Friday, June 26, 2015

Is it possible to have a fair Planning Board hearing on The Narrow Pasage? Doesn't seem likely.

Monday's Planning Board meeting is shaping up to be considerably more interesting than most - to say the least.  The main driver of interest is he Narrow Passage project.

As mentioned here, election related swirl and scare tactics have already spun up around the planned development.

That swirl continued on Thursday.  Only hours after the recent column in the Herald Weekly was published, a Facebook page calling itself  "Preserve Davidson" popped up.  It is a site launched specifically to oppose Narrow Passage - supposedly to "offset substantial lobbying by Narrow Passage LLC."

Coincidence?  Who knows?

The site is full of what Mayor John Woods likes to call "misinformation".  It appears more designed to mislead and scare people rather than to inform.

What is also clear is that the participants in the site make it unlikely Narrow Passage will get an unbiased hearing on Monday.  Planning Board members Brunson Russum, John Kennedy, and George Berger have all "liked" various postings on the site.

But that's neither all that surprising, nor is it too troubling.

On the other hand, this message sent by the town Planning Director , Jason Burdette, is both of those things.  Burdette sent the below mail Thursday evening to the entire Planning Board.

Subject: Planning Board  
It’s come to my attention that the representative for Narrow Passage (Susan Irvin) has reached out to members of the Planning Board requesting individual meetings to address any concerns you might have about the project. As a legislative board, the applicant is permitted to do this. However, in fairness to other members of Planning Board, I would recommend against meeting with the applicant in advance of the meeting. It’s important that any conversations about this project with the developer be available to all members of the Planning Board.

          Jason Burdette, AICP
Planning Director
Town of Davidson

So, the town's official position is that it is OK for Planning Board members to actively participate in a clearly biased effort to stop a project, but it is not OK for Planning Board members to actually educate themselves on the actual details of the project.

Got that? Good!

Yes, Monday will be interesting.

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