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Friday's County Commissioner's meeting|
I attended the County Commissioner's meeting on Friday to speak in public comment time encouraging the Commissioners to lift or at least provide a reasonable exception to the county's smoking ban. When the ban passed a couple years ago, Joyce Poling and Iris Kiesling voted for the ban, while Herb Kilmer dissented.
Before public comment, the Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve two projects that had been rejected by the Planning Commission, which is dominated by "Green Democrats". On the Tom Bucci rezone, Richard Martin (who was reappointed earlier this year by Joyce Poling) argued against approval, saying that it does not fit with the comprehensive plan and the need can be accommodated elsewhere. PC member Charles Newmann argued that making exceptions makes it difficult for Planning Department staff.
I think the County Commissioners would be foolish to be a slave to any kind of comprehensive land use plan. While an argument could be made that such plans are useful, government should be flexible enough to grant exceptions to promote economic growth and especially out of respect for private property rights. Arguments about whether or not local government is anti-business aside, many local government officials are not friends of economic liberty.
What disturbed me more was the reaction to the Robert Sturgis rezone. It is understandable that some of the neighbors would not want to change the zoning for that property. While I disapprove of such a NIMBY attitude, I can see why people hold it. I think it is asinine, however, for county government to even consider requiring Sturgis to put sidewalks on his property. Sidewalks in that area are virtually nonexistent, and requiring him to spend a large chunk of money for sidewalks is excessive.
Some folks expressed concern about heavy industry going in there with the rezone. I am somewhat familiar with the location and I do not see any way someone would be putting heavy industry in a hole bordering 37, especially considering that I-69 is probably going to cut off the area.
More disturbing, however, was Joyce Poling's decision to lecture Mr. Sturgis about being a "bad neighbor". I think it was highly inappropriate for Poling to be condemning a local businessman from her throne in the County Courthouse. Can other business owners expect to be dressed down by Poling in future rezone requests?
What is ironic about this situation is that city, county and state government all use the business owned by Sturgis to store towed vehicles. How can Joyce Poling scold Sturgis for being out of compliance with regulations while they are using a service he provides, a service the county knows does not comply with zoning regulations? The hypocrisy is stunning.
Some folks in local government, like Joyce Poling, need to learn that they were elected to represent us, not to rule us. Perhaps we can work on fixing this attitude in 2008.