The will of the people, via their representatives? What a silly notion.
17 Knox County communities sent speakers last night to ask their representatives on Knox County Commission not to remove their (economical and accessible) avenue for appeal of developments that affect their communities. Commissioners said they had also received what seemed to be thousands of emails, most in opposition to the Mayor’s plan. Nevertheless….commissioners voted in favor of an amended motion, that took out an “error” in wording and left developers with the right to veto, or opt out of an appeal. The final vote will come next month.
Commissioner Jay, yet again, scolded the citizens and the Knox Community Planning Alliance, this time for “spreading misinformation”. Kevin Murphy of the Alliance quickly and very thoroughly countered Jay’s assertion by presenting in detail the actual BZA statistics. Murphy, a data analysis professional, was buttressed by Robert Thompson, an attorney. Both men are former BZA Commissioners.
Commissioner Terry Hill also countered Jay’s remarks, reminding the Commissioners that the people do, indeed feel they have a legal right that is being removed – since the BZA has been in existence for many years, has been quite effective and is not the time consuming obstruction to developers’ ability to make profits, as the Mayor’s team suggests.
Commissioner Dailey pleaded with his fellow commissioners, not to set up yet another reason for citizens to sue the county, saying he is tired of paying lawyers – hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Apparently, the Mayor has had a come-to-Poppa meeting with the Commissioners and his directors of Law, Engineering and Planning. When called on by the commissioners, most worked very hard to heap praise on their boss and to find arguments, even if convoluted, in support of the Mayor’s plan.
The directors’ comments were headache worthy, particularly those of Mr. Moyers of the Law Director’s office. In spite of seeming to work very hard to find at least a tiny crack in the law through which the Mayor can run his play, Moyers did admit that the law does allow for BZA appeal authority – something several commissioners seemed to regret.
After the host of very well prepared and articulate citizens spoke, the Mayor weighed in – challenging the Commissioners not to yield to the will of the people.
The Mayor is determined to have his way on eliminating development plan appeals to the Board of Zoning Appeals, to clear the runway for developers.
It seems the will of the people is not being heard in the halls of county government. Thankfully there are still elections.