Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"Why now?" question lingers after Davidson rezoning passes

By now readers probably know, Davidson's Board approved the mass rezoning of large parts of its Rural Area at last Tuesday's meeting on March 28th.

The meeting was hard to watch as a sense of inevitability had settled over efforts to slow or change the overall direction.  If you have the stomach for it, you can see the meeting here.

Once again, speaker after speaker took to the podium to challenge the rezoning - receiving vigorous applause from the audience in the process.  One speaker who owned a small parcel impacted did speak for the rezoning.  Notably, none of the large landowners who stand to benefit most off of this rezoning spoke at all - a sure sign the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

A petition with over 700 signatures opposing the rezoning was delivered to the dais.  It was acknowledged and then politely set aside.

Then, Commissioners spoke.

Commissioner Stacey Anderson started off her comments with what sounded like a swipe at those citizens who had opposed the rezoning. She managed to impugn the citizen opposition by saying lies get around the world before truth has a chance to get its pants on.

Interestingly however, Commissioner Anderson was the only Commissioner to ultimately vote a few minutes later the way aShortChronicle had suggested.  She voted for the planning area text amendments and against the rezoning which is exactly what we recommended here.

Commissioner Beth Cashion gave what might be considered by some to be a lecture to the public.  She also read a lengthy quote.  It was something from Eleanor Roosevelt about great civilizations crumbling or stagnating because they would rather die than change.  She compared Davidson to her home town of Mt Airy saying Mt Airy was bigger in land area but smaller in population than Davidson.  Why that matters is still unclear.

The point seemed to be lost that it was the rapid pace of change, not change itself, the opposition was primarily trying to slow.  Many speakers opposing the rezoning have said repeatedly they supported the RAP as a plan, but were concerned its wholesale implementation at once would have unintended consequences.

Commissioner Cashion closed by saying she hoped people continued the conversation regardless of whether they left the meeting with feelings of anger or happiness.

That's certain to be the case.

Finally, Commissioner Rodney Graham spoke.

Channelling his best John Kerry, Graham explained why he was now for the plan when he was originally against it.  Graham voted against the RAP last year, but for its implementation last week.  He sited some changes mostly to the parts of the plan that would remain rural as to why he changed his position.  When it came to the mass rezoning of the parcels designated for more intense development, the 1300 acres that sparked much of the opposition's concerns, he simply said he disagreed with those concerns about this rezoning accelerating development.

Time will tell.

Graham also touched on the question of "why now".   His reasoning again was focused on parcels that will remain rural.  There are some rural area parcels for sale now so this saved more open space.  This rational of course ignores the fact that adopting the text amendments, but not the map amendments would have achieved the same thing.  If he had voted as Commissioner Anderson did, his reasoning might have made sense.

No.  Commissioner Graham did not answer the question "why now"?

Why vote on March 28th for a plan that won't actually go into effect until July because the town is waiting on a new TIA study?  That was stated repeatedly as part of this debate.  Why vote on it now if as the Commissioners seem to believe it really won't spark development anytime soon?

Here's a practical reason if you are an elected official.

This is an election year and filing for office runs from July 7th to July 21st.  Do you think incumbents would want to vote on this rezoning in the middle of that filing period or just after it when it would become apparent some were lame ducks if they decided to not run for re-election?

To that end aShortChronicle asked the Board on Monday if any of them were able comment on plans to seek re-election.

Commissioners Anderson and Cashion said"no comment".  Commissioner Graham said he wasn't running for Mayor but also had no comment on his plans for another run at Commissioner.  Commissoners Fuller and Jenest didn't respond.

Some things to remember a few short months from now.

1 comment:

  1. Breathtaking arrogance on display by the Board and the Mayor. Business as usual.