Table issues only with good reason
At the Floyd County Plan Commission meeting of Nov. 18, 2019, two dockets were tabled. Docket FC-10-19-28 requested a change of zoning on 78.258 +/- acres on West Willis Road from Rural Residential to Rural Suburban. This requested change would allow an increase of allowed homes in this subdivision. Docket FC-10-19-29 requested a change of zoning on 25.1 +/- acres on Old Georgetown Rd./Yenowine Lane from Rural Residential to Rural Suburban, and has been presented as a “Conservation Subdivision.” It is most likely that Docket FC-10-19-28 will also be presented as a “Conservation Subdivision.”
As a “Conservation Subdivision,” homes can be clustered close, as in shotgun housing, in return for a portion of the subdivision to be devoted as “open space.” This allows a property that has some unbuildable land to be selected and the spacing of homes concentrated by devoting the unbuildable (overflow, swamp, steep slopes, etc.) land to “open space.”
The “Conservation Subdivision” concept, new to Floyd County, was established by Floyd County Ordinance No. 2019-23. This ordinance was the product of a committee of 9 people whose names and background were not advertised. The stated purpose of this committee was to consolidate and simplify existing rules and regulations for development, but the major result was the lengthy and complex procedure for establishing a Conservation Subdivision. The meetings were open to the public but were not advertised other than being posted on the bulletin board outside the Commissioners’ meeting room at Pine View Government Center. No more than 3 people from the public attended those meetings. Nine microphones that record the proceedings of County Commissioners or other meetings were not used although these mic’s were only a few feet away in the same room. Consequently there is no valid record of those proceedings.
When the Plan Commission opened the meeting of November 18th, the chairman announced that the two above described dockets had been tabled. No explanation or reason was offered, only an invitation for those interested in those two dockets to leave and “we have other business to conduct.” The meeting room was crowded and most of the crowd then left. This was a shocking insult to the concerned citizens that had hoped to offer their opinions on these two issues.
If the purpose for tabling was simply to discourage public input, it is not a new tactic. Plan Commission dockets have been tabled in meeting after meeting until the crowd successively dwindled to insignificance and the applicant won by default. This disturbing development was described to the Board of County Commissioners the following evening. The Commissioners can, by ordinance, require the Plan Commission to proceed with a hearing that has been duly advertised if there is no valid reason for tabling. This would not in any way preclude the applicant from full participation. The applicant should be fully prepared before requesting a public hearing and the public deserves a show of respect.
— GEORGE MOUSER