Perception and reality


I am supposing that a lot of county citizens are familiar with the debate going on for a special use permit for a local mining operation. For those who are not, it consists of a request to permit mining operations within a housing community not zoned or permitted for such operations.

The feasibility and justification for such an operation has been debated and discussed for months. Everyone has presented their reasons for or against the operation. Those reasons aside, another determination that should be considered is the board’s duty to its citizens that it represents.

What makes our form of government so admired and envied is that everyone expects and should get equal representation under it. The fact that the owner of the land and the one requesting the permits is a county commissioner and a member of the government that helped appoint the board making the decision lends itself to an air of impropriety and conflict of interest.

Take, for example, that the property “experts” giving property evaluations and possible property devaluations was hired by the one requesting the permit. That the board would even consider such “evidence” again lends itself to impropriety. This is akin to selecting a jury. If the potential juror has any knowledge of the case or association with the defendant, he is disallowed.

Please understand that no one is accusing the board or anyone of doing anything inappropriate, but the perception is still there and citizens should be able to have utmost trust and faith in their government officials. The board in this case should have realized their delicate position and excused themselves from being qualified to decide this case. But since they did not, then the only proper considerations should be who stands to benefit from this and who does not, and what either benefits or does harm to the county and its citizens.

This is their job. No one I have talked to has been able to tell me of any benefit to the county, even in revenue. So this would make me ask: why the necessity for the county to have this operation except to benefit one of its own? And again, this is the wrong perception for citizens to have to have.

On the other hand, several negative benefits to the county have been brought to my attention. The deterioration of the roads with so many trucks operating will eventually require road costs to the county. At a time we are continuously hearing of a shortage of funds, how can this be justified?

Again it will be expected to be paid for by citizens’ tax money, some of whom are in opposition to this permit to begin with.

And how can a justification be made to put this operation in the middle of a residential community? The ultimate question every board member should consider is “would I want this operation next to my house?” If not, then they should not vote to put it next to their fellow citizens. It could be said, it’s easy to make decisions if those decisions don’t impact you. The reality is this: The ultimate test for any governing body is that if the decisions it makes are for the benefit of its citizens.

It is clear that more people are against this than are for it, and decisions should be based on this. It is how democracy works. With a lot of eyes watching, we are soon going to see how well our local representatives are working for their citizens.

Steve Demarco