The County, particularly the Board of Supervisors and Administrator Katie Nunez have been the recipients of a good bit of criticism of late over perceived racial bias in the proposed zoning. In the below letter, Katie Nunez provides the County’s response to many of the allegations:
To the Editor:
In his letter Mr. Kellam expresses his opinion about how he wishes his real estate to be zoned and why. He also makes allegations such as that the proposed zoning map includes what he calls “spot zoning” and constitutes a “taking” of value from his property. None of those remarks is in any sense unusual in rezoning situations. Mr. Kellam’s wishes and opinions with respect to the zoning of his property should be offered to the Board of Supervisors and taken into consideration by them. (As a matter of fact, Mr. Kellam’s assertion that the proposed rezoning would prohibit “the sale of crops” is categorically false.)
Unfortunately, though, Mr. Kellam’s letter also includes defamatory allegations about the Board of Supervisors and, inferentially, its staff which are profoundly, dangerously and unjustly divisive of and corrosive to the relations between the citizens of Northampton County who are of different races. Mr. Kellam goes so far as to allege that “the sitting Board is engaged in a war on the minority population.” It is hard to imagine a more baseless and irresponsible accusation; an accusation which follows the similarly despicable and racially inflammatory remarks made by Mr. Ken Dufty at the public hearing on November 2, 201 5, regarding the proposed zoning ordinance.
I advise the readers of this letter that I was present at virtually every meeting at which the County’s staff worked on the proposed rezoning. No one ever even remarked on the race of any owner of property and, indeed, in the giant majority of cases no one was even consciously aware of the name, much less the race, of the property owners. I have never seen the slightest sign that any of the staff members who worked on this project has any animus toward anyone based on race or anything else.
As to the Board of Supervisors, their meetings are matters of public record with all remarks being audio recorded and minutes being maintained. While there has been enthusiastic disagreement among members of the Board about some provisions of the proposed ordinance, not a single member of the Board has ever suggested that any change be made based on racial considerations nor has any member ever suggested that any of his colleagues might be so motivated. I personally attended virtually every single executive session attended by the Board of Supervisors and I unambiguously and without reservation report that the substance of the proposed rezoning was never discussed and, if it ever came up in some peripheral sense, no member of the Board of Supervisors ever exhibited even the slightest indication that he was motivated in any way by racial considerations or was even mindful of the race of any interested party.
It is natural that a general rezoning of the real estate in the County would give rise to passions among some or even many people. But it is worthy of note that over a process which has extended for most of two years (the first public hearing was held in March of 2014), Ken Dufty’s noxious statement on November 2, 2015, was the first time anyone suggested that there was some racial dimension to the proposed rezoning. It cannot be a coincidence that that theme was unleashed at exactly the time when it became apparent that the Board may well vote on the proposed map and ordinance. The fomenting of racial animus to gain some perceived advantage on a public policy question is a truly nasty tactic engaged in with reckless disregard for the welfare of Northampton County. Mr. Dufty and Mr. Kellam should be ashamed of themselves.