The height of arrogance

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To the editor:

On Monday, Jan. 7 the Polk County commissioners fulfilled the letter of the law.

A public hearing was held to consider adoption of the Steep Slope Ordinance. The planning board had unanimously recommended adoption of this ordinance to replace the Mountainside and Ridgeline Protection Ordinance. About a dozen citizens spoke in favor of this ordinance, some voiced concerns but none spoke against it. As I made my comments I had the impression that the commissioners actually listened.

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Did they hear what anyone had to say? Did they even care? I wanted to believe that they did.

However, it seemed odd, the meeting room filled to capacity, people standing against the back wall and no one speaking against this ordinance that previously had aroused such passion. The public hearing adjourned, the regular session was called to order. Agenda item No. 10 to address the MRPO/Steep Slope Ordinance was called. Commissioner Gasperson reviewed some of the events leading up to its present reading, addressing slope and elevation concerns.

He made a motion for adoption [and what followed was] vacant stares, silence until commission chair [Michael] Gage declared the motion dead for lack of a second. None of the citizens’ comments, the planning boards’ concerns for the health and welfare of citizens and the environment, their research into the matter, which included expert testimony, and their unanimous recommendation for adoption mattered. No discussion, dead.

I no longer needed to wonder why there were no opposition voices. The majority commissioners and their supporters had gone through the motions; the outcome had never been in doubt.

– Christel Walter