Wide-ranging views mark public hearing on county’s comprehensive plan

Tea party activist Bob Bonsignore speaks at public hearing
Lydeana Martin outlines the plan

The 70 or so folks who appeared Tuesday night for a public hearing on Floyd County’s proposed update of its comprehensive plan overflowed the small meeting room of the county administration building on Oxford Street so the Planning Commission moved the event to the cavernous auditorium at Floyd County High School.

Scattered throughout the sprawling auditorium, the crowd didn’t appear that large — especially when compared to the turnout for a hearing on proposed tax increases earlier this year but while moderate in numbers they were loud in volume, expressing sometimes passionate opinions that ranged from condemnation of the proposed plan as a shill for socialism to lavish praise for those who have spent most of the past year putting the plan together.

The hearing occurred too late to make this week’s deadline for The Floyd Press so I will have a comprehensive story and more photos in next week’s edition.

As expected, some of the tea party faithful came out against the plan, calling it a conspiracy driven by the United Nations and its often-touted “Agenda 21.” The tea party opposes the sustainability movement, zoning, comprehensive land use planning and just about anything else it sees as a threat to individual rights.  Some used the floor to lambast President Obama and his controversial health care plan. Others quoted the Bible.

Bob Bonsignore, a tea party activist and transplant from New Jersey, claimed the plan was driven by the United Nations, which he called “anti-American” and at war with the U.S. and Israel.

Some long time residents also condemned the plan, calling it a threat to individual property rights.

Several speakers praised the plan, calling it well-conceived and an asset to the county. Mike Burton, executive director of Sustain Floyd, said the plan would help the county as it moves into the future.

Towards the end the hearing devolved into a debate with speakers repeating themselves and going to the microphone more than once to veer off course from the original intent of the hearing. Some in the audience shouted “no” when someone said something they disagreed with or cheered when they agreed.  Three women from Pulaski County issued dire warnings against a New River Valley consortium on sustainability.

A deputy sheriff stood by in case things got out of hand. She wasn’t needed.

The comprehensive plan is nothing more than a guide for the county’s future. It contains — for the most part — recommendations and guidelines and it not a binding law or set of hard and fast regulations.  County residents should read the plan, available online, and make up their own minds rather than accept anyone’s interpretation of the document.

The planning commission took no action Tuesday night but will consider comments from the public hearing before approving a final version of the plan and sending it to the board of supervisors, which will hold another public hearing before final consideration.

The Floyd County Planning Commission
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Doug,glad for the info on the meeting.I was unable to attend.FYI the county attorneys of past always advised me that a comp plan has legal standing.Not as much as zoning,but very close.Countys have been taken to court for not following its guidelines.Some won,some lost.We were accused of being vague in the wording of the plan.We were.It was so we could change diregtions when needed to avoid violating our plan,thus avoiding such lawsuits.As to the agenda 21 I keep hearing about I have not done the research to speak either way on it.I do know that in the 90s ,as part of a U.N. resolution there was a plan to reduce methane gas emissions in the US.The map showed a area that reached from Penn to NC.Basicly the Blue Ridge and Appalachian areas.Livestock farming would have been reduced and then eliminated over time.I know this because the paperwork and map was placed in my hands.When I called federal reps. with my concerns,their first response was not to address these concerns but to question how and where I had come by the info.In the end it did not pass as written.I am not validating agenda 21 fears.As I have stated before I respect and appreciate the planning commission members and staff.Other groups I am not sure of their motives.But with the planning commission I know they are concerned with the future of this county.All citizens should take part in the planning stage, not just complain at the end.

  2. I agree with Jerry…All citizens should take part in the planning stages and not just complain at the end…especially citizens from outside of Floyd. Many of us filled out surveys and attended meeting(s). Where were these people during our process?

    I admire how open this process has been and continues to be. I wonder how much of this recent tea party disruption is fueled by organizations funded by the Koch Brothers. Our governor and our attorney general recently spent a weekend cozying up with the Koch brothers so it will be interesting to see how the Koch tentacles try to spread throughout our state.

  3. The Comprehensive Plan seems to create greater freedoms for landowners, and while there are winners and losers with any change aren’t more options better? Is anyone forced to change, or is any current right lost?
    Long term residents have witnessed the movement of problems as well as opportunities into our rural county. The breadth of these problems has been studied through a process which solicited many comments suggestions and contributions from a varied field of participants. I believe the study resulted in the Planning Commission having a broader perspective of the issues, it is not surprising that the result reflects the citizen’s concerns because the planners distilled these comments into a document which recommends the availability of new tools.

    This is our community effort, required by the Commonwealth, and meant to focus on compensating for changes in demographics. If we are concerned about the cost, and capacity of our infrastructure, we ought to understand the situation, and make plans to do better. The sub-division ordinance adopted in 2001- opened the gates for flag lots on road frontage, overloaded services and rising budgets for every vital County function schools, law enforcement, solid waste, health & safety etc. but did not provide commensurate increases in budgets to plan for the resulting growth. Changes over the past 10 years accompanied considerable profit taking, and development and growth but left our Counties public functions struggling to bear the foreseeable effects.

    The devil may be in details but taking the dreaded cluster as an example: clustering offers a single driveway, rather than multiple entries to our highways, potentially reduces the cost of landownership and while there are challenges on water and sewer, common property maintenance and repairs; presents the opportunity to reduce the loss of agricultural land to creeping sub-urban sprawl. I think it is a great achievement to see broad planning for growth which conceivably increases our options, rather than restricting our choices. I hope the potential for mutual benefit, is a stronger incentive for community participation, than parroting Mr. Casey and other professional fear-monger’s bizarre accusations.

    Property rights come with a cost, every resident has the responsibility to contribute to living here, it’s a benefit that comes with our freedom to speak thoughtfully and accept the wishes of the majority and those charged with representing the citizens. We are fortunate to have people who are responsive and responsible even in the face of adverse comments.

    The conversation about sustainability ought to reflect the participant’s goals, we are “they;” and I have to trust we desire to sustain Floyd, if not what are we trying to accomplish? Even a selfish person recognizes the need to pay the bills, with good planning we can budget the resources to pay the costs of our choices.

    The recipe for building sustainable communities seems simple: understand natural limits, anticipate changes, propose solutions based on opportunities, implement policy and observe effect – repeat. Sustainable communities seems to becoming a loaded phrase, with ulterior motives and conspiratorial accusations based on third party agendas. I think it is not the term which is at fault, for the map is not the territory, the word is not the thing described. To me “sustainable” means the bills get paid, and anticipated bills do not upset the budget like the surprise events.

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