Special to the Mirror By Jacqueline Chatmon
In Response to the Anonymous Paid Advertisement in the September 22, 2017 Edition of the Eastern Shore Post
The First Amendment guarantees the rights of free expression and action that are fundamental to democratic government. These rights include freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Unfortunately, the Amendment does not require you to be truthful, it does not require you to adequately research your subject matter nor does it require you to understand it. It also does not protect you from personal, dog whistle attacks or alternative facts.
To correct the distribution of misinformation throughout Northampton county by a “Concerned Citizen” (name not provided in his ad), it is important that citizens know what the Northampton County Planning Commission is authorized to do. As stated on the county’s web site:
• The Planning Commission is authorized by Virginia law to prepare and recommend a Comprehensive Plan and a zoning map for the physical development of the land in the county. The Commission also reviews a variety of land development applications (e.g., re-zonings and special exceptions) and makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for consideration in approving or denying the proposed projects.
The Planning Commission does NOT have the authority to mandate changes to the County Ordinance. In the past 4 years, the Planning Commission has twice been directed by two different Boards of Supervisors to review two different revised versions of the County Ordinance, the changes to which were prepared by Northampton County staff members. The Planning Commission was NOT involved in the drafting of the 2015 Zoning Ordinance or the revised 2016 Zoning Ordinance that replaced it the following year.
The Northampton County Planning Commission is comprised of seven independent-thinking individuals. Each has one vote and all decisions require a majority vote. No one Commissioner directs how the other six should cast their vote. All Planning Commission members live in Northampton county; members of their families live in the county or nearby; their children attended school in the county; they enjoy the nature of the county, respect its history and culture and desire to see its continued prosperity. Much of what the Planning Commission has been accused of and charged with is reflective of an emotional investment in not knowing or misinterpreting the facts.
The current Planning Commission has never conducted a closed door or private meeting. Its meetings are open at all times to the general public and the public is encouraged to attend. Given the proliferation of contrived “facts” that appear in various and sundry blogs, emails and social media today, the public is encouraged to ask questions, research and substantiate the source of any information provided to them, regardless of the source. It is especially important given those individuals and organizations whose primary focus is misleading the public in order to achieve their own specific agenda and/or outcome.