By John Peters
April 3, 2014
To the Editor,
I don’t believe that anyone in Mount Airy is against the stated goal of the proposed Redevelopment Commission, which is to improve the appearance of our city. The method being proposed to accomplish that, however, is sheer madness.
As a quick summary, it creates an unelected “government” over which the people of our city have zero direct control. With the exception of eminent domain, which can’t be used without the city commissioners’ approval, and direct taxation, this commission will have all of the powers of a government:
· It can borrow and spend money, issue bonds, buy and sell property.
· It can issue subpoenas requiring citizens to testify before it or to provide “books and papers” belonging to that citizen (4-9).
· It, or those that it appoints, can enter any land or building in Mount Airy without fear of being charged with trespassing (4-10).
· It, not our elected officials or city employees, will be charged with creating plans for the “enforcement of laws, codes and regulations relating to use of land… and to the compulsory repair, rehabilitation, demolition or removal of buildings and improvements.” (also 4-10).
And all of this will be done by a group of people who are appointed, not elected.
Worse yet, there is no mechanism for the people to destroy this commission. It will exist as long as it wants to exist (4-14). It will become a permanent, powerful bureaucracy, subject to good-old-boy corruption and capable of violating the property and privacy rights of our citizens. It will be another governmental monster, but this monster will be beholden to the state and federal governments, not to the people of Mount Airy (4-3).
And this is not all. To get the whole picture, including subjugation of local control to federal rules (4-8), you need to read the whole thing. It’s not available on the city’s web site but it has been posted at www.springthorpe.org/ordinance19.pdf.
To even think about sacrificing the rights of our citizens in this manner just to make Mount Airy look nice for tourists is unforgivable, and whoever came up with this power grab should be ridden out of town on a rail. This is a bad resolution and should be voted down. Period. Not studied more, not delayed until it can be passed when no one is paying attention. Voted down. This week.
I urge all property owners in Mount Airy to come to the City Council meeting on Thursday, April 3 at 2 p.m., stand up during the public forum and tell our city commissioners to do just that. Then, the city and our citizens can find a better way to accomplish the laudable goal that everyone seeks.