challenges to his authority. One must remember, he sits on a dais with 10 members of council who supported his opponent and some, obviously, still have to get over the fact that Gardner won.
Public input on several second readings of ordinances demonstrated the public’s view of council responsibilities.
Sharon Pollard addressed proper planning for roads to serve the needs created by new developments around the county, something council has proven woefully inadequate to address. A response by the acting director of the county’s planning department spoke of how the department addresses the needs for rights of way new development will require for road expansion. However, rights of way are not paved roads. Having the land for future expansion is not the same as having the expanded thoroughfare in place when a new development comes on line. This is where the county has to improve.
In addition, public safety staffing to serve new development is given, at best, a very cursory look in the planning process. Just look at Carolina Forest as an example, one that will be played out more and more around the county as the number of rezoning requests mount.
It is council responsibility to provide guidance to staff on how to address these matters in the planning process because they really are not being addressed adequately at this time.
Another rezoning that passed second reading dealt with requests from two community members asking council to come out and look at the property before considering the rezoning request. The property is requesting rezoning so a wood grinding and concrete crushing site can be located on it. Currently it is zoned for light industrial uses.
I am familiar with the property and, on the surface, it looks to be mostly wetlands. Storm water draining from surrounding properties currently flows directly into this property. Just because a property is zoned for a certain use doesn’t mean it can realistically be used for that purpose.
It seems council members should visit the property before third reading, then request staff to answer the questions from the community about how preparing that property for its zoned use will affect surrounding properties with storm water. The county doesn’t need to create more potential storm water problems. As we saw last fall, it has more than enough already.