08/06/09 — Anderson critiques county's planning decision

View Archive

Anderson critiques county's planning decision

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 6, 2009 1:49 PM

Commissioner Andy Anderson Tuesday morning lambasted his fellow Wayne County board members for hasty actions taken without discussion and hinted that an unnamed few are attempting to control and manage the board.

In addition, he said, there are too many conversations in the hallways and commissioners are too quick to discard good planning in favor of a 90-day planning process lacking research.

Commissioner John Bell appeared to take umbrage at Anderson's comments, telling him not to speak in generalities. He also took Anderson to task for insinuating the board was in turmoil.

It was just one of several contentious moments -- all somehow involving planning or the Planning Board -- during the board meeting.

Commissioners had ap-peared poised to vote on a motion by Commissioner Jack Best to approve the county's revised Compre-hensive Plan when Anderson and Commissioner Steve Keen balked at voting without full discussion.

Keen voiced concern as well about some of the words used in the plan such as "shall", meaning mandatory. He also reminded commissioners that Wayne is a rural county and they need to be mindful of property owners and their rights.

Anderson's motion to table the action failed 5-2 with Anderson and Keen voting for it. Following more discussion about the plan that included a review of the changes, the board voted 5-2 to approve it. Keen and Anderson voted no.

"There is a lot of good work on this (plan)," And-erson said. "The plan is a good plan."

Holding up a thick stack of papers, Anderson said he was expected to read, study and research everything in the packet of papers prior to the board meeting. He said he received the papers Friday and was still reading it.

"It is just not right for this county to make quick decisions without discussion on it," he said. "We have got good planning in the county."

Anderson said he sees the county following the path being taken in Washington, D.C., where "300 or 400 years" of history and planning that have worked are being thrown in the trash can to be replaced with "a 90-day plan that officials are supposed to accept with no research."

"That is what the county is heading for. A few people are trying to control this thing, manage it to their advantage, and I am fearful of where we are heading. It is a good plan, but it needs to be discussed."

It was then that his motion to table was defeated.

"I am floating in the dark here, and I don't quite know where Mr. Anderson is coming from," Bell said. "I mean sending out these signals there is so much turmoil on this board and that is not fair to the citizens of Wayne County."

Anderson tried to break in then told Bell to "go ahead, go ahead"

"To insinuate there is so much turmoil here on the board and when all of us have the same access to the same information to discuss, and you don't have to wait until you come to a meeting to talk about things we are doing here on the board," Bell continued. "If we are doing something wrong I want somebody to say what it is that we are doing wrong. And don't generalize when you talk about somebody trying to do this and somebody trying to do that. I want to know who these people are."

Speaking in generalities could imply anyone on the board, he said.

"The plan is already approved," Bell said. "The vote is just on the changes. That is why I am in the dark when they are talking about moving too fast. We have already approved this plan a couple of years ago. Now somebody tell me what is that we are doing wrong."

Commissioner Sandra McCullen noted that there were some additions and asked that County Manager Lee Smith go over them.

"I think that is what Mr. Anderson is talking about," she said.

Best said he was willing to suspend his motion.

"I thought we had discussed and read through it," he said. "I have had it on my desk for a long time, but I am willing to suspend while you read and go through.

"I tried to make a comment while ago, but Mr. Bell cut me off," Anderson said. "I have walked down this hall the last few years and seen you having a conversation and as I walk by the conversations quit. I know there are discussions going on behind the table. I see it."

Anderson also discussed the board's 4-1 denial of Keen's rezoning request.

The county, he said, votes all the time on requests by limited partnerships not knowing who they are and they are routinely approved.

But then one comes before the board they know about and "we don't approve it. It just seems strange," he said.

"I am very concerned about it," he said. "I know some are trying to do away with the Planning Board. I know they are trying to put it on my back that I said review it. What I said, and it is in the minutes, is let's go back and look at that ordinance and update that ordinance.

"The Planning Board is doing a good job and is the best board in the county."

The county needs the Planning Board, he added.

"We don't have the time to do it (planning)," Anderson said. "I sure don't have the time. If you want to say let the commissioners make the decision, I have no problem with that, but let them (Planning Board) make the recommendation."

"Since you mentioned the Planning Board, nobody is trying to do away with the Planning Board," Bell said. "We appointed that board, so they are not on an island by themselves. I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about we are trying to do away with the Planning Board.

"When I put that motion on the floor I said nothing about doing away with the Planning Board and that is in the minutes, too."

Bell was referring to a 5-2 approval of a motion made in June for county attorney Borden Parker and Planning Director Connie Price to meet and come up with a plan whereby commissioners would approve site plans, similar to the authority exercised by the Goldsboro City Council.