08/09/12 — County plans to meet at night

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County plans to meet at night

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 9, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County's two Republican commissioners are finally getting the evening meetings they have been pressing for -- sort of.

Commissioners Steve Keen and Ray Mayo, who have been unsuccessful in convincing the rest of the board to switch to night meetings, voted in March against the upcoming evening sessions that will be held outside the confines of their boardroom.

It remains to be seen whether the two additional sessions announced Tuesday morning will be regular board meetings or simply opportunities for people to talk with commissioners.

The first meeting will be held Aug. 27 at Charles B. Aycock High School at Pikeville, and the second on Sept. 17 at Southern Wayne High School at Dudley. Both will start at 6 p.m.

"Will they be regular meetings?" Commissioner J.D. Evans asked County Manager Lee Smith at commissioners' Tuesday morning meeting.

"They will be additional meetings," Smith said.

Keen wanted to know if there would be "dialogue" from commissioners at the meetings.

"It will be your meeting," Smith said. "I am just setting up the times right now. We don't have an agenda set up yet. It is really up to the board how you do it. I don't want to fill it with fluff.

"If you wanted something that pertain(s) to that area or a presentation -- we can do it a number of ways. I would welcome your input on that."

Changing the board's meeting time has cropped up several times over the past several months, most recently in March when commissioners voted down 5-2 Mayo's motion that all board meetings start at 6:30 p.m.

Commissioners then approved by a 5-2 vote a motion by Commissioner Jack Best to hold two or three evening meetings in different areas of the county. Mayo and Keen voted no. The original plan was to hold the meeting before the middle of June.

At the March meeting, Mayo questioned holding the meetings in different areas of the county instead of the commissioners' meeting room where people expect the meetings to be held.

And Keen was concerned that meeting in other locations could mean no radio and television coverage.

"We discussed two dates -- Aug. 27 at Charles B. Aycock and Sept. 17 at Southern Wayne at 6 o'clock on those evenings, Monday evenings," Keen said. "I agree with the commissioners when we made the motion to go out to the public. There were a couple of commissioners that were concerned that yes, we have them come here, and it would be nice to have night meetings. I think that will accommodate a lot of people.

"But interesting enough, going out into the public, it excites me, and the reason it does so is for issues that I have been pondering for the last nine or 10 years -- nine years serving on the Wayne County Planning Board -- is that what are we going to do in different areas? Is it land planning? Is it transportation planning? Is it land use planning? Is it zoning? Is it farming? Is it agriculture? Is it industrial? What is it? That is what we pondered and that is what we have to ponder."

Keen said he is glad that commissioners are going out into the public and getting the responses of "what you are reading, and what you are hearing and what you are seeing.

"I say that to say this, I am a property owner at an interchange on Highway 70," he said.

There are property owners on five other interchanges as well, he said.

Keen then held up a small postcard he said was barely readable that he had received in the mail. He said he had enlarged the card so that he could read it.

Keen said he had made some phone calls and received phone calls from other people who had received the same postcard who wanted an explanation. He said he had none other than what was written on the postcard.

The card says that the city of Goldsboro, acting as land planning agency for the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planning Organization and in cooperation with the county, is preparing a 20-year comprehensive land use plan for the Goldsboro urbanized area, he said.

The area includes the five proposed interchanges along the new U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass, he said.

In bold lettering, the card reads that the plan "may affect the future use of your property," Keen said.

"With that said, I encourage you, that if you get this card or if you have property in the northern part of Wayne County that you attend these meetings; that you come and ask questions and have dialogue, not just with the commissioners, but have attendance with the MPO meetings."

Keen said a MPO meeting would be held today. However, that meeting has been rescheduled to Aug. 20 at 9 a.m. at Historic City Hall because several members were unable to attend.

"I would encourage you to come to these meetings and listen and be educated," Keen said. "I commend commissioners for going out to the public."