Letter to the Editor for July 12, 2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dear editor,

Dear Editor,

Your editorial decrying the behavior of citizens of the Westover area in the Westover Planning Commission meeting on 27 June, 2006 is so biased and untrue that a response is mandatory.

These citizens gathered together to oppose the land development referred to as &8220;Westover Park&8221;.

The rezoning of this land for town houses and patio houses occurred &8216;secretly&8217;, without notification of owners at the property borders.

No adjoining property owner or affected property owner within 250 feet was notified by certified letter, signature required; an action which officials had an affirmative responsibility to do.

These citizens were outraged at the insulting and condescending character of the planning commission and its chairman towards the genuine concerns of these people.

Citizens who were slated to speak were denied due process, considering that they were submitting petitions representing 147 signatories but were cut off before completion.

This is in contrast to a historical precedent where speakers were given a reasonable amount of time to present their case. The commission&8217;s contemptuous treatment of these petitioners ignited a roar of disapproval from the audience.

The commission was acting as an overlord and needed to be reigned in.

The Westover Planning Commission was appointed by the Mayor, Mark Mclaughin, with the power to approve or disapprove land usage.

When the commission fails to perform those functions in a responsible manner, consistent with the Westover Comprehensive Plan, it is misapplying its power and bowing to other interests.

When that happens, it needs to be stopped.

When it is clear that existing governmental agencies are failing to protect the citizens of Westover area, then they must speak out, unrestrained if necessary, to make their point.

The writer of your editorial states that it is not the &8220;American Way&8221; to respond to governmental mis-control by a public uprising.

Your editorialist does not have a very clear idea of what it means to be an American.

That is just a sop he has thrown to us to stop an uprising against unjust land development decisions.

In fact, that&8217;s what Americans have done throughout our history!

Americans will not bow to governmental agencies peopled with inflated egos, making decisions for us, and contemptuous of our needs and wants.

Mayor McLaughlin has said on television &8220;he has not heard any complaints about Westover Park&8221;.

There have been plenty of complaints from the people about &8220;Westover Park&8221;.

In fact that was what all of these people were petitioning about.

His deaf ear is why this meeting turned to an ugly side.

Turning a deaf ear to the drumbeat of the people is no solution to disagreements.

Do the words of the Westover Mayor sound like someone concerned with the people he governs?

I choose to think that your editorialist has not availed himself of the full facts surrounding the Westover Park Development.

I always thought complete investigative reporting was what journalists did.

But to come to one meeting, form a rash opinion and not make it their business to have a full knowledge and understanding of the facts is a journalistic sin.

It is necessary to understand what provoked such an outcry among intelligent and educated citizens.

Before your paper publishes more biased information and ignores the facts, I challenge you to properly investigate the full implications of the Westover Park development.

You will find that this development will be blight on Westover that cannot be removed.

And before you pontificate on the character of the &8220;American Way&8221;, I suggest you critically examine the history of this country.

It is full of uprising of all stripe.

Do you remember that the founding of this country began with the &8220;Boston Tea Party&8221;.

I hope it never changes.

I recognize that some people feel that it is futile to argue with newspapers that buy ink by the barrel.

Newspapers also are in full control of what they print; or do not print.

If you have the power to print poorly researched editorials, lets see if you have the guts to print an opposing point of view and continue this dialogue.

Roswell Pfister

Unincorporated Shelby County

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the editorial published by the Shelby County Reporter in the July 5, 2006 issue.

This editorial was extremely misleading and obviously biased in favor of the planning commissions. First of all the editorial was only partially correct when it stated the officials were elected to conduct the business of the government. On of the primary purposes of the planning commission is to look out for the interest of the people not just the interest of the developers. The people at this meeting had taken time out of their busy schedules to attend this meeting and voice opposition to the proposed Westover Park Development that has destroyed the land surrounding their homes, and covered their houses and impaired their breathing with the dust created by the complete desolation of vegetation on adjoining lands. All of this to fatten the developer&8217;s pocket book. The developer who failed to prepare his information was actually rewarded by being granted a continuance. Many of the people that came to speak against the development on the other hand were punished by not being allowed to speak because of the continuance, a fact conveniently left out of the editorial I might add. In this public hearing you were supposed to be allowed to speak against the developer without being on the agenda. However, only those on the agenda were allowed to speak. As a result many of the people wishing to speak against the development were not allowed to speak, another fact omitted in the editorial. Those that were on the agenda to present petitions were limited to only three minutes and some were not allowed to even finish their petition requests. In sharp contrast all the developers were given unlimited time to present their cases. By all rights of fairness, citizens should be given at least the same amount of time to speak as the developers. After all this is the USA not a communist country.

Given these inequalities and the fact that the developer is trashing the backyards of people who have lived in the area for many years, is it any wonder that there was some expression of discontent? The editorial and the board seem to have forgotten that government is supposed to by &8220;By the People and for the People,&8221; not &8220;By the Developer and for the Developer&8221;. No, Mr. Editorial Board the un-American way is to tolerate the injustice. And it is doubly despicable for a newspaper that should promote free speech and fairness to supports such un-American activities as was exercised by this commission. In the early days of our country&8217;s history the members of the Boston Tea Party would have tossed you all in the ocean. But I guess they were un-American also.

James David Blackburn

Unincorporated Shelby Count