Westover council members report threats

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005

A Westover town councilmember believes her pet dog was injured and that she received a threatening letter because someone believes she is the reason citizens of Westover are upset over the town’s zoning ordinance.

At a recent meeting of the Westover Town Council, Councilmember Susan Wooten reported that her dog suffered what appeared to be a chemical burn and that she received a threatening letter. She said she was advised by members of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department to make the incidents public.

When asked who told her to go public and why she believed the incidents happened, Wooten responded as follows:

&uot;The deputies from the sheriff’s office told me to tell the public about what happened with my dog and the letter that I received. I have no idea who would do such a cruel thing to a defenseless animal, except someone with a very sick and perverted mind,&uot; she said.

&uot;I believe that what was done to my dog and the letter that I received is a result of someone believing that I am the reason the citizens of Westover are upset over the zoning ordinance. They seem to believe that I had something to do with so many people attending the council and planning commission meetings.

&uot;Some of the citizens of Westover came to me with their concerns and I tried to express them to the council, and now I am being blamed for all the controversy going on. I am on the council to serve all the people of Westover, not just a select few.

&uot;We, as a town, have worked too hard to get to the point we are at today, but maybe we need to take a step back and look at what we are doing to Westover. I think that maybe we have lost our way and forgotten that we wanted Westover to stay Westover and not be another Inverness, Greystone or Mt. Laurel.&uot;

Wooten said she believes this may be the reason she is being targeted by those who do not agree; however, she said, she stands by her beliefs.

&uot;We all know that growth is going to happen, but (Westover) incorporated to be able to control what comes into the town and not alienate our (residents). We all need to pull together in the same direction and not work against each other to accomplish what is in the best interest of every citizen in the town and surrounding area, not just for a few.&uot;

Westover Mayor Mark McLaughlin declined to comment on the incidents reported by Wooten.

However, as to the zoning issue, McLaughlin said, &uot;As we have said since 2003 when we began this process, the plan and goal has been to give us a method to organize ourselves before the new growth that we believe is coming.

&uot;I think the people would want us to prepare for new growth. We don’t have to look far to see evidence of the new growth coming down (Highway) 280.&uot;