Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#Davidson Town Hall pulls plug on Davidson Depot closed session

Channeling the spirit of a famous quote often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson, events at Davidson Town Hall Tuesday night proved:

The price of transparency is eternal vigilence.

In the last post, aShortChronicle told you about a closed session planned with the Davidson Depot developer for Tuesday evening.  The meeting was to include a representative from the NCDENR - one Carolyn Minnich - to discuss brownfield issues.

That post went out Sunday night.  By Monday, residents had started sending mails to Town Hall asking "What's up?"

Why would the town be meeting in closed session to talk with a developer - particularly one using a town commissioner's design firm on the project?

aShortChronicle also heard back from Ms Minnich on Monday about the NCDENR's involvement.  She had this to say.

"I was not privy to how the meetings were set up and I do not know the full agenda of the upcoming meeting. I was asked to attend the Aug. 23 and Sept. 29 meetings by the prospective developer of the Davidson Depot property at 301 Depot Road. I am attending tomorrow’s meeting as a representative of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Brownfields Program. I will not be discussing financial incentives or support during the meeting.  I did not play a role in determining whether Tuesday’s meeting is open to the public."

Readers should note, on Monday Davidson Town Hall sent out the agenda in an email blast and this meeting was still listed as "closed".

Based on this and other emails that have come our way, Town Hall was standing by its decision to keep this meeting closed.

Then Tuesday morning, something changed.

Town manager Jamie Justice told multiple residents the meeting would no longer take place.

Rusty Knox posted the following to the Paradise Lost Facebook page from Justice.

"Based on recent discussions with the developer, we have determined there is no need for a closed session so I will ask to remove this from the agenda for tonight’s meeting.  State law allows for towns to conduct closed sessions under particular circumstances.  Those circumstances have changed."

Recent discussions....hmmm.

Monday, the meeting is on for behind closed door discussions.  A little light gets shown on the situation, and a little citizen outrage is expressed.  By Tuesday, the meeting is off.

It would seem the only "circumstances" that changed were that citizens knew about it.

While it's a good thing a closed door meeting didn't occur Tuesday night at Town Hall, citizens are left wondering, what changed, why it changed, and why Town Hall thought they had a justifiable reason for closing the meeting in the first place?  Most importantly, when will the actual discussion really occur?

It's doubtful too many believe the developer's issues just went away.

Town Hall can be sure the citizens watching won't either.

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