The video above is a compilation of parts of three Ramseur board of commissioners meetings showing the timeline and discussion leading up to a pretty significant change in how we constitute our planning board here.
On December 20, 2022, Commissioner Parrish proposed an amendment to the administrative ordinance in our town’s corporate charter governing how many members sit on our planning board and where they must live. At that time the rule stipulated that all five planning board members must be residents of the Town of Ramseur. Mr. Parrish proposed a change that would allow planning board members to be anyone living within one mile of Ramseur’s corporate limits. His reasoning for this had to do with how hard it is to get people to serve on that particular board, so he wanted to expand the pool.
Counsellor Wilhoit expressed concern that a public hearing might be necessary to make such a change and the issue was tabled. The intention, on December 20, was to discuss and possibly take action during a special meeting scheduled for January 10, but that did not occur. Instead, the discussion resumed at the January 17 meeting. A motion was made, seconded, and approved, with a minimal quorum of only three commissioners, zero discussion among board members, and without any public comment, let alone a public hearing, and now non-taxpayers get a vote in how our zoning ordinances are written and any other work done by the planning board.
On February 10, 2023, I wrote, “[W]hen I was researching ETJ, I found a couple of sections in chapter 160D that apply specifically to planning boards and boards of adjustment, how they are to be composed, and what the function of an alternate should be.
“[T]he alternates our commissioners are always searching for belong to the board of adjustment, not the planning board. There should not be alternate members on our planning board any more than there should be alternate members of the board of commissioners allowed to sit, discuss, and vote on issues before that board when a commissioner can’t attend meetings.”
It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Parrish read my article, and he understands that I know what I’m talking about better than he does because immediately after appointing Sanda Bullin to the planning board during the February 21 meeting, despite the fact that there were already five seated members, the next issue the commissioner wanted to discuss had to do with the board of adjustment – currently the board of commissioners – and changes that need to be made to that board. The thought that a decision he could be involved in might end up in court absolutely terrifies Mr. Parrish. See for yourself, the clip is only about three minutes long
Unfair? No, it’s not fairness the commissioner is concerned about. He’s terrified of landing on the wrong side of a legal decision and having his name stuck to it. In other words, he’s afraid of being made to look foolish. Sorry, commissioner, it’s much too late for that.
Commissioner Parrish claims to be concerned about the looming growth of our community, and that is a legitimate concern, but instead of slowing down and following the process for adopting ETJ and then dealing with the question of representation, the commissioner was in an almost frantic rush to appoint Ms. Bullin to that board. The question I think we’re all asking is, why? What’s the hurry? Why not follow the process laid out by our legislators in Raleigh? Why is it so important to have Ms. Bullin, who lives outside our town and does not pay our taxes, sitting on that board and able to vote?
Commissioner Parrish is so concerned about this issue that he wants to circumvent the rules laid out in Chapters 160D-202 & 307, and change parts of our town’s corporate charter so he can appoint the candidate of his choosing, rather than risk letting the county commissioners appoint someone of their choosing when the appropriate time arrives. The only change our corporate charter needs is the one that would mandate hiring a town manager.
The state only requires three members to sit on our planning board. Not five; three. Prior to the meeting on February 21, according to our town’s official website, there were already five members, and as I have proven, no alternate members are needed for that board.
If we can’t get a quorum of three people to show up for planning board meetings perhaps the solution isn’t loading it full of your own toadies Mr. Parrish. Maybe a better solution would be to shrink the board to its statutory minimum of three members until such time as Ramseur does adopt an ETJ, and then, following the proper statutory process, we could add one or even two residents from that area to the planning board.
Mr. Parrish, I know you read that article because you’re an email subscriber to this site, and I know you understood at least enough of it to know that you wanted to wash your hands of all that tricky sticky board of adjustment business. But you had worked so carefully to accommodate Sandra’s appointment over the past few months I guess you must have felt obligated to see it through, so you stayed the course and steered that boat right onto the reef. Oh, sure, changing that administrative ordinance may have been legal, but you and I and most other citizens of our community know that what you did was unnecessary and self-serving, and we will not forget.